Years ago, I participated in a few early editions of the Grand Traverse. They remain, despite the ensuing sufferest that was, highlights. But in particular, something that resonated, and still does, was Reverend Tim Clark’s “Blessing of the Freeheelers.”
Imagine a few strikes before midnight. At the time, the race departed from the public school campus in town, with a few hundred skiers, in all degrees of readiness, and jitters, about to embark on their own personal journies from Crested Butte to Aspen. My first time doing the GT, I didn’t expect something as cool as Tim Clark’s blessing—- where he stood before the freeheelers and gave an all-time blessing. During the subsequent versions of the race I participated in, Clark’s blessings resonated and were something to look forward to. So, many years later when I was producing a radio story on the event, I knew where I’d be recording close to midnight.
Here is that 2012 recording of Rev. Tim Clark’s version of the ever-changing blessing:
Below is the text version of the 2014 blessing I found in the 2021 Grand Traverse racer’s manual. For those not going to the race, or want to tap into a great community vibe, have a read below. The race begins at midnight on April, 2 (Saturday). The blessing of the freeheelers, according to this year’s schedule, goes down at 11:55P if you are in CB and want to be there. (It’s worth it.)
“Give heed ye conquistadors of the night
as The Spirit propels thee through darkness and snow, with stars attending on high
Gather thy courage, for thou dost know
thy fate shalt be revealed with dawn’s first light
To Star Pass and beyond ye must navigate with grace Never yielding to the pain ye can’t hide on thy face On thy partner rely, if thy tempo shalt slow
For in twos ye must start, and remain as ye go!
Know this, the Almighty hath blessed – Thy skis, thy skins, thy poles,
as ye art put to the test
Now fortify thy heart, as it pumps to this verse Ye art sanctified for the great Grand Traverse!”
— Rev. Tim Clark Crested Butte, 2014
Jason Albert comes to WildSnow from Bend, Oregon. After growing up on the East Coast, he migrated from Montana to Colorado and settled in Oregon. Simple pleasures are quiet and long days touring. His gray hair might stem from his first Grand Traverse in 2000 when rented leather boots and 210cm skis were not the speed weapons he had hoped for. Jason survived the transition from free-heel kool-aid drinker to faster and lighter (think AT), and safer, are better.