JIRP Perspective by Lance and Ross Miller (Blogging From the Field #50)


Post by Lance and Ross Miller

[This post is part of a series of real-time communication from participants in the 2012 Juneau Icefield Research Program.  The program begins June 23rd and concludes August 18th.]

Today [July 12th], with wind driving snow against the roof we gather in the Camp 10 cook-shack talking with students about the years of history on the Icefield. The crew here is thankful for the foresight to build this initial building 63 years ago (along with the many additions completed since then). There is still debate over which was the first structure built in 1949 at Camp 10… the cook-shack, or the outhouse named Petunia. For those who just skied in from Camp 17 the facilities are a welcome rest from two long and rainy days on the trail.

With regard to weather we do not know anymore what “normal” climate is. Just last night the tents at the Norris Cache were blown down, the trail crew waking before sunrise to dig themselves out.  Now we are having snow accumulate at Camp 10. We are glad for decisions to push for two food flights. 3000 lb. was received just before the weather closed in and now the camp has swelled to 36 students and staff.  Being here on the Icefield and seeing the dedicated volunteer staff, and the motivated students, we are excited about the future of the program and the continuation of the vision set in place by so many in the past.

Shoveling snow around the “Nunatak Chalet” – the combined mess hall, bunk room, radio shack, and storage building. A 16-foot tower was later built above the roof for emergency evacuation in case of a prolonged snow storm.  (Photo taken December, 1953)

Over the last several years neither of us has been closely involved with the Juneau Icefield Research Program as we have been focusing on the well-being of our father, Maynard Miller, who had his 91st birthday in January. This has been a time of transition for the Foundation for Glacier and Environmental Research (FGER) and JIRP, frankly we were wondering about how the program would endure into the future. Today there is new energy and focus moving forward for what is still a solid mission. In early 2012 the Board of the FGER selected Jeff Kavanaugh as the new director following over six decades of leadership by our father, Maynard Miller. We are excited about the future.

Dr. Maynard Miller (right) with two Thermo Borers, an experimental way to reach depth in the glacier, later lines of calibrated electrical resistance thermistors were lowered down the holes to assess penetration of winter cold into the glacier. (Photo taken December, 1953)

Along with new leadership and the dedicated volunteer staff what impressed us on our return visit is the spirit and passion of the students, staff and faculty on the Icefield. This is truly a treasure. In addition, new cutting edge research in remote sensing, ecology, isotope geochemistry and seismology compliment the ongoing mass balance and ice flow surveys and revitalize the program’s long history of interdisciplinary research and as a barometer for global change and developing leaders for tomorrow.

Dr. Maynard Miller takes the temperature of Taku Glacier in winter with a Wheatstone bridge that is used to measure temperature related changes in resistance along a cable supporting a series of thermistors lowered deep within the ice. (Photo taken December, 1953)

P.S.  One other thing we have been working on while at Camp 10 is the room our Dad has next to the Institute Building lecture hall. This small hut was the third building at Camp 10, and now full of almost 60 years of accumulation… we are working to renovate it into a study and meeting place with archives, photos and historical displays. Examples of some vintage photos above, from a winter expedition at Camp 10, in December 1953!

Lance & Ross

[Editor’s note:  Lance and Ross Miller visited Camp 10/JIRP in July and submitted this post a few days ago.  JIRP over the past half century (and then some!) has been made real through the vision and devotion of Ross and Lance’s parents, Joan and Maynard Miller.]


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Leave a comment:


Dee Molenaar

December 9, 2012

I’m so glad that the JIRP has retained the enthusiasm for continuing the program intiiated in 1946 by my longtime climbing friend Maynard Malcolm Miller, so ably supported for many decades by his wwife Joan and their two equally active sons Lance and Ross.
I first met Maynard when we guided together on Mt. Rainier in 1941, and he was a principal inspiration to me in devoting myhife and career to geology and geomorhology, and my art to publication of landform maps of geologically fascinating areas of the Pacific NW and beyond.

Louis R. Miller

May 28, 2013

Makes me homesick for Camp 10 and 18.
1967, 68,69, &1989

“the Moth”

Jim Morrison

January 6, 2014

How’s my old pal doing?

I think of him every time it snows.


Jim Morrison
(Cinerama 1952)