Posted on December 24 2013
Ski mountaineering races at the citizen level have been picking up all around the country. On Wednesday, December 18th we hosted our first town series race up at Sunlight Mountain Resort. It takes dedication to be warmed up and ready to race at 6:30 am and on this morning we had 15 dedicated racers at the start line.
The full moon added extra light to what would normally be a dark hour in mid December. Looking up and down the starting line I was impressed at the amount of very light race gear that surrounded me. Just moments after the race had started, it was clear I should have been spending more time on my light gear and less time greedily skiing early season backcountry powder. I was fighting off an abdominal cramp and lacked the confidence to drop the hammer on this short sub 3000 vertical feet and hopefully sub hour course.
After hammering up the groomer and into the single track in the trees, the cramping subsided and I remembered how much fun skimo racing is. The course was technical for a town series race with many tight kick turns on an uneven skin track in the very early hours of the morning. Although I lead through the first half of the climb, the single track dumped us out onto another groomer and Jeremy and Greg's engines proved too powerful for me to maintain and a gap began to widen.
The first climb brought us to the rocky summit ridge where a group of my friends had obliterated the skin track full moon powder skiing the night before. The field was still grouped tightly among the first few racers as the downhill transition lead to a rutty bump run down the lift line. It always surprises me how hard skiing becomes while clinging to control on skinny skis, lactic acid coursing through your legs.
I made it to the uphill transition just as Greg and Jeremy were leaving. More single track through the woods gave way to a technical scramble of skinning and then eventually booting up a ridge to the top of the Heathen. A final challenging decent ended in a tuck and skate along a cat track with Jeremy passing Greg in the final seconds of the race. I came through in third with Sari Anderson and Lindsey Plant in fourth and fifth respectfully.