Mountain Mayhem: Summit for Life |

Mountain Mayhem: Summit for Life

May Selby
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
May SelbyCKF executive director Morgan Ilika, CKF founder Chris Klug and S4L event coordinator Holly Upper.

On a calm, clear December evening, hundreds of athletes gathered on Aspen Mountain for the third annual Summit for Life (aka S4L). The inaugural uphill of the ski season was divided into two heats this year ” the first wave open to recreational racers and the second for the more competitive division.

Some racers dressed in costumes for the nighttime event, others sport ed glow-in-the-dark accessories, and most everyone wore headlamps A benefit for the Chris Klug Foundation (CKF), S4L and all its supporters raise funds to promote lifesaving donation and to help improve the quality of life for donors, donor families, organ-transplant candidates and recipients.

Funds are raised through a $40 registration fee, which also includes a commitment to raise pledges. All are encouraged to raise as much as possible and win one of the coveted prizes that S4L partner companies generously donated including a trip to the Dominican Republic, a two-night stay at The Little Nell and K2 skis.

Many transplant recipients participated in S4L in some capacity ” racing, volunteering or cheering at the top.

For first-place finisher, Rickey Gates, S4L holds a special meaning for him. “It’s such a great course and to be able to do this for a worthy cause is just icing on the cake.”

Gates noted the competition was fierce this year and racing in the dark presents a “serious mental challenge since you can’t see any of your competitors.” Gates bolted to the top, posting a winning time of 49:12. New mom Robin Pfautz was close behind, winning the women’s division in 1:02:56.

A post-race party at the Sundeck served as the perfect way to continue the celebration with eight-member band, the Funky Miracles, a savory buffet dinner and an awards ceremony.

Supporters also had the option of doing the “Ride for Life” by taking the gondola up for the party. Nick Graber and Wendle Whiting took the ride to the extreme, spending eight hours in the bucket, logging a total of 80 miles that day and telling stories about it that night.

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