One of my earliest influences in the mountains was an Outward Bound instructor named Miles Becker. He took me to the North Cascades as an immature 13 year old and then again the following summer. They were some of the most significant experiences of my life. Over the next few years we became friends and partners on a few other outings and he got further into my head.
Alaska is certainly known for it's skiing with plenty of ski porn featuring epic Chugach descents. But Lycra clad lungs on sticks? Not so much. I think there's been a few uphill races at ski areas up here over the years but nothing like a formal skimo race. Well, that's about to change this weekend as Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking is set to put on the first race this weekend.
As many of you know, the 2012-13 winter in Alaska has been a struggle for skiers. We had an early start, which was promising, with skiers getting turns at the end of September. This was followed by grim high and dry. Then the big dumps came with many feet of snow falling on two feet of facets. Turnagain Pass was an avalanche prone mess. Then we got some rain up high and it seemed we couldn’t catch a break. And so it goes.
After recently getting flamed by a couple of trolls on a popular internet skiing forum, I started thinking about various encounters I’ve had out in the back country over the last few years. I started wondering,…”where’s the love?”
For the first time in a few years I missed the national skimo race in Jackson. I mainly did because I dreaded the idea of racing hard at 10,000 feet while coming from sea level. I know some of the Montana and Canadian boys do something close to that but they're tougher than me.
Through the years I've never been comfortable racing "off the couch" or being unprepared for an event. If I'm going to put myself out there competitively, I want to do so with all guns blazing. No excuses on the line. With the kind of winter we've had here in AK, proper preparation has been impossible.
So, I sat this one out but I was there in spirit getting the play by play on the website. It was an awesome event. The field just keeps getting deeper.
Andy Dorais posted his take on the race here and I encourage you guys to check it out for the blow by blow.
BTW, his brother Jason is going to win that race in the next couple of years. He nearly did last weekend. But his plate has been full lately with getting married (wahoo!), moving and doing the usual no-sleep thing pulling overnight shifts in the E.R. as a resident in training. Not exactly optimal lead up to the big event. But when he can dial it in for the day, he's going to be unstoppable. Mark my words.
Anyway, great job to everyone who got out there and suffered through a tough course and 8K vert.