How quickly could you travel 40 miles with 6,800 feet of climbing on skis and skins? If you were to ask me and I were to be honest, I would tell you around two days. Could I do it one? Yeah, probably. Would I want to? No, no I would not. Maybe you could do it in one, maybe you could do it in 10 hours, or maybe you’re one of the winners of Colorado’s Grand Traverse, completing the task in under six hours. It feels a bit crazy typing that, to be completely honest.
For nearly 25 years, The Grand Traverse has taken racers across Colorado’s Elk Mountain range, beginning in Crested Butte and ending on the slopes of Aspen. Athletes are required to carry a load of clothing and safety gear, and a helicopter will only come in cases of medical emergencies. It sounds completely insane while somehow seeming perfectly right for Colorado at the time time. In 2023, the race takes place between April 1-2, with the actual race kicking off at 12am on that Sunday. They also have a Grand Traverse Mountain Run and a Grand Traverse Mountain Bike in case either of those… interest you.
You can register for April’s race here. But first, I highly recommend watching this short documentary explaining and depicting the race and its inherent battles.
“Rounding on its 25th year in 2023, The Grand Traverse has been a premier ski mountaineering event in Colorado since its inception. Today, top competitors cover the 40-mile distance, climbing more than 6,800 feet along the way, within six hours. While fast times are the goal for some, 10 frostbite-less digits and reaching the finish line is the achievement for others.” – Backcountry Magazine
Image Credit: Backcountry Magazine via YouTube