Round-the-world record holder Mark Beaumont has now reached the Yukon on his latest adventure. But the first part of his trip hasn’t been easy – he’s climbed the highest mountain in North America, sheltered from an earthquake and battled harsh Alaskan weather.
The 26-year-old Briton’s epic cycle ride down the American continent has now led him to Destruction Bay in Canada, but it was his ascent of 20,320ft Mount McKinley in Alaska last month that was the toughest challenge so far.
A post on Beaumont’s blog said: “On the approach ridge to the summit the weather suddenly deteriorated into a blizzard and white-out with zero visibility… Lots of concentration needed to walk with crampons on the narrow ridge. Only spent two minutes on the summit and had to make a retreat.”
A week later, while Beaumont was recuperating in Talkeetna after the descent, Alaska was hit by an earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale. The epicentre was just 30 miles away.
He told BBC Scotland’s Newsdrive: “I was in a restaurant and I heard the shake starting, felt it starting, and I had never experienced it before so I had no idea what it was. The owner immediately shouted to get away from the doors and windows, and that was what we did until the shaking stopped.”
Constant rain was also a problem, as Beaumont told BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James on Friday: “In Alaska it rained every single day, and when it rains in Alaska it’s really cold as well, so it was a bit of a baptism of fire because for the first week on the bike I wasn’t really cycling fit – coming off the mountain, it’s a different sort of fitness.
“I was trying to find my cycling legs again and that weather didn’t make it much easier, but I’m feeling good now. I’m still in the middle of nowhere, still in the middle of the neverending forest which is northern Canada… In the last 300 to 400 miles I’ve cycled through there is nothing but billions of trees.”
Beaumont, who holds the world record for the fastest true circumnavigation of the world by bicycle, is aiming to cycle 15,000 miles along the American Cordillera, the longest mountain range on the planet.
He set off from Anchorage, Alaska on 27 May and will finish at Ushuaia at the foot of Argentina. His plan was to stop off en route to scale the two highest peaks on the American continent, Mount McKinley and Mount Aconcagua (22,841ft) in Argentina, on foot.