by Phillip Manning ~ June 10th, 2016
This week on the Denali Report, updated statistics on this year’s mountaineering season, plus KTNA’s Phillip Manning speaks with the first all-Lebanese team to summit Denali.
In total, 1,075 climbers have registered to attempt Denali. Of those, 502 are currently on the mountain, and 376 climbs have been completed. There have been 162 summits of Denali so far, making the summit rate forty-three percent. Sixteen people are registered to attempt Mt. Foraker. All sixteen have completed their climbs, and seven made it to the summit, making the 2016 summit rate for Mt. Foraker forty-four percent.
Over the past week, the number of mountaineers who summited Denali increased dramatically. Team Lebanon was among them, and is the first all-Lebanese team to make it to the summit. After they returned to Talkeetna, Phillip Manning spoke with the members of the team.
Three of Team Lebanon’s four members made the trek up North America’s highest peak. Peter Mouracade, Lindos Daou, and Avedis Kalpakian had numerous delays due to poor weather. After making it to High Camp at 17,200 feet, the team was running out of days to make a summit attempt. Peter says the guides from Alaska Mountaineering School had been unsure whether conditions would allow the team to summit on their last available day.
“They told us, ‘Let’s just stick our nose in it and see what happens,’ and it was blue sky, no wind, perfect conditions. We made it all the way to the summit and back down, and then the storm came in again.”
The members of Team Lebanon started their attempt at the Seven Summits six years ago. Avedis Kalpakian, the only team member who climbs mountains for a living, says the challenge looked huge at the outset.
“Of course we all know the Seven Summits, but it’s a huge project. We can’t dream of it. [Peter] says, ‘I have a plan. Let’s start making a team and then talk about it.’ That’s how it started in 2010.”
Now, the team has climbed to the top of five continents, with Antarctica’s Mt. Vinson and Asia’s Mt. Everest remaining. The last two expeditions may be some time in coming, however, as Team Lebanon’s members have families and careers, as Lindos Daou explains.
“For Denali, we were almost a month far from our relatives, our friends, our families, and our work as well. Basically, we’re going to see how Everest might fit in this, because for Everest you need to sacrifice almost two months.”
Team Lebanon’s members are climbing for more than personal achievement. They are using the publicity from their expeditions to raise money for the Lebanese Red Cross. In Lebanon, the Red Cross serves as more than the disaster relief organization that it does in the West. Peter Mouracade says that the Lebanese Red Cross is also the country’s only ambulance service, staffed by trained volunteers.
“These guys do not get a salary. They’re just young men and young women….They’re just donating their time to go rescue people.”
In addition to the tangible goal of fundraising, the members of Team Lebanon hope to show the youth of their country that even the tallest goals can be achieved. Lindos Daou says he hopes to bring out the passion to achieve in Lebanon’s youth.
“Basically, if you’re not passionate enough to achieve your goal, you’ll end up doing nothing. This is part of our mission. This is to inspire the Lebanese youth; if theywork hard enough, they can really achieve the highest goals…their own personal mountains and challenges.”
All three men say they hope their team’s achievement can inspire others. Avedis Kalpakian’s advice to people in Lebanon and around the world is, simply, “Just follow your dreams.”