AustraliaBusinessHealthLifeStyleNewsPoliticsScienceSportsTech & GadgetsTravelTV & ShowbizUncategorizedUSAWorld

From the scorching heat of Death Valley to Alaska’s deadliest mountain, a British explorer’s astonishing 3,500-mile journey through some of North America’s most extreme landscapes on skis, on foot… and on a bike

Speaking of highs and lows.

British explorer Oli France braved the wild heat of Death Valley, the lowest point in North America, then biked and skied 3,500 miles to Alaska, where he reached North America’s highest point, Mount Denali.

This is also Alaska’s deadliest mountain, having claimed the lives of 126 climbers since 1932.

It took the 33-year-old father-of-two from Wigan 64 days to reach the summit.

He completed the first part of the journey alone, cycling across America and Canada to the foothills of Denali National Park. There he met a team of four mountaineers who joined him to climb Denali via the West Buttress Route.

Oli, who is the first Briton to complete the journey in 20 years, told MailOnline Travel: ‘I assumed it would be the toughest physical, mental and logistical challenge I have ever undertaken. I was right.’

Oli France braved the wild heat of Death Valley, the lowest point in North America, then biked and skied 3,500 miles to Alaska, where he reached North America's highest peak, Mount Denali.  It is pictured here at Badwater Basin in Death Valley

Oli France braved the brutal heat of Death Valley, the lowest point in North America, and then cycled and skied 3,500 miles to Alaska, where he summited North America’s highest peak, Mount Denali. He is pictured here at Badwater Basin in Death Valley

Oli completed the first leg of the journey alone, cycling across America and Canada to the foothills of Denali National Park. He is pictured here in Destruction Bay in the Yukon Territories of Canada

Oli completed the first part of the journey alone, cycling across America and Canada to the foothills of Denali National Park. He is pictured here at Destruction Bay in the Yukon Territories in Canada

Oli said he wanted to “complete this expedition entirely by manpower” and loaded a heavy bicycle with supplies to complete the cycling portion of the journey.

He cycled more than 80 miles a day, through California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho and Washington, then continued to Alaska via British Columbia and the Yukon Territories in Canada.

To rest, he camped wildly along the side of the road and stayed in motels.

One of the scariest aspects of the journey for Oli was the dangerous animals he encountered along the way. While cycling alone through remote areas of Yukon and Alaska, he revealed that he had a few encounters with bears and came within four meters of a “huge black bear” along the way.

He said, “I knew the black bears and the huge grizzly bears would wake up from hibernation. I looked intently at the dense surrounding forest [for animals] was exhausting.’

Sharing another animal encounter, he said, “One evening in my tent I heard the footsteps of a large animal outside in the snow. I grabbed my bear spray and slowly unzipped my tent. I saw a moose 50 feet away staring at me.”

It took Oli 41 days to complete the cycling portion of the trip and reach Denali National Park (pictured)

It took Oli 41 days to complete the cycling leg of the trip and reach Denali National Park (pictured)

Oli met up with a mountain team and traveled 122 km (75 miles) to reach Denali Base Camp. He is pictured above walking through the foothills to Base Camp

Oli met up with a mountain team and traveled 122 km (75 miles) to reach Denali Base Camp. He is pictured above trekking through the hills to base camp

On the way to base camp he crossed rivers and glaciers full of deadly gorges. The above image shows Oli and his team trekking through the Granite Creek River in Alaska

On the way to base camp he crossed rivers and glaciers full of deadly gorges. The above image shows Oli and his team trekking through the Granite Creek River in Alaska

Oli said adjusting to the bike during the first few weeks was one of the hardest parts of the expedition.

He explained: ‘I was cycling long distances, against strong headwinds and snow storms, I was completely alone. Mentally I was already wondering if this expedition was even possible. I had to go through a deep, dark barrier of pain to keep going.”

It took him 41 days to reach Denali National Park, then 75 miles (122 km) on skis, over hills, rivers and glaciers riddled with deadly crevasses, to reach Denali Base Camp, where most climbers begin their ascent.

Oli described the 6,190-metre-high mountain, also known as Mount McKinley, as ‘brutal’.

During the 12-day climb, he faced “mountain storms, temperatures down to -30 degrees Celsius, encounters with bears, nearby avalanches, snowstorms and all kinds of physical pain.”

Oli revealed that the team lugged more than 300 kilos of equipment, food and fuel up the mountain on heavy sleds and slept in a tent in the snow every night

Oli revealed that the team dragged more than 300 kilos of equipment, food and fuel up the mountain on heavy sleds, sleeping in a tent in the snow every night

During the 12-day climb he had to deal with mountain storms and temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius.  Oli and his team are pictured above at Denali Base Camp

During the 12-day climb he had to deal with mountain storms and temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius. Oli and his team are pictured above at Denali Base Camp

Oli said: “The expedition required absolute focus.  Sometimes I felt like there were a million ways things could go wrong.”  He is pictured above at Denali Camp One

Oli said: “The expedition required absolute focus. Sometimes I felt like there were a million ways things could go wrong.” He is pictured above at Denali Camp One

Oli revealed that the team lugged more than 300 pounds of equipment, food and fuel up the mountain on heavy sleds, sleeping in a tent in the snow every night.

And it wasn’t easy to relax.

Oli said: ‘One night I heard wolves in the mountains from my tent. Another night, on the mountain, we found an elk carcass that had been mauled by a bear, next to huge grizzly prints just 20 yards from our tent. Each footprint was the size of a dinner plate.”

The days had their challenges too. Oli shared a particularly terrifying experience, saying: ‘After climbing a steep piece of ice to a height of 5,000 metres [16,404ft] Ridge we saw the body of a climber who was taken off the mountain by helicopter after dying in a fall.

“It reminded us of the small margins that exist here and that we cannot afford to be complacent.

‘The expedition required absolute focus. At times I felt like there were a million ways it could go wrong.’

Oli described Mount Denali as

Oli described Mount Denali as “brutal.” He is pictured above on the final leg of his journey, heading to the summit

After completing the journey, Oli said he felt 'relief that he came through it unscathed'

After completing the journey, Oli said he felt ‘relief that he came through it unscathed’

Oli is pictured on the 6,190 (20,310 ft) meter summit of Denali.  He said he felt an

Oli is pictured on the 6,190-foot summit of Denali. He said he felt an “incredible sense of empowerment and satisfaction at having fulfilled a 10-year dream”

After completing the journey, Oli felt relieved that he had made it through unscathed and had an “incredible sense of strength and satisfaction that he had fulfilled a dream he had had for ten years.”

The expedition is the second phase of Oli’s ‘Ultimate Seven’ project. The adventurer hopes to set a world record by traveling from the lowest point to the highest point on every continent.

After completing the African leg last year and the North American leg this year, Oli plans to take on the challenge in Asia, where he will walk, cycle, ski and kayak 7,500 kilometres from the Dead Sea to Everest through nine countries.

To see more of Oli, visit his website, www.wildedge.co/pages/oli-france. Or follow him on Instagram www.instagram.com/oli_france/?hl=enor on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@oli_france.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button