Best Ski Mountaineering Race in North America? Power of Four, it Happened

Post by blogger | March 7, 2011      

Race up and over four ski mountains near here in Colorado. Vertical 12,000+ (3,650+ meters) and 26+ miles (42+ kilometers). Actual backcountry skiing as well as plenty of in-resort action for spectators (thanks to Aspen Skiing Company). They pulled it off this past weekend and kudos to everyone involved — especially winning team of Bryan Wickenhauser & Brian Smith.

Myself and my wife opted for two full days of backcountry skiing and didn’t spectate the event as I wasn’t into frantically racing around the valley trying to figure out where the competitors might be (next year that’ll be easy now that race times are known). But I wanted to get a blog post going with some good linkage to help promote this ski-mo race. It really is quite something that we hope will grow to be huge.

Here be the linkage:

Aspen Times newspaper Power of Four coverage.

Aspen Skiing Company event page.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to Pete Swenson of COSMIC for having the vision to make this happen, as well as Aspen Expeditions for their contributions.

For results and other things:

Competitor Sari Anderson’s POV. “Starting up Midnight Mine Road, I knew Jason felt horrible and was barely persevering…”

Ann Driggers acount of her DNF in Power of Four, good read. “Yes, it would seriously hurt…”

Ted Mahon’s story. “Despite the sore feet and added challenge of having to finish on a broken ski…”

Brian Harder’s report (second place, men). “One of the hardest physical tests many of us have faced on skis.”

Yes indeed, in our opinion here at WildSnow HQ, Power of Four is easily the best ski mo race in North America. Start planning for next year!

Power of Four Ski Mountaineering Race, March 5, 2011, Final Results

1 6.13.07 1.58.45 58 Brian Smith Bryan Wickenhauser MALE
2 6.31.03 2.06.41 39 Jared Inouye Brian Harder MALE
3 6.31.55 2.02.27 46 Max Taam Chris Kroger MALE
4 6.32.19 2.09.08 52 jan koles jon brown MALE
5 6.43.07 2.08.53 31 Pierre Wille Brian Johnson MALE
6 6.47.01 2.07.46 21 Michael Hagen Mike Schilling MALE
7 7.13.23 2.09.18 28 Jake Jones Pat O’Neill MALE
8 7.24.06 2.16.05 62 Mark Beardsley Brian Edmiston MALE
9 7.33.05 2.13.05 45 Nathan Brown Dave Gieck MALE
10 7.41.06 2.24.18 51 alan peterson teague holmes MALE
11 7.56.10 2.26.57 10 Harlan Nimmo Tyler Newton MALE
12 7.57.43 2.36.57 16 Charlie Nuttelman Max Nuttelman MALE
13 8.12.11 2.24.40 18 John VanNostrand Jr Aaron Taylor
14 8.22.04 2.33.00 9 Andy Jacobsen Nick Devore MALE
15 8.43.40 2.42.44 14 Esteban Lipsher Ram Mikulas MALE
16 8.46.06 2.33.00 34 Chris Lane Lorenzo Semple MALE
17 8.49.33 2.44.05 48 Jon Lowe Scott Radek MALE
18 9.16.25 2.57.43 47 Brad LaRochelle Nikki ArCieri MALE
19 9.28.00 2.52.16 15 David Phillips Adam Frisch MALE
20 9.32.30 2.34.03 13 Anton Sponar Jordan White MALE
21 9.34.59 2.45.47 2 Jeremy Rietmann Doug Newton MALE
22 9.39.10 2.48.13 49 Steve Miller Scott Waylett MALE
23 9.39.44 2.58.48 33 Dave Songayllo Mike Spayd MALE
24 9.49.03 3.07.02 41 Chris Klug Jon Gibans MALE
25 10.18.50 3.07.24 20 Ephi Gildor Jordan Agamie MALE
26 10.33.40 3.08.07 37 Dave Gray Karl Walker MALE
27 10.35.42 2.52.37 35 David Palazzo Tom Hraha MALE
28 7.45.41 2.16.45 5 Jamie Kilcoyne Ray Hellinger MALE
29 8.59.23 2.54.36 24 Travis Moore Brad Yule MALE

