Adventure Scholarship Update – Alex Bogner
Since receiving my Flyin’ Ryan Adventure Scholarship for a high-altitude mountaineering course in the Cordillera Blance of Peru in 2016, a lot has happened in the years that followed. In the spring of 2017, I started working as a sea kayak guide and glacier hiking guide for Adventure Sixty North in Seward, Alaska for my college internship in Mountain Recreation Management from Lyndon State College. While I was guiding glacier tours in Alaska, I used so many invaluable skills from that course in Peru. Upon completing my first summer in AK, I flew back to the East Coast, where I finished my degree in December of 2017.
Not even two days after graduating college, I was on the road in my Subaru Outback, headed west to Washington State where I ski bummed all winter. While in Washington, I was fortunate to take a few mini ski trips over to Northwestern Montana, and British Columbia. In March 2018, I was skiing at Whistler with my Dad, when I fell down and tore my MCL & ACL. With a Cascade Volcano trip coming up the following month, I was determined to regain as much mobility and strength as possible to give the trip a go. I did PT 3 times a week, went to the gym every day, and ate as healthy as I could for that month leading up to my trip. My roommates from college came out to the PNW on May 1st. By the end of the trip we ended up climbing and skiing Mount Lassen, Mount Shasta, and Mount McLoughlin. We even snuck in a detour over to Redwood NP while we waited for our weather window to open up. After that trip, I gave Mount Rainier a try, but came up just short of the summit due to some unforeseen stomach problems. That spring I became obsessed with volcanoes. I hope to one day ski them all! After gallivanting on volcanoes, at the end of May 2018, I participated in the AMGA Alpine Skills Course in Bend, Oregon. This course is the first of many on my track to eventually becoming an AMGA certified ski guide.
Upon completing the AMGA course, it was back up to Alaska for my second summer. Only this time I drove there by myself. The drive was incredibly humbling to say the least and recommend it to everybody! For the 2018 summer season, I was able to enlist a college friend to work for Adventure Sixty North. After a summer of sea kayak tours and glacier hiking tours, my college friend and I decided on embarking on a long road trip back down to the lower 48, and rock climbing at various destinations in the west. We climbed in Stone Hill, Montana; City of Rocks, Idaho; Salt Lake City, Utah; Maple Canyon, Utah; Joshua Tree, California; and Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. At the end of our time climbing in Red Rock Canyon, I dropped off my friend at the Las Vegas Airport, and continued my journey home to New York solo. On my drive home I stopped at the Grand Canyon NP, skied opening weekend at Wolf Creek, visited Great Sand Dunes NP, and hung out with family in Aspen, CO before traveling across the plains. Other stops on the road trip included Hot Springs NP, Mammoth Caves NP, Great Smoky Mountains NP, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Shenandoah NP.
I finally made it back home to New York in late fall of 2018. I spent some time with my family as well as visiting some more college friends in Vermont. The week after Thanksgiving, I was getting ready to drive out to Whitefish, Montana where I was going to be ski guiding at Great Northern Powder Guides when I got some bad news. I had cancer, specifically, Stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Nobody wants to hear that, EVER! I was devastated. I let my boss know the situation, and he allowed me hold onto my job for the following season. Knowing that I still had my job for the following winter definitely help keep my sanity through all my treatments and side-effects. Despite undergoing chemotherapy I made the best of my 2019 winter. I still managed to ski, ride my bike, and go on small hikes. I ended up finishing my treatments on April 12th, 2019 and I’m now in complete remission. I started to work again splitting my time between Overlook Mountain Bikes in Woodstock, Mohonk Preserve in New Paltz, and NY Zipline Adventures at Hunter Mountain.
In June 2019 I took a celebratory trip out to Washington to visit my college roommate where we climbed and skied a total of over 15,000 ft. in under a week. This included a 6000 ft. day climbing and skiing Mount Adams. I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to hold my own on the trip, but staying active really helped to reduce the lingering side effects from the chemo.
I am now back to 100%, working a full schedule, and developing trip ideas for the fall. If all goes according to plan, I hope to climb and ski Pico de Orizaba in Mexico this November before I start ski guiding in December. From there it will be a busy winter of guiding and working on professional development before coming back to New York for my ACL surgery next spring.
Life is full of ups and downs, but you just have to sit down, and enjoy the ride!