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Subaru Vertfest at Alpental

Alpental Vertfest

Dumping snow at Alpental. When it’s a powder day, I prefer to Skimo race.

Yesterday was the first SkiMo race of the season for me. To anyone in Colorado that must seem late, but to those of us thus-far confined to the Pacific Northwest, we’ve only just begun to have a snowpack, let alone to race in it. This is the first race that I’ve done since the Wasatch Powderkeg in 2012, and with such break, I figured there’d be some hiccups. Boy was that right.

The Subaru Vertfest left me feeling proud, if a little battered. The tricky skinning caused silly equipment failures, but I feel reasonably good about my fitness, and even better about fighting through the equipment issues to finish the race.

Stats

Vertfest is the largest SkiMo race in the PNW, with somewhere around 130 racers competing in a variety of categories. The course involves two climbs and two descents through the Alpental Ski area. The recreational division completes only the first climb, while the Race category does both. (Distances and vert below per my GPS measurement). Winning race-category time this year was 1:19:57.

Rec — 3.2 mi, 2640′    Race — 6.0 mi, 4500′

Subaru vertfest Alpental course map

Subaru Vertfest Alpental Course Map

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Choose Your Tools: Skiing light, fast, and far.

This is Part 5 of the Choose Your Tools series.  Also check out Part 4: Universal Gear Truths.

Going Light

The world's lightest ski boot, the Pierre Gignoux XP-444.  590g. You don't need these.

The world’s lightest ski boot, the Pierre Gignoux XP-444. 590g. You don’t need these.

Going fast and light is, among a small but growing crowd, all the rage these days.  This makes a lot of sense considering the currently plummeting gear weights and the growing popularity of backcountry touring. In small, speedy enclaves throughout the Mountain West, folks are experimenting with the low-end of the weight spectrum, stealing techniques and technology from mountain-racing disciplines to push the limits of minimalist weight and maximum vert.

Going Light is defined here as seeking to use the minimum gear possible to achieve the greatest amount of mountain travel.  Lightening you pack, clothing, boots and skis frees the energy that would be used to tow those pounds around, and that energy can be applied to traveling farther or faster in the hills.  Just as fast-packing and distance trail running are coming to dominate classic backpacking routes, so too is lightweight skiing turning previously multi-day traverses and enchainments into impressive day trips. Read on →