Saturday, January 11, 2014

Castle Mountain Skimo - 2nd view

Visited Edmonton friends Dave & Deb Whitten who now live in Crowsnest Pass. Spent Thursday at Castle Mountain Resort following Dave's tracks. Back in 2000, Dave and I were on a 4-person adventure race team at the Full Moon in June in Nordegg.

I was thrilled that double-black diamond Lone Star was ski-able and not the scary-fest I had one year ago. Winds were high at the top. Dave & I checked out the rocky bootpack North ridge from last year and noted it was wind-blown and had no snowpack on it.

Note the predicted 90 kph winds for Sat morning!
Pre-race night, it was convenient to stay at the hostel on the hill with only 50m to walk to the start. Race day morning, the winds were already strong at the base with fresh wet snow falling. Temp was warm at -2C.

After a couple race course revisions already removing the upper bootpack section, then switching to the black diamond run North Bowl as the Chutes were not open... the ski hill safety had the race start one hour later with allowing a loop course on the upper cat track.

Two loops - total 5450' elevation gain, 12.5 km
Did not sound like a terribly exciting course... though with all the snow and strong winds, the racers were happy to get a course to race on and it was sufficient for the conditions at the time.

30 racers off the start - photo Castle Mtn Resort
After the first groomer climb to the top of the Huckleberry chair, Rec racers went down Sidewinder to the start for a 2nd loop, Open racers continued up the cat track then similar descent to a 2nd loop.

The conditions were now harsh with being pelted with snow at 90 kph. I could barely look forward to see the green flags and at one time was at a standstill. Very reminiscent of last weeks race! Despite the warm temps, the windchill was cooling. I had laden my nose with Vaseline as it was susceptible to frostbite from last weekends race. I tucked behind my balaclava and kept my head to the side at times.

Finally reaching the top, there was little shelter from the wind for transition to descent. I took my goggles out of my pack and could still barely see through the blowing snow.

Skiing back down the cat track, it was scary to maneuver around racers ascending. I finally got into a downhill groove once clear of the ascending skiers. Out of the blasting winds, all was soon forgotten as it was much calmer below. The snow on Sidewinder was a little challenging in its deep sogginess.

Damp gloves from the first ascent were cooled on the descent. I thought I could get away with them warming up on the next climb.

Once into the next climb, I stopped to grab some food... then took the time to change my gloves as I would rather be comfortable.

Used the same skins though could have switched as they iced up a little.

Women stuck close together -
Carla McKirdy, Katarina Kuba, Kylee Ohler, Marg Fedyna
 - photo Donna Murray-Clark

Fun to duke it out with young racer Carl Kohnstamm! And cool to see so many new faces trying out their first skimo event.

Thanks to organizers Brent Harris and Dave Dornian for perseverance in keeping this event going.

On my way home, night time venture for spring water near Longview
Post x-c ski from Pocaterra on Sunday for Di's birthday

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