The Five Peaks Ski Mountaineering Race is “North America’s Highest.” One of many Mountaineering races that are part of the Cosmic Colorado Ski Mountaineering Cup. Most people will scratch their heads in confusion and think “what?”. Ski Mountaineering isn’t new, it has been around for centuries. In most small mountain towns, like Breckenridge, you will find locals who have been skinning up and skiing down the ski area and Backcountry for years.
Mountaineering, as a sport, is growing as a recreational activity, but only an exceptional breed of adventure racers take Mountaineering to a whole new level in “Racing.” The activity pushes racers to the brink of exhaustion. Consider the Five Peaks Race. Three to six hours of steep uphill climbing in very low temps and adverse weather. With little opportunities for organizers to provide aid stations, the racers will face frozen water supplies, frost bite and exhaustion all for the sake of accomplishment.
Some will ask? Why do people do that to themselves? Jeff Westcott, Race Promoter, Racer and AT or Alpine Touring skier, believes that the mental and physical challenges of a Mountaineering race brings in participants. Jeff participated in the Five Peaks 2012 race. “Athletically, it was outside of my normal comfort zone because I was always a short-burst athlete as a hockey player, ski racer and a sprinter. It required a lot of me mentally and physically because of the endurance required.” Racers must be completely in-tune with their mental & physical state and, for the most part, in complete control of their bodies. Control Freaks? Maybe, but shouldn’t we all be SO in-tune with ourselves?
I am intrigued and in awe by mountaineering and the racers. Every single one of them are exceptional adventure seekers …