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With a Capital C: My 2011 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
With a Capital C: My 2011 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic on 09/06/2011 15:44:31 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

With a Capital C: My 2011 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: With a Capital C: My 2011 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic on 09/06/2011 16:47:31 MDT Print View

Awesome! Thanks Dave.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Wilderness classic on 09/06/2011 19:28:06 MDT Print View

This is an amazing accomplishment and one that should be cherished for a lifetime. I can't even imagine the strengths it took to place where you did, and yet I look forward to seeing the rematch. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Anne Flueckiger

Locale: northern Minnesota
congrats on 09/06/2011 20:50:43 MDT Print View

Congratulations! and thanks for writing it up.

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Thanks on 09/07/2011 10:48:34 MDT Print View

It is great to read about your adventures. Sounds like a blast: a tiring, wet and scary blast!

Gabe Joyes
(gabe_joyes) - F

Locale: Lander, WY
congratulations on 09/07/2011 10:50:41 MDT Print View

High Five

Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
congratulations on 09/07/2011 17:45:44 MDT Print View

The Classic is quite the race. The one time I did it, I thought the best part was hanging out with all the other racers. That said, I don't think I have enough of a racer's heart to take that kind of punishment again. After the first time (and coming in nowhere near second), I ended up thinking the exact same trek would have been much more fun at half the speed, so I've gone back to my pokier wilderness adventures.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
thanks on 09/08/2011 07:58:19 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone.

Erin makes a very good point, that this (and other classic route, no doubt) would make as excellent backpacking trip of just about any length. The diversity and beauty of the terrain were really outstanding.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Just Awesome on 09/09/2011 00:13:50 MDT Print View

Congratulations, Dave!

Something to be very proud of at the least!

Simply an amazing adventure that at this point, I can only dream of.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
With a Capital C: My 2011 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic on 09/09/2011 09:39:53 MDT Print View

I just don't get sick of reading about the AMWC.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"With a Capital C: My 2011 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic" on 09/09/2011 11:22:35 MDT Print View

This is first class. It's obvious this was a seriously enlightening experience for you, almost equally a pleasure for us to read. I've followed your training and mental preparation for a while now over at the 'Bedrock' and it's awesome to see all those cast arrows over the year finally hit their target in your completion of the Classic. Well done Dave.

What changes will you make next year in your training? Physically? Logistically? Gear?

Will you attempt this solo? Your training trips in MT were all solo, this seems to be a natural approach to how you engage wilderness and challenges.

How necessary is a packraft for the Classic?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
training, etc on 09/09/2011 15:14:53 MDT Print View

A packraft is essential, really. Supposedly required gear, not that anyone will check. This is supposedly just about the only Classic route which has been raced without rafts (first cycle on this course, back in the 90s). Crossing the Delta and Yanert without a raft would almost certainly require swimming, and while hairball would be doable (if you're a nutter). Most other routes have enough floating that 7-8 pounds of raft/paddle/etc is more than made up with fast floating miles. Even on this route, it's hard for me to see the lighter pack being better than the miles of floating.

I wouldn't do anything categorically different for training. The main flaw in my buildup were two hitches in the winter/spring. In February I smacked my leg into a tree backcountry skiing and had to take about 3 weeks off almost all physical activity. Then in late April after the adventure race I got sick and took the better part of two weeks to get up to speed. Baring these, and with more aggressive training in deep winter, I'd be able to hit the overnights harder earlier and peak at a higher level. I hope to do a mid-April training trip to somewhere without snow next year, too.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
solo on 09/09/2011 15:29:22 MDT Print View

As for solo, I'd prefer to do the race with a partner. It's faster, almost certainly, and when it works more fun.

I trained solo for two reasons:

-It was scarier and thus better mental training. This is an invaluable aspect of it that I'll repeat in the future. I also find the solo time necessary given my line of work.

-I know a very few number of people whom I'd invite on my training trips (especially the Bob Memorial Day trip), and none of them live close by. It can be a good experience (especially for stubborn me) to adapt your preferences to those of others on a trip (did it last weekend), on that Bob trip it just would not have been safe.

On the other hand, the Classic probably shouldn't be as scary as it often is. Going fast is one things, but for most who do the "race" it's a kicka$$, a$$kicking 25-30 mpd lightweight backpacking trip.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: With a Capital C: My 2011 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic on 09/09/2011 17:48:19 MDT Print View

congrats - great details!

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: With a Capital C: My 2011 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic on 09/10/2011 22:15:09 MDT Print View

Congratulations David! I enjoyed reading every part of this. This is one of those races which everyone who finished won.

Chris Wood

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
Dave and Paige breezed by Don and I for sure! on 09/10/2011 22:38:44 MDT Print View

Dave, sweet write up right there. I re-lived the cold wet misery and sweet euphoria all over again!

In our defense, Don and I combined had almost 30 years over Dave and Paige, lol. Us old men inadvenrtently also slept longer on our rest breaks because I could not hear my wrist watch alarm.

Also, Don and I had an up close midnight encounter with a Grizzly sow and 2 nearly full grown cubs, and I will absolutely bring bear spray or "bear banger's" cracker shells next time.

Things I brought that provided a bit more margin over Dave's Kit:

PFD- 14 ounces
TI Goat Epic Bivy 9 ounces
Homemade climashield quilt 14 ounces (not warm enough though!)
Cut up ridgrest to fit bottom of packraft (llama) 7 oounces
Gossamer Gear SpinnTwinn tarp 9 ounces

I used a Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 pack due to it's incredible hip belt and frame sheet, a MUST HAVE for my ruptured L5-S1 and L4-L5 disks.

Looks like I had about 8 to 9 more pounds of kit, and it DOES make a big difference over the terrain, and at the speed needed to be competitive in the "Classic".

Congrats to Dave and Paige for showing up Don and I.

Great to meet you up in Alaska, and we will most definitely meet up again at a future winter or summer Classic!


Trevor Martin
(trevormar) - MLife

Locale: Rockies/ Desert Southwest
Altai Skis Hok on 09/11/2011 21:13:18 MDT Print View

Cool article! I'd love to be able to do this trip some day.

This is only tangentially related but I noticed in your pic that you have a pair of Altai Hoks. How do you like them? I've been looking at them for a while and they seem really intriguing and like they could possibly be great in certain situations, but as an AT/Tele skier in the backcountry I have a hard time getting past the fact that they seem like "kiddie" skis so to speak. I suppose that they appeal to me as a different/versatile sort of snow shoe. I haven't really been able to find any useful reviews of them on the interwebs

Edited by trevormar on 09/11/2011 21:41:22 MDT.

David K
(aviddk) - F

Locale: SW Oregon
Me too! on 09/11/2011 21:51:54 MDT Print View


I am going to second Trevor's comment about shoeskiing. I thought you were preparing a review about The Hok and the Marquette Backcountry skis, is that still forthcoming? Thanks


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Hoks on 09/11/2011 22:09:17 MDT Print View

The Hok article is in the que, and will be published soon (whenever Addie wants to).

Chris, you guys rocked it. That is a hard route. That espresso in Talkeetna is still the best I've ever had. Until next time sir!

Ed Tyanich
(runsmtns) - F - M
Wilderness Classic History on 09/12/2011 08:43:01 MDT Print View

I had an interesting find yesterday while cleaning out my Mom's house, who passed away last month. In the basement I found a folder of stuff of mine I had saved over the years and in the folder was an article on the Wilderness Classic from 1985 in Outside magazine. The Classic has intrigued me ever since and like Sam said, I never tire of reading about it.