Doug Buchanan on the other side


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Mountain climber
San Diego
Apr 27, 2012 - 02:29pm PT
I'm sorry I missed the original posting in February.

I enjoyed reading your Alaska view on things.

RIP Doug

Boulder climber
May 4, 2012 - 07:03pm PT
Thank you MIghty HIker.
Thank you for liking one of my favorite photos I took of Doug.
There are going to be slide shows, special videos, for which this event is the premier. This will be the first Founder's Day gathering of the Alaskan Alpine Club, you see. We will be running the Famous Waterman solo of Mount Hunter slide show, too.

I hope you can make it up to Fairbanks for a day or two of the event.

I hope to see many of you there. It is going to be a glorious celebration!

Climb on,

May 6, 2012 - 02:20am PT

Steve Gruhn, the Elizabeth Hawley of Alaska, trolled this article for SCREE recently, for the Mountaineering Club of Alaska newsletter, finally got drunk enough on a Saturday night to post it here, why not, it's really about Doug, he loomed over the whole phase:

Trip Report: 1991 Waterman Grant

Fairbanks. Doug Buchanan, Treasurer of the Alaskan Alpine Club, presided over the interrogation. The officers had to decide whether our party of three merited bestowal of the 1991 Waterman Grant for a "significant winter climb in Alaska." Randy, Paul, and I must have presented a disappointment to Doug: we were more interested in mountaineering than mountaineering freedoms. However, the Waterman Grant seemed also to come with the stipulation that the mountain be given every possible advantage by ensuring that the faculties of the climbers be significantly impaired, and on this latter count, our qualifications were robust. Following various rituals, in which an air of unreality hung over the proceedings like schizophrenia, and in which we were required to sign up for the Club's brainchild, the Mountain Rescue Expense Fund, we were duly awarded the Waterman Grant, supplied with copious tools for impairment (in order to give the mountain every possible advantage), and sent home to begin late-January preparations for the Southwest Rib of Kimball in the style of Johnny.

A week later. Harvey Wheeler, elder of the legendary Wheeler Boys, crop-duster of the Delta Ag. fields, and glacier pilot for eastern Alaska Range mountaineers, was about to crash his Cessna 180 into an icefall. The aircraft was bounding like a snow-machine down the North Fork of the Chistochina Glacier, and Harvey was choosing at the last minute to gun it in a do-or-die effort to lift free from mashed potatoes. Hours earlier, he had been able to land us directly at our basecamp near 6,000 ft., but the plane sagged in the unexpectedly warm snow. Harvey's horror at the prospect of spending the night on the glacier with climbers prompted us to dig him out. Now the plane was gaining power as it taxied lower into oxygen-rich elevations. We saw Harvey's 180 bounce off a hummock, skim the top of some seracs, dip below the icefall… and reappear! Harvey was headed home to Saw Mill Creek, probably swearing off climbers for good this time.

Kimball. We had given the mountain every advantage by obliterating our faculties, including that of memory. The only image that penetrates this sieve of forgetfulness is that of the "coffins," our individual snow-caves at the bivouac the first night, when the moon had turned the mountain into bright Milky Way bars. Turecki's coffin was particularly artistic: dollops of sculpted snow pasted onto the mountainside with arcs of anchor rope threaded through portholes. The next day, Paul led a hard mixed pitch up high. Randy tunneled through the summit cornice on KImball's distinctive summit tower. Descent took us long into the night, in and out of moonlight. We were grateful to wriggle back in to our coffins.

White Noise. After Kimball, we climbed an 8,000 ft. peak on the west side of the cirque, just above basecamp. I remember snow slopes, and a spectacular but easy summit ridge. We made our snow cave halfway up the route an immense chamber to make up for the recent horror of the coffins.
Much later that year, long after the Kimball expedition was over, long after the trip had profoundly changed each one of us due to "Mountain-Caused Refraction of Life-Vector Force Syndrome," I asked Turecki to supply a name for this second mountain we had climbed. But Turecki by then was dazed. It was Spring. He had just come from the warm lake on Mt. Spurr, skiing up there even as it was getting ready to erupt. He reached into his mind for some remembrance of the peak we had climbed back in February. Nothing but snow, static. We had all lost our girlfriends. "White noise," mumbled Turecki.

