One night in the Fall of 2016, I got a call from a good friend from high school, Sarah, who lives in Colorado. She was looking to do a ski mountaineering race called the Grand Traverse and a needed a partner, as required by the race for safety reasons. Though I had only been alpine touring in the backcountry twice before, I gave her an emphatic yes before she could retract the offer. I was vaguely familiar with the race, but had real idea what I was getting into.
The race starts in Crested Butte, CO at Midnight in late March, and winds through the mountains for 40 miles to Aspen. There are 200 teams of two and each team is required to bring appropriate equipment for avalanches (beacon, shovel, probe), 24 hours emergency bivy (2 person shelter, sleeping pads, stove, warm layers, etc), and repairs (wire, multi-tool, duct tape, etc).
It took us 15 hours, but after putting my body into a place that it’s certainly never been before, it was one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done. You can watch a timelapse of the race results here.