We started next to the Milly Chalet and ran across the parking lot to the Great Western base. From there, technical skinning ensued and at least a couple people probably wished for full coverage skins. Rather than stop at the top of the lift, the course took the racers to the top of Clayton Peak for a full 2000 vertical. This fragmented the field but from my position as racer/course marshall/race director, I got to see a bunch of close battles within the overall race.
The descent from Clayton was variable up top and icy bumps below the cat track. I had counseled everyone to ski gingerly through a few rocky sections but instead I saw a little aggression as some of the better skiers tried to make up ground. Luckily, our safety record is intact!
The second climb ascended on low angle skin track through mature pines before gaining the upper groomed section of the Snake Creek lift. We exited the gates and then climbed to the summit of Preston Peak, our second of the day. From there, a short descent back into the resort and down a wind drifted section of trees took us to the base of the final climb.
Again exiting the backcountry gates, we made another short climb to the summit of Pioneer Peak, making it three for the race. By now the storm was building in character and so were most of the racers left on the course. It was windy and the visibility poor, but the best part of the course was still ahead.
On the final descent, we enjoyed steep powder through some tight trees. Quickly though, we were spit out onto a long left traversing groomed section that was somehow punctuated with sporadic moguls and one steep drop that caught more than one person by surprise. Not quite done, there was a 200 meter flat skate to the finish before everyone could relax, put on some warm clothes, and enjoy some food at the Chalet. Not quite everyone made it to the finish as I suspected since many people had to get to the show for early appointments or to work like normal civilized human beings.
That was their loss as this race received generous support from Voile and a few nice avy shovels were given away during the awards. New US Ski Mountaineering member, Tom Goth ran away with the race but bailed early as he is sometimes responsible and had a meeting. That meant that Chad Brackelsburg won a pumpkin pie for being the top finisher at the awards ceremony. Christian also took home a pie for being the last finisher (wait until he gets on some light gear and he will tear through the pack!) and Tamara snagged one for coming out for the first time.
Thank you to all who came and participated. It's great fun to see the Wasatch speeding up and to see the friendships that have developed throughout the races. We will resume regular Tuesday night action on February 5th and only have three more before the big event: The Wasatch Powderkeg!
Thank you also to our race sponsors (more great prizes to come!):
SCARPA, Ski Trab, La Sportiva, Voile, Outdoor Research, The Sport Loft, the Powderwhores, and especially Brighton Ski Resort!
|Gathering around for the pre race briefing|
|Mike Kloser finishing up|
|A few happy people (L-R Mark, Tamara, Andy, Chad, Jared, Janelle, and Everett)|