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“In April and May of 2010 I participated in a 200 mile, 35 day camping trek in Nepal with Lee Stroncek, and Richard Lainhart and Marisa Bedford.  We walked the Manaslu Circuit, around Mt. Manaslu, the 8th highest mountain in the world at 26,700’ high, and reached our highest point on Larkya La at 16,700’ near the Tibetan border.  We also visited the side valley called the Tsum Valley and the Ganesh Himal, a box canyon ringed by several 24,000’ peaks.   These areas have only been open to trekkers since 2008, and are pristine Tibetan Buddhist regions that they have inhabited for over 400 years.

This trip was not about wildlife as much as the stupendous mountain scenery, and the traditional culture.  Of course the endangered Snow Leopard does inhabit these areas, but few ever see them.  We did see the Blue Sheep or Bharal, and the Himalayan Tahr, both of which are preyed upon by the Leopard.

I hired a personal porter to carry my paints and pochade so I was able to make these 9 field paintings on the spot.”

Manaslu in the Morning  12"x12"

Chorten and Himal Chuli

Ganesh Himal from above Nile
Langdang Gompa and Ganesh 

Manaslu North from below Syacha Glacier 11"x14"

Old Kani near Chhogu, Tsum Valley 11"x14"
Budhi Gandaki Nadi near Tatopani  14"x11"

Tibetan Relics Samagoan 12"x16"

Chumga Gompa, Tsum Valley
14" X 11"

These paintings from the trip are not for sale.


Ralph will again accompany Tucker Smith on another painters’ pack trip into the Wind River Mountains in August of 2006.  This trip will include Chris Blossom, Clyde Aspevig & Carol Guzman, Jim Morgan and collectors Jim Hinckley and Dan Fiehrer.  This will be a more leisurely trip that will focus on painting and having fun.    

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Painting by Ralph Oberg              "Gannett Peak and Scott Lake"

Our August 2005 Pack Trip as told by Tucker Smith:

Gannett Peak in the Wind River Range is the highest point in Wyoming (13,804’).  On the map I noticed there was a lake on the west side of Gannett called Scott Lake.  I knew the views from this lake would be spectacular, but access would be difficult. To reach the lake we would have to climb 3000’ higher than the nearest trail with no easy route.  I also knew at 65 years old I needed to do this while I was able.

On August 2, 2005 artist Ralph Oberg, friend Jim Hinckley, retired outfitter Courtney Skinner, and two porters, Tom Dirk and Justin Adams (who has summited Everest), joined me on the trip.  My brother Dexter packed us in the 11 miles to our base camp location using his and my horses.  Dexter then returned to the trailhead and went home to return in a week to pick us up.  Courtney also brought a pack string into base camp the next day. 

We planned to climb the 3 ½ miles, 3000’ elevation gain up Tourist Creek and across a ridge to the lake in one day.  On August 4 we all started for the lake except Courtney who remained in base camp to tend his stock.  Ralph and I were carrying our painting gear, camera equipment, and some camping gear.  The rest took camping gear and food.  My pack was about 30 lbs. which was by far the lightest.  I knew I would be bringing up the rear even at that.

We found the climb was one continuous steep boulder field.  Late in the day we came to a beautiful wide spot on the stream with a grassy meadow, the first we had seen since leaving base camp.  We were only half way to the lake.  Tom returned to base camp to help Courtney.

The next day was easier climbing, but still strenuous for me.  When we reached the ridge above Scott Lake, the panorama was grand.  Across the valley were three glaciers: Minor, Mammoth and Baby.  Above them were the high peaks, with Gannett towering above the rest.  The lake was about 600’ below us.  However, we were standing on top of a cliff with no apparent way down.  We decided to go back to a nearby lake to camp.  This lake was over 11,000’ so was above timberline.

That afternoon Ralph found some ledges that would allow us to descend the cliff so we could get down to Scott Lake.  The next morning Ralph and I were on the ridge watching the sunrise.  The weather was beautiful as it had been most of the trip.  Ralph decided to do a painting from the ridge and climb down to the lake later.  I wanted to be down by the lake in the morning light so I descended the cliff alone.  I spent the whole morning in the valley.  Above the head of the lake Gannett Peak dominated the scene with the other peaks sweeping around to the right. On the left side of the valley was a waterfall cascading down the cliff and steep slopes of Desolation Peak.  At the head of the lake streams were cascading down from Minor and Mammoth glaciers.  Scattered clumps of stunted Alpine Fir and Whitebark Pine grow on the benches above the lower end of the lake.  It was like having my own private Shangri-la.  Ralph joined me about noon and together we reveled in the sights.

