Climbing to beat cancer

Rediscovering a passion pushed aside by work and other obligations has led an Innisfail man to put himself to the ultimate test, climbing the highest peak in North America.

Rediscovering a passion pushed aside by work and other obligations has led an Innisfail man to put himself to the ultimate test, climbing the highest peak in North America.

This is all while raising money for breast cancer research.

As a younger man, Mark McCracken, now 45, worked in Banff and Lake Louise as both a supply runner and horse guide; he also worked as a guide in Colorado.

“I’ve always been in the outdoors, from when I was a kid I’d climb,” said McCracken. “It all came to a crashing halt when I jumped in the oilpatch.”

The oilpatch worker had to put aside these adventurous exploits when he started working to support his family — but one mountaineering course and he was hooked.

Now he plans to climb Mount McKinley, also known as Mount Denali, in Alaska, at 6,168 metres above sea level. The climb is about 5,500 metres from base to peak, giving McCracken an arduous 21-day task to reach the peak.

He and seven others — two guides and five other climbers — through Alaska Mountaineering are set to embark on the journey starting on June 12.

He’s getting himself in shape for the climb by taking advantage of his surroundings as much as possible. Working in the north on the rigs, he doesn’t have much time off but he makes do.

“I’ve been snowshoeing with 45-to-70-pound packs and dragging a 50-pound sled with me,” said McCracken. “I’ve been volunteering evenings, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. At around noon or 1 p.m., I’d strap on my snowshoes, my pack and my sled and go for a five-or-seven-mile lap.

“I think I did about 90 miles in March.”

He just got back from a six-day expedition climb up Mount Columbia, the second highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. He has also climbed Mount Rainier, Joffre and Assiniboine.

This week, he was driving to the Banff/Canmore area to hike for a few days before returning to work.

Having no direct connection to someone who has suffered breast cancer, McCracken said he got his inspiration from watching National Football League games.

“I’m lucky enough to do this, mountaineering is not a cheap sport, and I wanted to give back,” said McCracken. “Every October, NFL players are wearing pink to support breast cancer research and I figured: why can’t I do the same thing?”

He plans on wearing some pink during his climb.

So far, he has raised about $4,000, and he hopes to raise more to donate to the Canadian Cancer Society.

To donate and for more information, visit www.mark-mccracken.squarespace.com.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City council will have to wait longer to hear back from administration on possible alternative sites — if the homeless shelter is moved from Red Deer downtown. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Alternative sites for homeless shelter will be explored by the City of Red Deer

Council gave administration more time to return with a report

Quentin Lee Strawberry was found not guilty of second-degree murder in connection with stabbing death of Joseph Gallant in March 2019. (Photo from RCMP)
Updated: O’Chiese man found not guilty of 2019 stabbing death of Red Deer man

Quentin Strawberry found guilty of assaulting murdered man’s common-law partner

(Advocate file photo).
City of Red Deer property tax bills are in the mail

Red Deer 2021 tax notices are on their way. Red Deer property… Continue reading

‘Dear Future Children’ takes top audience prize at Hot Docs film festival

‘Dear Future Children’ takes top audience prize at Hot Docs film festival

FILE - Signage promoting the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards and NBC appears in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Jan. 5, 2020. NBC said Monday that will not air the Golden Globes in 2022. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
Amid outcry, NBC says it will not air Golden Globes in 2022

Amid outcry, NBC says it will not air Golden Globes in 2022

RCMP officers work at the scene after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. Homicide investigators expect to release more information about a deadly shooting in Burnaby on Saturday that police say could be linked to a similar slaying at Vancouver's airport just one day later. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘We will do everything we can,’ B.C. police say to reassure public amid gang violence

‘We will do everything we can,’ B.C. police say to reassure public amid gang violence

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
US ship fires warning shots in encounter with Iranian boats

US ship fires warning shots in encounter with Iranian boats

A Palestinian protester does a handstand next to a fire which was set on a road during clashes with Israeli police near Damascus Gate just outside Jerusalem's Old City, Sunday, May 9, 2021. Israeli police have been clashing with Palestinian protesters almost nightly in the holy city's worst religious unrest in several years. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Hamas launches new attack on Israel after Jerusalem clashes

Hamas launches new attack on Israel after Jerusalem clashes

Bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet holds a news conference before Question Period, Monday, May 10, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
NDP join Liberals to cut short debate, move pandemic election bill forward

NDP join Liberals to cut short debate, move pandemic election bill forward

Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at LifeLabs after being logged upon receipt at the company's lab, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Iqaluit elders home evacuated after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

Iqaluit elders home evacuated after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh listens to a question as he speaks with reporters on Parliament Hill, Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in Ottawa. Singh says he believes there's a connection between anti-mask and anti-lockdown protests and far-right extremism. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Pandemic of hate’: Leaders, experts warn anti-lockdown protests linked to far right

‘Pandemic of hate’: Leaders, experts warn anti-lockdown protests linked to far right

Most Read