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  1. #1
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    Mar 2017
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    Grand Traverse 2020?

    Curious if any mags will be doing the Grand Traverse this year - I signed up (this is my first year doing the GT) while under the influence of heavy narcotics in the hospital, and now I'm regretting all of my life choices.

    Anyone else out there planning on doing the GT? Any advice from those who have made the same mistake as me?

  2. #2
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    Nov 2014
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    you can read my long-ass blog post about it https://markbillie.blogspot.com/2019...erse-2019.html

    tl;dr it is going to be unpleasant

    e: I think possibly some other mags are doing it though...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    Colorado Front Range
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    Any remote thoughts I ever entertained about doing this were quashed by your comments about that long, sidehill traverse when you first published your TR.

    ... Thom
    Galibier Design
    crafting technology in service of music

  4. #4
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    Mar 2017
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    Quote Originally Posted by mall walker View Post
    you can read my long-ass blog post about it https://markbillie.blogspot.com/2019...erse-2019.html

    tl;dr it is going to be unpleasant

    e: I think possibly some other mags are doing it though...
    thanks mall walker. and yeah. i'm betting on the unpleasantness of this all. i had read your trip report earlier - and you're in far better shape than i am - and it still sounds horrendous.

    i guess it's time to figure out some 20-30 mile FLAT ski trips in the wasatch.

  5. #5
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    start at the mill creek road closure and go up the road, to little water peak, then take the crest trail to 10420 and back... skins on the whole way til coming back down little water... thatís about representative

  6. #6
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    Nov 2005
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    Making the Bowl Great Again
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    Quote Originally Posted by mall walker View Post
    you can read my long-ass blog post about it https://markbillie.blogspot.com/2019...erse-2019.html

    tl;dr it is going to be unpleasant

    e: I think possibly some other mags are doing it though...
    Wow, I just read the whole thing and that sounds super fun!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    802
    I've done it 5 or 6 times although not for a couple of years now. Not nearly as unpleasant for me as mallwalker wrote but those years i was willing and able to put in the training miles to make the event itself ok and in some years fairly fast. Might try and write up some thoughts and recommendations sometime

  8. #8
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    Mar 2017
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    Quote Originally Posted by mall walker View Post
    start at the mill creek road closure and go up the road, to little water peak, then take the crest trail to 10420 and back... skins on the whole way til coming back down little water... thatís about representative
    i wish i hadn't asked, but thanks for the beta...skins on even skiing down guardsmen? woooof.

    now i've got something to look forward to, i guess?

  9. #9
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    Dec 2014
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    Subscribed.
    Galibier Design
    crafting technology in service of music

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    State of Jefferson
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    I signed up twice and had weird stuff come up and couldn't make it. Both times I prepared, trained, and my partner successfully finished with a substitute. I remember training with a bunch of different equipment options thinking that conditions could warrant anything from XC skis to light tele or AT as the best option. My advice would be to read a bunch about what has worked for anything from full mid-winter conditions (grand reverse) to a hybrid hike/ski if the roads blow out or become super sloppy. Simply bringing some kick wax and a cork, waxing your skins (full mohair) bringing extra socks, spraying your feet with anti-perspirant, an extra battery for your headlamp, can make a huge difference according to guys who actually made it to the start line. Good luck! Btw, one partner who lived at lower altitude used a training mask and said it helped immensely.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    cb, co
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    People always assume that since I backcountry ski and live in Crested Butte that I must do the Traverse every year, but hell no, I'm too smart for that. But I did interview Pat O'Neill, who has done it every single year, won a few, and was tasked with routefinding before the first event. It isn't exactly an advice on doing the GT podcast interview, but if you're interested in his stories (GT stuff starts around 21:00): LINK
    Last edited by goldenboy; 01-29-2020 at 09:13 AM.

  12. #12
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    Oct 2003
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    Aspen
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    My wife has done it a couple of times. My advice - 1. Be prepared for a reverse. 2. Remember that Richmond Ridge is not as easy as it's relatively flat profile may make it seem.

  13. #13
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    Mar 2017
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    Quote Originally Posted by funkendrenchman View Post
    My wife has done it a couple of times. My advice - 1. Be prepared for a reverse. 2. Remember that Richmond Ridge is not as easy as it's relatively flat profile may make it seem.
    Thanks for the tips. How does a Grand Reverse change your race prep? And with Richmond Ridge - any strategy tips there, or just be ready to suffer?

