Summit for Life returns to Aspen Mtn. Saturday |

Summit for Life returns to Aspen Mtn. Saturday

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

Up, up, up.

Aspen is going up, up, up.


The ninth annual Aspen Summit for Life returns Friday and Saturday.

The uphill course will take the participants up 3,267 vertical feet to the top of Aspen Mountain, 2.5-miles plus.

The main event is the night uphill race on Aspen Mountain on Saturday, starting with the recreational uphillers at 5 p.m. The competitive teams and individuals will start at 6 p.m. at the base of the gondola.

Registration for the event is $45 with a minimum fundraising goal of $100. The registration fee will move up to $55 on Friday and Saturday.

The uphill course will take the participants up 3,267 vertical feet to the top of Aspen Mountain, 2.5 miles-plus.

Festivities will begin Friday with the Party for Life at the Sky Hotel in Aspen. Party for Life is open to the public for a nominal donation to the Chris Klug Foundation.

Last year, a pair of Aspen standout athletes won the Summit for Life races.

Jessica Phillips and John Gaston were the fastest up Aspen Mountain in the eighth annual Summit for Life uphill race, a benefit for the Chris Klug Foundation to promote organ- and tissue-donor awareness.

Gaston won last year on skis.

“I’ve never done (this race) on skis before,” said Gaston, the decorated Aspen ski-mountaineering racer and previous Summit for Life winner (wearing spikes). “This was good. I think in places, the skis are really faster, … especially on some of the steeper places.”

Weather and snow conditions last year were markedly different than this season.

When Gaston hit the finish line atop Ajax, the temperature was 5 degrees with light snow falling.

Gaston said the runners on spikes set a torrid pace at the beginning as they started up Little Nell.

The runners led on around into Bingo Slot, under the Bell Mountain chairlift and up into Spar Gulch.

Gaston skied into the lead about halfway up spar.

From there, Gaston skied up through Deer Park and up Silver Bell to the finish at the Sundeck, passing recreational uphillers all along the way. He finished in 47 minutes.

Phillips, an Aspen native and former pro bicycle racer, used the runner’s approach last year with stabilizer spikes.

She won the women’s competitive division in 58 minutes

She’s married to pro cyclist Tejay van Garderen, the two-time reigning champion of the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado.

Last year, there were 200 participants in the competitive division. Nearly 400 more registered for the recreational uphill.

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