Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic

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The race start of the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic in Chicken in 2006.

The Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic (sometimes called the Alaska Wilderness Classic) is an adventure challenge that espouses purity of style and zero impact. Started in 1982 as a 150-mile (240 km) wilderness traverse, the Classic has crossed various mountain ranges throughout Alaska with some routes covering nearly 250 miles (400 km). Traditionally, the same route has been used for three years in a row, with each year being a different month (June, July, or August).

The rules are simple: start to finish with no outside support, requiring that racers carry all food and equipment; human-powered; leave no trace; and rescue is up to the individual to resolve. The most common form of transportation is by foot and packraft, although bicycles, skis, and paragliders have been used by intrepid participants. Beginning in 2004, participants have been required to carry satellite phones or Satellite emergency notification device like the DeLorme inReach to facilitate emergency rescues.

The organization of the challenge is grass-roots, having no affiliation to any organization or group, while generally fewer than 30 people enter in any one year. The Classic is often perceived as a race, but most certainly not a race. It has had an influence on American adventure racing, backcountry use of the packraft, and ultralight hiking is significant[citation needed]. In addition to the summer challenge, there is an even more low-key unaffiliated winter event, the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Ski Classic, which has taken place every year since 1987 with races through the Chugach Mountains, Alaska Range, Brooks Range, and Wrangell-St. Elias.

Routes and Challengers[edit]

1982–1984[edit]

Hope to Homer (Kenai Peninsula), 150 miles (240 km)

  • 1982 – Roman Dial
  • 1983 – Roman Dial and Jim Lokken
  • 1984 – David Manzer (course record: 3 days 12 hours)

1985–1987[edit]

Mentasta to Denali National Park (Alaska Range), 235 miles (378 km)

  • 1985 – Hank Timm
  • 1986 – Hank Timm
  • 1987 – Hank Timm and Randy Pitney (course record: 4 days 18 hours 27 minutes)

1988–1990[edit]

Nabesna to McCarthy (Wrangell – Saint Elias Wilderness), 150 miles (240 km)

  • 1988 – Roman Dial
  • 1989 – David Manzer, Adrian Crane and Tom Possert
  • 1990 – Brant McGee and Jeff Gedney

1991–1993[edit]

Gates of the Arctic Wilderness (Brooks Range), 130 miles (210 km)

  • 1991 – Brant McGee and Adrian Crane (course record: 2 days 6 hours 18 minutes)
  • 1992 – Brant McGee and Dave Dixon
  • 1993 – Gordy Vernon

1994–1996[edit]

Donnelly to McKinley Village (Alaska Range), 140 miles (230 km)

  • 1994 – Frazier Miller
  • 1995 – Clark Saunders (course record: 2 days 12 hours 20 minutes)
  • 1996 – Steve Reifenstuhl and Rocky Reifenstuhl

1997–1999[edit]

Hope to Homer (Kenai Peninsula), 150 miles (240 km)

  • 1997 – Gordy Vernon and Thai Verzone
  • 1998 – Gordy Vernon
  • 1999 – Jim Jaegar and Laura McDonough

2000–2002[edit]

Nabesna to McCarthy (Wrangell – Saint Elias Wilderness), 150 miles (240 km)

  • 2000 – Steve Reifenstuhl and Rocky Reifenstuhl
  • 2001 – Steve Reifenstuhl and Rocky Reifenstuhl
  • 2002 – Roman Dial (course record: 2 days 4 hours 24 minutes)

2003–2005[edit]

Eureka to Talkeetna (Talkeetna Mountains), 160 miles (260 km)

  • 2003 – Hans Neidig, Chris Robertson and Paul Hanis
  • 2004 – Gordy Vernon and Thai Verzone
  • 2005 – Robert Schnell, Jason Geck, Tyler Johnson and Rory Stark (course record: 1 day 23 hours 29 minutes)

2006–2008[edit]

Chicken to Central (Tanana-Yukon Uplands), 180 miles (290 km)

  • 2006 – Robert Schnell and Chris Robertson (course record: 4 days 10 hours 42 minutes)
  • 2007 – Robert Schnell and Chris Robertson
  • 2008 – Butch Allen, Jim McDonough, Tyler Johnson and Craig "Chunk" Barnard

2009–2011[edit]

Gerstle River/Donnelly to McKinley Village (Alaska Range), 180 miles (290 km)

  • 2009 – Robert Schnell, Chris Robertson and Andrew Skurka (course record: 3 days 17 hours 54 minutes)
  • 2010 – Robert Schnell, Chris Robertson, Todd Kasteler and Danny Powers
  • 2011 – Tyler Johnson, Todd Kasteler, Luc Mehl and John Sykes

2012–2014[edit]

Thompson Pass to Lakina River Bridge (Chugach Mountains, Wrangell – Saint Elias Wilderness), 120 miles (190 km) - 180 miles (290 km)

  • 2012 – Luc Mehl, Josh Mumm (3d 22.5h, Bremner Route)
  • 2013 – Lee Helzer, Steve Duby, Len Jenkins (Slowest 1st place finish: 7 days, 8 hours, 44 minutes)
  • 2014 – Gerard Ganey, Todd Tumolo (course record: 3d 10h, Ice Route)

2015[edit]

Peters Hills to Red Shirt Lake via Rohn (Western Alaska Range, Susitna Valley), 280 miles (450 km)

  • 2015 - Josh Mumm (course record: 5 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes)

2016–2018[edit]

Galbraith Lake to Wiseman (Brooks Range), 115 miles (185 km)

  • 2016 - Todd Tumolo and Luc Mehl

Challenge Historic Documentation[edit]

  • Most entrants: 1984 Hope to Homer
  • Lowest Completion:Entrants Ratio: 1:7.5 -- 2015 Peters Hills to Red Shirt Lake via Rohn (26 scratched)
  • Highest Completion:Entrants Ratio:: 1:1 -- 1995 Donnelly to McKinley Village (everybody finished)
  • Fastest Completion: Todd Tumolo and Luc Mehl -- 2016 :1 day, 10 hours
  • Slowest Top Completion: Lee Helzer, Steve Duby, Len Jenkins: 7 days, 8 hours, 44 minutes -- 2013 Thompson Pass to Lakina River Bridge
  • Fastest Solo Completion: Bjorn Flora: 2 days, 1 hour, 20 minutes -- 2005 Eureka to Talkeetna
  • Fastest Female Completion: Peggy Dial: 3 days, 3 hours, 40 minutes -- 1993 Gates of the Arctic
  • Oldest Completion: Dick Griffith -- 81 years old --2008 Chicken to Central
  • Youngest Completion: Cody Dial: 17 years old -- 2004 Eureka to Talkeetna
  • Most Completions: John Lapkass: 20 finishes
  • First use of a packraft: Dick Griffith -- 1982 Hope to Homer
  • First use of a packraft and skis: Roman Dial and Jim Lokken -- 1983 Hope to Homer
  • First use of a mountain bike: Hank Timm and Randy Pitney -- 1987 Mentasta to McKinley
  • First use of a paraglider: Chuck Comstock -- 1988 Nabesna to McCarthy

References[edit]