Home Youth Mt. Logan, Yukon – Climbing Canada’s tallest mountain

Mt. Logan, Yukon – Climbing Canada’s tallest mountain

One day before the summit. We were moving from Camp 3 to our highest camp. © Rich Prohaska

Stepping out of a yellow Helio Courier onto the Quintino Sella glacier was one of the best moments of my life. I was standing at the literal base of my dream, 2,950 metres at basecamp on Mt. Logan. Having imagined the world’s largest mountain so many times, the real thing was way better than I ever thought it could be. I’m sure my smile was gleaming brighter than the Yukon sun. As I looked up at our route, the King’s Trench, I knew I was in for the best month of my life.

When I decided I wanted to be the youngest person to climb Canada’s tallest mountain, I had no mountaineering experience. I knew it would be incredibly hard, but that’s about all I knew. The challenge and the mystery is what drew me to it. At 13 years old, I started ski touring and didn’t stop.

In the two years that led up to my expedition in the Kluane National Park, from when I set my goal to the departure, I changed so much. At the beginning, I knew next to nothing about mountaineering and now it is my passion. I had so many amazing accomplishments and adventures while training. As I learned about what would help me in the mountains, from crevasse rescue to how to transition efficiently, I also learned a lot about myself. Now I know that I can set my mind to a challenge and do it. I know that the mountains help me think clearer and that I prefer sub-zero winds to air conditioning.

As I moved up the mountain I was always in awe and disbelief. Having planned for the trip for so long, putting so much effort into getting just a chance to summit, I couldn’t believe I was there. While the camps became more beautiful, the climbs between them became harder. Reaching every camp was more rewarding than the last. The altitude had its effects: headaches, loss of appetite, shortness of breath; but knowing that I was getting closer to the top with every step, pushed the rest to the back of my mind. Climbing higher and higher, closer and closer, I had to focus on the task in front of me. Keep moving up, breathe, look at the view. By the time summit day came, this was very hard to do. Putting my back-pack on, knowing that I was just hours away from reaching my dream, I tried to keep a clear mind. There was still such a big possibility that I wouldn’t summit — and then, there I was.

Descending from a carry to Camp 3 on the steepest slope of the route apart from the summit ridge. © Rich Prohaska

Standing on top of Canada was indescribable. I thought about how much my family and I had put into this, how much others had invested in me. I couldn’t believe I had really done it. How was it not just a dream? Wasn’t I just warm in my bed at home in Pemberton, British Columbia? No, I was standing on top of Mt. Logan — my dream was my reality.

Being able to ascend to 5,959 metres was an experience that couldn’t compare to any of my other trips. Moving from camp to camp I was constantly breaking personal records. Every day on Mt. Logan was a gift. I knew how lucky I was to be in such a beautiful location. Seeing how vast the glaciers are is unbelievable.

We live in a world where people want to live in cities, where all they see is concrete and glass. In the St. Elias mountain range, you see so many unnamed glaciers, unclimbed peaks and places no one has ever stepped foot on. I am in awe of the amazing country I have the privilege of living in — a country that has so many incredible places to explore.

Naomi Prohaska
Many thanks to Mountain Equipment Co-op, Nomad Nutrition Co, Peak Performance and Mountain Berry Landscaping for making the expedition possible, and a success.

Previous articleAn Artifact Mystery
Next articleCollecting lichens in Canada’s High Arctic