A Bikerafting Epic Excerpt from The Bikeraft Guide
Story & photos by Steve “Doom” Fassbinder
After setting ourselves up for a low tide crossing by camping near the base of La Perouse Glacier, we awoke to a perfect morning. We packed up, made a short river crossing in our boats, walked, and rode the short distance to the massive wall of ice.
There was a certain calm and quiet to our usually boisterous group. The sound of the ocean crashing into the toppled and broken ice was becoming impossible to ignore, and more and more daunting by the second.
Recon Mission Around La Perouse Glacier
Things didn’t look good, but Roman, Dylan and I decided to have a look around the corner to see if this was even worth trying. We left our bikes behind and made the first of several dicey moves around house-sized blocks of ice that were being rhythmically swamped by body-snatching breakers. Our reconnaissance mission was about as far from reassuring as it gets. And only because our alternatives were shitty, and it didn’t look impossible, we decided to give it a go.
What ensued was the single most sketchy thing I have ever attempted to date. We made it about halfway around the glacier only to be stopped dead in our tracks by a semi-submerged, subdivision-sized icefall as far as we could see. There wasn’t much of a discussion about what to do next.
We just turned around and started a hasty-as-fuck retreat, running when possible and trying desperately not to let the fear of what was hanging above us gain purchase on our now-battered morale.
It was about this time that a very insignificant glacial event occurred.
There was a crisp and unmistakable sound to my right about 150 feet up. I was already jumping toward the breakers to my left when my vision focused on a van sized chunk of ice plummeting toward the rocks next to me. My cohorts surely have a better account of what happened next, as I was instinctively hurling myself away from the impending impact, and subsequent deluge of flying shrapnel.
Fortunately my terror-induced bout of Tourette’s syndrome lasted only as long as it took for us to gain the safety of the beach a few hundred yards away.
The Surf Launch
We escaped with our lives, but now we had to come up with an alternate route. Our choices were, go over the thing, or go around it via an open ocean (big breakers) surf launch. Going over meant very dangerous unroped glacier travel with heavy bikes.
Going around meant getting very wet, potentially flipping our boats, and being pummeled on the beach by the incessant breakers. In the end we battened down the hatches and successfully pulled off an open surf launch.
Mike got his ass handed to him on the landing, wrecking one of his cameras, losing his glasses, and pretty much getting a free sand enema. I’ll leave it at that.