  14. #14
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    Oct 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by tgapp View Post
    Thanks for the tips. How does a Grand Reverse change your race prep? And with Richmond Ridge - any strategy tips there, or just be ready to suffer?
    It can be tough mentally to think you're going to Aspen and then be told you're going back to CB. Also, if there's low snow, you may need to walk a long section of road. Some people I know actually carried shoes/crocs for that section.

    For Richmond Ridge, it really helps if you can train on it before the race. That way you know when you should and shouldn't take off skins. Also a lot of people think "it's all downhill from here" when it's most definitely not.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    State of Jefferson
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    Seems the Reverse effects participants on a few different levels. One, the logistics are a big part of the final days prep. Getting a room in Glenwood or Assspen, shuttling vehicles, and having your "take out" kit on the Roaring Fork side takes some effort. Then, waiting in limbo to find out that you really need a place to crash in CB is stressful. I know when I trained for it the first time we rented the Barnard Hut and skied up to the hut, across the high meadows north to the ski area boundaries, spent the night and then the next day skied as far south as we could manage and still ski out to the car in the Conundrum drainage (I think?). Anyways, we did the same, put in a big day from the CB side too, so in our minds we knew where the transitions were going to be, what the terrain and route finding challenges could be, etc. - So, for a lot of guys and gals, just wrapping their heads around the route change is a bit of mental gymnastics. They Reverse due to avalanche hazards so those years are usually more snow, and that can mean beat up and refrozen skin tracks, long lines at the start not knowing when it's best to pass, only to be re-passed, etc.

    Seems my partners had success by ultimately having expectations for checkpoint times, but realizing that they really just wanted to finish. Take care of your feet. Maybe I'm a jerk, but when I read mallwalkers very nicely written TR I think had his feet not been killing him he might have enjoyed it a bit more. Hind sight is 20:20 -- and I've felt like an absolute ass stopping my group to dry my feet and change my socks, but you don't have a big window. Sounds ridiculous but I've heard quite a few guys say they have had success coating their feet with spray on anti-perspirant starting a couple of days before hand. Super glue, athletic tape, and even 2 extra pairs of socks and hanging one pair on your pack straps to dry if it's not snowing can all make a difference. The biggest reason people fail is their feet. Followed by breaking gear, most likely a binding or walk mechanism hardware. I was super anal about my stuff back then as I was competing in a few different endurance pursuits, but I quiver killered my light volcano skis and carried an extra toe and heel and an extra set of machine screws because the weight per likelihood of DQ'ing the team ratio seemed positive to me.

    I'm actually enjoying this little trip down memory lane as it was about 8 years ago that I trained for it. I don't know how en vogue it is still, but one thing we all played with a lot was different skins. Some folks like kicker skins and I think my best arrangement was a super skinny full mohair strip with no tail attachment. If you can put skins on and off without popping out you can save a bunch of time by skating the flat / slightly downhill instead of skiing it with skins on.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowsparkco View Post
    Maybe I'm a jerk, but when I read mallwalkers very nicely written TR I think had his feet not been killing him he might have enjoyed it a bit more.
    100%, was just saying that this morning to tgapp on the skintrack actually. no foot blisters (and not being sick) would've maybe been a very different experience

  17. #17
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    Oct 2003
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    Aspen
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowsparkco View Post

    I'm actually enjoying this little trip down memory lane as it was about 8 years ago that I trained for it. I don't know how en vogue it is still, but one thing we all played with a lot was different skins. Some folks like kicker skins and I think my best arrangement was a super skinny full mohair strip with no tail attachment. If you can put skins on and off without popping out you can save a bunch of time by skating the flat / slightly downhill instead of skiing it with skins on.
    Important point. There are A LOT of transitions. Saving 1 minute in each transition adds up to big time. Dial in your transitions and know when to transition!

  18. #18
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    Mar 2017
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    SLC, Utah
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    Yep okay. All of this is super helpful. I really appreciate your guys' insight - and Mallwalker's TR has been invaluable.

    Unfortunately I will not be able to go ski any part of the race before the big day (I'm not in CO and I just don't have time for it), but I feel like distilling down all of this advice into a couple bullet points would look like this:

    1. Take care of your feet
    2. No really, take good fucking care of your feet
    3. Spend a lot of time on flats training
    4. Be prepared for a range of conditions (Grand Reverse, melted out road, 0 degrees and windy...)
    5. Take extra kit - an extra binding probably? lots of extra skins - my plan right now is to have 2-3 pairs per person and maybe even a pair of UL scissors so i can fashion glide skins out of them
    6. Take good care of your feet.
    7. Dial in systems - water, food, transitions, lighting, etc.

