Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassadors Luc Mehl and Roman Dial are among the top finishers in the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic.
For the last 31 years, a small group of elite adventurers, athletes and explorers have gathered in the Alaska backcountry to take part in one of the most grueling adventure races in the world. Its unsanctioned, unsponsored, organized at the grassroots level by the participants themselves — and those that finish (let alone place) have permanent bragging rights in the underground world of extreme adventure racers. What is this event? It’s the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic — or just “The Classic” to those who know.
The Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic was an adventure race before the term “adventure race” had been coined. First run in 1982 and every year since then, it is possibly the oldest race of its kind in North America. It’s still going strong not because of big corporate sponsorship or mass media attention — instead, it seems to have survived and thrived all these years because it is purely a grassroots effort. The participants themselves are the race.
The 2012 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic competitors before the race.
The Classic has a starting point and a finish point, with no required or set route. Each year the race area covers some of the most remote and challenging terrain in the world. It’s been run through all the major mountain ranges in Alaska. The rules are simple: start to finish with no outside support (and no gear or supply drops!), human-powered, leave no trace, no travel by road, and rescue is up to the individual to resolve. The most common form of transportation is foot and packraft, although bicycles, skis, and even paragliders have been used in the past. In a nod to safety, racers have been required to carry sat phones for emergencies since 2004. In addition to the summer Classic, there is also an equally extreme winter version of the race called the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Ski Race, which has taken place each year since 1987.
Josh Mumm packrafting in the 2012 Classic.
As succinctly put by the Alaskan Alpine Club website: “If you have not done the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic, do not too widely brag about any extreme adventure races you have done. If you have done the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic, and survived, you might not brag about things anymore.”
Check out this video of this year’s race care of Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Luc Mehl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZvWSerEIQ0
This year’s Classic was particularly difficult with several experienced racers dropping out. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Luc Mehl and Josh Mumm finished on July 12 with a time of 3 days and 22.5 hours. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Roman Dial came in third with a time of 4 days and 10 hours, and was this year’s first solo finisher. All three covered approximately 130 miles of extremely rough terrain in that time and all three were carrying Hyperlite Mountain Gear packs.
For lots more pictures and reports from several of the racers, see Luc Mehl’s blog: http://thingstolucat.com/2012-summer-classic/
Congratulations from us to all of those who participated in this year’s Classic, and especially to Luc, Josh and Roman who once again proved that Hyperlite Mountain Gear packs are as tough as they come.
The sun sets over the 2012 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic. Josh Mumm, his Hyperlite Mountain Gear Pack and Packraft.
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