Carbondale’s Sean Van Horn to try and break uphilling ski record at Buttermilk
Sean Van Horn will go for an uphilling record this weekend. But, more importantly, the Carbondale-based endurance athlete hopes he can raise a few dollars for Aspen Strong.
“I’m going to go through 24 hours of monotony and suffering at Tiehack,” Van Horn said. “A lot of the idea is to push myself in a way I haven’t before on skis and to try and do my small part to change the dialogue around mental illness and to raise some money for an organization I think plays a pretty important role in the valley.”
First, the record part. Van Horn plans to skin up Tiehack at Buttermilk Ski Area for 24 consecutive hours. He’ll attempt to break the North American record for vertical skiing over that time frame, currently held by Montana’s Mike Foote. He set the record a year ago in Whitefish, which is around 61,200 feet of climbing.
“He set that at an altitude about half the altitude of Aspen,” Van Horn said, “which physiologically means I need to produce an effort that is on the low 8 percent, on the high end 12 percent better with that lack of oxygen.”
Still, breaking the North American record sounds easier than breaking the world record. Spain’s Kilian Jornet, who is unquestioned one of the best mountain endurance athletes on the planet, broke the record only last month when he skied 78,274 vertical feet uphill over 24 hours.
“Kilian is in a way an alien, especially when you get to the ultra events,” Van Horn joked. “I don’t think there is anyone that does ski mountaineering that has quite his ultra pedigree. But Mike Foote set a pretty stout North American record; I think 61,200 feet, last year. So that certainly seemed like a goal that was more in reach. It’s going to be a little challenging.”
Van Horn plans to get underway around 11 a.m. Sunday and finish at 11 a.m. Monday. Tiehack has a vert of about 1,650 feet, meaning Van Horn will need to do nearly 40 laps over those 24 hours to give Foote a run for his money.
Whether he breaks the record or not is less important than the money raised. Van Horn has set up a GoFundMe page, with the proceeds going to Aspen Strong, a mental health organization in the Roaring Fork Valley.
“I struggled a lot when I was younger and was pretty fortunate to be able to have access to resources, but a lot of people aren’t that fortunate,” Van Horn said of his own mental-health struggles. “It’s been a really positive experience so far. It’s pretty cool to do something that feels a bit bigger than myself.”
As of Thursday night, Van Horn had already raised more than $4,000 for Aspen Strong. A link to the GoFundMe page can be found at aspenstrong.org or by searching “24 Hours of Vert For Aspen Strong” through GoFundMe’s site.
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