    Honestly, for my first time doing this, I'm not looking to hit any records - I just don't want to be disqualified. Am I missing anything major?

    Thanks for all your help and wisdom here!!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    santa monica, ca
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    101
    get out at a good pace so you don't get stuck behind slow people after the first descent. the course goes from groomer/cattrack to single track when you leave the ski area into the east river drainage. the course is a few miles of heinous sidehilling single track skinning after that and its hard to pass folks.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    14
    Quote Originally Posted by lowsparkco View Post
    If you can put skins on and off without popping out you can save a bunch of time by skating the flat / slightly downhill instead of skiing it with skins on.
    Fishscales?

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    State of Jefferson
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    Quote Originally Posted by primate View Post
    Fishscales?
    Opinions vary year-to-year depending on the conditions. I had an old pair of Karhu Guides (fishscales) with 3 pins with Garmont Excursion boots as an option, but I think light AT and skinny skins was usually going to cover more snow conditions. My light AT boards are old Dynafits with the grooved tips for skin attachments and I could throw the skinnies or full width skins on and off without coming out of them.

    Only a few elite groups really compete to win, but IMO it's worth reading about their gear and strategy because it's the most efficient. Some years these experts are on straight up XCD gear knowing they'll have very little control on the descents. There are a ton of YouTube videos and blogs out there. Worth watching.

    Like mallwalker says it's hard to fight the "two grand" temptation of buying a bunch of stuff specific for it. Back when I was into it you could buy Pomoca full mohair by the foot off of big bulk rolls and fashion your own attachments and that was the way to go. Sounds crazy, but ironing some glide wax into the mohair (low heat and very carefully) actually makes a difference especially on the slight uphills. A couple of widths is sufficient. No need for wall to wall on any of the course as I recall.

    Personally, I'd try and get to CB a day early and make any last minute gear adjustments rather than try and cut skins on the course.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Posts
    296
    I got roped into doing it this year as well tgapp, buddy of mine wants to do the triple crown so he needed a ski partner. I raced ultra marathons for a long time when I was younger, so I'm hoping some of that experience helps out.

    For foot tape, Leukotape (P) is the stuff you want. The tape has a zinc oxide based adhesive and will stick to your feet for days even when wet if you need it to. Pre-cut it into strips and stick it to mailing label paper or something similar so you have it ready to rock and roll when you need it, rather than trying to cut it off the roll out in the cold.

    Force yourself to eat and drink, even when you don't want to. I really recommend having a schedule you stick to, and also bring along some options so you're not stuck eating the same thing over and over when you get sick of it. Even better, set an alarm on your watch or phone to remind you every 20-30min to take in a few calories and some liquid, keep the food train going.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    SLC, Utah
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    Quote Originally Posted by viglio View Post
    For foot tape, Leukotape (P) is the stuff you want. The tape has a zinc oxide based adhesive and will stick to your feet for days even when wet if you need it to. Pre-cut it into strips and stick it to mailing label paper or something similar so you have it ready to rock and roll when you need it, rather than trying to cut it off the roll out in the cold.
    Yep, leukotape is my jam as well. I'm thinking antiperspirant + pre-taped feet + taping a lighter with about three feet of leukotape and then scoring it with a razor blade so it comes off easily, though I do think that the label backing is a good idea as well.


    Quote Originally Posted by lowsparkco
    Like mallwalker says it's hard to fight the "two grand" temptation of buying a bunch of stuff specific for it. Back when I was into it you could buy Pomoca full mohair by the foot off of big bulk rolls and fashion your own attachments and that was the way to go. Sounds crazy, but ironing some glide wax into the mohair (low heat and very carefully) actually makes a difference especially on the slight uphills. A couple of widths is sufficient. No need for wall to wall on any of the course as I recall.
    Yeah so I have one brand new set of race skins (not wall to wall), one set of re-purposed skins, and another set that I plan on picking up. By glide wax do you mean... like Toko ski wax? Sorry for the dumb question.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    State of Jefferson
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    319
    Here's a good tutorial, any ski wax (glide wax like what you use for your downhill resort skis, not kick wax) works including Toko...

    https://www.alpine-guides.com/ski/in...touring-skins/

    Just start super cool and warm the iron every so slightly until it coats the mohair. Does help stop glop and glide better.

    If you don't XC ski, look into kick wax. A couple of crayons and a cork are cheap and light and if you can get a little kick on the slight climbs it saves you a transition.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Ogden
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    I was checking in to see if the Italian Cracks on the north ridge was still the preferred route from gunsight pass. Wrong thread.


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