First All-Woman Team Summits Remote Mt. Lucania

Climbing
Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola. Photo: Michael Schmidt

This week, the first all-woman team reached the summit of Mt. Lucania, Canada’s third-highest peak (5,226m).

Located in the Yukon’s Kluane National Park, 65km north of Mount Logan, Lucania sees few climbers, because of its remoteness. Only a handful of women have ever climbed it, and never before an all-woman team. Visitors have needed a plane to its surrounding icefields, where the work begins, ever since Bradford Washburn and Robert Hicks Bates first summited Mt. Luciana in 1937.

Mt. Lucania. Photo: Lonnie Dupre

For the two Canadian women, Pascale Marceau of Ottawa and Eva Capozzola from the mountain town of Golden, B.C., Lucania’s remoteness added to its appeal.

The pair spent their required two-week quarantine in Whitehorse, Yukon’s capital, getting reacquainted with each other. They had planned the expedition by video chat.

After their quarantine ended, they had to wait a further week because of the bad weather that so often sweeps in from the Gulf of Alaska.

Finally, they were able to fly to the Upper Donjek Glacier (2,747m). They pulled sleds across it for the first 20km to a base camp, then switched to 23kg packs.

This range is not only high but the distances are vast and the mountains themselves are massive in bulk. Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak, has the largest circumference of any mountain on earth. The two women took several days working their way up. Their fifth day was particularly challenging, 11.5 hours navigating around crevasses.

Later, as they approached the base of Mt Steele (5,073m) where they briefly stopped to acclimatize, some of the region’s typical strong winds set in.

Two small figures on the snowy flank of Mt. Steele, on the way to Lucania

The pair work their way up the southeast ridge of Mt. Steele, on the way to Mt. Lucania. Photo: Michael Schmidt

Their first women-only climb

Pascale Marceau has over 15 years’ mountain experience and is the partner of Lonnie Dupre. She climbed Mt. Wood (4,860m) in winter, thus becoming the first woman to do a winter ascent of a major peak in the subarctic. In 2018, she took part in the first ascent of Jeannette Peak (3,089m) in British Columbia and has since been elected a member of the Society of Woman Geographers.

Recently, her focus has shifted towards cold-weather exploratory journeys in remote locations. She next plans a 290km sledding expedition in East Greenland, beginning in three months.

Eva Capozzola works as a photojournalist, specializing in adventure. Both women usually climb as part of a mixed-gender team with their partners. But they were excited to try a new dynamic.

“I think it gives us both the space to step up a little bit more to the front,” Capozzola said. “We’re confident in our skills, we’re confident in our capabilities and we show up fully even when we are in mixed teams, but there is something that does feel different about this.”

The two are currently taking a rest day at 4,700m while working their way down. “They are completely worn down,” Pascale Marceau’s website reports. “They…have minor ankle and hip injuries that need time to heal. Pascale is also experiencing stomach issues and unable to eat much. She is getting down some soup down and taking stomach medicine.”

They have several more days to cover before reaching their pickup point. Tomorrow’s weather looks promising.

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About the Author

Chasing Dreams Travel

Alex Myall

After 22 years in the exercise industry, offset by long-haul adventures around the world, Alex Myall found a better option a few years ago and has never looked back. She took a diploma in travel journalism, backed it up with travel industry certificates, then launched Chasing Dreams Travel NZ, her own travel agency.

Now she combines her love of writing and world travel with running her business from her home on the spectacular South Coast of Wellington, New Zealand, while simultaneously being mum to a gorgeous baby girl. She maintains a “life’s too short to do things by halves” attitude.

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Illina Frankiv
4 months ago

Way to go, ladies!!! Very proud of my fellow Canadians!

+2
Eddy De Wilde
Eddy De Wilde
4 months ago

The top photo shows what a huge undertaking this is on top of the fickle weather. Fantastic job ladies!

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