Skiing to the Richardson Highway via Yeti Pass. The moment of maximum danger undoubtedly came the night we skied down off the snout of the Chistochina Glacier to the gravel flats below. That same morning we had suffered such huge impairment with the tools borrowed from Waterman's file that the psychological flux of the landscape was completely out of control. The crevasses raced perpendicularly under our skis, the rope was a tendril of ectoplasm connecting our thoughts, the one-to-one correspondence between map and territory had become depolarized, rendering speech impossible. We had surrendered every possible advantage to the mountains, and were now at their mercy.
In the descending icefall, Turecki became separated from Randy and me. At the foot of the glacier rested a pocket of super-cooled air; my nostrils informed me the temperature had dropped past forty-five below. Clothes and gear were frozen solid, crammed into packs after a five-day storm at basecamp. We had banked everything upon reaching the miner's cabin at Slate Creek, but now Turecki's light wandered randomly above us across the two-dimensional screen of echoing blackness. By the time he emerged at the cabin into the third dimension, Randy and I had a roaring fire going. (Thank you, whoever suffered our intrusion.)
"Yeti Pass" denotes the corridor between the aligned glaciers, the Canwell and Gakona. Doug once told me that a "heterodyne" exists somewhere in this area and is responsible for some of the spooky phenomena attributed to the Delta/Tok/Glen Allen triangle. I pressed him at length, but he would not reveal what type of signal was involved, only that my suspicions that we had been subtly changed, Randy, Paul, and I, over the course of the expedition, were not unfounded.
A more significant account of Kimball's Southwest Rib would be Benowitz's untold story about his and Bethan's second ascent of the route in the two-thousands, the "blind date" climb. I have evidence to believe a similar life-warping effect like the one experienced during our 1991 Waterman climb had its effect upon them as well.


Social climber
May 6, 2012 - 02:36am PT
hey there, say, feralfae... have been thinking of you...

and of the supertopo and how we meet all manner of folks, in the greatoutdoors, and learn and hear of what they do...

i enjoyed seeing the picture of doug, too--to put the newer face on his name, here.. (had seen one older article that i THINK? had a picture of him, but can't rightly remember--someone shared it here? by a link, years back, though perhaps doug's pic was not in it?...

well-- may all go well for your gathering... will be praying for all the folks...

and as an extra note of support to you:
to you, and all wives, too, that have lost their beloved life-partner, you are not forgotten...

i had a small something, that i may get to in the future, for you... not sure yet, when, though...
god bless...

Boulder climber
May 8, 2012 - 09:35am PT
Thank you for all the kind thoughts, prayers, and comforting words.
I hope you will all share the announcement of the Celebration around with others, too.

Now, I am packing the car for the long drive north, from Montana to Fairbanks. I will be cleaning out our closets and packing things for future Alaskan Alpine Club auctions, for the musuem, for the archives, and some stuff will be coming back to Montana with me.

I hope to see some you you there, and will post a report and links to photos and videos when I get back to Montana in June.
Thank you all.
Climb on,


Social climber
May 21, 2012 - 06:26am PT
hey there say, feralfae....

how did the doug-day, go...

how are you? hope you are well...
sometimes it is hard when the quiet times come, after the
remembrances... was just thinking about you...

god bless...

for others here on supertopo, i just found these, you may have seen them already:

this one is very in-depth:

ALSO, SAY.... these are of doug, right??
did all you all know about these???
thought the climbers and their many adventures would thus
find something in these--

i have not read them,
just posted them now:

well, i will email you and see if you are okay...
wives losing husbands, need hugs, i think...
god bless...

oh yes, i just found out, these ARE doug's stories, at the link above...
(it was also mentioned in the obituaries)...

Social climber
Jun 17, 2012 - 12:37pm PT
hey there all, say...

was trying to email doug's wife...

not sure is she got it, or is not home yet...

does anyone have an email where they have contacted her?
thanks so very much...

god bless...


