How fast could you ski between the towns of Crested Butte and Aspen? In the 1970’s, Lou often left Aspen and skied over to Crested Butte to visit his mom. He’d start at Ashcroft and ski to Cold Springs Ranch. He held the record for a while, covering about 20 miles in 4 hours on wooden nordic race skis.
The Elk Mountain Grand Traverse race connects the two towns but takes a different route than Lou’s “short” one back in his day. It’s more than twice as long, starts at midnight, and the demanding course involves sidehilling on steep, icy terrain, along with lots of strenuous high-altitude ski skating. Top finishers in the past got it done in about 8 hours. This year, the top team of Hamilton-Simmons finished in an astounding 6 hours, 44 minutes. Volunteers weren’t even done setting up the finish line when they blew thru it at dawn. Second and third were close behind. Amazing.
The Grand Traverse is a grueling race. Most of the race is done during the pitch of night. There are a few streams to cross, 7,800 feet of elevation to climb and a long slog section of skating. To finish it period is a noteworthy feat and we applaud every entrant, and every volunteer who makes the race possible.
Buy your stretchy designer race jeans here.
Recap of WildSnow posts from last week: