Thursday morning Mountain Sports Athletes geared up at the Brush Creek Trail-head, just south of Crested butte Butte, to train for the infamous Elk Mountains Grand Traverse. Athletes carried overnight gear 12 miles to the Friends Hut where they set up base camp for the long weekend.

Rising with the sun the next morning, the group of Endurance Ski Team Athletes made their way up and over Star Pass and followed the (unmarked) race course to Taylor Pass traveling through the midpoint of the race and laying down some great training miles in not-so-great skiing conditions.  After reaching Taylor Pass and realizing that they still had some “gas left in the tank,” students climbed a ridge off of Taylor Peak and enjoyed some spring-like conditions back into the headwaters of the Taylor River.


Zoe Smith, Cameron Smith and Sam Lesnikoski

As dusk quickly approached, Endurance Ski Team athletes climbed to the 12,500ft Star Pass for the second time in the 16 mile tour and enjoyed some final turns in the awe-inspiring alpenglow surrounding the ever-majestic Star Peak.  The next morning, athletes rose early and climbed to Star Pass for the third time in 24 hours and descended through Crystal Basin back to the valley floor and eventually back to the trail-head and civilization.  All said and done, it was an amazing trip that will stay with athletes and keep them inspired for the coming race.


Sam Lesnikoski enjoying some turns in the fading light

The Elk Mountains Grand Traverse is a brutal and ever-popular race that takes teams of two through towering peaks and beautiful valleys from the town of Crested Butte to Aspen, Colorado.  The race begins at midnight and teams carry all of the necessary gear to survive the night as they make their way 40 miles to Aspen, accepting nothing but water along the way.  Western’s Endurance Ski Team will continue to log miles and participate in shorter events in training for this years Grand Traverse in late March.

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