Mountain climber
Seattle WA
Jun 18, 2012 - 04:05pm PT
Sad to hear he passed away, talked to him via email on several occasions ( I was thinking of moving up to fairbanks for school at one point) seemed like a nice guy...

Mountain climber
alis volat propriis
Jun 18, 2012 - 04:07pm PT
r.i.p. doug b! sorry to have missed this thread. that's such a bummer!

Boulder climber
Jul 2, 2012 - 06:07pm PT
(A beautiful small portrait of Doug has arrived here in Montana. I am only a few days back from Fairbanks and the Celebration, (more on that soon), starting south via the AlCan, being stranded in the Yukon, meeting some great other stranded people, and best of all a climber or two who had rescued themselves by hauling mud over the Campbell Highway, which was, I am fairly certain, actually Closed at the time. Great chaps! Directed them to the Club Web Site, along with Doug's other sites, since one of them will be in Fairbanks for a while soon.)

(I'm updating the link to Doug's stuff since some of his sites have been messed with since his spirit jumped.)

So, anyway, below is a note to a very special person. {{{hugs}}}

"Dear, dear Neebeez,
How very, very kind, caring and talented of you! How delightful to see Doug in one of my favorite photos, with the outdoors he loved around him!

If words were grains of sand, there are not enough in all the oceans and deserts to express my gratitude. How very, very loving of you! Thank you very, very much.

May we post this over on topo? I am sure others would like to see your loving expression honoring Doug. If you do not mind, I would like to hang this in the Headquarters of the Alaskan Alpine Club. Doug is its Founder, and this is the first portrait we will have of him. Thank you more than I can express.


Kýrie, eléison.

ps. Oh, hey! This is neat—one of my best friends lives in your exact same Zip Code. If you are a libertarian, or an anarchist, you should get to know her.

cc: SuperTopo thread

Social climber
Jul 2, 2012 - 06:38pm PT
hey there say, feralfea!!! i am so happy you got it and it was not broken!
wished i could do it in oil, but i wanted it to 'hug' you, after all the immediate comfort of friends passes by, and life resumes onward, after your celebration (so i did it in fast-dry acrylic)...


yes, you may share, you never know when someone may need a free gift of their own, too, someday...

i did not know that they did not have a picture of doug there, :)
it seems the good lord knew it was needed, and ol' doug
needs to 'look out over the place' like he used to, :)

oh my, as being on the same trail as your friend as to worldly things, nope i am just me... :))

simple, down to earth, lover of the good lord, and family and critter life, :))

good to know you got home safe--many folks have many hard chores to take
care of when their beloved family or partners die:
traveling safe, should be a gift to them, and returning back home, as well...

god bless...


Boulder climber
Jul 2, 2012 - 07:09pm PT

Doug collected frames at the "mall" (local recycling pad in Fairbanks. Don't know if you knew him personally. Did you!? You can answer that via email if you want.) and we have a bunch in the shed at HQ. I will do it up proud. :) Thank you!

There are some other photos of Doug around; a couple of him on climbs; but this is the first portrait. It is very special. And from someone on Topo, too.

I liked what you said about yourself, by the way. Doug and I were making a huge transition from having any political awareness at all to being more fully focused on being from spirit, and now I continue that journey each day.

And while the geographic journey home was delayed by a week or so, the lessons learned while stranded were more than worth the wait. All I can say is, Doug and G*d are conspiring to see that I get some great spiritual lessons out of this time, while I bushwhack my way through the wilderness of grief. There are beginning to be times of calm and peace again, though, so in all ways, I am deeply blessed.
As are we all. :)

Social climber
Jul 2, 2012 - 07:20pm PT
hey there say, feralfea! what a wonderful post! and how funny, too, as to the FRAMES, :))

say, yes, daily lessons! ... you are certainly on a new trail,
this 'trip home' was your 'first step', :)

i know you will be able to tackle this, too! :)

i only knew doug here, on the supertopo...
i had a soft spot in my heart for him... and used to pray for him, a lot...

