(Ed’s note: Writer, skier, photographer Ted Mahon wrote about the Power of Four Ski Mountaineering Race in a story published Friday on Powder.com. This is Ted’s follow up.)
By Ted Mahon
That was fun, at least in a sort of now-that-it's-done kind of way.
Seriously though, despite the sore feet and added challenge of having to finish on a broken ski, Christy and I both felt that it was one of the coolest things we've been a part of this season.
Kudos to the Aspen Skiing Company, who saw past the obvious logistical hurdles of an event such as this, and ultimately gave the green light to send 150 or so people on this huge tour of the four mountains on a busy weekend day. … Hopefully this was just the first of a new annual event.
And man was it tough. Afterwards, my watch read 12,750 feet of vertical gain, and I later heard it measured in at about 27 miles. If you managed to get through the Snowmass and Buttermilk sections unscathed, to have to tackle the massive 4,400 foot Aspen Highlands climb just barely half-way into the course was a serious challenge to everyone, both physically and mentally. After the Highland Bowl descent, some 18 teams reportedly weren't able to make the 2 p.m. Congo Trail cutoff, and they should maybe consider themselves lucky, because many considered the Congo leg to be the hardest descent. The meandering climb up Midnight Mine Rd. that followed was a seemingly endless slog, after which the moguls of Silver Queen were almost a welcome change.
At my count, thirty-seven complete teams finished, and we were lucky to be among them. I only say that because pretty early on, while flying down Tiehack, I booted out and crashed (on a groomed run no less) and when I stopped and righted myself, I had broken one of my skinny little race skis. I had snapped it right behind the heel, and though it was still attached, the tail of that one ski was useless. After managing to ski down and catch up to Christy, I wasn't sure what to do.
I couldn't easily replace the ski, and if I dropped out, then Christy's day would be done too as you had to finish as a team. After hearing all our friends around us agree my race was likely over, one of them, Chris Lane, insisted I just keep going. Christy agreed, and not being one to want to drop out of things myself, I threw on my skins and started up Highlands.