This episode is from The Road To Denali series. Click here to read more
Denali is not a mountain you want to head out to unprepared. It’s big, it’s cold, and it’s stormy. So, future guest Luc Mehl offered his expertise to offer a bird’s eye view on Denali and Alaska for us.
In this episode Luc essentially gives us an overview on Denali specifically, but big mountains in Alaska in general. We talk about the importance of keeping warm and crevasses, being patient, altitude, training, winter camping, logistics of getting to Alaskan ranges, equipment, and more!
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A Reiteration and a Small Change
Earlier in the week I had an accredited guide offer to feature on a future episode for The Road To Denali. In a nutshell, the small conversation showed me that he had some opinions that he refused to be corrected. So let’s be clear:
You can now make a 100% charitable donation to Mind Over Mountains using the link here (also found on the sponsorship page). Alongside self-funding, I am looking to work with brands that can provide us value, I’ll be using the revenue from that to help fund the expeditions and training, and 10% will be going to charity. Why? Well, the mountains are fundamentally a selfish thing to head in to – there is a rarely a ‘proper’ reason to go. So, why not give back to the outdoors community and to those who struggle with mental health as I do?
We also chat about the challenges in this episode. The main takeaway here, is that despite my bold “I’ll climb Denali in May 2023″I will be the first person to amend the date if I’m not ready, the timing isn’t right, or I’m low on funds.
Important Factors To Consider
Getting in to the interview with Luc, one of the key points he makes it to work up to whatever the Alaskan challenge is. So, try on an 8000, 12,000, and 16000ft peak before before. This is going to help in becoming stronger, more efficient, and relaxed when you take on something like Denali. It will also help you to become exposed to elevation and cold, as these big mountains are far from the road and and help; heading up to 17 camp on Denali it could be blowing strongly with a helicopter unable to reach you if needed. Just like the little hurdles can add up, so can the little positive things you can do and learn on the mountain to make a big effect – things like fixing up your stove or keeping warm.
On the topic of keeping warm, it’s going to be cold. Very cold. Another key factor is learning your layering system and learning how to keep sweating to a minimum. Learning about boots where a sloppy fit will be warmer but a tighter fit will help with placements. Just exposing yourself to different methods and deciding which trade offs work in your favour.
Another is crevasses. If going solo, Luc says you’ll need to be figuring out snowshoes or skis to cross the crevasses, but also mentions that it can also be part of the fun if you enjoy learning. Luc talks about how fantastic it is to be learning how to tie in, set up, and travel across a glacier properly. On the other hand, if you are employing a guide, one great reason to have one there is to have someone checking your knots, and knowing where crevasses are, and able to better-set-up a rescue system in the worst case scenario.
Then, Luc discussed altitude. As Luc says, you get dumb. It’s important to work up to this to be better relaxed at altitude, but it’s something you cannot control.
Equipment For Alaska
Luc also chats about the equipment you’ll need for Alaska. If you are hiring a guide, then so much of this will be provided, and they’ll let you know what they bring and what you need to bring. But, it’s also worth noting that if you are using a guide, you’re also purchasing their 10 or even 20 years experience in the region knowing exactly what you need, how many calories you need to fuel up with each day, and more on the area.
As Luc discusses equipment it’s clear that there is no ‘clickbait’ list of 10 things you must bring. By this point in the podcast, you should have picked up that Luc is a big advocate for going out into the outdoors and trying things for yourself; learning by doing. The equipment that you need to bring to Alaska is just an accumulation of what you have discovered works best for you for that terrain.
Luc Mehl is an extremely accomplished adventurer in Alaska. Just adopting the outdoors as a part of his lifestyle, Luc has experience from Alaskan Wilderness Classics to traversing the three highest mountains in North America. You can check out his website here and his Instagram here.
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