Should You Pack Marijuana for the Alaska Range?

Every morning I wake up and I read the newspapers to stay informed for work — mostly stories on political issues and government policies. After that I turn to the climbing news and blogs. The morning after election day in the U.S. (which was Tuesday), was a little different. I follow America’s 50 state governments too, not just the federal elections, so there was a lot more political and government news to take in.

Voters across America considered 147 referendums. Some were on raising the minimum wage, some were on veteran’s benefits, and one hotly covered topic in a few states — including Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia — was the “legalization” of marijuana.

State climbing mecca Colorado previously allowed marijuana to be sold relatively freely. I haven’t heard of any outright depravity in climbing and marijuana use since it became legal. I’ve actually heard really pathetic stories about one climbing partner eating some questionable mushrooms and then getting stranded, naked, high up on one of the Flatirons. But that wasn’t marijuana.

When it comes to alpine Alaska, marijuana has made it’s way to basecamps and higher on Denali (think 17 camp) even before legalization. I recall reading that even Jon Krakauer “lit up” after climbing Devil’s Thumb and returning to his basecamp on the Stikine Ice Camp. (Some of you probably we’re surprised by this, and that makes me chuckle.) Well, Jon admitted that it wasn’t a good victory lap.

I’ve read posts in chat groups where climbers have speculated whether marijuana might help them climb with more focus. Has anyone asked the same question of beer or whiskey?

Marijuana might be legal in some of the best alpine climbing playgrounds in the U.S. now, but a good meal and a good nights rest might do more for your ascent than anything else. Be safe out there!

One last thing that I wanted to mention… The picture I posted above I discovered on Flickr. It reminds me of the feeling, if not the precise view, I shared with some friends camping at the Snake River camp site in Denali NPP. I’ve been saving it to share it at the right time. I hope you enjoy it and have a good rest of your week.

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