24 Hours of Sunlight 09

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 7, 2009      


Backcountry Skiing

Polly and Andrew show off the big bucks available from endurance randonnee ski racing. We're not sure what Andrew's cryptic hand gesture means. We know number two child is on the way, is he signaling there will be a number three? Or are two coming, to make a total of three? Or did he think he had four fingers up to signify 40,000 vertical, but his zombified brain only triggered the nerves to extend three fingers?

Backcountry Skiing

I didn't blog much about the 5 Person Open class (1st 2nd and 3rd shown here on podium), but WildSnow, Trab and Black Diamond did provide a few pairs of Dynafitted skis for the Basalt Pirates to use, and they did quite well with a third place podium finish.

Backcountry Skiing

Andrew McLean's altimeter after the event.

Backcountry Skiing

Courtney Phillips manned the McClean support tent for the full 24 hours, with Lisa and myself assisting. Providing support for this is a brutal grind but you love every minute of it, or at least every other minute.

11:00 am
Fourth annual 24 Hours of Sunlight is officially a done deal! Congratulations all! The Sunlight Ski Resort (especially our ski patrol), and thanks all competitors and support people. What a spirited couple of days — nothing like it!


Backcountry Skiing

Dina Mishev, solo women's winner, 23 laps (also bests last year's record vert for a gal). Hardgirl from Jackson.

Backcountry Skiing

Eileen Wysocki, now Guinness for the most vertical feet snowshoed in 24 hours, 17 laps, 25,534 vertical feet. You should have seen her jogging down those hills, legs like remote reservoir shocks on a trophy truck. Just the thought of it makes me wince.

Newspaper article about Eileen Wysocki in 14 Hours of Sunlight.

10:40 am

Ok, this thing is wrapping up. McCoy takes second, Andrew in third (men’s duo). Funny thing, Andrew gets done with his 26 laps and realizes he needs more for his personal goal of 40,000 feet. He looks at his altimeter with zombie mind and says, hey, I need 70 more feet. We stagger up the hill with him taking pictures and yucking it up. After a few minutes, Andrew looks at his altimeter and says “whoops, my math is wrong, I need 900′!” Poor guy. He’s so totally worked I know the thought of 900 would be like 6,000 on a normal day. But off he goes pushing that Sisyphean boulder up Sunlight Ski resort, one eye on the altimeter…

8:30 am

Big news at this point is Dina Mishev from Jackson moving into first place, woman’s solo. And of course our valley boys from Aspen Highlands look like they’ll take men’s duo (also known as the endless sprint class). Eric Sullivan got a few hours sleep and now he’s not messing around in men’s solo. We’d advise him to quit and let Andrew take first. For some reason he’s not listening to our advice .

An interesting strategy arises at this point. The race is won by your vertical, as a total of your laps, but the lap count starts at the bottom of the course. Thus, you can scan in at the moment the race ends (11:00) and take another round nearly as slow as you want and it still counts as one of your laps. You only worry about this when you’re neck to neck with someone, since if they nail this cutoff and you miss it, they’ll get a lap on you and there is nothing you can do about it. Andrew is in that situation with McCoy. I’m sure they’re both wasted, perhaps they could meet at the timing table at 11:00 and both agree to quit instead of take what for them would be the torture lap? Stay tuned.

7:30 am

Backcountry Skiing

Jordan White checks the Pirate's time on one of the public computers in the timing tent.

More glitches than usual in the timing system. Turns out Sullivan’s last loooong lap was actually two, so he’s still one lap ahead of Andrew. Oh well. Anything could happen.

Racers are saying the course froze up into some fairly challenging hardpan. Good skiers have more advantage than usual and are probably picking up a few minutes on the down over folks who dial it back for survival. We keep hearing stories of the “roller where you catch air.” If that sounds good, remember we’ll have this race again next year and you can try it too.

6:16 am

Can we see a bit of light in the eastern sky? Polly and Andrew continue in second and third place for their solo classes. We want them on the podium! We’ve been brewing a nice English tea for Andrew that he seems to like, sweetened with Cytomax. Ultra racers take note!

4:30 am
The witching hour is almost over. Andrew still in second, Sully headed for his room so perhaps we can get Andrew into first at least temporarily, or permanently? Problem for Andrew is getting calories in as he gets nauseous. The answer is obvious to Courtney and I, don’t eat the “chicken” soup that comes in those little bags, it transmogrifies into something from a zombie movie. See photo below.

Backcountry Skiing

Zombie movie prop or chicken soup? You be the judge.

Polly is almost in a comfortable 3rd position. Almost. She’s staying more hydrated this year than last so we’re optimistic.


