Cold night, great support |

Cold night, great support

Brrrrr. We picked a cold night for a race. Temperatures of -2 degrees were recorded at the Friends Hut at 2 a.m. Saturday, just two hours into a long night for racers. Plus humidity was high so that one’s thick breath hung in the air like mist.

One-hundred-and-two 2-person teams on all variety of skis lined up at midnight at the Crested Butte High School. Their goal: the bottom of Aspen’s gondola anywhere from 8 1/2 to 18 hours later. Only 62 teams made it, with 30 being turned around before Star Pass above the Friends Hut.

In its six-year history, this year was the coldest. Numerous racers turned themselves around early, even before reaching the Friends Hut. Others were plucked off of Taylor Pass when Mountain Rescue snowmobilers spotted frost-nipped cheeks.

All but a few racers suffered dehydration due to their water freezing minutes into the start. For us mere mortals (but not necessarily for the top teams), the night quickly turned into one of survival rather than racing.

A big thank you to all of you out there helping. The race was run beautifully from start to finish, in spite of cold weather problems. Volunteers knew what they were doing, and suffered plenty from the cold themselves while trying to help troubled racers.

The snowmobile ride I got from Chris Pederson off a hogback near the Barnard hut just might have saved me. Again, thank you. You guys rule!

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Kirsten Newhard, racer