Kit DesLauriers

Freeskier

Kit DesLauriers     Photo: Jeff Lipsky

When Kit DesLauriers, 35, arrived at the base of Alaska's 20,320-foot Mount McKinley this May, the entire summit was capped in blue ice. But a little hardpack wasn't going to stop her from becoming the first American woman to ski the continent's tallest peak. For 26 days, she and her husband, Rob, assaulted the mountain, helping to rescue a stranded Korean party and enduring biting snowstorms. At the summit, DesLauriers strapped on her alpine planks and skied down windswept icefields, arriving, eight hours of skiing later, at base camp at 7,200 feet. As an extended warm-up to the McKinley expedition, the Jackson, Wyoming, local carved turns on 13,770-foot Grand Teton in June 2003 and, the following November, clinched the first female ski descent of New Zealand's 9,960-foot Mount Aspiring. This spring, DesLauriers will attempt two more ski expeditions—one to the Himalayas or Greenland and one to an undisclosed peak in Chile. "Skiing is life," says DesLauriers. "I love winter. I love the mountains. Sometimes it feels like the easiest thing in the world to be doing."

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