Wild adventure awaits racers in Snowmass | AspenTimes.com

Wild adventure awaits racers in Snowmass

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer

This much we can tell you: The course is 11 miles long and it ascends 5,800 vertical feet, all around the Snowmass Ski Area.

The contestants, racing solo or in pairs, will be skinning up on skis/splitboards; downhilling, naturally; rappelling (say, 100 feet); conducting an avalanche transceiver search; and orienteering.

A European-inspired ski mountaineering race, the first Snowmass Wild Adventure Race starts Saturday at 7 a.m. from the Snowmass Village mall. However, it will not be until 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Mountain Chalet in Aspen that a racecourse with 11 checkpoints ” and no set route ” is unveiled to contestants and public alike.

“It starts at Fanny Hill and it ends at Two Creeks,” said Chad Denning of Aspen, one of the race founders.

Sponsored by the Ute Mountaineer, Aspen Expeditions, Indigo Equipment and the Skico, finishers are expected to come in some three to six hours later.

“Usually there’s a set course,” said Steve Kropf, founder of Indigo, “and that’s the thing that really differentiates this race. There’s a couple places where there’s decisions to be made, and there’s not necessarily a right and wrong.”

All racers must carry avalanche self-rescue gear (beacon, shovel and sectional probe), a harness and helmet for rappelling and a pack to carry skis ” telemark or alpine touring, or splitboards ” over the cliff.

Otherwise, all racers must be self-sufficient.

That is to say no lift-riding or Gywn’s High Alpine restaurant visitations.

Race officials are expecting some 25 to 50 racers. Entry costs $60 solo or $80 for a tandem.

“For sure, all Grand Traverse participants should be in this,” said Denning, referring to the Crested Butte-to-Aspen overland ski race, April 2-3 this year. “They’re going from one end of Snowmass to the other, up and down and throughout.”

Prizes and giveaways total more than $5,000.

Tonight’s meeting at the Mountain Chalet, at 6:30 p.m., is mandatory. Sign up in advance at the Ute today or turn up for the meeting.

As for the first-place finishers’ times, Denning said it will be interesting to see.

“When you’re putting a race on the first time, you never know what to expect, but I think somebody will do it in three hours,” he said.