[photography by Carl Battreall]
STARTING IN 2005, PHOTOGRAPHER CARL BATTREALL SET out to tell the complete visual story of the Alaska Range: an arc of mountains that stretches more than 600 miles across the middle of Alaska like an upside-down smiley face, forming a rugged, rarely explored borderland between Southcentral and the Interior.
Denali National Park and Preserve—by far the most photographed portion of the Alaska Range—perches near the peak of the arc. Most park visitors gather and explore the northeast side, while avid climbers set their sights on Mount McKinley, or the hundreds of smaller, more technical peaks that make up the Denali massif.
Beyond Denali—and even within the boundaries of the park—the Alaska Range is shrouded in mystery. Only a few peaks attract hardcore mountaineers and wilderness explorers, and there’s even some dispute as to exactly where the southwestern edge of the range comes to an end.
Battreall has made more than 20 trips into the most remote parts of the Alaska Range, a place notorious for having some of the worst weather you’ll find outside of Antarctica. Just a handful of trips remain before Battreall realizes his goal of sharing one of the world’s most pristine mountain ranges as a whole, from documenting the beauty of tiny lichens to aerial photos of peaks rippling into the distance.
During his photography expeditions, Battreall works simply and travels light, often using just one lens to capture his images. Not content to simply capture the beauty of these wild, rugged places that most humans will never see, Battreall also collects data from the more isolated areas of the range for Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, a group using outdoor recreation enthusiasts to aid in climate and conservation research. The following photos are excerpts from Battreall’s book, The Alaska Range, which was published in 2016 by Mountaineers Books. —Lisa Maloney