The time has come, it’s the grand departure for Denali (6190m / 20310 ft)! After many long months of preparation—both physical and material—here we are, ready to go!
The main thing to keep in mind when going for a summit is that:
Reaching the top is good for the ego
The prep, the journey and the adventure are nourishment for the soul
Our expedition team is made up of four: Ksenia—my Russian friend with whom I scaled the Seven Summits— Artem, Raj, and myself.
You already know Ksenia, because you’ve seen her many times in my posts and on my blog. She is Russian, lives in Moscow, and is a climbing teacher and mountain guide. Ksenia climbed Elbrus (5642m) more than 30 times, Lenin Peak (7134m) twice, Aconcagua with me, and Mont Blanc many times. She also won the 200km Lake Baikal extreme ice race and some other crazy competitions. In short, she’s a badass girl!
She has amazing energy and incredible strength. Between the two of us, she’s the girl who’s going to get the snow to melt it. Me? I set up the tent and take care of our living space. Hey, everyone’s got a job!
Speaking of the two of us, we’ve actually been subject to some quite surprising remarks! To name a couple:
“Are you ladies seriously doing this?”
“Are you homosexual?”
To the first question, I’m tempted to answer, “nah, we go in flip flops without prep, you know us women…”
And to the second: “Yes, we are gay, I mean why else would two women go mountain climbing if they weren’t homosexual?” Seriously?!?
The fact is that when we see two men mountain climbing, we never think about their sexual orientation – I mean honestly, it simply doesn’t interest us – and the first two questions that usually come to mind are:
“Impressive, how did you train?”
“Where else have you climbed?”
I’m not a feminist, but frankly, such remarks are just ridiculous!
When I mentioned this to a friend, he replied, “Well you do share the same tent…” Huh? So do the men! Clearly still a macho bastion if there ever was one!
That said, joining our group of two girls, is Artem, a true force of nature! I have never met an athlete of this level. When we climbed Aconcagua, he did it in 3x less time than me – literally almost running to the top. Following that, he scaled Everest which he summitted on May 25th; then went down to Poland to do a double marathon; and the very next day jumped on a plane to Alaska to do Denali with us! He also won the 200km Lake Baikal ice race like Ksenia (she, a year earlier). He is a world champion of high altitude guiding and winner of multiple skyrunning competitions. In short, a Herculean force! I tell myself that at worst, I’ll jump in his sled if I’m too tired ;).
Finally, Raj, an energy-loving Malaysian mountain friend who scaled Mount Vinson in Antarctica and then Aconcagua with us – and all the other 7 summits with the exception of Everest. He attempted Denali last year but the bad weather conditions forced him to turn around.
Four is a good number. Small group, more mobile.
On June 5th, we head to Anchorage, Alaska for 24 hours to finalize our gear, and then to Talkeetna – our last point of civilization before the great north.
Finally, on June 7th, we take off in a little plane that drops us right in the middle of the snowy expanse for immediate departure.
At Denali, there’s no base camp with warm tents, tea & coffee, nor amenities like showers and toilets. Nothing at all…we are completely alone.
A profound moment of solitude…
I must leave you here, but don’t forget that you can follow me live @ https://share.garmin.com/ValerieOrsoni and even leave me messages while I climb!
PS. A big thank you to my super sponsor Oemine Krill who absolutely saves my ankles & wrists – in short, all the joint pain I’ve suffered since my youth! Use the code “BOOT” and get 50% off Omega-3 Krill on their site Oemine.fr.
Your LeBootCamp Coach