the stroke of midnight on April 4, 1998, nearly 100
racers gathered in Crested Butte, Colorado. A day later,
after racing through a crystal clear night and equally
spectacular day they arrived in Aspen, tired, sore,
bleary eyed and exultant in their accomplishment. They
had skied through 40 miles of rugged Elk Mountains backcountry.
Each year since, 200 racers have done the same thing.
Based on the tradition of mail routes which connected
the Colorado mining towns of Crested Butte and Aspen
in the 1880’s, the 40 mile course starts at 9,000 feet
in Crested Butte, takes skiers through Mt. Crested Butte
Ski Resort, over two mountain passes and finishes in
the City of Aspen at the base of the Aspen Skiing Mountain.
In addition to a quality wilderness race experience
for entrants, priorities of the race organizers include
the safety of all participants and minimal impact on
on weather conditions the race is scheduled to start
at midnight Friday. This unusual start time is scheduled
so entrants will reach the high point of Star pass at
12,303 feet before the warmth of the day increases the
likelihood of avalanches. Because of the remote route
through the Elk Mountains, each team of two is required
to carry enough food and supplies to sustain themselves
for 24 hours. Before the start of the race the team’s
packs will be checked to be sure all essential gear
is present including bivy sacks, stove, fuel, avalanche
beacons and rescue gear, first aid and repair kits etc.