“I killed the classic.” -Luc Mehl
“Yeah, but I don’t know what we achieved.” -Josh Mumm, in response to my congratulations on a “fine achievement”
Luc was speaking, the other day after his finish in McCarthy, not about the latest in his increasingly gaudy portfolio of adventures, but about the abominable difficulty of this year’s route. It will well fit the tradition of Wilderness Classic legend. What follows are the facts as I know them. Some may be wrong. And the important details will have to wait for a more opportune time and place. Those not already informed should consult the race page and maps at Luc’s website.
Luc and Josh finished yesterday at 830 am, for the win and in a time of 3 days and 22.5 hours. Luc said he hopes to never do anything that hard ever again. Josh slept almost the whole way back to Anchorage, lying on a table in the back of Luc’s van. His head occasionally rattling against the door on the McCarthy road was not nearly enough to disturb him.
Todd Tumalo and Gerard Ganey finished the Wernicke to Tana Glacer route at 2pm yesterday, taking second place in 4 days and 4 hours. They ran everything from the start of floatable water below the glacier all the way to the Chitina, including Tana Canyon. Todd looked impressively fresh as he swatted mosquitoes and drank soda at the Lakina Bridge.
Roman Dial finished solo sometime last night. A stack of recent trips and an impending real estate deal had him begging off, but he showed up at Thompson Pass Saturday evening. The lure of new terrain was too much.
John Sykes and Mike Loso finished the glacier route some time last night as well. They intended to portage Tana Canyon, and presumably did so. On the ice they traveled as a unit with Tumalo and Ganey through up to a foot of fresh snow which fell on Tuesday.
Previous winners Todd Kasteler, Tyler Johnson, and Danny Powers bailed by floating the Copper to Cordova. I assume, but cannot confirm, that bad brush had a lot to do with this.
Team Heavy (Rob Kerr and partners whose names I cannot recall, forgive me) flew out of the Bremner Dunes yesterday with doctor and “jedi of pain” John Lapkass, who holds the record for finishes. I presume similar reasons here as well.
I flew out of the Bremner/Little Bremner confluence Monday evening, enjoying a ride from Paul Claus and his Super Cub. I got an armchair view of the amazing alpine country and clearwater rivers in the mountains, and the abysmal bush in the Little Bremner drainage. I had alternately traveled with Roman, Josh, and Luc through the previous day and night. Five miles from the beginning of the brush near the dunes up to the first clear side channel which led to the Little Brem took eight solid hours of work. The bugs were awful almost the whole time. Roman and I camped and napped from 8 to 10 am Monday morning, but soon after moving again I realized that this year, and perhaps this whole deal, was not for me. Lack of psyche, creeping fear, disinclination to go solo, and a tweaked tendon or ligament (I think) in the top of my left foot from one of the many falls in the brush is a story which will told in full next week. I’ve amused myself since by picking Devil’s Club thorns out of my hands, arms, and shins.