Luckhurst tackles another charity challenge
Neil Luckhurst, a chiropractor from Montreal, has done eight rounds of the 46 High Peaks, including three in winter, and has done two other self-imposed Adirondack hiking challenges. He has bushwhacked all of the 46 and completed a winter round of the High Peaks in just 10 days a couple of winters ago.
Now, Luckhurst is tackling another challenge. One that he thinks has only been done by one or two other people. Luckhurst is planning to climb the 100 highest mountains within the Blue Line in a single winter season, which lasts from Dec. 21 to March 21.
“I don’t know, that’s a good question,” he laughed when asked what spurred him to do his third challenge to raise money for the Adirondack High Peaks Foundation. “I waited quite a while before coming up with a new project.
“I don’t know where it came from, but this thing popped into my head, and the more I thought about it the more I decided to give it a shot. That’s kind of where it came from.”
Luckhurst, who is semi-retired, plans to take advantage of his four-day weekends to complete the project, which he hopes will raise money for the foundation, of which he is a founding board member.
Luckhurst tackled his first big challenge in the winter of 2014, when he did a single season winter 46. That hiking season, which he called Project 46, was conceived after the loss of his son Dominic, who died in an avalanche in the Canadian Rockies in 2006. He raised about $15,000 for the foundation through that effort, money that goes to grants and funds such things as the Adirondack Mountain Club’s summit steward program.
Last year, Luckhurst attempted another challenge called Project Full Deck, where he tried to climb 52 trailed and trail-less peaks in the park. The funds raised from that went to Lower Adirondack Search and Rescue. He said this year’s hiking challenge is meant to refill the coffers of the foundation.
“This is bigger than the other ones; this is a whole different thing,” he said. “The outcome is definitely the most uncertain, there’s no question about it.
“I’m fairly confident that I’m going to be able to do it. The big unknown, which is beyond my control, is how much snow we get. For the trailed peaks, of which there are approximately 60, I’m not too worried. It’s the truly trail-less 40 — some of which are not that accessible — that is going to be the big question mark.
“If snow comes a little late, I’m definitely going to try to hit the hardest trail-less peaks first.”
Luckhurst said he hikes about once a week, but ramps that up when he’s getting ready for a big challenge like Project 100.
“I usually start training six months prior to a project [and] I do special strength training sessions in the gym,” he said. “This technique is yet another brick in the wall of building a big base of aerobic power and endurance.”
The foundation was founded in 2008 after Luckhurst and many of his compatriots decided to start helping care for the place they spent their free time. According to him, two online message boards with a membership of about 5,000 were utilized to raise money for the Keene Valley Fire Department’s Wilderness Rescue Team.
“We have since been registered with the IRS as a 501(c)3 non-profit charity for the express purpose of raising money to donate to wilderness projects in areas within the Forest Preserve,” he said. “Any expenses will come out of my own pocket. The donations won’t be earmarked for a specific project, but it all goes to the foundation.”
Luckhurst said that due to the spread out nature of this hike, he has his routes planned but they are highly subject to change. He has also already hiked the 100 highest, and has spent much of his hiking time in recent months going back to the mountains he wasn’t sure about.
“I’ve done a number of them, and I’m pretty sure I have the way I’m gonna go pretty dialed in,” he said. “All of my weekends are four-day weekends, so my plan is to drive from Montreal Thursday nights and that’ll give me Friday, Saturday, Sunday of pushing.
“And what I’m planning on doing, unless I get behind, is always taking the Monday off.”
Luckhurst will be taking a ragged group of dedicated bushwhackers and hikers along with him on many of the hikes, but he said due to weather conditions, his hiking partners will need to be flexible in what route they’ll be taking.
“Very, very fluid,” he said. “I’m hoping to have hiking partners for every hike, so I’ll definitely make sure I have internet connection and cell phone when I’m down there. There’ll be people who are accompanying me to further their own personal lists, or there’s other people who are going for the fun of it, and they won’t care.
“If I was just going out solo all the time it wouldn’t matter.”
Luckhurst is documenting Project 100 online at www.project100singlewinter.wordpress.com. The public can read more about his training regimen and hiking plans at the blog, as well as see plenty of photos of Luckhurst.