A mother and daughter team are part way through an epic journey, more than 2,300 kilometres long, from Squamish, B.C. to Alaska — on skis.
Ninety days into their trip, Martina and Tania Halik are now in Terrace, B.C., taking a break to refuel and rest. They have another two to three months ahead of them before reaching their final destination of Skagway, Alaska.
“You encounter everything from having to deal with avalanche hazard, and crevasses, and extreme weather… It’s not easy, it’s also never boring,” Martina told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.
The two have substantial outdoor experience; Martina as an avalanche technician and Tania as a forecaster with Avalanche Canada. But they have never attempted a trip so lengthy and sustained.
Months of training and working out logistical issues, such as dehydrating and packing 150 days worth of food, filled their time before they set out in January, just as Tania turned 60.
“For a lot of people, they feel like their lives are over at 60 and should be sitting in an armchair for the last few decades,” Martina, 30, said of her mother.
“For her, she has had the most full and adventurous life and she just keeps on going.”
Tania and her husband escaped on foot from the former Czechoslovakia, when it was still a communist country in the 1980’s. They fled to Switzerland before settling in B.C.
Martina said the stories from that adventure are enough to fill a book.
“The story is too long to tell in one go, but from wading in icy rivers, trying to sneak passed border guards and getting caught, and staring down the barrels of machine guns that are being held at them by 20-year-old soldiers,” said Martina adding that her mother is tough as nails.
The Dean River, near Bella Coola, presented the biggest challenge so far, Martina said, recalling how she had to shuttle gear across fast-moving, icy water to Tania, who was on the opposite bank.
“For a while there we were worried, we ended up trapped on either side of the river with limited gear. We were quite hypothermic and despite all the preparation and safety precautions, just unbelievable things kept going wrong.
“My mum has probably had harder days for sure, but even for her that was quite challenging.”
Martina predicts that the next leg of the trip will be faster as they make their way across the Alaska icefields, clear of the…