By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
The father-son team left for Alaska on Monday, June 7.
“It was kind of my idea,” said Henry, 16, who just completed his sophomore year at Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts.
“Kind of? I’ve done this before. I didn’t need to do it again,” Tim said, laughing.
“OK, it was my idea,” Henry said.
They were scheduled to fly to Anchorage, then travel to Talkeentna, about 80 miles away, where they can shuttle to the glacial trek of the highest mountain in the United States, at about 20,000 feet.
With about 40 pounds of gear, including two weeks of food, the Horvaths will attempt to summit Denali.
The duo is fresh from another mountain hike, finishing the Adirondack winter trail in March, going from Northville to Lake Placid in seven days and nine hours. The time was a Fastest Known Time for a duo unsupported on the winter trail.
“That is actually one of the reasons we did the Northpoint to Lake Placid trail,” Henry said. “We thought it would be a good trip to see if maybe I could do Denali as well.”
A Cherry Valley native and the owner of Redpoint Design/Builders, Tim said he grew up loving the outdoors. A biking habit turned into a hiking habit, with an eye on reaching summits and seeing vistas that most people don’t get to see, he said.
Horvath said he has done 14 expeditions on the world’s tallest peaks, including Denali in 1995 and 1999 and the Himalayas in Nepal.
In 1995, Horvath said the weather wasn’t right for a summit to Denali and he and everyone else that year got turned back by a storm. He had better luck in 1999.
Neither Horvath seemed sure they could summit Denali this month, but both said they feel like they have the skills if the conditions are right.
“Every year about 1,000 people attempt Denali and about 50% will summit,” Tim said.
Outdoor skills, winter survival skills and hiking and climbing ability will help their mission, they said. They will carry packs, pull sleds with half of their gear at a time, and leapfrog back and forth, making each part of the ascent twice as they acclimate to the elevation, they said.
And if that wasn’t challenging enough, they will do it in 24-hour sunlight, a feature of Alaska’s northern location. “To sleep, you have to wear shades,” Tim said.
The Horvaths have a flight home booked for July 1, but they said they could return home sooner if they have great success or failure.
Success takes them to the top, but failure could be something much worse.
“It can’t be understated, you are crossing glaciers,” Tim said. “There are crevices, and you are tied together with ropes, in case one of you falls, you are anchored to the other person. It is not without a certain amount of danger, but with that said, there are going to be about 150 people out there on the trail with us, doing the same thing at the same time. You are never more than about five miles away from safety.
“As a father, I would not bring Henry into this if I did not think he was capable of doing this,” he said. “There are some other places I have been where I would not take my 16-year-old son.”
To add to the challenge, Henry is raising money for Otsego Outdoors, a joint venture from Otsego 2000 and the Otsego Land Trust, which is designed to promote and cultivate outdoor activities in Otsego County.
The donations are done via a tracker ap, www.pledgeit.org/denali and people can pledge money for every level of the climb Henry does successfully. He said he wanted to raise money for a group that celebrates and promotes the outdoors as a way of sharing his passion with other people.
“If I am able to give something back locally to a group that supports outdoor activities, that is great,” Henry said. “It is a good cause. All the money is going to them.”