Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Getting high...

I caught a story on VOCM last week (and a column in the most recent The Express) that T.A. Loeffler is reporting that she had a successful expedition to climb Mount Elbrus even though bad weather forced her back before she could reach the summit.

Now, good on her for trying this. Like most climbs at that height, and with those weather conditions, it's a dangerous thing to attempt. If you don't believe me, then read Dups account of climbing that same mountain back in June. He barely made it and there were certainly plenty of stories about people who didn't survive the attempt.

So if trying to climb the mountain and surviving is considered successful, then I agree. However, the way VOCM worded the story gave me some pause. So did her column. You see, Loeffler is trying to do the Seven Summits. That means climbing the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. I just hope Elbrus isn't off that list. She didn't make the top so she's going to have to go back.

I only mention this because she's soliciting sponsors to help her do this and there's something about the way it reads right now that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But I stand to be corrected on this.

I have a couple of friends who are into climbing. And while talking about this Seven Summits one of them, Mike, mentioned the Twelve Summits. Which is to climb the tallest point in each of the 10 provinces and three territories in Canada. Oh, and in case you were wondering why it's 12 and not 13, the tallest mountain in Newfoundland and Labrador straddles the border with Quebec, making it the tallest in each province. It also has a somewhat messy history.

Anyway, it's an idea that they're kicking around in their heads, trying to climb all these retarded mountains, although I don't know how serious they are.

Now you might not think that would be as big a challenge as the Seven Summits, but apparently only person has done it. And he wasn't Canadian. He was from Ohio.

So it's really a great challenge and a way to get into the history books if you're feeling brave - be the first Canadian to climb the Twelve Summits. I mean, you wouldn't think the "mountain" in PEI would be that much of a challenge. And considering it's at the edge of a potato field you'd be right.

But the mountains in BC, Alberta, Quebec/Newfoundland and Labrador, the Yukon and Nunavut are a bitch and half. Even if some of them are not exceptionally tall, they are very technical. Or difficult to reach.

Like the one in Nunavut, for example. At 8,000 feet, it's not huge. Mt. Elbrus, the one that Dups and Loeffler just climbed, is around 18,000. It is, however, at 80 degree North and only about 500 miles from the North Pole. It's Northern Ellesmere Island. Fewer people have climbed this mountain than K2. It's difficult to get to, very expensive to reach (the charter flight from Resolute to Alert is $30,000. To get to Resolute from Edmonton would probably set you back more than $3,000) and a technically challenging mountain under harsh conditions.

Go here if you want to see where it is on a map. It's in the national park just south of Alert.

So I don't anticipate them doing this anytime soon, although it would be cool to think some of my friends accomplishing this. However, the suggestion among this group of friends, who are scattered far and wide, is that we should climb the tallest mountain in whatever province or territory we're currently living in and that we should do it at the same time, is nuts.

I want to see more of Nunavut, there's no doubt about that. But if you think I'm flying to Alert to climb an 8,000 foot tall mountain anytime soon, you're out of your mind...

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