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Be First Recipient Trains to be the First Woman to Summit Mt. McKinley in Winter
Posted on July 13, 2010

Confined to a snow cave for 12 days by a blizzard during her last attempt, Be First recipient Christine Feret is making another push to become the first woman to summit Denali in the winter, alongside partner Artur Testov. Check back here for updates on her adventure.

By Christine Feret

We have just come back from McKinley’s Pioneer Ridge from the North Side. We were worked, humbled and reminded of the mountaineering basics.

This was our first serious training session for our attempt to climb McKinley in February. We decided that the best training for us would be what I like to call, “Free Mountaineering.” No communications, no rescue, no other teams to rely on. McKinley is wild, capricious and a true test of a mountaineer’s fortitude and endurance. This “Free Mountaineering” training route was intended to give us a mental taste of what winter will be like: long, painful and heavy, very heavy.

Our route began by crossing 40 miles of wild tundra with more than 100 pounds of gear a piece. From Wonder Lake inside the Denali Park at 1,900 feet, we reached the Muldrow Glacier from McGonagal Pass at 6,000 feet. We crossed the raging McKinley River, Cache Creek, Clearwater Creek and the mosquito-infested tundra hills that roll up and down without seeming to end.

The McKinley River is a couple of hours into the approach. The river was unusually swollen from a day of glacier melting. Artur with ski poles and me behind holding his backpack, we crossed two-thirds of it like a small train until we got stuck on a rock bar. We set camp there and decided to wait until 3 a.m. when the water might be a little less powerful. There I lost our five pounds of smoked sausage… we would get hungry sooner than planned!

We reached McGonagal Pass four days later, soaked from daily rain and hail storms, and decided to take a day off at the Pass. What a beautiful sight we had there of McKinley’s impressive North Side and Wickersham Wall, the Muldrow moraine under us and the Muldrow Glacier Icefalls we would have to cross in the distance.

First Ascent’s Be First program is an opportunity to pursue your passion for adventure, to go for your summit—whatever that might be—and get sponsored to do it. To learn more or apply, click here.




Author: - Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

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