Journey to the Top


“The journey to the top is going to be the most exciting and rewarding trip you’ll ever take.” Zig Zigler


20,237 feet above sea level – Denali
1,150 miles in distance – Iditarod

21,182 climbers have summated Denali
731 Iditarod finishers
1 dog team summit of Denali

Last night I went to a presentation in my hotel discussing Denali, or Mt. McKinley. Denali means, “The High One,” in Athabascan. An Alaska Nature Guide delivered our presentation.

As I was sitting, taking notes, and soaking in the information, I couldn’t help but mentally compare climbing Denali to running the Iditarod. Both demand extensive training. Both require a high mental and physical state. Both have treacherous and rugged ground to cover. Both involve extreme weather. Most important, both require you to be able to care for yourself, and sometimes others, under extreme conditions.

Cindy AbbottCindy Abbott, Iditarod rookie musher, has summated Mount Everest. Now Denali’s peak isn’t as high as Everest (29,029 ft.), however, it is a taller mountain. This is because tall is measured from the base and Everest’s base starts much higher, making Denali about one mile taller. Both mountains require a ton of focus and are very difficult to climb. It is very impressive for anyone to summit either of these mountains. My students asked Cindy which is harder, climbing Everest or running the Iditarod. Her answer shocked the students. She told us that the Iditarod is much more difficult. Her reason is because in the Iditarod, not only are you caring for yourself, but you are responsible for the care of your 16 best friends. Cindy recently signed up for the 2015 Iditarod. This will be her third attempt. Talk about perseverance.

Father of the Iditarod, Joe Redington Sr., had a goal of climbing Denali with his dog team. Many said it couldn’t be done. Just like everything he did, he set his mind to accomplish his goal and never gave up on his goal. In 1979, Joe Redington Sr., Susan Butcher, and the dogs summated Mt. McKinley. Read more about Joe’s dream of climbing Mt. McKinley in Katie Mangelsdorf’s book, Champion of Alaskan Huskies.Joe Redington Sr.

For Cindy, Joe, Susan, the dogs, and the many more that have achieved their goal of summating or finishing the Iditarod, they have reached the top and I can only imagine how exciting and rewarding their journeys were.

This school year I will be doing lessons comparing/contrasting on these two amazing feats. Keep you eye on the blog.