The rules are simple, climbers have ten hours to hike up Alyeska’s North Face Trail, ride the tram down and repeat as many times as possible. Sounds easy right? Well, maybe the first couple laps are. The 10th annual Alyeska Climbathon took place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 9. This endurance competition is unlike any other mountain run, marathon or endurance event in the state, mainly because there is never any real relief from the vertical climb and the steepness of the trail. Participants are constantly climbing up the North Face Trail and this year they’ll be climbing to raise money for Let Every Woman Know, a GYN cancer treatment, research and prevention organization that helps women from all over the state of Alaska. This year’s event will be capped at 300 participants who will be climbing for a cause! The 2017 event raised over $60,000 for its beneficiaries which included the Girdwood Health Clinic & Let Every Woman Know all of whom are dedicated to the fight against ovarian and cervical cancers.
Each lap is counted as 2,000 vertical feet in elevation gained and each lap has been given the name of a prominent Alaskan peak (until you get above 10 laps) ranging from Matanuska Peak to Mount Hunter to Moose’s Tooth and of course the coveted goal of Denali in a day which is accomplished by cranking out 10 laps. A small handful of climbers complete eleven and even twelve laps which have been named Aconcagua and Chamlang respectively. Up until this point however no climber has completed thirteen laps for a total of 26,000 vertical feet. The first person to hit thirteen laps not only has calves and quads of steal and incredible endurance but they also get to name the lap (a good one would be Annapurna III which is almost exactly at 26k in elevation). The tram will be running at winter speed for this event which is about a three-and-a-half-minute trip. The tram will also be departing every ten minutes instead of every fifteen; this altered operating schedule will allow participants for maximum on-trail time. For more information on Climbathon, to sign up or to sponsor a climber, please visit www.alyeskaclimbathon.com