Grand Traverse team raising money for Nepalese charity
The Aspen Times
It’s hard not to pick up the infectious smiles of Jack Linehan and Jeff Clark when they’re together.
The Snowmass residents — also known as the J-Bombers — are roommates, friends and training partners for some of the most difficult ski-mountaineering challenges in the Aspen area. And this spring, they’re becoming partners in philanthropy.
Linehan and Clark are competing for the second time in the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse, a legendary race that takes skiers over a 40-mile trek from Crested Butte to Aspen, starting in the middle of the night. With experience and a year of training under their belts, they’re looking forward to building on their success from last year.
“It was such a moving race,” Clark said. “It’s a true mountaineering race; an emotional and physical struggle.”
But this year, Clark and Linehan are adding another facet to their experience. The men hope to channel the excitement around the race and its competitors into a fundraising effort for a nonprofit helping to rebuild homes in an area of Nepal devastated by last year’s earthquake.
“People get so excited about this,” Clark said. “We thought we could really rally around a great cause.”
Not only does the race and its competitors spark enthusiasm, but mountaineers have a special respect for the peaks of Nepal, he added.
“Aspen is home of the humble-pie factory,” Linehan said. “We are around unbelievable athletes all the time, but the level of humility is unmatched. I think joining forces with those people brings the right energy to this.”
Through friends of theirs who volunteered for the organization for much of last year, Clark and Linehan already have a connection to Common Action for Sustainable Development-Nepal. The charity existed before last year’s earthquake but has since focused resources toward recovery, including the housing program that Linehan and Clark are supporting.
The program will help rebuild homes in the Lalitpur district of Nepal. The money Linehan and Clark raise will go wholly to building materials and the cost to transport them, and with residents getting involved in the construction, the houses are estimated to cost $5,000 each to build. They’re also modern, sustainable designs made to better withstand the impact of earthquakes.
Linehan and Clark’s goal is to raise $25,000 for the program, which ultimately aims to build 100 homes in Lalitpur. On March 20, the weekend before the race, they plan to host a public fundraising event at Justice Snow’s.
While race day is still several weeks away on March 25, that’s just over the horizon for the athletes preparing to take on the challenge. The race always starts at midnight, and conditions can vary from clear and balmy to wind and snow.
Last year, the duo returned to Aspen 11 hours and 45 minutes after leaving the start in Crested Butte. And this year, they’re confident their abilities and experience have improved dramatically.
“We’re over the hump now, where us going up Ajax is like a fun activity,” Clark said. They’re also competing in the Power of Four race at the end of this month, again for the second time.
Grand Traverse teams also can race for a charity chosen by the competitors, and Linehan and Clark said they know of a least one member of the race organization also raising funds for a charity in Nepal.
“We just want to do our part,” Linehan said.
Members of the valley’s Jewish community gathered at the Albright Pavilion at Aspen Meadows Thursday for their second annual menorah lighting ceremony to celebrate and acknowledge the first day of Hanukkah.