Dynamic duo dominates Aspen’s Ski for the Pass race on Sunday
A picture-perfect day attracted 60 participants Sunday in the annual Ski for the Pass up Independence Pass and showcased the skills of the dynamic duo of Anders and Elsie Weiss.
Anders had the best time in the annual fundraiser for the Independence Pass Foundation while his sister had the fastest time among woman and fifth fastest overall. The siblings are in Aspen Middle School and race on Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s nordic team.
Anders, 14, an eighth-grader, topped the field with a time of 41 minutes and 28 seconds.
“I had to race yesterday also, so I was a bit tired,” Anders said. “It was just fun. I just sat behind the first-place person all the way up, then passed him and went on forward.”
The course covered 7 kilometers up the closed and snow-packed Highway 82 from the winter closure gate to Lincoln Creek Road. The city of Aspen set two classic tracks for the race and recreational ski event.
“This was a very good course for me because I’m a very good uphill skier. Not so good on the downhills,” Anders said.
Elsie, 12 and a seventh-grader, had a time of 44:30.
“I think I went a little fast out of the start. I was tired at the end,” Elsie said. “But it was really pretty and fun.”
Like her brother, she also paced along with another skier during the steady climb. “I tried to chase number 17 down but I didn’t get him,” she said.
The event attracted people of all ages and abilities. It was an event in the Aspen Cup Race Series, so roughly half the field was racing. Several other skiers were out for a leisurely slide on a gorgeous day that featured fresh snow, impeccable classic tracks, blue skies and warm temperatures.
Karin Teague, executive director of Independence Pass Foundation, said Ute Mountaineer hosted the event and the city of Aspen covered the cost of setting the classic tracks, so the foundation received all proceeds. The entry fee was $15 per person.
The foundation’s mission is to restore and protect the ecological, historical and aesthetic integrity of the pass corridor and encourage stewardship, safety and appreciation of the stunning landscape.
The event is in its sixth year but hasn’t yet achieved the stature of Ride for the Pass, the fundraising bike ride while Independence Pass is still closed to vehicles. The 24th annual Ride for the Pass will be held May 19.
Participants in this year’s ski event can feel good about supplying funds to help the foundation complete one of its biggest goals. It has been chipping away for years at removing rebar and metal wire leftover from a U.S. Forest Service failed experiment from the 1960s with a massive amount of snow fence in Mountain Boy Basin.
“With the help of Roaring Fork Valley kids and other volunteers, we have been pulling and stacking the material for the past two years and can’t wait to clean up this wild and wonderful area forever,” Teague said.
A mule team will be enlisted this summer to haul the materials out of wilderness, where mechanized means cannot be used.
The foundation will partner this summer with Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers and the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District on improvements to the trail to Linkins Lake.
“We will be building a rock turnpike that will allow people to get to the lake without sinking to their knees in water and mud and giving the water-loving flora there a chance to thrive without being trampled,” Teague said.
As always, Independence Pass Foundation will harness volunteer labor over the summer to thrash thistles and other noxious weeds, pick up trash, enlist school kids to plant trees where the soils need stabilization “and generally take care of the place we love and are lucky enough to call our backyard,” Teague said.
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