first Canadian women to climb mt denali encouraging others to take the 7 summits challenge

I have climbed Mt. Denali in Alaska at over 20,000 feet, and we were usually skiing and climbing high above the cloud level which was down in the valley. The sun can be intense even at minus 40. The four of us were the first Canadian women’s team to climb this peak (1982) and spent a month on the mountain, skiing, climbing, acclimatizing, helping on rescues, endlessly melting snow for water, being tested at the high altitude research station and waiting out high wind storms. Climbing in Peru meant spending time high on the glaciers with a lot sun reflection and I badly burned my neck and under my chin from the reflection off the snow.

I started climbing in 1977 when I took an Outward Bound course near Penticton, BC.  I have been a climber since – rock, mountain, and ice and involved in skiing: alpine, backcountry and Nordic. 

Living in a community of outdoor athletes I am surrounded by professional mountain guides and athletes of all levels of skill and commitment and I still do sports outdoors at least four days a week. Some of my friends are setting their own standards for what I have to do in February for them to sponsor me as they think skiing is easier than snowshoeing.   I have used snowshoes once when I did the Chilkoot trail in the spring and crossing the US/Canada border on the trail literally meant going from dirt trails to deep snow. I will be Nordic skiing and ski touring to get my miles in.

Barb Clemes in action – Ice climbing Louise Falls at Lake Louise
1st Canadain women’s team to summit Mt Denali – Barb Clemes on right

I’ve joined this fundraiser because:

  1. There are two people (my husband and a close friend) very important to me who are dealing with stage 3 and 4 metastatic melanoma.

2. To support Melanoma Canada which we have accessed for general information, webinar access, clinical trial information, resources, connecting with other caregivers, other patients, and hope.

3. To help raise the awareness of the insidious nature (often not painful and not easily seen) and the seriousness of melanoma, and how benign it can be if found early enough.

4. To help raise the awareness of visits to the dermatologists. My peer group, over 50 years old, is reasonably engaged but there is still room for more awareness and for younger people to start upping their protection now.  My husband’s melanoma was found by his physiotherapist (shout out to this other first line of defense) so there is room for increased awareness education for different health professionals.

5. To support the wealth of outdoor experiences available to us as Canadians, summer and winter, but to increase the awareness of winter sun exposure.

Barb Clemes

how to connect with strava

On your marks… get set… GO! The virtual 7 Summits Snowshoe Challenge for Skin Cancer presented by Neutrogena starts tomorrow. To track your kilometers and

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