OK all you backcountry hammerheads out there, mark it on your calendars.
The dates have been set for the 2013 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic from Thompson Pass to McCarthy, the state’s premier summer wilderness race.
The race will begin June 23 on the Richardson Highway atop Thompson Pass, just north of Valdez, and the finish will be at the Lakina River bridge at Mile 44.3 on the McCarthy Road.
It’s the same route racers followed last year but the start date was pushed up two weeks earlier, perhaps in part because racers ended up getting caught in a snowstorm last year that dumped 12 inches of fresh snow in the middle of the race.
Last year was the first year the Thompson Pass to McCarthy route was used and it posed a significant challenge. Only seven of 18 racers who started the race finished, led by Luc Mehl and Josh Mumm with a time of 3 days, 22 1/2 hours.
Racers have their choice of two basic routes — a 120-mile overland route with maybe 30 miles of river travel or a 170-mile glacier route with 80 miles of packrafting. Last year, racers experienced some intense bushwhacking, a mid-race blizzard and the usual assortment of difficulties associated with lightweight backcountry travel in Alaska.
“The overland option is a candidate for the hardest Classic route to date,” Mehl, the race organizer, wrote on his web site announcing the start date. “If you are looking to test your wilderness skill set, this is a good one.”
For more information and accounts from last year’s race, go to http://thingstolucat.com.