Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Amber-Lee Dibble, Alaska Chic

Alaskan Wilderness Adventure featuring Amber-Lee Dibble...

'Tiny is an ebony Alaskan range horse. She is a working herd mare thriving in a fly-in area deep in the Chisana, Alaska interior, site of the last historic gold rush. Tiny is a mere 17 hands, towering her peers, humans and select tundra. A docile mare, most of the time....'

An introduction to Amber-Lee Dibble aka Alaska Chic! Amber-Lee and her beautiful mountain horses are the topic of my upcoming International Equine column….

Where are you in the world?
We are located inside the Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve, in the interior of Alaska. We live in a fly-in area deep inside the Wrangell Mountains in Chisana, the site of the last historic gold rush.

Tell me about your adventures….
Adventures! Everything is an Adventure here in Chisana! We specialize in Adventure. There is only one way to really see Alaska and that is by horseback. The next best way is on snow-machine (that is snowmobiles to you folks that aren't Alaskans!) We have made an art out of guiding people safely through the Alaskan wilderness to their dreams and goals. Our lives are our business. As we make our living, we make our lives...

Tell me about your business; what do you do?
We are an Outdoor Recreational company, more specifically, horse outfitters. Pioneer Outfitters offers Summer Horseback Adventures of all levels for all ages and experience, Fall Photo Safaris for those folks who wish to enjoy the Fall in Alaska and getting those pictures up-close and personal, Fall Alaska Big Game Hunting for the most magnificent of Alaska's critters, Winter and Spring Excursions for those who wish to experience Wintertime and all the wonders Alaska has for those who enjoy the cold. Pioneer Outfitters offers Winter Predator Hunts for those who wish to run an Alaskan trap line, Spring bird hunting and ice-fishing for those inclined in those pass-times, Spring Grizzly and Black Bear Hunts and the Pioneer Outfitter Survival & Guide Training.

What is the best adventure?
The best? WOW! I would have to say, it is the Horseback Adventure for 20 days. I like this one the best because we can go absolutely anywhere, do anything and enjoy every minute without ever feeling like "I could show you just one more place."

I'd love to know about your horses!
Our horses are one of my favorite things about my life! Our horses are range horses, which mean for seven and a half months a year, they are wild. They free range in the enormous National Park and are as tough as they come.

They live in the wild, fight off the timber wolves, are intimately knowledgeable of the terrain and are the most sure footed horses I have ever experienced riding. They carry our gear so we can offer our guests and clients comfortable camps and us, across rivers, through the bogs and tundra of Alaska, over mountains and over hundreds of miles of wilderness.

When we are looking for more stock to add to our horses, we are looking for what the Boss refers to as "Short and stocky, all ass and no body." We like to have "mountain horses" i.e.: big-footed, stocky horses, short-coupled, short backs, between 900-1,200 pounds, 14.5-15.5 hands, short necks, heavy boned with the average size shoes being 2-3.

Our horses are not "pets" (although some of them are not aware of that rule!) We like the horses that would rather not have anything to do with us, the barn and yards. Their average life span is 25-30 years old.

The horses are important to us, not only as an important part of the business and the history of the area, but because they are our "partners." They do amazing things for us, just because we ask.

How do you handle cold weather?
The cold weather in Alaska is a funny thing to this farm-girl from "up-state" New York, in the snow-belt. There is little to no humidity here in Chisana. (it makes a huge difference).

Bunny boots are a must. Layers are a must. Wool is our friend and cotton is the general enemy to Alaskans. Wind-shear is also really important to us because even though it may be -50* below zero or -60* below zero, we have work to be done.
Wintertime work is accomplished with snow-machines and snow-machines make wind. With temperatures that range from coldest to unspeakable, wind can be deadly.

When I go out in the wintertime this is what I have on: long underwear, silk sock liners, wool socks, a turtle neck and usually a sweatshirt, flannel lined jeans, a parka and snow-pants or extreme cold weather Carhart- coveralls, and my bunny boots! Now we add the neck gator, a good hat and warm gloves (although mittens work better for me). Sunglasses are a must to at least have with me because I tend to be snow-blinded with the glare.

When you are dressed properly, Alaska in the winter is a sight to behold and experience, to be sure.

How do I book an adventure and when is the best time to come?
Woo-Hoo! First, you have to decide what Adventure you would like to experience (we can help with that too!). Then you would either contact us through the website, or by email or a phone call. We would schedule your time-frame and send you a "Welcome packet" with your contracts, insurance release forms, pictures, the most asked Q & A's and a planning guide that I have put together to make things a little easier on you for knowing what to bring, what we supply, how to get here, an itinerary of the Adventure you have chosen and anything else I can think of that you may enjoy.

Follow Amber-Lee
You Tube: Pioneer Outfitters 
Pinterest: Amber-Lee Dibble 
Twitter: Pioneer Outfitters, @AlaskaChickBlog

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