Oh man, eleven hours to go! Poly and Andrew pulled in together. Our support tent is better organized than it’s ever been. Water heating stove in one corner, fairly large propane radiant heater against a wall, carved out shelf where the skiers can pull in near the front door and stand without risk of falling over or slipping, several electric lanterns for ambient light. Foods requested recently have been Miso soup, chicken soup, and decaf black tea mixed with Cytomax.

Backcountry Skiing

Polly pulling in at around 11:00, 'this headlamp needs batteries!'

10:08 pm

Backcountry Skiing

Dina Mishev, lap 12, Woman's solo second but so close to first...

9:29 pm

Backcountry Skiing

Men's solo class leader Eric Sullivan comes in from lap 15. He's still cooking, that little sprint up 1,500 vert took all of 39 minutes. It's interesting to watch his support team. Not hurried, but everything gets done quick anyway, and they walk with him up the hill talking together for a few hundred feet.

Good race to watch is men’s 5 person open. Our friends the Basalt Pirates are still in third. But things are getting tight. They’re trying to bang out some fast laps to at least keep their position. But with around 14 hours to go, they’ve got some work ahead.

Polly still in third, amazing to see Andrew just one lap behind Sullivan! Go Andrew!

8:16 pm
Darkness pushed in a while ago. Full moon is shining behind a layer of gauzy mist like a brides bright eyes behind a veil (did I write that, must be getting late!) Andrew’s still cranking, moved into second but he’s within seconds of Mike McCoy. Will this be a war of attrition, or speed? Truly fun to watch. I think both guys have the gear, technique and fitness. Perhaps they’ll pull ahead with faster downhills? Better transitions? Will one guy quit for a while?

Eileen Wysocki is on her way to her snowshoe world record, getting her 9th lap in at the moment. My guess is she’ll start needing some breaks now as the pounding of running downhill on snowshoes is a bit brutal compared to arcing down on a pair of planks.

8:12 pm
Having huge problems staying connected to the web for blogging updates. I’ll do the best I can. Bad connections, bane of the problogger.

Oh well. Tim Kelley from Salewa/Dynafit NA showed up and we were talking about how cool and un-industrial Ski Sunlight is. I guess crumby internet and almost zilch cell phone comes with the territory. Enjoy while it lasts?

4:56 pm
Talk about wearing different hats. I’m up here in the condos blogging, then doing surgery on Dynafit bindings, then noticing that the computer had messed up Andrew’s time and put him in 4th instead of 2nd! Well I ran down to the timing tent and got that fixed. Now our man is in podium land but being chased by young gun Mike McCoy. Polly is in third, neck to neck with the gal in second, Eileen Wysocki, doing the whole thing on shoes and possibly setting a world record on snowshoes..

By the way, try googling any of the athletes you see in this blog or in the realtime results — makes for some great reading.

(Original post below, chrono blog above.)

24 Hours of Sunlight is a unique, exciting, and a world-class event with world-class competitors. Eric Sullivan is back, last year’s record breaker at 34 laps, 51,068 vertical feet. A number of other solo contenders are here as well, and the larger teams are fun to watch as their race requires a huge amount of strategy. But my favorite class for spectating is the duos. Strategy isn’t as important for those guys, just guts, as they have to sprint like zombies on meth for the full 24 hours — with only short breaks compared to the larger teams.

Real Time Race Results

Backcountry Skiing

About 80 people starting 2009 24 Hours of Sunlight -- the 4th annual and biggest so far with 292 registered racers (not everyone starts because of teams).

I’m sitting in the recreation room of the Brettelberg Condos. If it wasn’t for the drain pipe that drips on you when you walk in the door, I’d consider buying one of these slopeside deals at current dropping prices. But I think they’d have to go lower than the current bottom of $97,000, or fix the pipe.

The race announcer’s voice sneaks in here. He’s enjoying talking about Sullivan leading the solo class again, and how Brian Johnson (duo, see the realtime results via link above) is creeping ahead of Brian Harder (duo), but both are still close enough that a fall or botched transition could change the stack.

Backcountry Skiing

Polly McLean is a bit pregnant (actually, more than a bit) so she's not going gonzo. But she'll still do well in the women's solo class by just sticking to the program. Wait till next year, when she's done having kids. (Or, perhaps there will be a number three? Andrew? What say you?) It's pretty amazing how Polly is balancing a career as an attorney with motherhood and athletics. She should probably go on the seminar circuit. Oh, and the gal on shoes next to her is Eileen Wysocki, who's going after some max vert on her snowshoes.

