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Golden Ultra Vertical K, 4th, 49:05

A few weeks ago while planning a trip to Golden, BC, for my mother in law’s 70th birthday, I googled something along the lines of “Golden trail running” and discovered that the Golden Ultra at Kicking Horse ski resort was to be held the weekend that we were there.

The three-day event is made up of a vertical k, a 60k ultra, and a 20k race over the course of 3 days. While I didn’t have the time to step away and race a 60k (nor the fitness, at the moment), I impulsively registered for the vertical K.

This masochistic race format is common in Europe, but a relative rarity in North America. The ideal vertical K covers 1000 meters of climbing (3280′) in the shortest distance possible. At the Golden Ultra, this means a start at the base of the Gondola with a direct climb to the summit straight up roads, ski runs, and singletrack.

Nervously awaiting the start. The course began up the dirt road in the background and ultimately ended at the peak in the center of the distant skyline.

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Notes From The Elk Mountain Grand Traverse

by Ethan Linck and Peter Innes

Two weeks ago, we had the privilege of lining up to race the 20th annual Elk Mountain Grand Traverse. The “GT,” as it’s commonly known, is a 40 mile point-to-point backcountry ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen. Because of the stunning tableau of mountains en route, the unpredictable weather, and its midnight start, it’s hard to think of a more iconic ski mountaineering event in North America. As both of us have served as winter caretakers at the nearby Rocky Mountain Biological Lab, where daily life provides ample preparation for a long day of low-angle mountain travel at high elevation, the GT is near and dear to our hearts as a celebration of one of Colorado’s more beautiful landscapes.

Gothic Mountain and the East River Valley: home to the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab and yours truly, team Rocky Mountain Ski Lab. Photo (c) Ethan Linck

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SkiMo Race Report: The Father Dyer Postal Route

A century and a half ago, a minister by the name of John Lewis Dyer journeyed over 1000 miles by horse and by foot from Minnesota to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. His mission was to teach the gospel to morally bereft inhabitants of the mining camps popping up across the state. Settling down in a mining town called Bucksin Joe, “Father Dyer,” as he became known, made frequent crossings of 13,100′ Mosquito Pass in order to spread the word of God and deliver mail to various locales. The route was rugged, dangerous, and often snow covered. Dyer became a frontier legend after nearly three decades of tirelessly traveling between camps and preaching.  Today, he is remembered foremost by an eponymous mountain in the Mosquito Range outside of Leadville (Dyer Mountain, 13,800′). Read on →

Skimo Racing Vertfest Alpental 2016: 1st Place

The forecast called for temperatures in the 40s. As the weekend approached, the weatherman started calling for one to two inches of rain. The freezing level was above the mountaintops. Conditions were perfect for skimo racing.

Ok. That’s a lie. As Taylor and I drove to Washington on Saturday and mountain biked in the rain, I thought strongly about bailing from the second Vertfest race at Alpental. Stupid me, I had preregistered for the race, which is for some reason the most expensive ninety minutes of skimo that I know of. I should have known better– when we raced here two years ago, it was also raining.

Still, there are only so many races in the PNW, so we decided to make a classic alpine maneuver and “go have a look”. Perhaps in terrible weather, and with much more attractive races beckoning from the rockies to those with flexible schedules, we might find ourselves the only ones there.

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Vertfest start, with yours truly center-punching it in white suit, orange helmet. (Image stolen shamelessly from Kurt Hicks Überguide).

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Skimo Racing Vertfest Mt Bachelor 2016: 2nd Place

Last weekend, Taylor and I drove to Central Oregon for the second skimo race of the short PNW season. Mt Bachelor hosts the smallest of the Vertfest races, but of the three (others: Brighton and Alpental) it has the most lighthearted vibe and fun atmosphere.

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Aaron, Me, and Tosch, getting ready to warm up under less-than-sunny skies. (Photo: Jesse Hambley)

I raced skimo here two years ago and surprised myself with a third place finish. Coming back this year, now with unflattering speed suit and real race skis, I wanted to win. The week before the race I felt well-trained and strong, but I also went backcountry skiing a bit too much. A couple of long days left my legs feeling a bit flat, and when race day rolled around, skimo psych wasn’t particularly high.

