Pair First to Complete Pacific Crest Trail in Winter

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A big part of enjoying the outdoors involves overcoming challenges. Hikers Justin Lichter and Shawn Forry overcame one of the most arduous challenges in hiking when they completed the Pacific Crest Trail in winter, becoming the first to do so.

The PCT, as it’s known, spans over 2,600 miles from Canada to the Mexican border, and passes through 25 national forests and seven national parks. Most people – or most sane people anyway – complete the trail in the summer heading north. These two did it in winter, going south.

Lichter, a professional ski patrol and Forry, an Outboard Bound instructor, had been planning the hike for five years prior to hitting the trail. The duo two set out to complete the historic trek in October, starting their journey in Canada and finishing at the Mexican border. Most hikers head the other way and leave in April.

Forry’s father, Randy Forry told the Oregonian newspaper he was a bit skeptical at first.

“When he told me it has never been done before I kind of said, ‘You know, there is probably a reason,'” he said.

In order to complete the journey, the pair had to snowshoe and ski through treacherous mountain passes, something most adventurers believed impossible until now. Along the way, Lichter and Forry endured frostbite, harsh weather conditions—which tested their emotional fortitude—and long periods of isolation from people. There was a 1,700-mile stretch where the pair didn’t encounter a single individual on the trail.

To prepare for the journey, they mapped out stops for resupplying their provisions, along with completing several practice hikes, including a trip on skis through the Sierra Nevada.

Photo credit: A climber walks along a rocky ridgeline near Needle Peak, BC. Getty Images