Jun 01, 2012
NEW YORK, NY – Alexandra Levin, a 30 year old Manhattan resident who is living with MS, will head to Alaska to climb Mount Denali on Saturday June 2. Alexandra will embark on this three-week expedition up one of some of the most challenging terrain in the United States as part of a group of climbers who will travel expedition-style, each person hauling about 125 pounds of gear and necessities. She will also carry three weeks’ worth of disease-modifying medicine in a home-made insulation system.
Levin started climbing soon after her first multiple sclerosis episode in the summer of2005 when she was 23. “Although it wasn’t a conscious decision, my diagnosis made me more curious about pushing my physical limits and attempting things I otherwise wouldn’t have dreamed of just to see if I can because I’m very aware that I may not always have that choice,” she said. Since that time, she has also climbed Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (19,300'), Elbrus in Russia (18,500’), Baker in Washington State (via two different routes; 10,800'), Cayambe in Ecuador (19,000') and Aconcagua in Argentina (22,840’).
Preparations unique to a person living with multiple sclerosis
Adding to the numerous challenges associated with climbing Denali is the fact that Levin will continue giving herself medication via weekly intramuscular injections during the 21-day climb. Denali is known for its ferocious weather, with temperatures routinely falling to -40. Since Denali is so far north, the altitude effects on climbers are also magnified: the summit of 20,320’ is said to actually be more equivalent to 22,000’ elsewhere in the world.
Intense training for Denali began in November 2011, and has included weights, cardio and many hours of “hiking” on local beaches while towing weighted sandbags. “Between the physical demands, altitude tolerance and weather conditions, a summit can’t be counted on, but no matter how far we get I’m sure it’ll be an incredible experience,” she said.
When your world becomes sky
Levin has the following to say about climbing:
While I am by no means a 'mountaineer,' I have been drawn to mountains ever since a trip to Africa about six years ago. I had been a competitive figure skater growing up, so maybe I am drawn to physical activities in the cold! Climbing for me is meditative. It focuses my attention onto only the essentials in life. I love the sustained physical challenge and I love the feeling of being so high up that when you look around, you realize most of your world has become sky. The beauty of a vast mountain-side is completely breathtaking, and the air at high mountain altitudes is crisper and cleaner than anywhere I've ever been. There is something spectacular, humbling, and exhilarating about mountains. I've been looking forward to climbing Denali for many years now and I'm excited to finally have the opportunity to give it a go.
Follow Alexandra on her journey
The chapter will post updates of Alexandra’s Denali climb through it’s Facebook pageand Mountain Trip will also post reports of the teams’ progress. To follow, visit http://mountaintrip.com/trip-reports/
About the New York City – Southern New York Chapter
The New York City – Southern New York Chapter of the National MS Society is committed to helping the 10,000 people living with multiple sclerosis in the five boroughs and Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange and Sullivan counties continue moving their lives forward. The chapter raises funds locally to support the Society’s critical research initiatives and to provide hundreds of comprehensive support services and educational programs for people living with MS, their family and friends. Visit www.MSnyc.orgfor more information.
About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
MS stops people from moving. The National MS Society exists to make sure it doesn’t by helping each person address the challenges of living with MS. In2011 alone, through our national office and 50-state network of chapters, wedevoted $164 million to programs and services that improved the lives of more than one millionpeople. To move us closer to a world free of MS, the Society also invested $40 million to support more than 325 new and ongoing research projects around the world. We are people who want to do something about MS now. Join the movement at nationalMSsociety.org.
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis interrupts the flow of information between the brain and the body and it stops people from moving. Every hour in the United States someone is newly diagnosed with MS, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with more than twice as many women as men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S., and 2.1 million worldwide.