If Montrealer Monique Richard reaches the summit of Yukon’s Mount Logan, she will be the first woman to reach the top alone, said officials with Parks Canada and data it has compiled since the late 1800s.
Scott Stewart, visitor safety specialist at Kluane National Park said an average of 35 people a year over the last five years have tried to solo it during peak season between mid-May and mid-June.
Richard, 43, has been climbing for nearly 10 years and currently works with Canada Post.
She’s the first Canadian woman to reach the seven summits in a record time of 30 months. And the first Canadian woman on up Makalu (8,485 m) and climbed Everest in 2012.
“I sacrificed the summit to go back down with him for safety reasons,” she said about her 2017 attempt on Logan. “I was about 12 hours from the top.”
“The difficulty will be the cold, the solitude, the fact that I have to bring everything I need myself,” she said.
“I have to do this on my own to test my own limits and, sometimes, it’s better to be alone than to be in bad company.”
In 2017, Argentine climber Natalia Martinez was forced to abort her own solo Logan’s East Ridge when earthquakes brought down significant avalanches.
Also last year, Naomi Prohaska, a 15-year-old girl from B.C., became the youngest climber to reach the top of Logan when a team led by her father hit the summit last year.
“When I climb, I feel calm, peace and feel alive,” she Richard. “It’s a very simple life, but its very intense and I like that.”
The three biggest obstacles to reaching the top, Stewart said, are the remoteness, the weather and the altitude.
“Mount Logan is Canada’s highest mountain at approximately 5,959 metres, so altitude is certainly a factor that limits the success rate,” he said.
Weather is one of the biggest factors on Logan as winter conditions exist year round and temperatures regularly drop to –40 C. Storms can last days or weeks and winds in excess of 160 kilometres an hour are common.
“Once a climbing party is in there, it really is an isolated, remote area within which to take a trip,” Stewart added.
Richard will set off for Whitehorse on May 11 and gather some final supplies before beginning her climb, which she estimates will take 22 days.
She will have a satellite phone and a device that will allow her to keep followers updated on social media.
“I know people will be worried,” said Richard. “I won’t be reckless either – I will turn around (in the event of danger). I’ll go as far as I can.”
“I think I’m capable of reaching the summit,” she said. “I’m going to stay humble but I feel ready to take on Logan on my own.”