Friday, February 3, 2012

Glory Speed Project/Skimo Rant

After many failed attempts and a few years of skimo training, I finally skied Glory lot to lot under 30 minutes
Glory Booter left skyline 1600 vert feet
Blog Post Disclaimer: I am writing this blog post and blog in general as a journal for mine, my friends and family's entertainment currently and in the future. I imagine I will enjoy seeing photos of the boots I now view as "futuristic" posthumously. I realize that this stuff may seem a bit egotistical or narcissistic. It it bothers you in any way, ask yourself, "Why am I reading this?" and then navigate away from this page.

A few years ago, I met Zahan Billimoria under the worst of circumstances. We became friends after meeting each other due to our mutual friend Wray Landon who had perished in the terrible accident on the South Teton. Wray and I had met only a few weeks prior to the accident and we were both very new to the crazy idea of up-hill ski racing. After Wray died, Z and I did a lot of skiing together(mostly between 5 and 8 am.) During that time, Z introduced me to his goals of skiing Glory lot-to-lot under 30 minutes, Taylor lot-to-lot in under 1 hour and a combo of the two sub 1:30. Z has come close to the Taylor one. Thus far, I have only completed the Glory goal. It may be a few more years of hard training before I can get the other two.

My splits on Glory:
  • Hillary Step 10:30
  • Green Screen 22:40
  • Skiing away from summit post "Double Canadian" skin rip 27:40
  • Back to pavement for the round trip 29:50
A few Strategy choices:
  • Slightly bigger skis help for the fast ski down (Broad Peaks 167)
  • Skins on from the lot for the stretch between the "green Screen" and the summit (I am able to skin the flat-ish section much faster than booting and the skimo transitions only add about 30 seconds)
  • Goggles were good for the falling snow last night

It has been another fun season of skimo training and racing. This is the second year I have actually tried to be competitive with the sport. Thus far I am happy to be a "middle of the pack" racer. The sport is super fun and at times very frustrating. I have met many fun individuals who collectively have taught me much. The races this year have been a series of mistakes and poor showings.

EVO 27.5 and TLT5 27

The best all-around boot I've ever skiied had

Jackson Hole: I went in to the race fatigued. Too much sking and not enough sleep leading up to the race were the beginning of the snowball. The day before the race I  offered to help set course. Mike Werner (ex skimo racer and current JHSP guru) and I were assigned to set the booter up Rendezvous Bowl and set the skin track up Moran Woods. After stomping about 50 kick turns up the barely sun-softened Moran woods, I could feel my quads tightening. Things got worse from there. My hydration fell off the mark and we ended up doing a 12-person dinner at the Calico where I ate too much salt and spent too much money on a dinner not fully paid for by god-knows-who skipping out their share on the tab. I cramped halfway through the race and did the last half of the race with fully cramped quads. Just another exercise in pain threshold training. I finished the race 25 minutes behind my goal.
exactly 281 grams lighter than TLT 5. Exact same
liner and foot-bed as the other boot.
Crested Butte: Everything was going right this time around. The Canadian team (whom I stayed with this time around) has it right on the food, rest and hydration. I had a strong showing at the sprint race and I was finally ready for a rando race. At the race meeting, the organizers assured us that there would be ample opportunites to pass on the ridge For some dumb reason, I believed them. My strategy would be typical of a race for me: take the start at a medium-high pace and rage up the rock ridge passing as often as possible. The race was over ten minutes in as soon as we hit the tight switchbacks. Passing was impossible and my heart rate sank as I waited turn after turn for the race-caterpillar to fumble up the kick-turns. I made a few moves breaking trail to pass a few racers in the kick turns but overall the terrain trended to be too steep to break trail quickly enough to make up spots. (double track next year??)

The rock ridge turned in to another total junk-show and I could tell the race was off before I even tied on to the rope. There was a line of 8 people waiting (standing still) for their turn to slap an ascender on the 900 feet of 12 mm rope. The rules stated that a pass was only to occur at anchors or on the passing rope. Not 100 feet in to the climb, I could see people uncipping and soloing (cheating) to pass. I admit I was tempted as I am a much stronger climber than nordic racer but I decided to stick to the rules and wait my painfully slow turn. I arrived at the "passing section": two ropes laying on each other and Wick the race organizer was sorting out the faster and slower racers. He told me to get on the slower rope and I wanted to punch the guy in the face right then and there.

Three hundred feet higher, the guides and trollers totally stopped upward progress for about 7 minutes to deal with a trundle. I looked down the rope line and saw about 30 people bunched in a hopeless inch-worm. Ian Gale (Canada) and I were lamenting Melanie Bernier's (Canada) blown race as we shared food and drink and struggled to stay warm in the full shutdown of movement and joked about how over the race was before it even got going. After we escaped the roped mess, Ian and I had a great battle for the two high-altitude laps on the upper mountain.

Hindsight on this one:
  • Had I known the course did not allow passing, I would have red-lined it from the gate.
  • Cheating (soloing) would have gained me 25 minutes on the race as evidenced by one of the female racers I usually do battle with. Should not be so courteous next time
  • This race got me fired up to do more 30 minute intervals to teach my body to get a stronger initial race positioning.
  • No more racing nice. From now on, I'm going to yell "track" a lot more and force my position. We are racing for god's sake, not thermos-hippie ski touring.

My speed-touring and mountaineering setup. I love the plums. Smooth.
I used this kit for the glory speed lap. It felt a little heavy for the last 5 minutes
of skinning.
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  1. "I wanted to punch the guy in the face right then and there." Ha! The food bill is a mystery to me--who does that! And to friends? (It wasn't me btw.)

  2. Ya got the boots. Time to anty up for race skis and drop a few more grams :)

    Which is what I was thinking Friday when I was on the uphill track and counting the weight on my feet. I could have been a full pound down per foot with the DyNAs. Everything counts as the minutes roll by :) Good stuff, thanks Nate!

  3. Dane,

    Sorry I was a little vague, I use Atomic race skis vintage 10/11. The Broad Peaks seem heavy in comparison but the performance upgrade is more than remarkable. However, I do love to rip on the little skis too.

  4. Nate,

    Where did you find the ski crampon attachments? Have been looking all over for them on this side of the pond. Will not use a binding without the attachments.

    Thanks, Carl