JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
During the course of a typical Alaska winter, cold and dark days can seem eternal to some.
It is during these times of glistening moonlit snow and ice that the Outdoor Adventure Program and Outdoor Recreation Center shine a beacon of light, offering unique adventure trips and cold weather classes every week at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
“One of the most amazing experiences of being stationed in Alaska is the winter activities and rentals available through both the OAP and ORC,” said Karl Lavtar, OAP director. “Our goal is to offer quality classes and trips to as many service members and their families as we can, so they can experience the adventure Alaska offers all year long.”
OAP is open to all active-duty, retirees, Department of Defense civilians, National Guard and Reserve employees and dependents. Registration is strongly recommended and most of the time required, depending on the activity or class.
“Both programs are extremely valuable resources not only for adventure, but resiliency,” Lavtar said. “The trips are group-oriented which provide for a safer, more controlled environment. Our experienced guides are Wilderness First Responder certified and are able to act as instructors on Alaska-specific matters one might encounter in the wilderness. While we are keeping the favorite activities of prior seasons on the schedule, there are several new classes and trips being added to this year’s calendar.”
In addition to the excursions already scheduled, outings can be further geared towards specific groups by looking at discounted trips provided through Rec-On, Women in the Wilderness, Single Airman Program (which is open to all military branches) and Recharge for Resiliency programs.
Some of this year's winter OAP trips include:
- Ice climbing on waterfalls, fat tire biking, snow machine and snow shoe trips.
Some of this year’s winter OAP classes include:
- Cold weather safety, avalanche awareness, winter camping/hiking, Captains class, kayak safety training and snow machine safety.
Although there are several outdoor adventures awaiting, there are plenty of scheduled indoor options available as well.
“While we offer indoor rock climbing and belay certification throughout the year, we were able to add ‘Intro to lead climbing basics’ which is considered the next step in your climbing experience,” Lavtar said. “If you want to put your skills to the test, we are hosting two indoor rock climbing competitions in January and March.”
Climbing equipment is included for all listed classes. When it comes to obtaining other various types of winter activity gear, the ORC has a long list of rentable equipment available to the JBER community.
Reservations for a SAP or Rec-On trips can be made 30 days prior to the date of trip or class. Reservations for main OAP trips can be made any time.
Custom trips for friends, families, squadrons and special occasions can also be arranged when available.
“Winter can be a beautiful time of year,” Lavtar said. “Unfortunately, it can also be dangerous in Alaska if you go unprepared. The classes and trips offer our community members a great way to partake in something they might be interested in but might be reluctant to do on their own.”
For more information about the trips, classes or programs offered, call 552-3812.
For more information regarding ORC rentals, call 552-2023.