Snowmass race demands mountain skills | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass race demands mountain skills

A racer rappels over a cliff during the first Winter Wild Adventure Race at Snowmass last winter. The race returns to Snowmass Saturday. Photo courtesy Dick Jackson.
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One of the most unique winter races in the country, the Winter Wild Adventure Race, returns to Snowmass for its second-annual running Saturday morning.

“It’s not just uphill and downhill,” said Dick Jackson, one of the race organizers. “It’s a thinking man’s race.”

The race doesn’t follow a set course, per se, rather it hits about a dozen checkpoints over 11 miles with 5,500 vertical feet of ascent. Racers will be skiing ” up and downhill ” rappelling over cliffs on fixed ropes, searching for avalanche beacons, as well as orienteering all the while to get from checkpoint to checkpoint.

The race starts at 7 a.m. at the Snowmass Village Mall and finishes at the Two Creeks base of Snowmass, but the checkpoints between remain a mystery until race day. Competitors may race solo or with partners on telemark, AT/randonee or snowboard splitboard gear. All racers must be self-sufficient during the race and carry avalanche rescue gear including beacon, shovel and probe, as well as a helmet, harness and hardware.

“It’s a unique race in Aspen, but I don’t know if there’s even anything like it in the United States,” said Jackson, noting the race is modeled after randonee-style races in the Alps. “It requires so many different mountain skills.”

“And the way it’s set up with the checkpoints, people can take any route they want. They’ll go the way they think will be the fastest. So there’s definitely some game-time decisions to be made on the way, and things could change depending on weather.”

Winter Wild Adventure Race sponsors include Mountain Hardware, Mammut, the Ute Mountaineer, Aspen Expeditions, Indigo Equipment, Aspen/Snowmass and the City of Aspen Parks and Recreation Department.

Registration costs $60 for individuals or $100 for two-person teams; winners in the five divisions ” men’s and women’s solo, men’s and women’s teams, and coed team ” will receive awards.

This year’s race is being dedicated to Reese Martin, an Aspen climber and mountaineer who was killed in June in a paragliding accident in Washington state. Martin helped stage the inaugural Winter Wild race last winter.

Last year’s race drew about 30 competitors. And following a “slightly different course” from what competitors will see this year, Vail endurance specialist Mike Kloser won the men’s division in about three-and-a-half hours.

Racers may sign up at the Ute Mountaineer in Aspen. A mandatory meeting for racers is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at the Yellow Brick building.

A poster advertising the race offers a few helpful hints to racers:

“Fixed ropes will be provided and the use of an ascender device or a prussik loop is recommended, but not mandatory.”

“Portions of the uphill climbs are very steep and racers should be prepared with ski-binding crampons and/or boot crampons.”

For more information, call the Ute Mountaineer at 925-2849.

Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is mutrie@aspentimes.com


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