Post-Mount Denali Climb – Jean-Francois’ Story


It is hard to describe such a powerful experience with the right words. I have been dreaming for the last fifteen years of climbing high mountains and to take part in a mountaineering expedition. 

It took us almost a year of planning and preparation to make Denali a reality. It is proof that with courage, determination and patience, everything is possible. Our adventure on Denali was full of emotions and challenges. We had to battle true blizzards, cold, whiteouts, physical and mental challenges in order to reach the summit. On many occasions, I questioned myself, when I felt exhausted for the meaning of our quest.

During those difficult times, I had to remind myself about my wish to raise mental health awareness and to inspire people to follow their dreams. More then once, I had to remember to stay focus on the present moment, instead of letting my fears and exhaustion take over my mind.

I definitely had moments of doubts, but through difficulty, I learned to go beyond my limits.

In life, just like in the mountains, it is often through difficult times that the best of us comes out. I remember reading a quote at the Denali National Park office that said Life is like climbing a mountain… hard to climb, but worth the amazing view from the top. We also have to remember that after the storm, the sunshine will always come out, no matter what!

After fifteen days on the mountain, we were blessed by beautiful weather for our final summit push. The joy I felt when I took those last few steps and reached the summit was so powerful. 

At that moment, all the pain and struggles we had to endure just vanished, and my heart was filled with joy, love and a strong feeling of accomplishment. In the name of mental health, we had made it. 

I was standing on the summit of my dream, for all of us that have been affected by mental health at some point in their life.

Through my project Overcoming Mental Illness One Summit at a Time and my story, I hope to help end the stigma around mental health and to inspire people to follow their dreams and passion.

Our Peer Support program services can be accessed over the phone at 403-297-1402 or through email at