Friends keep each other motivated for ultimate Aspen challenge |

Friends keep each other motivated for ultimate Aspen challenge

Snowmass Village residents Jeff Clark, left, and Jack Linehan in a less-serious moment during a training day on Buttermilk in January. Clark and Linehan are competing in the Audi Power of Four Ski Mountaineering Race on Feb. 28.
Katie Cassetta/Courtesy photo |

Mountaineering races require a lot of equipment: Beacon, probe, shovel. Windbreaker, extra pair of skins, helmet. But the most important of all might be a good partner.

That’s at least true for Snowmass Village residents Jack Linehan and Jeff Clark, who have been training all season for their first Audi Power of Four Ski Mountaineering Race.

Today’s race draws competitors to skin up and ski down all four Aspen Skiing Co. areas, a total of 11,600 vertical feet over 25 miles, and Linehan and Clark are looking forward to seeing what they can do.

“I think this is something Jeff and I are looking forward to as an awesome opportunity not only to accomplish four mountains in one big run, do them all at once, but also to see how far we can push ourselves,” Linehan said. “And do an endurance race together, because I know we’re both like-minded like that.”

The two met last summer while participating in a wilderness first-responder course in Crested Butte just before Linehan moved to Snowmass.

They both have participated in endurance challenges in the past, such as cross-country bicycling trips and triathlons, and decided to take on their next challenge together.

“It takes a certain mindset to do a super-long, arduous, really difficult race and enjoy it,” Clark said. “We fortunately clicked.”

Training has made this ski season more interesting, Clark said, but it’s even better that the two also have fun together.

“We’re all about personal relationships, and it’s good friendship building going through something with someone,” Clark said.

Their training has consisted of uphill hikes together and separately all season, including Tiehack and sometimes multiple Highland Bowl laps in a day.

The two also have participated in some of the Aspen Snowmass SkiMo Race Series on Aspen Highlands, and last weekend Linehan competed in The Five Peaks race in Breckenridge, his first long-distance mountaineering competition.

While this year is mostly about having fun, the men believe they could be competitive in the Power of Four in the future with additional training and experience.

“Jeff and I continue to see the joy in it all and want to get to that end goal of being comfortable on the course next Saturday and enjoy ourselves to the max, but also realize that this is a great opportunity to kind of establish ourselves this year and see how far we can push it,” Linehan said.

Justice Snows in Aspen, where Clark is a bartender, sponsored the men’s registration fees and is throwing a party for them after they finish. Linehan’s family and many of their friends plan to cheer the men on and congratulate them at the finish.

“It’s so cool to do what we’re doing not only because of what it actually is but because of where it’s being done,” Linehan said. “Aspen is such a cool venue for this kind of thing because if you tell people what you’re doing, most people are going to give you a wink, give you a smile, but they’re going to say, ‘A lot of people around here do that; it’s really cool.’ … Aspen’s just such an athletic place to live.”

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