Last night, Kit Delauriers stopped by Burlington, Vermont and gave an inspiring account of her Seven Summits journey and Arctic Refuge adventure. The crowd started rolling in around 6 o'clock to catch an informal meeting with Kit. She appeared as comfortable as she does on skis, moving from group to group, answering their questions and giving short stories to wet their appetites. Throughout the night the audience was given first hand accounts of Kit's experiences and insight into the alpinist's psyche during particularly challenging moments. Backdropped with a large screen, she showed images and videos to provide even more detail to the expeditions.
The presentation started with Kit Delauriers' decision to tackle the Seven Summits and ski off of them. A mix of her nordic skiing childhood, active downhill understanding, and need for adventure took her out west where she says, "at some point she became a mountaineer". Now, she admittedly says that there are no requirements, qualifications, or, in some instances, experience necessary. However, she had spent enough time exploring big lines and learning techniques to keep her and her friends alive and well, and was now considered one. After winning back-to-back Freeskiing World Championships she sat down to a dinner with author Dick Bass, who wrote Seven Summits and pondered the idea. Well the idea took off.
Kit gave an informative account of each summit she climbed. From her first "vacation" with her husband and climbing partner Rob Delauriers on Denali to her final ascent and descent of Mount Everest. Car troubles, weather patterns, and enormous travels costs ($250,000 in insurance costs to Anarctica?!) stood to prevent her from attaining her goal, however, she surrounded herself with knowledgeable climbing partners and a personal dedication to her goal.
With the better known expedition completed, Kit moved on to her travels to Alaska and the Arctic Refuge which proved to be no less entertaining and informative. Her tone shifted from the story of her childhood, family and friends, and past events to her current desires and interests. Being dropped off in the middle of the Brooks Range, an area that was described as one of the most peaceful, wild, and beautiful places she had ever been, she took a moment to reflect upon her experiences. Her concerns for drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge came to the forefront as she described the serene environment and the beauty that would be lost if support continued. Breathtaking shots of snow-capped mountains and wildlife played behind Kit as she posed the question, "What does wilderness really mean?" ... her answer... "One of the definitions that was written by our congress in 1964 is that 'Wilderness is a place where man remains a visitor' and if winderness is a place where man remains a visitor then i feel like my ability or the ability of our generations to come to experience wilderness in a place like that would be seriously depreciated if anything were to happen out there for even 5 years worth of oil."
Well, we will leave you to think about what wilderness really means to you. And during your reflection, check out the Alaska Wilderness League for more information.