When Lynn Martel is not working as a full time freelancer, she is outside ski touring, climbing, backpacking, and completing research. With book reading and signing events for her new book “Expedition to the Edge”, I was fortunate to attain an interview with her.
Lynn is a world class adventurer, published author and columnist. The introduction to her book reading and signing event in Winnipeg Janurary 4th describes her new book “Expedition to the Edge” Stories of Worldwide Adventure, as follows:
From skilled weekend warriors to internationally recognised stars of the professional adventure game, Lynn Martel has interviewed dozens of the most dynamic, creative and accomplished self-propelled adventurers of our time. In Expedition to the Edge, Martel has assembled 59 compelling and entertaining stories that uniquely capture the exploits, the hardships, the fears and the personal insights of a virtual who’s who of contemporary adventurers as they explore remote mountain landscapes from the Rockies to Pakistan to Antarctica.
How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?
My family used to go for day picnics in Vermont, about 90 minutes’ drive from our home in Montreal. I looked at the families who were camping and wondered what that would be like. Then I went to Girl Guide camp north of Montreal, and got to sleep outside in a tent on floor boards. I liked it enough to go for two weeks, four consecutive summers. I didn’t discover real wilderness until I moved to Banff in my early 20s.
What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?
I love the Canadian Rockies, the Selkirks and Bugaboos in B.C., and the US southwest desert. I also loved New Zealand, and the Cordillera Blanca Mountains in Peru.
Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.
In winter, 2008, I spent a week at a ski touring lodge in the Rockies called Icefall Lodge. It’s a fly in – the helicopter taxis you to the lodge, then comes back a week later to pick you up. No real running water, a wood stove for heat, wood burning sauna at the end of the day. We climb up slopes with skins on our ski bases, then ski down in fresh powder. On the last day we did a 10-hour, 5000 vertical foot tour, skinning up through an icefall, weaving our way through crevasses that split the glacier open, some big enough to swallow a car. The light was flat and mysterious, the whole mountain world around us was eerie. Then not far into our run down on an adjacent glacier, we followed our guide, lodge owner Larry Dolecki, right through an ice canyon on the glacier, skiing down an eight-foot wide chute with 40-foot high walls towering above us on both sides. Then it was a 4500-foot run of fresh powder all the way to the valley bottom – the coolest ski day I’ve ever experienced. The whole group, 10 of us (with no other people in any of the valleys we were skiing, or miles beyond them either), was so excited and on such a high we didn’t even mind the three-hour, 2500-foot climb back to the lodge.
Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.
I was involved in an avalanche once. I learned to trust my instincts, and that accidents don’t happen the way you imagine they might, or the way you think you might be prepared for them. And that they can happen.
Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?
I’ve had a couple, but my favourite was many years ago. I was mountain biking on a quiet single-track trail, and came around a corner to find myself facing a bear and her little cub of the year. The cub was creamy white. About 15 feet away from me, I looked at the momma, close enough to see the fur on her chocolate brown, black bear ears. She looked right back at me, and I stood holding on to my handle bars, the only thought in my mind was that I had screwed up, and she had every reason to charge me. But she didn’t, she just walked quickly into the bushes. Her cub however, had climbed up and tree, and when he realized momma was gone, he backpedalled down the tree and lit off after her into the bushes. They were both terrified, and I felt bad. But also exhilarated. The entire encounter was over in a minute, maybe less. It was a very special moment.
If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?
Many! Keep your pack as light as possible, then take out more stuff! Pitch your tent in line with the wind, not broadside to it. Camping on a glacier in minus 30 is not fun!! One step at a time, and if something is making you miserable, remember, in the words of Karsten Heuer this is only temporary.
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