30 DNF 2.59.31 60 William Smith Jay Hunt MALE
31 DNF 2.59.35 3 George Trantow David Borchers MALE
32 DNF 3.12.47 36 Scott Downen John Warner MALE
33 DNF 3.12.47 56 Santiago Valerga Ari Alder MALE
34 DNF 3.13.27 4 Joe Vandal Anthony Nance MALE
35 DNF 3.21.38 55 Steve Skadron Shanna Hutchinson MALE
36 DNF 3.36.34 38 Dan Brewster Dave Bower MALE
37 DNF 3.40.51 54 Alan Feder Johannes Felter MALE
38 DNF 3.57.16 6 Jeff Vandal John Mount MALE
39 DNF 3.58.13 57 Craig Downie Steve Wraith MALE
40 DNF 4.09.52 67 Cameron McIntyre Aly Erdman MALE
41 DNF 4.10.34 73 Kyle Taylor Ben Wygant MALE
42 DNF 4.10.40 29 walter hooker artur plonka MALE
43 DNF 4.14.47 1 Mike McHargue Jon Turner MALE
44 DNF 4.19.38 71 Robert Chase Matt Heisler MALE
45 DNF 4.48.56 44 Mike Gettinger Bryan McShane MALE
46 DNF 4.58.15 72 Eric Stahl Dick Hampleman MALE
47 DNF 5.19.09 74 Bob Nix Kevin O’Hagan MALE
48 DNF DNF 40 Mick Lavy Jason Segal MALE
49 DNF DNF 53 Dawes Wilson Stephen White MALE
50 DNF DNF 61 Todd Kennedy Steve Rane MALE

1 7.58.09 2.30.59 42 Jari Kirkland Eva Hagen FEMALE
2 8.32.41 2.42.23 22 Anda Rojs Smalls Colleen Ihnken FEMALE
3 7.42.50 2.27.59 23 Lyndsay Meyer Jessica Phillips FEMALE

1 6.46.45 2.12.00 50 monique merrill mike kloser MIXED
2 7.00.42 2.18.50 63 Stevie Kremer Marshall Thomson MIXED
3 8.05.30 2.32.50 17 christy mahon ted mahon MIXED
4 8.29.52 2.43.40 11 Dawes Wilson Billy Mattison MIXED
5 9.11.08 2.52.50 7 Lissa Ballinger Dan Goddard MIXED
6 9.33.20 3.03.13 27 Ben Kadlec Sara Kadlec MIXED
7 10.15.15 3.09.48 32 will frischkorn coral ferguson MIXED
8 DNF 3.28.43 26 Joan Giddings Jeff Giddings MIXED
9 DNF 3.42.34 12 Ann Driggers Scott McCurdy MIXED
10 DNF 3.50.09 65 Mary Harlan Art Burrows MIXED
11 DNF 4.30.06 8 Charlie Vandal Veronica Whitney MIXED
12 DNF 4.36.04 66 Ali Phillips Katy Frisch MIXED
13 DNF 4.46.49 76 Meredith Hanrahan Jessie Levin MIXED
14 DNF 5.12.13 43 Jason Elliott Katie Brooks MIXED
15 DNF 5.23.00 59 Lionel Bony Agnes Sauvage MIXED
16 7.23.15 2.09.08 30 Jason McGowin Sari Anderson MIXED
17 10.08.58 3.15.19 64 Tim Assar Anne Saint Clair MIXED

1 8.59.23 2.34.13 25 Neal Beidleman Tim Grogan VETS
2 8.13.27 2.27.07 19 Andre Wille Scott Yule VETS
3 DNF 5.01.49 69 Martin Suthren James Knowlton VETS


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


21 Responses to “Best Ski Mountaineering Race in North America? Power of Four, it Happened”

  1. BK March 7th, 2011 9:50 am

    Fun race and a beautiful course, thanks to all the volunteers and Pete Swenson for organizing. I see this becoming a major annual event, can’t wait for next year! I heard one racer managed to finish with a broken ski after the Congo section, nice work!

  2. William Finley March 7th, 2011 10:23 am

    What do the numbers (6.13.07 1.58.45 58 ) mean?

  3. Ann Driggers March 7th, 2011 10:31 am

    It was indeed a great race!! Here is my sorry tale on how I DNF’d:

    The numbers are: finish time, first checkpoint time, bib number.

  4. Lou March 7th, 2011 10:34 am

    Ann, that’s a good blow-by-blow even if it was a DNF! I’ll add your link to the list.

    I’d also humbly ask the race organizers to add another hour or so to the cutoff time. That seems reasonable. They should still have a fairly tight cutoff, however, as otherwise such races get ridiculous, with people limping in hours after the true finish is over with.


  5. Lou March 7th, 2011 11:16 am

    I’ve been googling the Power of Four race, interesting there are so many more reports on when the race was announced/planned than actually held. That’s just wrong, but typical of our media, or just because publications haven’t had time for their reports, blogs and what have you?

