Top enduro’s go on parade in America’s Uphill |

Top enduro’s go on parade in America’s Uphill

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The gondola whisks you up Aspen Mountain in 14 minutes or so.

Legend has it, the late Aspen mountaineer Fritz Stammberger used to cover the same ground in under an hour ” breathing solely through his nose, as training for the Himalaya, with his mouth full of water (or, depending on accounts, with tape over his mouth).

Following in Stammberger’s footsteps, on Saturday morning, some 400 racers will shirk the conveniences of lifts and repeat the man-powered journey up Ajax at heart-stopping speeds in the 17th annual Ute Mountaineer America’s Uphill.

Ascending 3,267 vertical feet over 2.6 miles, straight up the gut via Spar Gulch, the American’s Uphill brings out some of Aspen’s, and the surrounding area’s, top endurance athletes.

Mike Kloser of Vail, the defending 2003 men’s champion (and winner of nearly every endurance event in the Aspen area in recent history), is expected to be in the field, along with men’s 2003 runner-up Charlie Wertheim, an editor at the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

On the women’s side, 2003 runner-up Lisa Gonzales-Gile is slated to compete, while defending champion Carole Sharp of Aspen remains on the bubble, according to Paul Perley, general manager of the Ute Mountaineer.

The fourth and final race of the BASH Uphill Series (for Buttermilk, Aspen, Snowmass and Highlands), the America’s Uphill is the oldest race of its kind in the valley.

“All the other BASH series events [at Buttermilk, Highlands and Snowmass] have exceeded their numbers for previous years this year,” said Perley. “We’re expecting a similar bump for this race.

“I think some people who have been racing well this year, and have done well, are the Wille brothers, Andre and Pierre,” said Perley. “Andre won the Inferno at Highlands and Pierre was second at the Winter Wild race at Snowmass [behind Kloser], and this year they’ve been training. A lot.”

Matt Carpenter, a renowned endurance runner from Manitou Springs, holds the men’s course record with a time of 41 minutes, 1 second, from the 1999 race. Carpenter, a four-time America’s Uphill champion, has not raced since his mind-boggling effort in ’99. As of Thursday afternoon, Perley said he had not registered.

On the women’s side, Anita Ortiz of Beaver Creek owns the course record with a time of 48:57, set in 2002.

“That record is really amazing because the closest women’s time to that was 54:08 ” five minutes later. Just amazing. And the year she did it, she went over and won the North American Snowshoe Championships [in Beaver Creek] the same day,” said Perley.

Ellen Miller of Breckenridge, the 1997 champion and fourth-place finisher last year, is slated to compete. Additionally, last year’s fifth-place men’s finisher, Frank McDonald of Aspen, will again be in the hunt.

Registration costs $25 today at the Ute Mountaineer, or $35 on Saturday beginning at 6 a.m. at the gondola building. Racers may use snowshoes, track skis, telemark skis or alpine touring equipment.

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