Gaston sets course record in Summit for Life win |

Gaston sets course record in Summit for Life win

Recreational hikers take off from the start during Saturday's 11th annual Astella's Summit for Life race at Aspen Mountain.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times |

2016 race results


  1. John Gaston, 42:53
  2. Mike Kloser, 49:32
  3. Tyler Newton, 52:48
  4. Joseph DeMoor, 53:40
  5. Augustus Hoy, 54:33
  1. Lyndsay Meyer, 59:37
  2. Jennifer Mendez, 1:00:57
  3. Kim Master, 1:02:07
  4. Soleil Gaylord, 1:02:35
  5. Rachel Beck, 1:06:49

John Gaston wasn’t trying to break the course record, but when he saw it in his sights, Gaston did what Gaston does.

“I just had this idea of 45 minutes in mind. For skis, that’s a pretty fast time,” Gaston said. “When I popped out in view of the finish line I realized I could break 43, so I had to give it a go. I’m pretty psyched. That’s about two minutes faster than my previous time on skis up here.”

Gaston, who has lived in Aspen for about 10 years and won just about everything — from the Audi Power of Four to the Grand Traverse — won Saturday’s 11th annual Astellas Aspen Summit for Life ski mountaineering race up Aspen Mountain. It wasn’t the first time he’s won the race, but it had been a few years since he had been able to fit it in his busy mountaineering schedule.

He finished the brutal nighttime uphill — going from the base of Aspen Mountain to the sundeck, climbing more than 3,200 vertical feet — in 42 minutes, 53 seconds, a new course record. Last year’s race winner, Vail’s Mike Kloser, was second in 49:32, followed by Snowmass’s Tyler Newton in third with a time of 52:48.

“Usually, we have conflicting races on this weekend, so I’m usually somewhere else. But, just the way the schedule worked out this year, I’m here this weekend,” the 29-year-old Gaston said. “I’ve had a pretty big training load the last two months. I’ve been feeling pretty tired and I wasn’t expecting anything remarkable.”

The women’s portion of the race was won by Lyndsay Meyer in 59:37, followed by Jennifer Mendez in second (1 hour, 57 seconds) and Kim Master in third (1:02.07).

The race capped off two days of activities, all put on by the Chris Klug Foundation in support of organ and tissue donation. Klug, Aspen’s well-known Olympian and liver transplant recipient, called the Summit for Life his “favorite night of the year.”

“I’m so proud of our community and humbled by everybody that participates in this and worked hard to raise some funds for our organization so we can keep doing what we do,” Klug said. “The music, the party, everything, that’s what it’s all about. It’s a celebration of life and second chances.”

At the post-race party atop Aspen Mountain on Saturday night, Klug said the event brought in nearly 400 hikers and 100 others who rode the gondola to the top, and raised around $100,000 for the foundation.

The top fundraising team was team “Pandamonium” — highly noticable because of their panda-themed hats — raising more than $3,500. Jerry Wenner and Lilly Justice each raised $3,460 at the time of the awards banquet Saturday to tie for first among individual fundraisers.

For a complete list of finishers, visit

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