I “raced” my first ski mountaineering race today at Ski Bowl as the first race in a 3 part series organized by The Mountain Shop. My main takeaway… it was really short. Less than 3 miles. I rested my legs over the weekend to be fresh, but running Council Crest (~7 miles) is more of a workout than I got today. I was hoping to feel the burn, but it was kinda mellow. I’m a little baffled and thinking through what happened.
I didn’t go out hammering … but started around mid-pack, there was some room to pass on the first skin up, an open Blue run, less room to pass once we hit the skin track up. I fudged a couple of the first kick turns, then got my rhythm back and had some really nicely executed, solid kick turns. The turn just before the track steepened and turned and opened into a boot pack was tricky. The boot pack was my favorite part of the course b/c I could just hammer. I used a Dynafit pack with a ski loop and shoulder hook – it was really nice to pop the skis off, drop them in the loop, hook them and hammer up. It’s funny – the boot pack was made by a Yeti. Maybe 18 inches between steps? Like stepping up to a small chair. [the best boot pack I’ve been in was on St. Helens a couple years ago – baby steps all the way up. ]
My skin to ski and ski to skin transitions suuuuucked. I’m using Volkl skis with the “skin pin ” so there’s a little pin that goes into the ski tip and then twists to lock the skin on – tail hook is standard. I didn’t try beforehand or during to pull off the skins while still locked into the bindings – I’ll try later this season, but I’m not sure if it’s possible. I kept skins in the velcro pocket of my pack (reachable while the pack is in) but I still unclipped the waist belt to store or retrieve the skins. Not super efficient there – but I was okay making newb racing mistakes today. The ski run down (2 laps) was not too steep, but completely skied out with moguls everywhere – I picked my way down and didn’t ski hard. The people I passed on the skin up absolutely smoked me on the descent. I just didn’t race the mogul run. The final descent was a blue run and skied it faster.
- faster transitions (try to tear the hides with the skis on)
- have a system for transitions and practice it
- get out front earlier and make time on the skin/boot pack
- ski more 😉
I was most worried about layering and regulating temperature, but my setup was ace. I was a little cold on the first downhill when I didn’t add any layer, but I was right back into the ski to skin transition and warmed up again. On the last (longer) descent to the finish, I put on a puffy and was perfect for the ski down.
Didn’t eat or drink anything (it was short), but carried a bottle. Overall a super-fun first race. A gentle introduction.