Scott Lake.jpg (526687 bytes)The trip down to base camp seemed as arduous as the climb up.  It was more dangerous because some of the boulders had a tendency to tip when stepped on.  We all fell several times.  Ralph hit his head on a rock but no one was seriously hurt.

While Dexter was bringing in our horses and his pack string for the trip out, one of the pack horses pulled back and pulled the entire pack string (three horses and one mule) off the trail where they tumbled over and over down the steep rock slide to end up at the edge of Upper Green River Lake.  If they would have gone into the lake they would have drowned because they were all tangled in the ropes.  Fortunately none were seriously injured but two pack saddles were broken, one beyond repair.  It took Dexter two hours to untangle the pack string and get back on the trail.  On the way out Dexter’s helper got bucked off and landed on his back on a rock.  He was very sore the rest of the way out.

Our pack trips are usually adventuresome, but this one was a little more than usual.  We felt very fortunate to have visited this remote spot.  Being at Scott Lake made it all worth while.




In the summer of 2004 I went on another pack trip into the Wind River Mountains, this time with Tucker Smith, Bill Anton and Jim Morgan.  We covered a lot of miles on horseback from the West side to reach some very wild country on the East side of the range above the Indian Reservation.  The trip resulted in several good mountain field sketches. 

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Left to Right – Jim Morgan, Steve Hartsell, Bill Anton, Tucker Smith, Jim Hinckley and Ralph Oberg.

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   Our guide, seventy-something Monte Skinner leads the way.

 Again, this coming August 2005, I plan to accompany Tucker to another wild and rugged site, just below the west face of Gannett Peak.  This will entail a 3000’ climb in 3.5 miles of trackless rock scrambling where horses can’t go, to get the views from Scott Lake above the Green River gorge.  Immediately thereafter I will attend the NWR Campout at the 320 Ranch in the Gallatin Canyon south of Bozeman, and the show in Helena on the 18-19.  After a brief stop at home I will attend the Maynard Dixon show at Mt. Carmel UT on the 27th of August, 2005. 

 Immediately after the Maynard Dixon show, Matt Smith and I will drive up to Salt Lake and fly to Anchorage AK where we have a pickup camper rented for a 10 day painting tour on the highways of the state, and hopefully a few days of bush flying and painting in the Brooks Range.   After Matt’s return to the lower 48 for the Jackson Fine Arts Festival shows, I will again hook up with wildlife photographer Stephen Krasemann for several more weeks of bush flying, wilderness touring and painting in Denali and  Wrangell-St Elias National Parks and the Yukon.  On September 23 I will fly down to Calgary AB, and meet Matt coming back up from Montana, for the final week of North Country painting at Jimmy Simpson’s Num-Ti-Jah Lodge on Bow Lake in Banff N. P. and a two night stay at the Cabins on beautiful Lake O’Hara in Yoho N. P.  

  It’s a tough job, but we get to do it!  Please email your sympathies to the address provided. 



The Wind River Painters Pack Trip 

            Shirley and I did a Wind River Painters Pack Trip for a week in July 2003 with Matt Smith and Tracy Avant,  Kathy Wipfler,  Dan Young, Eric Michaels and Veryl Goodnight.  We had perfect weather and painted several Rungius sites, like Vista Pass, Borum Lake, and Elbow Lake.

Also, I returned to the Winds in October to accompany two friends on their Elk hunting pack trip in the New Fork Canyon area.  I rode horseback with my  paints to several wild and scenic sites feeling very much like Rungius must have felt.  The solitude and beauty inspiring many plein aire sketches.


        Arizona beauty being captured on canvas by Ralph.






  Ralph painting at 4th Lake on second  Big Pine Canyons trip into Sierras.


         Here Ralph is "just doin' it!"


Bill Anton, Ralph Oberg, Matt Smith and Skip Whitcomb on a paint-out near Ouray, CO in January 1998.

In 2001 we went North in our pickup camper to Whitehorse, Yukon  arriving the 22nd of August  and staying until September 10 painting the wilderness and photographing wildlife with nationally recognized photographer Stephen Krasemann in the wild Pelly River area.  

The next week saw us driving and painting southward on the Cassiar Highway of British Columbia to Bow Lake in Banff National Park where we stayed for 3 days at the famous Num-Ti-Jah Lodge built by Carl Rungius' guide and friend Jimmy Simpson.  We  returned  home on the 19th of September after nearly 6 weeks on the road.






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