Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola are still re-adjusting to life on the ground.
“It’s a huge transition,”
said Marceau from Haines Junction, Yukon, on Wednesday morning.
“You know, we spent so much time just on a single focus, and just being and living in the mountains. And then the world just comes rushing back … it all just starts to sink in. It’s actually a fascinating feeling.”
Marceau, from Ottawa, and Capozzola, who comes from Golden, British Columbia, have only come back from a 21-day climbing adventure to the top of Mount Lucania, Canada’s third-highest peak, in Yukon’s St. Elias Range.
To their own knowledge, they were the first all-woman group to finish the climb to Lucania’s summit at 5,226m.
As you would expect, the journey had its challenges including cold weather, aches and pains, white-outs, and exhaustion, as well as some tricky terrain and route-finding. Overall, the duo claims things went smoothly.
As a matter of fact, the duo talked about their hike in almost mystical terms.
“Harmonious and fluid and a really phenomenal experience,”
is how Capozzola described it.
“I think that this expedition really was a tightrope walk between preparation and presence,” she said.
“There’s not a lot of data or information about the details of the route itself. So we really did need to respond in the moment and respond to the reality of the conditions, and the reality of the terrain as we’re moving through it.”
Marceau said every day was quite different.
“Every day we were presented with a new challenge and a new route-finding option or a new something that was just special and unique,” she said.
The trip was the culmination of several months of preparation. Even the moment they arrived in Yukon, they had to wait before setting out. They spent 2 weeks in isolation at an AirBnB in Whitehorse, as part of the region’s COVID-19 restrictions.
A wonderful day on the summit
Very few people climb Lucania, compared to its more renowned counterpart, Mount Logan – Canada’s highest peak. Marceau had attempted in once before.
This time, things appeared to come together just right for the pair. The weather was even good on the day they made their final push for the summit. It was a grueling 14-hour day, but the reward was more than worth it.
“I’ve been watching Lucania forecasts for three years and we had planned for winds and extreme cold. We just got so lucky — it was a gorgeous day, the winds were calm, there was hardly a whisper,” Marceau said.
She claims the peacefulness actually made the summit feel quite “anticlaimatic”. They spent around 45 minutes there, absorbing the picturesque views, feeling perfect.
“You get there and it’s beautiful, but there was just such a calmness and harmony in us that you know, it wasn’t like this big ‘YA-HOO!'” Marceau said.
“Of course we were excited, but the beautiful weather allowed us to just sit there and just chill and take the moment in, and just be with the mountain. That was actually really special for us.”
Capozzola said the entire journey was a “remarkable opportunity” to spend time in a glorious landscape, facing challenges and feeling ready to meet them.
“None of it was ever easy. You know, it was always quite cold. There’s always constantly things to think about, you know, making sure the fuel pump will work, and there’s always a lot of things — but we were ready for it,” Capozzola said.
“When you’re all-in like that, and you are looking out for each other, and you feel so capable and also just so connected to this extraordinary landscape … it was just a very profound feeling.”