/ October 18, 2017
2016 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic
Words by Luc Mehl
Hyperlite Mountain Gear is proud to be an unofficial sponsor of the unofficial Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic.
The Mountain Wilderness Classic is Alaska’s premier wilderness challenge, a grassroots event where participants push to their exertion and exhaustion limits. Ultralight is the name of the game, so it is no surprise that the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter is the pack of choice.
The 2016 course started at Galbraith Lake and ended in Wiseman, completing a north-south traverse of the Brooks Range, Alaska’s northernmost mountain range. The course was short by Classic standards, a minimum of 110 miles, half of which was floatable. This was a welcome change from the 2015 300-mile route in the Alaska Range, which was only finished by four of the thirty participants.
The short Brooks Range course and 24-hour daylight allowed participants to cut even more gear from their packs, with many participants expecting to go without sleep. Sleeping bags, shelter systems, and extra clothing were all left behind. One participant even opted to leave his packraft behind, starting with a 13 pound pack (this ended up being a bad decision).
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Luc Mehl and partner Todd Tumolo finished the course in 34 hours, with five others arriving under the 48 hour mark. The twentieth, and final finisher, was John Lapkass, 4:30 AM on the 6th day. This was John’s twenty-fourth Classic finish, and he celebrated it with sleep-deprived hallucinations of friendly people in a cemetery and building bridges.
Participants encountered grizzly bears, including a false charge on the Hammond River, wolves, a wolverine, rivers that swelled from barely-floatable to flood-stage in 48 hours, waist deep snow, and a portage around a class V landslide rapid within the Hammond River Canyon, all par for the course in an Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic.
Luc’s Gear List: