The insightful and inspiring film Little Steps features mountain athlete and Merrell Ambassador Mike Chambers as he endured a six-month, highly strategic and rigorous training program to prepare for his attempt at breaking the speed record for climbing Denali.
Ultimately, he left Denali without the record, but throughout his training and time on the mountain, reflects on life outside of physical goals and what’s most important – his family.
Located in Alaska, Denali is the highest mountain peak in North America with an elevation of 20,310 feet above sea level. It’s the third most prominent and third most isolated peak on earth, after Mount Everest and Aconcagua.
Leading up to his time on Denali in May 2019, Chambers and his training and attempt partner, Will Seeber, leveraged pre-acclimatisation, extreme fitness, and meticulous planning to prepare themselves to climb and descend the West Buttress Route – 34 miles and 13,500 ft of elevation gain – with the goal of completing the round-trip journey in under 11 hours.
Their planning and support team consisted of five key members, including Dr. Peter Hackett (high altitude medicine specialist), Scott Johnston (uphill athlete coach), Jared Berg (CU sports medicine), Chris Tomer (meteorologist), and fellow Merrell Ambassador and mountain athlete Jason Antin (logistics manager).
Merrell funded Chambers’ climb and supported the duo with training gear and apparel for the mountain. Additionally, MSR Gear, Camp USA, Dynafit, Julbo USA, Therm-a-Rest and SealLine provided them with gear and other needs for their journey.
Chambers’ passions for adventure, social justice and storytelling have taken him around the globe from the highest mountains in the Himalaya to the most remote villages in Africa and Latin America.
He’s led dozens of high-altitude climbing expeditions, including two on Mt. Everest, and is the creator and co-host of ‘Beat Monday’, an adventure travel show ‘designed to reimagine the weekend’ on Outside TV.
He is co-founder of Summits Education, an organisation that operates a network of 41 primary schools in Haiti’s Central Plateau serving nearly 10,000 students. When not in Haiti, or in the mountains, Mike and his wife Leila spend much of their time in Kenya where they run Flying Kites, a leadership academy for critically poor children.
He stated, “I’m lucky to be supported by a team of people who cheer for me just as loudly whether I’m setting off for a bounty or coming home empty-handed. Grateful to all my sponsors who get that I’m a father, and a climber, in that order. And, in that order, I’m never really empty-handed.” cent