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Sprinting off the front after the start (Photo: Jeff Snyder)

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Breckenridge Crest Half Marathon

The “Breck Crest”  is a 20-year Breckenridge, Colorado footrace tradition described as “quintessential Breckenridge” by race director Jeff Westcott.  The marathon and half-marathon courses bring racers just beneath the peaks of the 10-Mile Range–the town’s stunning backdrop and setting of the famed Breckenridge Ski Resort–before descending dirt road through the resort boundaries. I opted for the shorter distance because “up & downs,” as I like to call them, have become somewhat my specialty. Or maybe it’s just that I haven’t raced much else.

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Kendall Mountain Run Recap

By mid July it was high time to put my summer training to the test. As chance would have it, my dad had notified me he’d be visiting Colorado with two friends to race the Kendall Mountain Run in Silverton on July 18th. He suggested I race as well–I’d get to see a new part of Colorado, eat good food and drink good beer (for free), race against some serious competition, and (most importantly!) get to spend time with my father. Read on →

Start SkiMo Racing: 8 Tips You Need to Know

Early season turns on Mt Hood

Early season turns on Mt Hood

 

When you decide to take the plunge, invest in your success, and buy light gear, SkiMo.co has got you covered. As the only dedicated skimo store around, they have the inventory and the advice to get you set up right.

skimo.com


 

In most parts of the country but my own, the snow is starting to fall, skis are coming out of the closet, and ski-season stoke is circulating. This year as you think about your skiing plans, maybe you’re considering signing up for your first skimo race, or maybe you raced once or twice last year, got hooked, and are thinking about taking your game to the next level.

There’s nothing to stop you. Skimo is a beginner friendly sport. Still, when I started racing, I reinvented the wheel over and over again. So this year, I’ve compiled eight tips to point you in the right direction if you’re just revving up your skimo engine for the first or second time.

1. When it comes to training, any skiing is better than no skiing.

Most skimo racers live within reach of the mountains. Any coach will agree that there is no substitute for sport-specific training, which means that to train for skimo racing, the best thing that you can do is to ski uphill as much as possible. While you can derive some aerobic benefit from cross-training on a bike or by running, the motor patterns are very different from skiing, so an hour spent skiing is probably worth two or more running or biking. Also, if you’re using skimo skis to race (read: really short, really skinny) then you need to learn to ski them in all sorts of conditions, which means touring on them as much as possible. Leave the B-dizzle-mega-fatties at home and make your skimo skis your go-to ski.

Sometimes you have to walk to go skiing. It's always worth it, one way or another.

Sometimes you have to walk to go skiing. It’s always worth it, one way or another.

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The 2014 GoreTex Grand Traverse (Reverse)

For more than a week now, I’ve struggled against my keyboard to beat out a race report from the GoreTex Grand Traverse (GT), which Taylor and I raced on the night of march 28th and well into the day on the 29th. To encapsulate 15 hours of backcountry racing into a succinct blog post is nigh impossible given the spectral range of emotions and experiences that evolve and transpire during such a lengthy race. Nevertheless, inspired by a report from my friend and fellow racer Ethan Linck, I hope to bring you a few highlights. 

Expanding my sense of the possible is the biggest kick that I get from prolonged endurance events, and the GT was a new high for me. I’m a new convert to prolonged endurance, having only run my first Ultramarathon last summer. Nevertheless, it’s an addicting feeling to line up for a new challenge and to wait for the gun on a race that’s longer than you’ve ever done before. More addicting still is the confidence that, regardless of the duration, you are strong enough to finish– that feels good.

skinning crested butte

Skinning into the beautiful mountains of Crested Butte, headed to the sanctuary of Gothic.

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Wasatch Powder Keg 2014

Packed for the 2014 Wasatch Powder Keg

Nearly packed for the 2014 Wasatch Powder Keg

I’m sitting in the Salt Lake City airport , waiting for a flight to Denver. My heart rate is chugging along at 86 bpm, and I’ve just downed 1400 calories in under 15 minutes. In spite of my bulging gut, I feel lean and worn in a deeply satisfying way that I have seldom been able to access. It’s 6:00 pm, and I’m waiting for my flight home from the 2014 Wasatch Powder Keg (ISMF North American Skimo Championships).

With recent local success racing at Mt Bachelor, I was ready to have my ego destroyed at the Powderkeg. The race is the longest-running skimo event in the US, and this year it was chosen to be the North American Championships. That meant that in addition to the strong Wasatch crowd, a pack of Canadians, Coloradans and other far-flung speed suit types would be coming to downsize my opinion of my own fitness. Nevertheless, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to jump in and tangle with much better racers in three different race formats; sprint, individual, and teams races against the best on the continent.

Start corral for the individual race.

Start corral for the individual race.

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