These climbers hope to be the 1st all-women group to take on one of Canada's tallest mountains

·3 min read
Pascale Marceau, left, and Eva Capozzola are aiming to climb Mount Lucania in Yukon this weekend, weather permitting. (Michael Schmidt - image credit)
Pascale Marceau, left, and Eva Capozzola are aiming to climb Mount Lucania in Yukon this weekend, weather permitting. (Michael Schmidt - image credit)

Two climbers are doing whatever it takes to achieve their goal of climbing one of the highest mountains in Canada — even if that means having to isolate in Whitehorse for two weeks before the ascent even begins.

Pascale Marceau, from Ottawa, and fellow climber Eva Capozzola, who currently lives in Golden, B.C., are set to attempt to climb Mount Lucania, based in Yukon's Saint Elias mountain range. It's the third highest mountain in Canada, with an elevation of 5,226 metres.

"The reason, I guess, is its appeal," Marceau said. "It's really on a path less traveled."

Few people climb Lucania, which sits in the shadow of its giant neighbour (and the tallest in the country), Mount Logan.

The pair flew out Thursday morning.

Climbers Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola set out to begin their journey up Mount Lucania on Thursday morning.
Climbers Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola set out to begin their journey up Mount Lucania on Thursday morning.(Michael Schmidt)

The journey will require the pair to respond to the conditions of the mountain and use their mountaineering skills to make it through the route. That includes being mindful of the snowpack, which is deeper than many years in the past, Capozzola explained.

"That area gets a lot of wind, so we'll just have to see how that has transported the snow, how that's affected the conditions," she said.

"We'll just have to take it one day at a time and use our judgment."

The 2-week 'calm'

Before even taking one step on the mountain, the two are already well into their adventure, as they've been isolating at an Airbnb in Whitehorse for the past two weeks.

Marceau says because of the pandemic, the duo didn't get to prepare together.

"We didn't get to do a lot of climbing together and all the logistics and stuff. So this two weeks [of isolation] has just been wonderful. We've been able to prepare, go through all our gear. Just rest up," she said.

"It's kind of a welcome little calm."

The pair estimate it will take them about 16 days total, including the return journey to the base camp where they'll be flown out again.

On top of many other safety precautions they're taking, they also have packed 22 days worth of food and fuel in case it takes longer than expected. They've also packed an additional 10 days worth of food and fuel that will remain at the base camp in case they have to wait for a weather window for a pickup.

"It's a beautiful mountain, we've been able to see it a few times now. And it's got an aesthetic route and a nice variety of skiing and climbing," Marceau said.

"We just can't wait to be in that beautiful spot."

Flying over Yukon's St. Elias range.
Flying over Yukon's St. Elias range.(Michael Schmidt)

First all-women trip

While this trip will mark Marceau's second attempt at the mountain, the duo hope this time around will mark the first all-women group to complete the climb.

"As far as we can tell, so far, there has never been an all-women party up that mountain. So that makes it kind of special for a lot of reasons for us," Marceau said.

They'll be bringing the Royal Canadian Geographical Society flag along with them too.

"It's just such a wonderful opportunity," Capazzola said. "I'm just excited to be out there."