My son and I participated in the Storm the Stars uphill race on Aspen Mountain ski area this past Saturday. The event was held at night, with headlamps, under a clear moonlit sky. It was incredible. We were mid-pack, and watched as this huge snake of 269 glimmering headlamps streamed up the mountain. Once sealed in my own pool of LED illuminated pain, I was reminded of an alpine start for some huge climb.
Most people do this kind of racing in running shoes, many with traction attachments. The few the proud the brave (us and perhaps 20 others) use skis with skins. The climb is 2.5 miles and 3,267 vertical feet.
The winner did it in 47 minutes. My son and I we’re at about the 1 1/2 hour mark — good time for a 14-year-old and a dad at my age and fitness level. The boy beat me — that was good — and I have a feeling he’ll be much faster in the next event. Some of the randonnee and telemark skiers beat us by a good margin (one guy my age was about 10 minutes ahead of us), so we have some work to do. Joe, if you read this, Louie and I are on your tail!
I’ve been doing this climb on skis for more than 25 years. Back in my youthful 20s I could break an hour on occasion, usually on Ramer ski touring bindings with fairly lightweight boots and skis. I don’t know if I could ever break an hour again, but I’d like to knock 10 minutes off my time. We shall see.
For you backcountry skiing gearheads: Louie and I used fairly short/light Dynafit skis, Dynafit F1 randonee race boots, and Dynafit TLT bindings. We used nylon climbing skins (more traction, less glide) because the climb has some steep and icy sections. For other races we have mohair skins (more glide).
During and after the race they had a big party up at the beautiful Sundeck restaurant at the top of the mountain, with a live band, prizes, restaurant and bar — even some Aspen glitterati showed up. It was really neat — highly recommended.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.