Denali expedition slides in |

Denali expedition slides in

Tim Mutrie

In 2001, skier Jann Stoeckl plans to make helicopter-assisted descents on Alaskan peaks. Meanwhile, Jann Stoeckl the mountaineer plans to ply routes alpine-style in the high Andes of South America. And all the while, Jann Stoeckl the photographer will be taking pictures.

Stoeckl, an Aspen freelance photographer who was raised here, says he favors working in “hostile environments,” which usually double as places he likes to “play” too.

A marriage of Stoeckl’s passions came in May and June of 2000, when he traveled to Alaska to climb the “great one,” as the 20,320-foot Denali is known in native tongues. Accompanied by Aspen friends Sean Shean, Ted Mahon and Brad Smith, they dubbed themselves the Aspen Snow Ranger Denali Expedition because they all had Volkl “Snow Ranger” skis along for their planned descent.

“I’ve always been attracted to climbing mountains: being in the wind and the whole spirituality of it. … You’re just a speck. You’re infinitesimally small,” Stoeckl said in an interview.

Stoeckl will present his images from the Denali expedition during a slide presentation Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES). Several of Stoeckl’s Denali photos may be viewed at

On June 16, 2000, at 1:18 a.m. local time, Stoeckl recalls, the team summited Denali.

“I know this because I looked at my watch and we saw this full moon rising over Mt. Foraker, and this blistering 50 mph wind was whipping over the Wickersham Wall and we were covered in ice,” he said.

“It was so cold – Teddy’s [Mahon] thermometer went off the scale at below negative-30” degrees Fahrenheit, added Shean, who discovered frostbite on two toes after the team safely descended (on foot) to 17,000 feet on the way back to the Kahiltna Glacier.

The team cached their skis on the ascent at about 16,000 feet.

“It was a sheet of solid blue ice,” Shean said. “They didn’t get any snow. Usually they do at the end of May, and that’s what we were going for – we were going for the ski – but it just didn’t happen.”

As for Stoeckl’s next adventures abroad, he has a heli-skiing trip planned in the Alaska Range in April, followed by a six-week excursion in the Peruvian Andes.

“I’ll continue to do work in hostile environments: deserts, jungles, cold locations and underwater, and other places where you are dealing with the environment. That’s my focus.”

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