There’s a notable shortage of 18,000-foot rock walls around Kodiak, but noted Alaska mountaineer Samuel Johnson will do his best to make up for that as he presents a lecture on his climbs in central Asia and the Alaska Range at 7 p.m. in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.
Johnson, a psychology doctoral student, was scheduled to participate in a conference beginning today at Kodiak College. Along the way, he encountered Steve Wielebski, owner of Orion Mountain Sports and president of Kodiak Island Search and Rescue.
“He emailed me and said he was looking for a place to camp. I offered my house, but I said, ‘You have to give a presentation,’” Wielebski recalled.
He said Johnson is a rising star in the climbing world, and some of his ascents — including several pioneering climbs in Alaska — put him among Alaska’s top.
“For these guys who go up and live on walls for a long period of time, it’s an extreme part of the sport,” Wielebski said.
Contacted by phone in Anchorage, Johnson said he’s looking forward to his first trip to Kodiak Island.
“I’m real psyched,” he said.
The lifelong Alaska resident grew up commercial fishing in Cook Inlet and left the state while pursuing an undergraduate degree. He returned to Alaska for graduate studies and has kept those up while pursuing some of the most technically challenging peaks in the world.
“Right now, I’m just trying to get to the most interesting spots I can identify,” he said.
Johnson describes Pakistan as “moderate,” and said he enjoyed the chance to tackle the steep faces that country’s mountainous north provides.
“Pakistan has the steepest high-altitude peaks in the world,” he said. “They’re some of the most challenging in the world.”
Rather than a travelogue of those trips, Johnson said he will talk about the high points of each trip and share some of the art he was inspired to make.
Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at editor@kodiak