New 24 Hour Vertical Ski Touring Records Set in Norway

By Lou Dawson  

This just in, probably getting plenty of air play, but I felt a strange compulsion to publish.

Edited and annotated press release follows.

Dynafit athlete Lars Erik Skjervheim set a new world record on May 19-20 after 24 hours of ski mountaineering. The 37-year-old Norwegian covered 20,939 vertical meters (appr. 68,697.5 feet). On a course of approximately 1.9k (0.56 miles), the athlete had to climb 460 meters of vert each loop.

(WildSnow note: Skjervheim significantly surpassed the existing record set by Mike Foote in March 2018. Foote got 61,170 feet, 18,644 in meters, on a course with 311 meters of vertical. Skjervheim did 20,939 meters. There had been no female specific record prior to Skjervheim’s fellow skier Malene Blikken Haukøy doing 15,440 meters of vertical. Now, girls, get out there and keep the contest going!)

Lars Erik Skjervheim setting his new record.

Lars Erik Skjervheim setting his new record. (Photos: Haakon Funderud Lundkvist)

Skjervheim completed the entire loop 44 times in 24 hours, including the climb and the descent on skis. At the same time, Malene Blikken Haukøy, 26, a member of the Norwegian National Ski Mountaineering Team, set for the first time a women’s
record. At 15,440 meters of vert in 24 hours (50,656 feet), she has set the bar high for those seeking to break the record.

For the world record attempt, the two athletes choose the Myrkdalen Ski Area near Voss, Norway. For equipment, the Norwegians relied on the DNA Line from Dynafit, which was developed specifically for ski touring races with its minimal weight.

The large part of the course took Skjervheim and Haukøy along a groomed ski run, which had been salted due to the spring skiing conditions. At the half-way point on the course, an aid station had been set up with fluids and, at the highest point, the team had set up a feeding station so both ski mountaineers could get nutrition on the downhill to keep themselves fueled and hydrated without losing time. For this effort, the Dynafit athletes were supported by a 15-person team which counted the completed loops, dried skis and skins in the valley, and were available for technical support. The starting gun for the world record went off at 3 p.m. MET on May 19.

“I will never do that again,” commented Lars Erik Skjervheim about his 24-hour world ski mountaineering record. “The hardest part of this project was between hours 14 and 19. I noticed how my energy bit by bit dwindled. Also, I started to get some very bad muscle aches in my right leg. But after 20 hours I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and that gave me another big push. I am proud and happy that I could set a new record. I have dreamed of this for the last three years.”

WildSnow Outer Local — Summer Mountain Safety

By Lou Dawson  
From Maroon Lake, the face drops down—right side of the frame above—through tiers of cliffs that seemingly guard any possibility of sane ski…but there is a line and it goes.

One of our ‘local’ peaks, Maroon Bells, where tragic accidents are all too common.

Warning, “local” news ahead, but perhaps of interest to anyone practicing the craft of mountaineering?

We have a problem here in Colorado with people not treating our mountains (especially the “14ers”) with due respect. Consequently, we had a tragic summer last year with numerous climbers’ deaths.

What is respect? The list is long. In my opinion “respect” means learning the craft of alpine climbing in reasonable increments, and including a broad scope in your concept of “craft.” It’s not about slipping on a pair of running shoes and firing up your GoPro; peak climbing is so much more… Examples, learn how to use your GPS app effectively when you don’t have a data connection; learn first aid; learn to start a one-match fire with damp wood; learn how to effectively contact authorities during an emergency. More, plan a gradual escalation in your climbing goals. Gradation is the only way you’ll learn how to move and navigate on steep sometimes loose terrain, where route choices of mere yards (and sometimes inches!) can mean the difference between life and death.

There is no substitute for real world experience in learning the actual act of climbing, thus the need to increment in difficulty (and perhaps climb with guides or experienced friends). But the intellectual side of the equation can be solved by taking courses, attending seminars, and reading more than glorified success stories on social media. To that end, a variety of our Colorado public and private entities are kicking of an “awareness campaign” that’ll target Colorado peak climbers.

First event in the awareness campaign will be a full day of seminars presented June 9 by Mountain Rescue Aspen (MRA). Subjects covered during the “Backcountry Basics Workshop” will range from map reading to survival. The event is affordable ($30 donation) and you get a first aid kit for attending. Oh, and yes they will teach fire starting tricks.

news item here and details-registration here

I highly recommend this event, Mountain Rescue Aspen members comprise a remarkable depth of experience both as rescuers and climbers (not to mention ski mountaineering). Attend the workshop, get familiar with MRA, learn something, meet new people!

2015 BBQ on Independence Pass

BBQ on Independence Pass.

More WildSnow Local: Independence Pass opens today at noon. We’ve done a ski recon up there, it is indeed thin and will go fast unless we get a few cold snowy storms up high (which are not in the forecast at this time). So enjoy it while you can. As during past years, word is folks will gather this coming Saturday, May 26, for a group picnic BBQ at the “upper hairpin” on the Aspen side, beginning around 11 am. Lisa and I will be there.

(We have quite a bit of safety content here at WildSnow, for example this article about snow climbing.)

Squak Glacier Tour — North Face Wool Baselayer Review

By Guest Blogger  

Leif Whittaker

Lunch break in Rocky Creek drainage.

Lunch break in Rocky Creek drainage. Photo by Fennwood Photography

A good way to test a baselayer is to hike fast on a hot day, sweat profusely until the layer is soaked, and then stop, lower the air temperature by 20 degrees, and see if you stay warm. On an overnight trip to Mount Baker’s Squak Glacier, I did that exact thing.

My partner, Freya, and I parked where the snow began about two miles from Schreibers Meadow trailhead. The early May morning was foggy and cool, a respite from the unseasonable heat Washington had been experiencing recently.

Snowmobiles jetted past as we skinned up the road. The whine of the engines dissipated and we heard the low-pitched whoomp-whoomp-whoomp of a grouse. My backpack, loaded with extra gear for training purposes, dug into my shoulders and hips, but it was not an unwelcome discomfort. I’d be on Denali in two weeks and needed all the preparatory suffering I could get.

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