Where Were You In 1961? My Alaska History Pix


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Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 23, 2013 - 01:03pm PT
Yo Old Heads, beat this, I dare ya!

Show me some 1961!!!

Me? Venetie Alaska. Gwich'in Athabaskan Indian village, 150? miles North of the Arctic Circle on the Chandalar River.

My Dad's best Gwich'in friend Nathaniel Frank killed this Black Bear while cutting wood.

Dividing up multiple Moose between villagers.

Nathaniel teaching my Dad to build gill net.
My father was a school teacher, pilot, and taught many villages to garden and greenhouse.

My oldest brother watching Dad work on a net.

Mom in front of schoolhouse.

Dress up day for a wedding. My Dad is holding me.

My other brother during carrot harvest.

Me, brother, and Dad and flowers.

Dad and Nataniel, always together.

Wedding reception.

Mail Day!!!!

Tonsillectomy, in the school.

Episcopalians went deep into the Alaska outback.
Here they are with the Power Forward and the Center from the Venetie Women's Basketball team.

Woodcutters, working together.

Fishwheels didn't work great in the Chandalar, the water was too clear this far out of the Yukon.

Minister, talking offense with the Point Guard from the Venetie Women's Basketball team.

Moose skin boat. The hunters would go up river, kill multiple Moose, build a boat and float back to the village. This hasn't been done in a long time.

40 below zero, cutting boards at the mill.

Noon, December 21st.

Hope you enjoyed it!


Aug 23, 2013 - 01:23pm PT
Cool stuff, Bruce!

Wait a minute...I didn't see a single basketball hoop in any of those pictures! ;)

I was about here in 1961:


Trad climber
New Durham, NH
Aug 23, 2013 - 01:53pm PT

1961 i was busy being born. The following year I was making my first run up Cathedral Ledge. I guess it was an aid climb with Mom.

Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
Aug 23, 2013 - 01:57pm PT
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Aug 23, 2013 - 02:31pm PT

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Aug 23, 2013 - 03:07pm PT
I graduated from high school in 1961. Had four years of easy mountaineering/rock climbing/bouldering(Central Park) by then. That summer I went out West. In the Tetons, climbed E. Ridge of Mt. Owen, SW Ridge of Symmetry Spire, E. Ridge of Teewinot. Failed on Mt. Moran almost immediately by stumbling into a deep bog on the hike around Leigh Lake (no canoe option then). The mud sucked the boot right off my foot and swallowed it forever. Walk of shame back to the road, followed by hitch-hiking back to the climbers camp with one bare foot. Needless to say, the Vulgarians made fun of me. In Colorado, climbed two routes in the Flatirons, a bunch of scrambles in the Indian Peak range, and hiked up Long's Peak via the Keyhole.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Aug 23, 2013 - 03:47pm PT
Nice pics, Survival. I thought it was the Chandalar, not the Chandlar? ;-)

Those are some nice looking log homes no doubt built solely with axes and saws.
And I really dig the moose skin boat! Whoa! I'm gonna have to ask my old
homie up there if he ever saw one.

Oh, and Tami, Alaskan natives like their roundball players built low to the ground -
they don't blow away so easily and they're better ball handlers.

Me? I was just maintaining law and order on the mean streets of Laredo...
Magic Ed

Trad climber
Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Aug 23, 2013 - 04:43pm PT
I was a twelve-year-old Boy Scout growing up in Mexico City. Lots of hiking, camping, canoeing, water-skiing and climbing the occasional volcano. Was also spending a lot of time skating on my home-made skateboard.

Trad climber
The great state of advaita
Aug 23, 2013 - 04:51pm PT
Uh... I think MisterE stole my picture! Ha ha!

Those are great photos... having such a number really evokes a feel for the time and place. Thanks!

