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Relive your hardest day...

January 10, 2013

In 2009 we asked Stefen Chow to test a couple of our early Chimera samples on his trip to Mt. Denali in North America.  Last month we caught up with him to hear more about the personal challenge of climbing big mountains, and to see some stunning unpublished photographs from the expedition.
I am a photographer. A mountaineer. A speaker of all sorts. I used to be more of a mountaineer and less of a photographer, and I used to give motivational talks to schools, youth and corporations. When I climbed to the summit of Mount Everest in 2005, I had many invitations to speak about my experience, and it was great connecting with youths about determination, dreams and living a life few would experience. The more I spoke, the less I was connected to the actual physical experience of being on the mountain. Denali in Alaska, the highest mountain in North America, was the first significant summit I would climb for 5 years. The first day on the snow was the hardest I could have imagined. During the next three weeks I experienced some of the coldest climates and most challenging conditions, yet was reminded why I chose to climb, and why I chose to push on. 70kg of logistics, self supported, responsible for your own life and the lives of others. Relive your hardest day....
Stefen 
Beautiful light on a day of light snow fall on Denali.... 
Night falls over Denali
Dragging a sled with 3 weeks worth of supplies up the windy corner of Denali... 
Stefen Chow drags his supplies warmed by his Khunu yak wool sweater.
Jane, my team mate watches over bags of stuff in Anchorage.... 
Supplies in Anchorage including Khunu yak wool sweaters
Cookies, energy bars, energy gels and baked cheetos make up the daily diet on the mountains.... 
No trip is complete without food: clif bars, cheetoes, gu
A lone tent up on Denali, where the daylight hardly goes away. We were climbing during summer, where there was 23 hours daylight among a 24. 
Camp at Denali
Snowfall is a constant occurrence, and long sticks fashioned out of bamboo called wands are placed over gear and tents to prevent them from disappearing into the snow. 
  
Stefen prepares for his ascent in his Khunu yak wool sweater /> </div>
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45 degree slopes, hard on the ankles, scary for the mind. 
Camp 3 of Denali with lots of tents & people on a unusually beautiful fair weather day. Mount Foraker looks on in the background. 
Denali is so cold we used the same equipment we used on Everest.
This was the descent from the summit, a long 20 hour day. 
 
 

Yen Kai, my teammate looking cold despite being multi-layered in down. 

Cold night in the tent at Denali kept warm by Khunu yak wool sweaters.

Mountaineers climbing on the ridge near the summit of Denali. With the wisdom of hindsight perhaps we should have stayed further away from the cornices.

Climbing the ridge near the summit of Denali in Khunu yak wool sweaters

Yihui, my third teammate, after the summit of Denali. Her face looks burnt despite religious application of sunscreen throughout the expedition

Sunburned face while summiting Denali.
This was around 2am in the morning, after moving from 5000m to the summit of 6194m and back to the base camp at 2000m. An arduous 5000 m of altitude change in a day. 
  
Climbing Mt. Denali in Khunu yak wool sweater
Sunlight looks beautiful on Denali but it's rarely warm.
Sunset at Denali