  6. Ann Driggers March 7th, 2011 11:30 am

    Yep, I agree the cut off time just needs to be extended for an hour. That seems reasonable enough to let a few of the stronger recreational skiers through without creating a dangerous situation with people getting into trouble. No doubt it is a burly race and not for the faint of heart. It should only be undertaken by elite ski mountaineers or the crazy. 😆

  7. Lou March 7th, 2011 11:49 am

    Or, crazy elite ski mountaineers?

  8. Jonathan Shefftz March 7th, 2011 12:49 pm

    Impressive! And course seems comparable to some of the big Euro races. Maybe some Euros will come over next year for it?

  9. Ted Mahon March 7th, 2011 12:51 pm

    There was talk even before the race about staggered start times for next year so it’s definitely being addressed.

    I put something up about it myself, including my take on doing half of the course with a broken ski –

    I snapped it on Buttermilk of all places.

  10. Lou March 7th, 2011 1:07 pm

    He he, breaking a ski on Buttermilk, now I feel better about using ‘Milk as my training hill (grin). Will add your take to the links list. Thanks Ted.

  11. Lou March 7th, 2011 1:23 pm

    Ted, I updated the stats based on your numbers. 3650+ meters

    Compare to Mountain Attack in Salbach, Austria, which is held all inbounds and ‘only’ 3008 meters vert.

    At one of the races I attended in Italy (as a spectator), they did ski down a bunch of truly gnarl terrain that was similar to Congo trail, so those guys are used to that. But all too many races (both here and in EU) have too much easy downhill for the pros, in my opinion. Excellent thing about Power of Four is you had Highland Bowl and Congo. Not to mention, Buttermilk? (grin)

    Mountain Attack website:

  12. Lou March 7th, 2011 1:30 pm

    Jonathan, buy your plane tickets. Get here 4 days early for acclimation?

  13. Ted Mahon March 7th, 2011 1:45 pm

    Javelin is actually pretty extreme by Buttermilk standards.

  14. Lou March 7th, 2011 1:59 pm

    Revenge of the Javelin!

  15. Dick Hampleman March 7th, 2011 7:17 pm

    We signed up for the half race affectionately know as the power of Two. Thanks to all of the volunteers…you were great and standing in the wind was above and beyond. At 64 years old my friends thought I was nuts, but I blame it on my 58 year old friend for ebbing me on….glad he did…looking forward to next year. ❓

  16. Lou March 7th, 2011 7:29 pm

    The half race sounded cool as well, nice rec class event. Couldn’t get any info on the results. Next year for Lisa and I as well?

  17. Jonathan Shefftz March 7th, 2011 7:31 pm

    Lou, four days of acclimating while talking about Dynafit and other Tech bindings, sounds good!
    Jerimy, let’s do it! (I’m almost serious…)

  18. Lou March 7th, 2011 7:33 pm

    I don’t know. You might talk so much about tech stuff that you wouldn’t have any oxygen for the race, not to mention hydration problems (grin).

  19. Brandon Dwight March 8th, 2011 8:21 pm

    Sorry, could not find the best place to post this, but wondering if you can tell me the rules for skinning up the various Aspen resort mountains (Snowmass, Highlands, etc) I am heading up there in a couple of weeks for a wedding and will not have time to explore the backcountry, but want to get some climbing in. Any help is much appreciated!

  20. Lou March 8th, 2011 8:33 pm

    Pretty simple, be at the top of Highlands, Snowmass and Aspen by 9:00 AM, Buttermilk skin all day, Tiehack is best. What I do at Buttermilk is two or three laps to make it more than a sprint… when I’m in shape, anyway (grin).

  21. David March 9th, 2011 5:12 pm

    Sure was a heck of a race – I’m just glad to have got to the finish line!!!
    There’s some real skiing involved with the wall, the bowl and bumps all the way down ajax – certainly much more challenging than any other rando races I’ve done. Highlands uphill is a slog – thunderbowl is super steep. Snow in the bowl made for some fun skiing, can’t say the same about congo – that was survival at best. Midnight mine was a slog – mentally tough at that stage of the day.

    re skinning I’d suggest checking in with ski patrol at each mountain.
    Certainly lou is right about buttermilk/tiehack – anytime, anyday and Ajax gotta be off before 9am.
    Pretty sure Highlands is ok anytime up to merrygo round – no skinning above MGR after 9am. This year Snowmass has been OK anytime anywhere (except closed areas) – not sure if that was just pre race or new policy.
    Either way Apsen Skico is very cool about uphill skinning – certainly more progressive in this regards than most and its something the locals do appreciate.

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