The Most Grueling Snowshoe Challenge Ever

Somewhere in the snow banks of Montana back country, while you are comfortably sipping coffee in a warm home, there is a wild-eyed adventurer attempting one of the greatest feats in snowshoeing history. 

Richard Layne is attempting to trek the entire Montana Continental Divide Trail, a roughly 1,000-mile journey, by snowshoe. It won’t be in one year, of course, because the season change. And so far, the determined trekker has had to adjust his schedule. 

Layne caught up with a reporter for the Billings Gazette, who he told his story of the past three years undertaking the challenge. 

“The year before last, I got carbon monoxide poisoning and some snowmobilers yanked me out of the mountains by West Yellowstone,” Layne told the newspaper during a repair stop at his home in Helena. “Last year my wife sent me a text message that ‘the decision is out of your hands — I’ve sent people to get you.’ When I got out, I went to the doctor and he found a blood clot from my calf to my groin. So there are some challenges involved with my equipment and my body.”

After re-evaluating his pace, Layne has extended the total time he estimates it will take to complete the route from three years to around six, which means he realistically has a few more winters to spend in the woods.

This year’s extended snowfall has meant Layne contended with some especially deep powder. Strong winds destroyed one of his tents, and he pressed on. But another storm put so much powder on the mountain that an avalanche threat was very real. That and his cook stove was in danger of exploding. So Layne returned home to Helena to regroup. 

For this seasoned adventurer, the conditions are nothing he hasn’t seen before. At 64 years of age, Layne is truly an inspiration to us all.

“If something great happens, if I suddenly become 35 years old and in impeccable shape, I may be able to do it,” he said. “The weather decides where and when I can go each day. The route is about 1,000 miles, but by time it’s all said and done, I’m eating into 1,400 miles. Alterations are part of the bargain.”

Keep on trekking Richard!

Visit the Billings Gazette for the full story.

Photo credit: Billings Gazette