Storm in Wyoming, Racing Action in Colorado
G3 athlete, skimo racer Melanie Bernier checked in with Part 4 of her On the Road updates. She's now back in Canada enjoying the sun and pow which we'll read about soon, but until then, here's a snapshot of her trip, including winning the Continental title for the sprint event.
After our attempt to the summit of the “Grand” and a day of well deserved rest in our 8’ X 6’ camper, we decided to attempt the Middle Teton in order to further explore the same zone. That morning it was only Andrew and myself and the light beam of our headlamp walking in the forest at 6 am. Unfortunately, we quickly realized that the weather was changing on us and snow was starting to fall. Only at the moraine did we decide to turn around since we were skinning in what seemed like a milk jug. Back to the truck quite early, we decided to use the day to go ski training up Snow King, a really nice hill right by downtown Jackson.
Overnight, Jackson received something like 15 inches of snow! With such a dry spell before and some sun affected snow, there's no need to tell you the avalanche ratings were quite high. We decided to play on the conservative side and picked some tree skiing areas for the rest of our stay. We explored the famous “Twenty –Five Short” which is a 9975’ climb… a couple of laps of that in deep snow would do! Face shots we had! Then we went back to Teton pass for more “Ederweiss” and “Glory"! Between backcountry skiing and Rando ski training, time flew by in Jackson Hole.
We finally left our Wyoming friends to travel down to Crested Butte, Colorado to get ready for the Ski Mountaineering Continental Championships.
We quickly realized that even after 2 weeks at elevation, the high 8909’ elevation of this beautiful little town would be a challenge for our races. At that point, we met with the rest of our teammates and had a few training sessions up at the ski hill just to collect some ground information on the race course. On the Saturday, was the sprint event; which was a short course of 2 climbs, 2 descents and bootpack for a total of only 450’. The athletes were leaving at 30 seconds intervals. The fastest racers covered the course in just under 5 minutes. Despite the -30C that morning and the frostbites on my fingers, the race went very well for me as I collected the Continental title! Other Canadians did very well including Reiner Thoni 1st and Andrew McNab 2nd.
The following day was the individual race. The course was quite different from any regular ski mountaineering as it included a long ridge walk (Guides Ridge) where racers had to use Via Ferrata and an ascender to reach the summit. The race started with 300’ of climbing on large groomed runs to single track switchbacks. 100 kickturns later, racers were onto the ridge all the way to the 12000’ summit. From there, a down climb to the col and 2 laps just above paradise bowl where feeding the the racers down moguls and fast groomers to finish with an excruciating skate ski. Unfortunately for me, I held back at the start of the race and got cut in a bottleneck both at the switchbacks and up the ridge. I addition to time lost in below the ridge, the race got stopped twice due to falling rocks so it was really hard once at the summit to make up for all the time spent on the ridge. I still managed to come in 5th place. Congratulations to Reiner Thoni who won the Continental title and to Andrew McNab who finished 6th.
Following the race, we started to drive back North after 25 days on US roads. Close to 5800km later, we were back to where the snow had not stopped falling since we left. We brought back with us a high-pressure system, which meant it was time to go play in the alpine!