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 23, 2013 - 04:52pm PT
I did a river trip in 83 where four of us put-in on the Mackenzie River at Ft McPherson in Canada's NW Territories.
From there we went down the to the coast (Beaufort Sea),
* NW along the cost to Alaska, up the Babbage River,
* portaged to the Old Crow river to the
* Porcupine and from there down to the Yukon River and Ft Yukon.
My two friends had to fly out from there, but I towed their two kayaks down to the Haul Road and The Bridge, where one of them picked me up in his truck.

Venetie Landing came just a day or two after we separated and was big deal for me.
It's where the Yukon starts heading a little southerly, and that part of the Yukon is HUGE and channeled, but with very little current. It's been compared to a complicated lake and it's easy to loose track of where you are. I was nervous and high strung about being on my own, and it was a relief coming up on Venetie 'cause I finally could tell where I was. I didn't stop at the Village (too far off the Yukon?), but I did gratefully stay at a local Gwich'in Athabaskan's (Arty) house for a night.

Here is a timer photo from near the end of the trip a day or two after Venetie.

The photos from the whole trip are at:

No way I'm coughing up a photo of me in '61.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 23, 2013 - 04:53pm PT
Thanks for responding gang!

Some of you (rgold) were having much more grown up adventures than I was.

Reilly, right you are about the spelling, don't know how I spaced that. It's been a long time since I thought about it I guess. I'm usually more careful!

Those are great pix Darwin!

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Aug 23, 2013 - 04:55pm PT

I was poop'n in my diapers in a little east coast sailing/fishing town
(Established in 1629)

Very cool pictures.
It's great that you possess and have preserved your archive.

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
Aug 23, 2013 - 09:20pm PT
Very cool Survival. It would be fun to see those log houses today and see what kind of shape they're in. I'll bet there's more than one historian in that area who would love to see these photos.


A long way from where I started
Aug 23, 2013 - 11:32pm PT
Todd Eastman

Bellingham, WA
Aug 23, 2013 - 11:48pm PT
Survival, great pictures and quite a story without words.


the land of milk and honey
Aug 24, 2013 - 12:31am PT
1961 I was still a long ways coming..

Bruce, those are rad photos! Your parents had a great sense of adventure to do that with all those kids in tow.

right here, right now
Apr 6, 2018 - 02:39pm PT
In 1961, I was having my cake and eating it too!
(apparently wearing some of it as well)


 Just for reference, Survival = Bruce Birchell, well loved Valley boy from the late 70s/early 80s!


Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Apr 6, 2018 - 06:41pm PT

thanks for bringing this thread back.

I thought I was raised in the sticks, in the rural Idaho mountains, but that was nothing to Survival's years in Alaska.

right here, right now
Apr 6, 2018 - 07:00pm PT
I know, right?
His photos of his time in Alaska are the bomb.

For those of you who are interested in such things, here is a super good read:

Shopping for Porcupine


Seth Kantnerís Ordinary Wolves told the story of a white boy raised in a sod igloo on the Arctic tundra. A heartbreaking vision of a vanishing world, it established Kantner as one of the nationís most original and authentic writers. Here, he returns to the setting of his debut novel with an autobiographical account of his own life in a rapidly changing land. Beginning with his parentsí migration to the Alaskan wilderness in the 1950s and extending to his own attempts to balance hunting with writing, Kantner recalls cold nights wrapped in caribou hides, fur-clad visitors arriving on dog sleds, swimming amidst ice floes for wounded waterfowl, and his longstanding respect for the old IŮupiaq ways. Captured in words and images, these details combine to reveal a singular landscape at a pivotal moment in its history. Both an elegy and a romp, the book illuminates a world few will see as Kantner has.

A long way from where I started
Apr 6, 2018 - 07:16pm PT
Shopping for Porcupine

Porcupine? Wow! When I was growing up in... well, where I grew up... in the 50s/60s we'd heard that in the big cities you could get porcupine. But all we had was gophers and, if we really lucked out, the odd badger.
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