Colorado Rando Race Report

Post by blogger | March 6, 2009      

Monarch, Mt. – Race the Divide Race Report 2/28/09
By Bryan Wickenhauser

The week leading up to Saturday’s race at Monarch ski resort started with warm snow and rain (yes rain in Gunnison, CO in February!) basically ruining our prized Winter snow for the rest of the week. Midweek dawn patrol missions were put on hold with this weather and rumors of road bikes were being whispered amongst the community. The saving grace for rando racing was that the Crested Butte Town Rando Series was starting on Thursday (2/28) and offered a refreshing and fun “locals series” ….along with Saturday’s Monarch race.

Backcountry Skiing

Pete and Smithy at Monarch.

The CB Town Rando race went off really well, with a surprisingly great course Thursday evening! Travis Scheefer won it over rando legend Ethan Passant. In the woman’s race it was Carol Quinn winning it over Sarah Gillis.

On to the main event….

With clear sunny skies and a cold start to the inaugural Monarch event, 53 racers headed to the top of Merkwood Bowl reaching the 1162 ft climb in under 20 mins. (to give you an idea of what the average person does to get here…they take a chair lift for 12 mins then hike up a cat road 10-15 minutes to make the final 300 vertical foot climb (1200 linear feet) to the edge of Merkwood.

Something must be in the Gunnison Valley water, as Brian Smith (Goode) was once again the first to the top, followed by series organizer Pete Swenson (Breckenridge), Travis Scheefer, Jon Brown (Goode) and Bryan Wickenhauser (Goode).

Skins were ripped in windy conditions each time we topped out above tree line at 11,952ft on the Continental Divide. From there it was a series of quick descents down and back up North facing slopes. Some were with in the resort boundary and others were on the famed Monarch Snowcat Tours terrain. Thank goodness for the cold night time temperatures Friday night, as it helped to lock up the snow pack and make it quite fun skiing/skinning. It really had a good backcountry feel to the race, as there was never a chair lift in sight except for the Start/Finish.

Due to the shorter descent/climbs, transition skills were paramount. In total there were 4 descents and 4 climbs, with each descent/climb about 600-700 ft. Brian Smith’s lead was chipped away at by Pete Swenson throughout the race, while the battle for 3rd between Wick, and Travis Scheefer played out in front of Jon Brown. At the top of the final climb, Brian Smith had a 20+ second lead over Pete Swenson, with the descent down Merkwood Bowl and a cat road to the finish line all that was left. Brian, unfortunately double ejected in his speedy attempt to get down, allowing Pete Swenson to take first ….with a dejected Brian Smith following up in 2nd. The race for 3rd has a similar fate with Wick entering Merkwood Bowl first over Travis, but by the time the flat cat road came into play it was a game of cat and mouse with Travis edging out Wick at the finish line for 3rd, followed by Jon Brown rounding out the top five. The winning time for the men was just over an hour and 4 minutes with +/- 2800 ft of climbing & descending

In the woman’s race it was Monique Merrill leading it from start to finish, followed by Janelle Smiley winning the “CB local women’s crown”, and Gretchen Reeves (Goode) placing 3rd and Jari Kirkland (Goode) and Sarah Gillis battling out for 4th & 5th respectively.

Next COSMIC stop is Loveland tomorrow…more racing on the Continental Divide!


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


9 Responses to “Colorado Rando Race Report”

  1. ScottN March 6th, 2009 10:22 am

    Hey Bryan – what kind of poles do you guys use for racing? Is it some kind of nordic-hybrid pole? It would be cool to see a typical equipment list (with modifications, of course) for rando racing posted here.

  2. Mark March 6th, 2009 11:29 am

    Thanks to Wick for the race report, nice to see the sport continuing to grow. Good to see the winner’s we’re on Trabs, especially nice to know they won on the descent too; downhill performance matters!

  3. Mark March 6th, 2009 3:21 pm

    P.S. Nice to see a really competitive race overall. CB has a good group of athletes, I always find it one of the more interesting races of the season. Congrats to all who raced there!

  4. brian March 6th, 2009 10:48 pm

    Not sure if Wick caught the question but I can answer it for him from the perspective of the rando guys up here in J-Hole. The poles we use are typical nordic ones, as zoot as you want depending on your finances. Lighter is better until you fall on one. Length is shorter than typical classic length to improve downhill performance and make the sidehills less awkward. Nordic baskets are typical and work fine for groomers but I prefer a bigger powder basket for off piste skin tracks. Most guys use standard wrist loops to make transitions easy.

  5. ScottN March 7th, 2009 12:26 pm

    Cool. Thanks Brian. I guess I shouldn’t cut down my wife’s nice carbon skate poles though. Dynafit has seem pretty light carbon poles I looked at here in Basalt, but at 150 bucks / pair. Just wonder how durable they’d be.

  6. Lou March 7th, 2009 4:36 pm

    One trick I use is just buy carbon alpine poles on sale, then retrofit with baskets and grips I like. Result is quite nice.

  7. Pat March 8th, 2009 8:38 am

    Congrats to Wick on winning yesterday at Loveland! Another fun race. What about the Heavy Metal Crowd?
    Don’t forget: PowderKeg Saturday, Championships in Jackson the Saturday after that. That’ll be a race to see. All the top folks competing for just two positions on next year’s World Cup team.

  8. Nate March 8th, 2009 3:08 pm

    Thanks for the kind words on the race. Hopefully next year we can make it a longer course. We were psyched on the attendance, and glad everyone had a good time.

  9. Wick March 8th, 2009 7:46 pm

    Scott – Just saw this, so sorry for the delay. I use 150cm (adjustable) poles and I’m 6ft for reference. I like an aluminum pole for sake of durability. I tend to go slightly shorter on more technical/steeper courses like Crested Butte’s. The longer length is quite nice for lower angle courses (Loveland), where cat roads come into play, etc. Skiing downhill with longer poles takes some getting used to but give it a try. Certainly nice to have larger (triangle in shape) baskets, and straps that allow for quick on/off for good transitions.

    Getting your arms up hill as far as comfortably possible allows you to really take advantage of “leaning on the straps” and pulling yourself uphill (with a double pole plant) and taking a little realease off of your lactic legs.

    Loveland’s race report will be out tomorrow….

  Your Comments

  Recent Posts

Facebook Twitter Email Instagram Youtube


  • 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 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