Breaking Trail: Arlene Blum

In spite of a recently broken leg, Arlene Blum reached the top of Denali as part of the first team of women to summit the mountain. (Photo courtesy of Arlene Blum)

Modern outdoor gear is mostly made from petrochemicals like Teflon, Gore-Tex and lots of plastics. They make our adventures comfortable and convenient, but also their manufacturing and use potentially impacts the same environment we are enjoying. A few scientists and outdoor pioneers are studying and advocating for changes in the outdoor gear industry. Arlene Blum is one such person. Arlene is a groundbreaking mountaineer and scientist. She led the first all female ascent of Denali and Annapurna, and was the first American woman to attempt Mt Everest. While breaking stereotypes in the mountaineering world she did the same as a scientist, publishing research that led to the banning of toxic chemicals in children’s pajamas for starters. Arlene is still at it working on “forever chemicals” (PFAS) that are found in the remotest parts of Alaska. Arlene and Pam Miller with Alaska Community Action on Toxics join host Paul Twardock to discuss Arlene’s contributions to mountaineering and science.

HOST: Paul Twardock

Arlene Blum, mountaineer, scientist
Pam Miller, Alaska Community Action on Toxics

Arlene Blum website
Alaska Community Action on Toxics
Green Science Policy Institute

BROADCAST: Thursday, April 27th, 2023. 10:00 am – 11:00 a.m. AKT

REPEAT BROADCAST: Thursday, April 27th, 2023. 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. AKT

Paul Twardock is a Professor of Outdoor Studies at Alaska Pacific University, where he has worked since 1988. He is the author of Kayaking and Camping in Prince William Sound and help found the Alaska Sea Kayaking Symposium/Paddle Sport Fun Day. At APU he teaches a variety of undergraduate classes included Sea Kayaking, Recreation Program Design, Nordic Skiing, The Business of Recreation, and Wildland Ecosystems and Human Impacts.  Paul received his BS in Outdoor Recreation from Western Illinois University, went to work instructing for NOLS in Alaska, then received his MBA from APU.  Paul’s  research includes monitoring of campsites in Prince William Sound and Chugach State Park for human impact, trail use in Chugach State Park, and the Alaska Recreational Boating Safety Incident Database. His passions include sea kayaking, river boating of all sorts, hiking, mountain running, climbing, skiing of any kind, and birding.  One of his last adventures involved a mule ride.

Paul is one of several hosts for Outdoor Explorer

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