Power of Four Ski Mountaineering ‘suffer fest’ returns
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorao
ASPEN – The definitive test of uphill/downhill will return to Aspen and Snowmass with the annual Power of Four Ski Mountaineering Race on Saturday.
The legendary mountaineering trek will include some 25 miles of skiing (up and down) along with more than 12,000 feet of elevation gain as the competitors ascend and descend all four area ski mountains.
The sport division will start at 6 a.m. at the Snowmass Base Village. A shorter, recreational course, including only climbs of Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain, will start at 8 a.m. at the base of Highlands.
The recreational division will cover 15 miles, with about 8,000 vertical feet of climbing. And that includes a trip to the top of Highland Bowl.
The sport-division route will head up Snowmass via Elk Camp, then go across to Buttermilk for another ascent and descent of Tiehack. Then, competitors will ski across the valley to Highlands for the climb to the top of the bowl and, of course, the descent.
The final climb is on the backside of Aspen Mountain. Skiers then must negotiate Walsh’s and Copper to the finish at Gondola Plaza.
Last year, the first competitors finished in five and a half hours. The previous year, on a slightly different course, the winners took nearly six hours.
Teams of two will vie for a spot in Power of Four history.
In 2012, Aspen twins Pete and John Gaston used their high-speed alpine descents to overtake 2011 winners Brian Smith and Bryan Wickenhauser, accomplished endurance skiers based in Gunnison. The 25-year-old twins won by 2 seconds.
Endurance legends Mike Kloser, of Vail, and Scott Simmons, of Durango, finished third last year, just a few seconds behind Smith and Wickenhauser.
With the event involving backcountry skiing, competitors are required to carry a beacon, shovel, probe, skins, windshell and helmet. The racers must be self-sufficient.
There’s only one aid station for the 25-mile route. Only alpine touring gear or telemark gear is allowed in the Power of Four.
New this year, each team will be tracked using a SPOT Satellite GPS device.
Advance registration was required for the event which has exploded in popularity in recent years.
“It’s a suffer fest for sure,” local Olympian Chris Klug told The Aspen Times last year. “But it’s a really cool race.”
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