Luke with his group descending Aconcagua.
Luke with his group descending Aconcagua.

Luke lives chance of lifetime

WHILE Emerald residents rug up against the bitter cold sweeping the region of late, spare a thought for charity mountaineer Luke Richmond, currently climbing the coldest mountain on Earth – Denali.

Raising funds for Westmead Children’s Hospital and the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Luke, an underground coal miner formerly of Emerald, is well on his way to conquering the seven summits of the world.

But what may sound like a standard endeavour has proven potentially life-threatening for the young adventurer who, while undergoing intense training and preparation for his Alaskan trek, heard of some horrifying realities from the snow-capped mountains.

“Reports coming down from the mountain are not the greatest,” Luke said when Central Queensland News spoke with him before he set off on the latest climb.

“There was a limited snow fall this season. When you hear that you would think it is a good thing, but it’s actually the opposite.

“No snow means that it is very icy and when you’re traversing across a 45-degree slope on ice, it can be very dangerous.”

Dangerous may have been an understatement.

“There have been seven deaths already this season from falls already so we will have to be extra careful during the more exposed sections of the climb,” Luke said.

But, despite the risks, Luke has trudged on and is currently on his way up Denali in Alaska.

On Sunday, he and his climbing group had made it safely to Camp One but the cold had been too savage for them to push on.

It was the same day another group was descending from the peak. Luke, reporting from the mountain-side, said the two groups shared a meal before going their separate ways.

For Luke’s group, that meant moving their cache around Windy Corner after a Denali sandwich: bacon with bagels fried in bacon grease, then cheese, then more bacon grease.

“That hit the spot and really warmed us all up,” Luke wrote.

“Moving our cache around Windy Corner went well.

“It took us 4.5 hours to get up and 47 minutes to get down.”

It doesn’t seem to faze Luke that it’s such a slow and dangerous climb up Denali.

He takes it all in his halting stride and lives by two mottos.

Tattooed on his forearms is ‘one life, one chance’, which Luke said were words he lived by.

The other quote comes from Rick Beneteau, who said: “You can not climb a mountain if you will not risk a fall.”

“And that is the true reality of what we have to do to stand on top of these great mountains,” Luke said.

“I’d like to thank all my supporters in Emerald.”

Luke’s mum, Mandy, will update his website where you can donate to his cause at: www.olocadventures.com.au.


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