Climber survived close call

The Canadian Press
Peter Rakobowchuk

MONTREAL–The first woman to climb to the top of Canada’s highest mountain in a solo trek says her biggest fear came when she fell into a dangerously deep crevice.
“That made me very afraid because no one would have known where I was,” Monique Richard told The Canadian Press yesterday.
She began her ascent of the 5,959-metre Mount Logan in Yukon’s Kluane National Park around mid-May.
The life-threatening incident occurred around the halfway point of her expedition, which ended last week.
The Montreal mountaineer said she had taken off her skis for safety reasons, took several steps, and fell into the crevice.
Richard, who was speaking while stopped by the side of a Yukon highway, said the fissure was at least 50 metres deep and that she fell more than a metre inside.
“I felt the void under my feet,” she recalled. “But I was able to grab hold on the walls of the crevice, take my skis, put them across the crevice, and use them to pull myself up with my arms.”
“It felt like an eternity but it probably lasted about 10 minutes.”
Richard, 43, also had to deal with harsh weather, equipment woes, and delays during her expedition.
“Mount Logan is known as being a very isolated mountain with incredible storms,” she remarked.
“I spent one week in my tent waiting for the weather to improve because there was a big snowstorm–and my tent even started to rip,” she added.
At one point, Richard was lost in a whiteout and thought about abandoning the climb because she was worried about the bitterly cold and windy weather.
“I had a lot of difficulty sleeping because the wind made an enormous amount of noise,” she said.
“I was afraid of losing my fingers and my toes because it was minus-40 with the wind. . . .
“But I survived and I came back with all my parts.”
Richard said she was even more determined this year after trying unsuccessfully last year to reach the mountain’s summit with a climbing partner who encountered difficulties.
Richard added when she came down, she was very exhausted and that her GPS and telephone had run out of battery power.
“I’m very tired right now because it was very intense, but I’m happy that I accomplished my goal,” she added.