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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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Northwest Snow and Avalanche Workshop 2013

Yesterday, as you might have noticed, I had the opportunity to attend the Northwest Snow and Avalanche workshop. Similar workshops occur on an annual basis around the Mountain West, and they’re a great way to get you avalanche brain back on track at the beginning of the season. While many of the talks assume that you have some avalanche education, in my experience, you’ll benefit from attending even if you are only Avy I certified. Half of staying alive out there is keeping your brain on the right wavelength, and listening to the approaches of the best risk managers in the business can help take you there.

AIARE Program Director Ben Pritchett

Below, you’ll find my notes on each of the talks, with some subjective thoughts afterwards. I’m interested to field any questions or discuss any of these topics in the comments below. Hopefully, you find this as interesting as I do… the snow is falling after all! Read on →