Winter Denali: Christine Feret off on the first female attempt with Artur Testov

Feb 24. The expedition kicked off yesterday from Alaska's Talkeetna: Christine Feret and Artur Testov were dropped on Kahiltna Glacier at 6,800 feet. “We will slowly go up, pulling all our gear and food (250 pounds) with sleds, ... read more

Feb 24. The expedition kicked off yesterday from Alaska's Talkeetna: Christine Feret and Artur Testov were dropped on Kahiltna Glacier at 6,800 feet. “We will slowly go up, pulling all our gear and food (250 pounds) with sleds, “Christine told ExplorersWeb before departure. “All going well, it should take a minimum of four weeks.”

Material of ExplorersWeb

No tents for McKinley’s wild season

 In winter, there is no BC or ranger service on the peak. The two climbers are not bringing tents. “Instead, we will go each day as long as we can and dig snow caves for the rest of the day,” Christine told ExWeb. “It takes about 4-5 hours to make a good one – days will be long!”

 “We are still taking a small tubular tent for safety, but intend to use it only in case of emergency,” Christine added.

 “We are bringing a couple of sharp heavy steel shovels for chopping harder ice,” Feret explained. “We did it last May at 17,500 and it worked fine. We are carrying a load of 270 pounds that we will split between our packs and sleds.”

 Ladder for crevasses

 “Artur is of course taking his ladder for crevasses as well! He will be first and in case he falls, the ladder should hold him before reaching too deep down in the crevasse – which is essential for a quick self-rescue and to prevent frostbite: At -40ºC, we don't have a couple of hours to get out of a crevasse like in summer time.”

 “We hope we will not have feet and feet of snow to push until Windy Corner. There can be so much snow until there in the winter. We will bring the sleds to 14,200 then will use a drag bag at the end of our rope for the Head Wall.”

 Ready to go

 Already familiar with the terrain since she climbed Denali twice last spring, Christine looks forward to get close up and personal with the peak off season: “This should be a fun wild adventure!!! I am the first woman to step foot on McKinley in the winter so it sure adds a little extra spice to the ordeal but either way, awesome mountain in extreme environment is exciting enough for me!!!”

 

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http://www.artur-testov-climbalaska.com/index.html

About Christine Feret

 

Christine was brought up in France and lives in Alaska with Artur along the Knik River, few miles from the Knik Glacier. An avid lover of Nature, Life and adventures, she has spent years traveling in remote parts of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Philippines living her dreams and pushing her limits. She has a wonderful daughter Manon whom she dedicates this attempt to... "Put fears aside, and live your dream..."

 

 

About Artur

 

He started specializing in winter climbing in 1988 and first set foot on the Alaskan Mt McKinley in 1994. He has since climbed it over 10 times, using different routes and at different times of the year.

Artur was born in the small city of Riazan in Russia on August 4th, 1965. He started training in mountaineering as a young teen in the then USSR and dedicated his youth to this discipline. When not climbing, he specialized in the construction of high buildings such as church towers.

 

 Artur is a true passionate and purist. He climbs for the love of the mountain and the beauty of his discipline and not for any glory. He lives in the wilderness in Alaska along the Knik River and enjoys a very particular and amazing relationship with Nature.

 

 

Artur says he feels alive when he is out there. When asked why he doesn't try his winter climbs in March (still winter in Alaska), his answer is always the same : What's the point? If I'm gonna climb in winter, I'm gonna do it when it's really winter, with the cold and the short days. The challenge is at least as much fun as the success!"

 

In January 1998, Artur and his partner Ananich made international news when they successfully summited McKinley. They are the only climbers to ever summit in the dead of winter, January being the darkest and coldest month in Alaska. They used the classic route, called the West Buttress.

The following winter, he and Alaskan climber Trigger attempted the ascent of the Wichersham Wall but had to turn around after 3 weeks of grueling cold and blizzard.

 

Few years before, Artur successfully crossed on foot the 900 kms KaraKum Desert in Turkmenistan in August without any life support. He and his partner are to this day the only ones to succeed crossing this desert in an unsupported expedition.

 

On December 21st 2007, Artur attempted to climb solo the never summitted in the winter Wickersham Wall on the North Face of Mt McKinley. Also known as the "Wall of Darkness", it is one of the biggest ice slope in the world with a vertical difference of almost 15,000 feet. It does not receive any direct sunlight, the temperatures are almost constantly in the 60s to 70s below (-50 to -60 Celsius). The very common blizzards bring the windchill factor to well over 100 below (-75 Celsius).

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Arthur Tests (second from the left) came to Alaska for the first time in 1994, within a team of Seven Summits, the first time collected by Alexander Abramov (first from the left).