It was dubbed “The Coast Mountain Epic.” In the end, it took two epic humans to complete it. Tania and Martina Halik just skied 1,430 miles from Squamish, British Columbia to Skagway, Alaska, traversing the rugged coastal mountains as part of an insane ski traverse that apparently has been finished by only one other group.
The route runs along the coast mountains of B.C. all the way to Alaska and most all of it is high-alpine. Essentially, it’s like backcountry skiing 50 marathons in a row. Good lord.
The mother, Tania, has an incredible story. Like most Czechoslovakians, she’s an uber athlete, learning to ski and rock climb in her home country at a young age. But her Czechoslovakia was oppressed by Russian rule, and with her husband, while she was pregnant with Martina’s sister, she escaped to Western Europe. “They hatched a daring escape by foot from behind the Russian communist controlled Iron Curtain,” wrote Tania of her mother. “Their plan worked, and they were able to start a new and unoppressed life and family in the free democratic country of Switzerland.” The couple would eventually settle in Canada to raise the family. Martina is an experienced ski patroller and photographer who somehow convinced her mother this was a great idea. She ran the media for their website. The most insane part of all this is that Tania is 61, born in 1956 according to the site.
The ladies started in early January and worked incessantly on logistics to create light food stores that would nourish them in their travels and at the same time not weigh them down. They were able to get the weight per day down to around a pound and a half, according to their site, and had food caches dropped along the way. There were of course some dicey moments, one of which came right after they passed Bella Coola, a valley in the Great Bear Rainforest. They were forced to cross a creek using ropes and an inflatable intertube and both became hypothermic.
The previous traverse of the coast range was done by a group of six ski mountaineers in 2001 and also took some six months. That expedition actually began as two seperate teams that melded together as one of the men had to be flown out after being injured in a fall. A Canadian magazine called the adventure “The Most Ambitious Ski Traverse Ever.”
And Tania and Martina just finished it on their own. “That folks, is a wrap,” read a post on their Facebook page. “The Coast Mountain Epic, a 2300-kilometer, six-month long ski traverse from Squamish, British Columbia to Skagway, Alaska is now in the books.” Indeed.