Here are some new photos of cleaning out the ice cellar in preparation for the spring whaling season. Every spring, we clean out the ice cellar, which involves removing all of the whale, ducks/geese, seals, etc., anything that we have stored down there, and either share it with others or eat it. Then the dirty snow and ice is picked off with an axe by young crew members and hauled up by bucket from the ice cellar. Clean, fresh snow is brought down to the ice cellar and spread over the floor. A whale will not give itself to you unless there is a clean place for it to rest.
Aluiqsi Gerke removing dirty snow     Aluiqsi Gerke cleaning out the ice cellar
Aluiqsi Gerke cleaning out the ice cellar
Aluiqsi Gerke in the ice cellar

There is about 18 inches of ground, and below that is the permafrost, which goes down about 1,000 feet. You can see the permafrost in these pictures.
Permafrost visible in the ice cellar Ernest Nageak and his father Roy Nageak waiting to pull up dirty snow
Permafrost visible in the ice cellar Ernest Nageak and his father Roy Nageak waiting to pull up dirty snow

Usually each whaling family has one shared ice cellar. These are pictures of the Akootchook Crew (my husband Joseph’s family’s crew), and Roy Nageak is the captain.
Ben Roy Sage removing dirty snow     Ben Roy Sage removing dirty snow in the ice cellar
Ben Roy Sage removing dirty snow in the ice cellar
Ben Roy Sage in the ice cellar

Joseph’s nephews, Aluiqsi Gerke and Ben Roy Sage, are young members of the Akootchook Whaling Crew and we are so proud of their hard work! Aluiqsi is 14 and Ben Roy is 16.
Aluiqsi Gerke and Ben Roy Sage taking a break
Aluiqsi Gerke and Ben Roy Sage taking a break

~ Contributed by Mary Sage April 2006 Photo Credits © 2006 Joseph Sage