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A Journey to the Top of the World

Or at least to the top of Ha Ling

A Journey to the Top of the World

By Megan Luscombe on April 28, 2016

I remember thinking wow, we made it all the way to the top. Just kind of taking a step back and just pausing and thinking about it. It was surreal. Something I never thought I would do. “For some people, the top of the world means climbing Mount Everest. But for a group of amateur first-time climbers, hiking up Ha Ling was ascending to new heights. It was part of a weekend put on by RMA and ASVI (Alberta Society for the Visually Impaired) that got a group of visually impaired ASVI members and volunteer guides hiking and rafting in the mountains. Stephen Shkuratoff was one of the visually impaired ASVI members involved in this weekend. This was the first adventure he had ever had with RMA. This was also the first mountain he had ever climbed.

2 pairs of visually impaired hikers and guides use poles to navigate the steep mountain trail

“Just going through nature was a lot of fun,” he said, reflecting on the highlights of the experience. For Stephen, the end of the hike was a highlight too, when he could revel in his accomplishments. The experience did have a downside though. He listed the multitude of bugs and having to go to the bathroom really bad the whole way down as his least favourite parts. As well as “trying to sleep after because I was sore.”

A group of 5 visually impaired guests and guides raise their arms at the peak of the mountain

Nowadays, Stephen is recently married and lives in Strathmore with his wife, son, and their dog Mocha. Although not currently involved in sports, adaptive or otherwise, he says he would consider getting involved again, but he admits he would have to build up to it. Being a family man, his take on sports is a bit different now. “It would actually be a lot of fun to do it with the whole family.” His son Grayson has a bike, and Stephen is interested in getting into tandem biking as well as getting Grayson into soccer. Stephen used to wrestle, and this is also something he might be interested in taking up again.

Even though he had a good time going down the Kananaskis River, he preferred the hiking over the rafting. “It’s a good way of testing yourself to see if you could do it. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it’d be. A really rare opportunity.” All in all though, if the opportunity presented itself, he would definitely do it again. “That would be fun.” Perhaps the next time he takes to the trails, it will be a family event.


Group of 10 guest 'hi-five' their paddles while on a yellow raft

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