Crofton Maryland resident Art Huseonica is one of the Denali Ice Agers, a group of "senior" mountain climbers who will embark on the adventure of a life-time today when they arrive by air taxi at the southeast fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. From base camp (at 7,200 ft.), they will travel 16 crevass-riddled miles via the West Buttress to reach the summit at 20,320 ft. Along the way they will establish four more camps, and we will travel along via blog.
As an east-coast suburban gal, everything I "know" about mountain climbing I learned from Alison Levine, the mountain-climber and keynote speaker at the 2007 RE/MAX Convention, Her presentation was both entertaining and inspiring, and it's the reason a google alert caught my eye a year later when this Crofton resident, training for an earlier Denali expedition, was mentioned.
I contacted Art by phone and asked if I could blog about him, and since then we've become good cyber-friends. Even though we live in the same community, we have yet to meet, but I couldn't be more proud to know him or more interested in his adventures if he were my next-door neighbor or brother-in-law.
Denali National Park and Preserve is located in Interior Alaska and contains Denali, the highest mountain in North America. The word "Denali" means "the high one" in the native Athabaskan language and refers to the mountain itself. The naming of this mountain after president William McKinley in 1897 by local prospector William A. Dickey has been subject to local criticism from the onset, since McKinley had no connection whatsoever to the region, and Alaska residents tend to use "Denali" when referring to the mountain and associate "Mt. McKinley" with the surrounding park. (Source: Wikipedia)
According to MountainTrip.com, Denali is a place of superlatives. "Carrying the heaviest pack of your life in the thin air of altitude at such high latitudes can make the West Buttress a very physically challenging climb. Extreme winds, heavy snowfall and arctic cold all conspire to make it a serious undertaking. Aspiring West Buttress climbers need to be in top physical shape and prepared to suffer with a smile." Denali is a massive mountain with a greater rise than Everest, yet the team made it to 17,000 ft. last year - just 3,120 ft. shy of the summit - turning back only because their guide became ill.
How does an east-coast suburban retired guy train for something like this? - That's what I wanted to know. For my answer, I read Art's June 3 blog post titled The Art of Denali Training. His strategy is very creative, and includes working in a warehouse, where he gets plenty of heavy-lifting, and dragging a 42 pound utility truck tire across sand (to simulate Denali sled usage) while wearing snowshoes.
Never under-estimate the power of a google-alert for your local area. How else would I have developed this friendship with a local mountain-climber, and why would I have cared to learn all this? Hopefully you, too, will learn a little about something new, as I share with my blog-readers a few updates about Art Huseonica's mountain-climbing adventure with the Denali Ice Agers.
Photos with permission from Art Huseonica