Richard, 43, who hails from Montreal, began her climb on May 15, and made the summit last Wednesday, May 30. Mount Logan, located in Kluane National Park, is Canada’s highest peak, and the second highest peak in North America at 5,959 meters (19,551 ft), behind Alaska’s Denali (20,310 feet). When Richard summited Wednesday, she was outstripping her planned schedule by almost a week. Though she reportedly had prepared for the descent to take a mere two days, poor weather conditions coupled with some equipment issues delayed her, and forced her to call in a rescue. Once things started to go south, she luckily ran into two other climbers, and was aided by the pair in her descent, which helped her get low enough to call for a helicopter.
In a Facebook post detailing her experience (translated from her native French), Richard discussed her decision to call for a rescue. She wrote, “Risk my life by ‘purism?’ Or be consistent with my limitations?… There is no point in looking back at a negative angle. It would be better to be interested in the unique experience that demonstrates that a woman can have the audacity, but humble enough to admit when the mountain is the strongest and come back with all her body parts, alive and with a load of things to share!”
As the Kluane rescue squad was not equipped for a high altitude rescue, a specialized team of two was reportedly sent from Banff to assist in bringing Richard safely down.
In a CBC News article about the incident, Scott Stewart, the visitor safety coordinator for Kluane National Park, said, “It’s extremely difficult to operate a helicopter at those altitudes and the weather only allowed a very narrow window in which to safely and successfully respond to the operation.” He noted that annually the park averages around one serious high altitude rescue, and that the annual success rate is around 50 percent.
The article noted Richard “plans on resting before travelling around Yukon for a vacation,” and that “she does not plan on climbing Mount Logan again.” -Owen Clarke