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New FKT on Alberta’s Livingstone Range Traverse

Learn about how Arielle Fitzgerald and Joanna Ford accomplished the Livingstone Traverse in southern Alberta

The Livingstone Range Traverse in Southern Alberta is a rocky ridge connecting Thunder Mountain, Lightning Peak, Centre Peak, Cauldron Mountain, and South Livingstone Peak. It extends from Oldman River to the Frank Slide over 38K with approximately 3,500 metres of elevation gain. On Sunday July 28, Arielle Fitzgerald and Joanna Ford became the first and fastest known women’s-only team to complete the traverse. Their time was 13:55.

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Photo: Joanna Ford

The ridge is visible from the highway to Crowsnest Pass, and Ford first noticed it a few years ago as she was driving down to race Sinister 7. When she saw Andrew Fairhurst and Troy Misseghers’ accomplishment on Strava, Ford knew it was possible. Since then, Fitzgerald and Ford have been dreaming of the traverse, and first attempted the ridge in spring 2018.

In preparation, the women trained long days in the mountains, practising scrambling and vert. They also trained carrying supplies and essentials they would use when completing the entire traverse. They carried three litres of water each, extra clothing layers including puffs, a wind shell, gardening gloves, cell phone with additional charging abilities, helmet, ACR ResQ Link beacon, emergency first aid kit (duct tape, bandaids, pain killers, safety pins, electrolytes, antihistamine, scissors, emergency poncho), and a variety of fuelling and calorie options.

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Photo: Joanna Ford

“When your blood sugar is low, you make stupid decisions and you’re more likely to trip or fall,” Says Ford. Fitzgerald and Ford recommend eating every 30-minutes. They fuelled with bacon, cheese and rice balls, peanut butter Oreos, and gummy candies. They also downloaded the topographic map of the region and texted friends to communicate at every summit. The first 10 hours were self-supported. Then Fitzgerald’s boyfriend met them with more water.

Photo: Joanna Ford

Fitzgerald’s and Ford’s accomplishments in the mountains come from years of experience.  They are advocates of “embracing the suck” and committing to “consistent forward progress” for all of their adventures. “When it starts to get tough, and you still have a long way to go, accept the pain as your companion and move on,” explains Ford.

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