(i learned more about him, from his webpage--and his stories)...
and his museum page... and the pictures of him, filled it all out...

welllll--got to go paint, i got some things to finish, the finish line
is always the hardest part, :)) well, not crossing it, but rounding that bend, :)


Jul 2, 2012 - 07:50pm PT
What a great thank you to Neebee feralfae. I too knew Doug only from Supertopo, but the more I bumped into him here the more I liked the guys spirit. Sorry I never met him in person. The world could use more folks like him, not less.

I wish you well.

Warm Regards

Boulder climber
Jul 3, 2012 - 01:16pm PT
Here's the portrait Neebee did ...
Portrait of Doug by neebee
Portrait of Doug by neebee
Credit: feralfae

Boulder climber
Dec 27, 2012 - 11:15am PT
Dear Neebee and everyone here, all you family of climbers and rock hoppers,
Neebee! Thank you for the lovely little covering, which I think I will hang on the wall in the guest room here in our home in Montana.
What a beautiful gift, and thank you to everyone for the wonderful and comforting notes. It helped so very much to feel the love and comfort of other climbers and adventurers, so thank you and {{{hugs}}} back to you.
I made it through my first Christmas without Doug, and with lots of help and emotional support from family and friends, I did really okay. We spent the day talking about Doug, remembering fun times, and sharing memories.

Thank you so much neebee and everyone for the kindness and love this holiday season.

~toward entelechy

ps: for those of you who want to reach me directly, just add ilo@ in front of the web site right above here, and I'll get it. If you put climber in the subject line, I will definitely open your emails. Thank you again for all the loving and kind notes, and thank you Neebee for collecting and sending them along with the card.

Social climber
Dec 27, 2012 - 02:12pm PT
hey there say, lloilo feral fea!

yep--you are not forgotten!!!

we are in your corner!
love so much!!!
and may the new year be just as tender and kind!

Boulder climber
Jan 3, 2013 - 07:04am PT
Thank you everyone for the get well wishes and the great notes and cards! Neebee, I know you were the brains behind this, so special thanks to you for everything. Yes, it was emergency spine surgery of a highly amusing nature.
Since many of you asked, here's the short version of the story...

Careening along the frozen expanse of the Johansen Expressway in Fairbanks, returning to HQ from last-minute shopping prior to Christmas, the rental car I was driving was struck in the driver's door by a pickup. I was the driver on the inside of the collapsed metal. After the side airbag exploded and knocked me out, and I came to, I realized that I could not move anything except my head. December 2008.

Soon, lights and noise surrounded me, as paramedics and fire people figured out how to pry off the driver's door, slip a board under my body, and slowly inch my frame on to the board, while stabilizing my head. Of course it was -23F, so we did not need to worry about conserving the A/C in any of the vehicles. Our Godson Jason, up from Montana, was in the vehicle with me, but I heroically managed to absorb most of the shock of the impact, so he was unscathed in the collision. But terribly shaken, as he held on to me while I was out and after when I went into convulsions from the airbag blow.

Doug met us at Fairbanks Memorial, where x-rays revealed that I had not broken my neck, but that I had a bit of damage to the lower spine. I was instructed to have it checked out when I got back to Montana. The rental vehicle was entirely wrecked, and was given a decent retirement to the scrap yard. I was given a brace to reduce the pain in my cracked ribs. We scrambled into the trusty Jeep and headed home to HQ.

We had a grand and glorious big bottle party, followed by more glorious parties around the neighborhood. My rib wrap was working to hold things together. I showed the Ice Tower show for everyone.

Later in December, after a delicious dinner with our friends the Foots (Feets) Doug and I went home to HQ, climbed into our bed, and snuggled up for a nice rest. A few hours later, Doug woke up in severe pain, and a few hours after that, he was at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where he had emergency surgery and the diagnosis of cancer.

I put Jason on a plane home a few days later, and settled in to care for Doug, completely setting aside the "go see your spine doc when you get home" message, because here we had lots worse and immediate stuff to consider.

Fast forward through three years of chemo, doctors, surgeries, special diets, more surgeries, more chemo, lots of hope and desperation there at the last, and Doug writing out detailed instructions, leaving lots of notes, and then managing to escape his body that was no longer functioning. I held him in my arms as he left.

