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Up and away on Saturday

Ben Husband

One of Aspen’s most popular – and grueling – winter events will take over the slopes Saturday. And it’s going to be a biggie.

The 12th annual America’s Uphill on Aspen Mountain will begin at 7 a.m., Saturday, March 20. The event is sponsored by the Ute Mountaineer and Atlas.

Inspired by the legendary Fritz Stammberger, the uphill trek should attract 500-plus competitors again this year. Stammberger is credited with being the first person to regularly ascend Aspen Mountain, with his skis over his shoulder.

He used the training to stay in shape for his international mountaineering exploits. Stammberger disappeared in 1976 on a solo expedition on Tirich Mir in the Himalayas. Aspenites and others from around the globe have preserved Stammberger’s memory through the Ute Mountaineer America’s Uphill.

Event director Bob Wade, of the Ute Mountaineer, said the event has grown in each of the last 12 years. This year, Wade said he expects the uphill race to draw close to 650 competitors.

“Amazingly enough, a large portion of the race competitors are locals,” he said. “The timing of the event is perfect for the valley residents – it’s an event people can work for the entire winter.

“People look forward to this event. It’s a nice way for the people … to say goodbye to winter and hello to spring.”

The idea for the uphill event, according to Wade, came from watching the World Cup-sponsored America’s Downhill event for years on Aspen Mountain.

“That was a great spectator sport,” Wade said. “What we wanted to do is have something that was big for the doers of the valley to give them a break from spectating.

“Plus, the majority of the people who compete in this event really don’t care how they finish. There is a group of people who are trying to get up the mountain in under an hour; but for the most part, people are out here just to support the event – it’s definitely a social event.”

Wade also believes the growing popularity of snowshoeing has helped boost attendance at the event.

“It’s simple, fun and all you have to do is walk,” Wade said. “There are no specific skills required to do this, and a lot of people from the very young to the senior citizens love to do it.” Registration Race entry forms are available at the Ute Mountaineer in Aspen, Bristlecone Mountain Sports in Basalt and Summit Canyon Mountaineering in Glenwood Springs. All entries must be returned to the Ute Mountaineer in Aspen.

Individuals may preregister at the Ute Mountaineer anytime through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Friday, participants can register from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Advance registration is $25; race-day registration, which begins at 6 a.m. at the race site, is $35.

Snowshoes will be available for $5, and must be reserved at the Ute Mountaineer prior to the race. Awards More than 50 awards will be presented at the Sundeck post-race breakfast party. Awards are planned in age and gender categories, as well as team categories.

The Ute Mountaineer in Aspen and Atlas have doubled the cash prizes this year, including a $250 cash bonus for the fastest man and woman. An additional $100 cash bonus will be awarded to the fastest man and woman snowshoer.

In addition, a $50 prize will also be handed out for the fastest man and woman in the remaining three gear categories. Participants are also allowed to use track skis and alpine touring gear.

The event starts at the base of Aspen Mountain and climbs through Spar Gulch some 3,267 feet to the summit – a linear distance of 2.5 miles. Champs The course record is held by legendary ultra-marathoner Matt Carpenter of Colorado Springs (42:01). He is also a four-time winner of the Fila Castle Peak Skymarathon in Aspen.

The women’s record of 55:08 is held by Ruth Brown. Both records were established on snowshoes.

Matthew Cole of Vail won the men’s title last year, while Aspen’s own Betty Severy captured the women’s crown.

Complete results will be listed in The Aspen Times daily and weekly sports sections.


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