Ice Gallery : Steve Davis Ice Gallery

Steve Davis Ice Gallery


Steve Davis arrived in Alaska in 1981 and began his exploration of the local ice climbing scene.  Having learned to climb steep ice in New England during early-1970’s and later glacier ice as a Rainier guide, he met local climbers and sought out new routes. Up to that point in time, climbing frozen waterfalls in the Anchorage area was pretty limited to Eklutna Canyon, Portage Valley and along the Seward Highway. He contacted the Alaska Section of the American Alpine Club and the Mountaineering Club of Alaska to find the local network of climbers and started seeking out new partners and new routes in the nearby Chugach Mountains. Up to that time, Steve already had a strong climbing resume including  Mt Logan’s West Ridge and the first ascent of Drury Falls in Washington State.   

Steve’s involvement with the AAC soon introduced him to Dr. Andy Embick and together they became the new leadership of the section.  Andy, living in Valdez, was already involved with developing Keystone Canyon‘s amazing ice routes with the likes of John Weiland, Bill Lorch, Roman Dial and Carl Tobin. 

In 1983 a “surge” of ice climbing was in full swing around southcentral Alaska.  New route activity was common place and Steve started to maintain a logbook at Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking.  The names of local climbers active in the three primary climbing centers during this time still read like a Who’s Who of Alaska ice climbing: names such as Borjon-McDonald, Sassara-Frank, McCabe-Van Etten, Guenther-Roberts, Lewis-Taniguchi, Mushrush-Martinez, Garvey-Sweeny, Whitelaw-Pollard, Hunt-Lucy in Anchorage; Dial-Will, Tobin-Hollister, Garvey-Bull in Fairbanks; and Embick-Tobin, Weiland-Teale, Comstock-Lorch in Valdez.  Steve found himself tied to the rope of most of these individuals and with them made more than 20 first ascents and repeated many others.

This initial “surge” was culminated with Andy Embick publishing Blue Ice and Black Gold in 1987. Steve was preparing a companion guide with Andy’s guide and joined forces with Dave Whitelaw and Roger Pollard in publishing Fat City and Urban Ice in 1989. Almost immediately, these guides were out-of-date as a new wave of climbers picked-up the call leading into the 1990’s. Wayne Mushrush and Martin Martinez began their exploration into Hunter Creek and the Knik River valley. Steve Garvey and Chris Roach began pioneering new routes in the Hicks Creek drainage, Charlie Sassara, Dave McGivern , Steve Garvey and Kirby Wharton found new desperate’s in Portage, and Jim Sweeny and Dave Nyman continued to develop new routes in the Placer River canyon and along the southern shores of the Kenai Peninsula. 

A second surge occurred in Hunter Creek in 1995 as Steve with Harry Hunt, Dave Lucy and Ernie Borjon began exploring beyond the fork of Hunter Creek where they all made several first ascents. He formally reported on the area in a 1997 entry to the American Alpine Journal. 

With all this new route activity, Steve was confronted with the prospect of publishing an updated edition of Fat City. He prepared a Hunter Creek guide (unpublished) and with all the new routes on the Knik River, an alternative was needed. This alternative came about with the Alaska Ice Climbing guide website.

Steve has been a great supporter of and we send a big thanks for the use of his personal Hunter Creek guide including his photos on the site.  Steve will soon leave Eagle River where he has lived since 1981 and take up full-time residence in Girdwood and in Bozeman, MT. 

Steve has numerous first ascents throughout Alaska not  provided on the guide.  Below, is just a short list of his first ascents that are listed on the AIC guide.

Hunter Creek

Turnagain Arm

Blackerby Ridge

Echo Bend

Hurdygurdy Area

Pioneer Peak