By that time, I was wearing a back brace full time, taking lots of pain medications, and still able to carry on. I made it through the Fairbanks Celebration in May, and was able to hang on for a couple of significant meetings arranged earlier by Doug. I headed home to Montana, driving down the AlCan, where the flooding and washed out roads impeded progress.

In WhItehorse, by now barely able to walk from the pain, I was rescued by a sister climber, who got me back to Fairbanks and on to a flight for Montana.

Arriving home, I remarked to a friend that I could finally collapse and rest. I was eating pain pills with remarkable appetite. Two weeks later, after an emergency room diagnosis of coda equina, I am rushed to emergency spine surgery, from which I am recovering with remarkable success. I plan to be back in the mountains before too long. I had a super spine surgeon, who is a runner and sometimes climber, and the best physical therapy team in the business—all people who live here so they can play in the mountains.

That's it. That's it. The whole story. I'll be in Fairbanks in the spring or early summer, as soon as these PT guys release me to go play and carry stuff. I have a design for helium balloons for carrying my pack into Rainbow. So, I'll be sure to post here before I head up to Fairbanks. For those of you in Wyoming, I will be down in the Winds later as well, hanging on the North Fork with occasional trips in to Lander. If you are in the area, let me know. You can reach me at ilo(AT)iloilojones(dot)com, just put Wyoming or Winds in the subject line.

So, okay, that's the story and update. Other news and links are available through MeansOfInquiry(dot)org, where I will post occasionally, or on the related sites you can find through that one.

Thank you all very much for your kindness, concern, and great notes. I am still sorting stuff here, and have a lot of Doug's stories that he never got uploaded, which I hope to get entered into the sites in the next few years as things settle into a new path and a new life. Thank you all very much for your love, caring, and wonderful fellowship.
Carry on.
feralfae, aka iloilo

Social climber
Jan 3, 2013 - 11:32am PT
hey there say, feralfae... WOW, man oh man, WHAT an adventure these last years have been since that acccident, :O

WELCOME!!! YOU NOW have your own thread, as well as this one...

two--as, doug is still PART OF US here... :)

just made it TWICE as easy for the NEW FOLKS here, to learn
who you are, :)

here is a cross link:

thank you so much for sharing your rugged ol' trail, these last few years, you are conquering one step at a time, with
great friendships to back you up!!!

a good legacy, too, as to the love, friendship and join-trails that you and doug had!!!

may this year be extra special, as it is your first one, without doug, and
may it be a good solid rock to build on, by god's loving grace!

Boulder climber
Feb 17, 2013 - 04:43pm PT
Hey, Ian,
Thank you for posting that story to the thread earlier.
Thank you all, wonderful ones, for the emotional support, loving kindness, caring, and cheering on this last year.
I hope to get all the issues of the Alaskan Alpine Club Newsletter scanned and up on the web site soon.
And more stuff as well.
I hope to start later this New Year. Just now getting more up and about and doing things besides PT every day a few times. Slowly catching up, coming out of the grief fog, starting to see some blue sky through the clouds. :) Yesterday, I went out and flung flower seeds all over the place, and we have 7 acres here in our little wood. Forest fairies, you know. Here just off the Divide.

I am coming back. I am turning the seasons. It is almost Spring. I am remembering great springs together, and many happy times. :) Honeymoon road trip in the MGB, Doug meeting all my rock art friends. Greeting spring in the arrow-leaf blossoms of the Winds, having a picnic with a long-time Winds climber friend. Springs of planting our garden, flinging flower seeds with blessings for Earth. Filling the quarters of the Kiva garden/prayer circle with wildflower seeds. :)

Soon, Spring. Flowers. I will be heading North.

Hoping to get to meet some of you some day when we have a SuperEvent up at AACHQ in Fairbanks, and this is your first notice of future fund-raising auctions and events, on behalf of AACHQ, and of course there will be the Waterman Memorial Auctions :) But we will need to find some volunteers to undertake the ahem, adventure. As Carl said, "I'm out." :)

Best to everyone, so glad to be in a better frame of mind as I post this, but would not trade a minute of this last year of grieving for all the incredible bliss Doug and I shared on that last adventure. :)

We Carry On,

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