Crux Awards: Ski Denali, Traverse in Kyrgyzstan, Solo El Cap, Split Board Colo, Ski Cali

By Rob Shaul

MTI received nearly 20 applications for Fall Crux Mountain Awards and chose 5 events, with one pending. These trips/events are scheduled for this Winter or next Spring. Awardees are below:

Trip: Ski Traverse of the Tien Shen range in Kyrgyzstan
Athletes: Shelby Rogala, Marian Krough, Abby Cooper, Gabby de Gagne, Josiane Meadows

This all female, 5-member team will attempt a 6-8 day January ski traverse of the Tien Shen range in Kyrgyzstan. A combine ski tour/ski mountaineering trip, daily elevation gain may 800 meters, and the trip includes trekking the Tuz Pass at 4,000 meters.

“We are all female, from various ski backgrounds. We share a passion for skiing, touring, pushing our limits and expanding their comfort zones. Though we have skiing in common, our backgrounds are very diverse — encompassing three countries, and many careers,” wrote application author Shelby Rogala.

Gabby de Gagne and Marian Krough
Abby Cooper and Josianne Meadows


Shelby Rogala

Event: Split Board Colorado’s 54 14’ers in a Calendar Year, and Season, if possible.
Athlete: Joshua Jespersen

“This project can be as short as 90 days if everything goes right with conditions, fitness, and any outlying circumstances, or it could take 364 days,” wrote Joshua, a former Navy SEAL, in his award application.

“I am dedicating my winter to the project to try my hardest, and finish it in one season, rather than one year …. Mileage varies from 5 to 25 for each different peak, but total will be between 600-700 miles.  Elevation gain and loss also varies, but it will be more than 400,000 ft. …. This project is at the edge of my physical and technical abilities because it is such a huge feat.”

Joshua Jespersen

Event: Solo El Cap via New Dawn to Wall of Early Morning Light or Mescalito
AthleteJody Donovan

“These routes are right next to each other and they require a similar fitness level and skill set,” wrote Jody in her award application.

“They differ in the crowd factor. Mescalito is a more classic line, but it is more crowded than New Dawn. They both go up an insane part of El Cap. I will bring food and water for 14 days; I think it will take 12 days of climbing to top out. Both routes require solid clean aid and nailing skills as well as knowledge and creativity with big wall systems and logistics. Soloing demands that you climb, clean, and haul each pitch. So you do each pitch a minimum of twice, but sometimes more if your haul bags get stuck (boo!).”

“The exposure and position on walls is outstanding, and It is fantastic to be a beginner at something,” she continued. “Learning aid climbing and big wall systems is a slow process. Solo climbing allows me to learn twice as fast because I am responsible for all aspects of the climb (rather than belaying for 3 hours at a time).  I am responsible for all the decisions, and there is nowhere for me to hide; I either go up or I don’t. As a former division 1 athlete, wildland firefighter on a hotshot crew, deckhand on tall ships, and mountain athlete, supporting the team has been my life. Soloing is helping me grow as a climber and person, as I take more ownership over my objectives.”

Jody Donovan

Event: Climb and Ski Denali, May-June 2017
Athletes: Rachel Reich, Kathryn Damby, Carson Meyer, Morgan McGlashon

We plan to have a small team of 4, to climb the West Rib of Denali, summit and descend (based on conditions) the Orient Express, Rescue Gully or Messners Couloir,” wrote application author Rachel Reich.

“This is a 3-4 week expedition which climbs to 20K feet and will require a variety of skills and fitness, including crevasse rescue, rope management, avalanche and snow assessment, high altitude climbing and acclimation. Morgan McGlashon and I will co-lead the trip with Carson (who will be taking photos in addition to climbing) and Kathryn as our medical lead in addition to climbing.”

Denali is a challenging peak based on it’s height, glaciers, location and weather,” she continued. “Although many of us have done long days, bigger ascents and climbed in glaciated terrain, this is a huge undertaking for all of us as a major expedition. It’s a multi day/week (easily longer based on weather or conditions) expedition that requires top physical and mental fitness. It is a respected and legitimate mountaineering objective that requires a dialed team and promises to push us all to the edge of what we’ve done in the past, given the length of time as well as the effects of altitude while climbing and skiing. This will be the largest ski objective any of us have ever done.”

Rachel Reich
Morgan McGlashon
Kathryn Damby
Carson Meyer

Event: Ski Four California 14’ers in the Southern Sierra – Mt. Langley, Mt. Russel, Mt. Williamson, and Mt. Tyndall.
AthletesMeghan Kelly, Hazel Birnbaum

“This is at the edge of my fitness and technical ability because I’ve been out of the game for 2 years,” wrote Meghan Kelly. “I had triplets in March 2015 so I barely skied in 2014/2015 and I was in a total daze during 2015/2016 just trying to manage everything. I feel like I have some fitness back, but not all and I have 1/3 of the free time to train. I have less time to plan. But having a goal like this has already made me make time for myself and that is important.”

“I want to do this trip for many reasons:

  • to finally ski Mt. Williamson after failing in 2010 turning around 300′ from the summit.
  • to set in motion my goal to ski Denali before I’m 40. achieving this local goal will help me believe it’s still possible even though my life is so different from when I set this goal.
  • to explore a new place and manage the risk that comes with it and help reconcile motherhood with risk management (take on managed risk, not zero risk).
  • to set in motion a goal of skiing all California 14ers.
  •  to be a good role model for my kids and other moms.
Meghan and her triplets!


Subscribe to MTI's Newsletter - BETA