Lots of enthusiastic spectators milling around. It’s fun to watch these races because they last long enough to try different vantage points, sit down for lunch, and overall enjoy a relaxed spectating pace that’s quite different from watching other forms of competition. Adding to that, you get to see the leaders over and over again, and if you want to climb up the course or take the lifts, you can spend the day checking out different sections of the course and watch how the top guys handle the steep ruts on the downhill (and watch people on goofy gear such as snowlerblades try to do the same). Thank God they made a rule this year against sledding down the course, as the runners were starting to create a dangerous situation in trying to do too much butt sliding while mixed with the skiers.

Backcountry Skiing

Andrew McLean on his first lap. Men's solo. Burly.

The event continues to grow. They registered 292 racers this year, around 80 started the race (because of teams not everyone starts).

The course is better fenced and well managed. Nice to see, as the free-for-all of the first year was not pretty and could have been tragic. You start up a slope that’s just a bit too steep for skate skis. At times the angle kicks back, then steepens for a few hundred vertical leading to a tortuously flat section at the turnaround tent 1,502 vertical feet above the start.

Backcountry Skiing

Course profile courtesy Granny Gear Productions (who do a great job with super technical timing challenges).

Backcountry Skiing

View of the overall base area layout. Timing computer tent to left, timing checkin tent to right, our support tent shown with arrow.

As well as blogging my fingertips off, I’m here as support for Polly and Andrew McLean, along with their friend Rick Angel. Right now Courtney Phillips is manning the tent while I try and make content. My wife Lisa will be here soon as well. I’ll take as much night shift as I can physically handle. After years of mountaineering, I own the night. Or at least I think I do (grin). But after fighting a bad cold all week, I might not be as tough as my dreams say, so we shall see. The sleeping bag waits just in case.

Backcountry Skiing

Since the Young Guns from last year are off at college, I lent my stash of race gear to these young guns, who call themselves the Basalt Pirates. As of this writing they're doing pretty well for first timers who've never rando raced. I love this photo of the Pirates in the hold of their ship -- arrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggg (actually, their Brettelberg condo)


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


24 Responses to “24 Hours of Sunlight 09”

  1. Mike February 7th, 2009 5:59 pm

    Actually, racer #13 is Eileen Wysocki, a super cool lady from Glenwood who is snowshoeing the entire 24 Hours.

  2. Lou February 7th, 2009 8:13 pm

    Mike, sorry about that. Would have corrected sooner but I’m having huge problems staying connected up here. May not be able to do much chrono blogging but I’ll try to file a few, then a good report tomorrow morning.

  3. Jon Miller February 7th, 2009 10:13 pm

    I went to college with Sully, that guy just doesn’t stop. 100 mile bike rides to “relax.” Why am I not suprised he is the record holder?

  4. Katie DaLuga February 8th, 2009 10:24 am

    I’m following Eileen Wysocki from Chicago. I hope she breaks the record for the most vertical runs. Go Eileen!!!

  5. Tom DaLuga February 8th, 2009 10:27 am


    We’re so proud of you. Be careful and whatever happens, we’re so proud of your
    ambitious endeavor. Keep on shoeing…


  6. Katie DaLuga February 8th, 2009 12:02 pm

    Congratulations Eileen Wysocki! You did it. I’ll have to buy the book next year. I hope you take tomorrow off. We’re so proud of you!!!

    Tom, Katie, Michael, and Danny

  7. Matt Kinney February 8th, 2009 4:50 pm

    Great Lou!! Enjoyed following your comments. Shows the power of the internet. Best ski blog of the year by far. I checked in quite a bit. Amazing event.

    Congrats to the winners and others competitors who are also winners!. Make one proud to be a skinner..

  8. ed February 8th, 2009 5:58 pm

    FWIW, is the photo of Eric Sullivan from last year? Or is the sign on the fence from last year?! 🙂 Just curious..

    Anyways.. looks like good times and i hope this thing keeps growing year over year. A great event.

  9. Lou February 9th, 2009 8:37 am

    Ed, they used a banner from last year, I didn’t even notice it! Definitely a photo from this year, I remember taking it and the image number is in sync with all my other photos from this year.

    Good catch!

  10. Mike Davis February 9th, 2009 9:58 am

    Andrew must be throwing the W for Wasatch. Or he is rounding up his check from 295 to 300?

  11. Jordan February 9th, 2009 10:59 am

    Hey Lou,
    Thanks for the skis…now if we can just work on the boots for next year! I imagine we cut off a few minutes each lap if we aren’t wearing some of the heaviest on the market!! No but really, super fun weekend, I think I’d be excited to give it another go next year (keep em mounted up eh?). Props to the solo and duo racers!!

  12. phil February 9th, 2009 11:59 am

    I was amazed by the person that snowshoed 39,000′ – 26 laps. But… I noticed on the stats pages that she only did 17 laps – am I missing part of the story here?
    [25,500′ certainly isn’t too shabby anyway!]

