Conservation

Kit DesLauriers

Arctic Refuge: From Adventure to Conservation

Chris Figenshau

Kit DesLauriers

DesLauriers, who is also a member of The North Face athlete team, says she was glad to use her adventure skills to help people “understand our natural environment,” adding that the project “speaks to the age of exploration still being open for those who wish to look deeper into the questions which remain.

-national geographic

Remote Untouched Landscape

Kit calls the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge an immense wilderness landscape "as pristine as when any of our ancestors came to this continent." Despite standing atop the tallest mountains on every continent, she describes the wildlife oasis in the Arctic Refuge as "the most beautiful place" she’s ever been.

In 2010, during her first expedition to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Kit spent weeks skiing the highest peaks of the Brooks Range and crossing seventy miles on skis through the Refuge to the Arctic Ocean.

Beginning with that first trip, Kit has become keenly aware of the threats to this wild landscape including the potential destruction to an intact ecosystem that would result from the proposed oil and gas extraction efforts and the warming climate which is quickly melting glaciers and permafrost plus altering wildlife habitat.

Kit DesLauriers

Teaming Up with Scientists:

  • 2012: Physical scientist Dr. Matt Nolan asks Kit to aid glaciology studies to determine the amount of ice remaining in the US Arctic. Ice radar survey equipment used by Kit and her team provide inconclusive data.
  • 2012-2014: Nolan devises a new aerial surveying technique to make ground-based measurements, like the 2012 failure, obsolete. He calls on Kit to verify the technique.
  • May 2014: With a grant from the National Geographic Expeditions Council, Kit conclusively measures and skis the highest mountains in the Arctic Refuge while Nolan maps them from the air. The ground data gathered by Kit helped prove the precision of Nolan’s aerial technique.
  • June 2016: Their work is peer reviewed and published in a scientific journal, The Cryosphere.

The research and article settled a longstanding debate about which peak stands taller in the US Arctic. Nolan’s aerial photogrammetry can now be used to measure nearly anything topographic, including glacial ice level change over time.

Simultaneously, Kit’s expeditions to the area ignited her passion to defend the wild ecosystem of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

  • 2015: Kit, her husband, and two daughters take a weeklong float trip down the Kongakut River in the ANWR
  • 2018: Return with The North Face teammate Hilaree Nelson to repeat ski on Mt Chamberlin and glimpse the lack of snow cover on the Coastal Plain
  • June 2019: An upcoming trip to explore ANWR with The North Face team.

Kit DesLauriersDuring her first 8 years of adventuring in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Kit wrote op-eds, gathered athlete signatures for letters to Congress, and spoke at industry meetings to lend her voice to protecting this important ecosystem.

Yet when the December 2017 tax bill passed and mandated that oil drilling happen in the Arctic Refuge, Kit put on her boxing gloves and decided to join the Board of Directors for the Alaska Wilderness League.

AWL is the only non-profit exclusively focused on Alaska Wilderness, and through this alliance Kit continues to work on protecting the Arctic Refuge from oil and gas development.

Other Organizations

Businesses

Media

PEER SAYS FURTHER STUDY NEEDED

18 areas in need of further study regarding the impacts of oil and gas drilling on the Arctic Refuge coastal plain were hidden from public view during the current administration's official environmental review. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has the memos here, which cover water and waterways, snow, climate, noise, air quality, wildlife and more.

KIT'S ARTIC REFUGE PRESS

Why I’m Taking My Two Young Girls to the Arctic

Outside Online – “The risks are worth it to show my kids one of the wildest places on the planet…”

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Why The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Should Be Left Alone

Teton Gravity Research – They came to the Arctic Refuge on an expedition funded by The North Face so that they could come back with a story to tell…

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We Are The Arctic

We Are The Arctic – I first spotted the tracks as our chartered bush plane circled to land in the snow-covered foothills of the Brooks Range. Polar bears….

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