2021 Death Hike Recap: Fly-In, Hike-Out Adventure in the Frank Church Wilderness

2021 Death Hike Recap: Fly-In, Hike-Out Adventure in the Frank Church Wilderness

The 2021 Death Hike began with a flight into a remote airstrip, deep in Idaho's Frank Church "River of No Return" Wilderness. Two groups landed at two different airstrips, and upon waving goodbye to the Cessna planes, each group had the goal of hiking out of the wilderness over the next 48 hours.

The route out of the Wilderness included a good mix of trails, off-trail travel, and deep snow. The hike began in the river bottoms, well below the snow line, with temps in the upper 40s. With full sun exposure and the radiance of heat bouncing off the deep rock faces that paralleled the river, it felt like 80+ degrees. The following day, groups would gain elevation and enter snowfields. Temperatures would plummet below zero, winds would pick up, and fresh snow would fall. The variety of terrain and conditions encountered on this hike was a welcomed challenge.

Adventures like this are hard to put into words, but in the content below you will find a podcast discussion of the hike, some photos from the trip, and a gear list of everything a participant carried for this event.

We hope these adventures inspire you to get outside, experience new places, seek challenge and learn throughout the process.

Listen Via: iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Direct Download

Gear List Example

With 17 participants on the hike, no two gear lists were identical. There was a lot of variability in shelter choices, clothing brands, personal gear, and more. That said, most everyone carried very similar base equipment and had a pack weight of roughly 45-50lbs when accounting for all food, water, weapon, snowshoes, etc.

As an example list of the gear suggested for this type of adventure, here is Mark's Gear List...

  • Pack: K3 4800 Pack System
  • Shelter & Sleep System
    • Gossamer Gear "The One"
    • MSR Blizzard Stakes
    • Toaks Ti Stakes
    • Katabatic Alsek 22* Quilt
    • Nemo Tensor Alpine Sleeping Pad
    • Sea-to-Summit Aeros Pillow
  • Cooking & Drinking
    • MSR WindBurner 1L
    • Isobutane Container
    • Nalgene Ultralite 48oz HDPE Bottle
    • Hydrapak 3L bladder for "dirty" water storage and filtration
    • Sawyer Micro Water Filter
    • Sea-to-Summit Ti Long Spork
  • Food: 4,250-4,500 calories/day
  • Clothing
    • Pants: First Lite Sawbuck
    • Base Top: First Lite Wick, Outdoor Research Echo Hoody
    • Mid Top: First Lite Klamath
    • Insulation Top: Arc'teryx Atom LT, First Lite Brooks
    • Insulation Bottom: First Lite Uncompahgre
    • Rain Gear: Marmot Precip Pants, First Lite Vapor Stormlight Top
    • Gloves: Ragwool
    • Beanie: First Lite Tag Cuff
    • Socks: Darn Tough Hunter Boot Sock
    • Booties: Sierra Designs Down Booties
    • Boots: Hanwag Makra Trek GTX
  • Personal
    • Sunglasses
    • Sunscreen
    • Toothpaste & Toothbrush
    • Chapstick
    • Baby Wipes
  • Safety & Essentials
    • Satellite Phone
    • Fire: Bic Mini & Tinder Tabs in Waterproof Capsule
    • Paracord
    • Rescue Rope
    • First-Aid Kit
    • Repair/Patch Kit
    • Extra Fuel & Food for the Group
  • Electronics
    • Headlamp & Extra Batteries
    • iPhone with onX Maps
    • Dark Energy Poseidon Power Bank
    • Charging Cable
  • Miscellaneous Equipment
    • Thermarest Z Seat
    • S&S Backcountry Trekking Poles
    • Leki Snow Baskets
    • MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes
    • Kahtoola Microspikes

Photos From the Hike


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7 comments
  • Fantastic!

    Mister Wilson on
  • Awesome photos, the podcast summary was fantastic, looking forward to the interview’s with the other guys as well! You guys are great, always pushing new limits, always testing the next levels. Love the drive from the team at EXO! Again, thanks for taking the time to take some quality photos on the trip, it really brings the story to life for those of us listening on the podcast.

    Matt VanMaanen on
  • Great Pic’s and super that you guys are out there having fun. Thanks for the gear list, everytime i learn something from a story like this. Love EXO products.

    john Purcell on
  • Awesome experience! Can’t wait to listen to the podcast.

    Joe on
  • What a sweet ass trip that must have been. Over and over as I research gear I come back to your website and the podcast and always find something new, some gem of knowledge about gear that I was looking for or a way of doing something different or better. I really dig my new pack and can’t wait to really test it out now and of course this fall in Idaho. Thanks for making great gear and for all the amazing content. For those of us that don’t live in the places you live and work we are pretty jealous so never forget how good you have it.

    Benjamin Packard on

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