  13. Andrew McLean February 9th, 2009 12:06 pm

    No, no! The gang signs we are flashing signify a “3” as in third place.

    That was a very fun (??) race which is getting better by the minute as my legs start to heal. Its held in a cool place (Sunlight) and is very inspirational to see how much the resort rallies around the event by basically letting the race take over a huge chunk of their ski area and providing volunteers around the clock.

    One of my favorite memories from this year’s event was meeting Lou up at the top of the first lap when I realized how steep the headwall was. I used two pairs of skis, and on one pair of TLT’s I had sawn off the high peg of the heel riser. This wasn’t a big deal for a lap or two, but as the headwall got slicker with use and my legs got progressively more fried, I would personally want high-pegs. I asked Lou if he could check it out, and voila! – 40 minutes later there were heel risers on the bindings as if by magic! There aren’t many people who would have those plates, let alone know how to swap them out so quickly and they were a total godsend later in the race. Thanks Lou!

  14. Lou February 9th, 2009 12:06 pm

    Phil, I got it wrong in the mist of sleep deprivation, thanks for catching it! Sorry about that. Am editing the whole post today. She did 17 laps and 25,534 vertical feet on ‘shoes.

  15. Lou February 9th, 2009 12:14 pm

    You are welcome Andrew — it was a gas to be involved. Looking forward to your trip report over at your blog!

  16. Cory February 9th, 2009 12:43 pm

    1) Eileen rocks! I don’t know her, but she is a breath of fresh air amidst all the flashy gear and spandex. All go, no show.

    2) I won the twintips in the drawing…anyone have a sweet pair of BC skis they’d like to trade?

    3) Maybe Andrew and his wife are asking you to read between the lines 🙂

  17. Lou February 9th, 2009 12:56 pm

    Eileen’s outfit was pure PNW grunge, downtown Portland or something like that (grin). Seriously, she looked really comfortable.

  18. Mark February 9th, 2009 8:13 pm

    Crazy yet again! What kind of skis is Andrew using? And does he have two plates on each ski for use with F1/F3?

  19. Eileen Wysocki February 9th, 2009 11:43 pm

    Cory and Lou, thanks for the nice (and amusing) comments. You guys didn’t even get to see my ridiculous green jacket that makes me look like a turtle! I saved that as a back up. I kick up so much snow when I run downhill that I have to wear water resistant outer layers. Those electric blue pants are actually meant for biking. Yeah, I’m perfectly comfortable looking like a complete goof. I’d rather be practical than fashionable any day (as evidenced by my duct taped running shoes). There is a method to the madness.

    Lou, you were close when you said “downtown Portland or something”. I’m originally from Chicago and all my friends were in bands that played music you might classify as “grunge”. Most of them will be shocked to learn of my achievement. I have to thank you for your words of encouragement about climbing 14’ers when I first moved to Colorado12 years ago. You didn’t blow me off as a clueless city girl – you actually gave me some great advice about how to acclimate and build my skills. Thanks!

  20. Lou February 10th, 2009 7:07 am

    Hey Eileen, glad you can take some ribbing (grin)! I hope your Chicago friends are indeed stunned to learn of your grunge cred, and to gain cred that while doing world class athletics instead of drinking coffee, now that has to be extra exceptional!

  21. Eileen Wysocki February 10th, 2009 7:11 pm

    One more thing to say here… Helen Benson and Mary Stewart deserve TONS of kudos as well! They posted 14 laps on snowshoes and pressed on despite stomach issues. I didn’t get to talk to them after the race, but I wanted to congratulate them on reaching their goals! I think it’s just great that “the sisters” as we came to call them, stick together every year. They are always so friendly and nice to talk to along the way. And each year they get in more laps – nice work. Way to go ladies!


  22. Lou February 10th, 2009 7:20 pm

    Thanks for dropping by Eileen, and indeed, congrats to Helen and Mary.

  23. Polly February 11th, 2009 11:45 am

    Thanks Lou (Lisa and Courtney) for helping me out for another year. This race would be impossible without support. I am recovering slowly. It seems like a lot of fun now. Great to see all the dynafits and race skis/boots out there.

  24. Lou February 12th, 2009 7:24 am

    Polly, once you’re on that podium it’s all worth it! Congratulations on a job well done. You seemed stronger and more together than last year, perhaps practice makes perfect (grin)?

  Your Comments

  Recent Posts

Facebook Twitter Email Instagram Youtube

WildSnow Twitter Feed


  • Blogroll & Links

  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to WildSnow.com and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

    Switch To Mobile Version