On Tuesday, March 8, more than 150 racers gathered at Base Camp Bar & Grill in Snowmass Village, Colo., for the start of the 19th Mother of all Ascensions. The race course takes participants up green and blue ski runs, gaining 2,073 vertical feet in just under two miles, and finishes at Gwyn’s High Alpine restaurant (elevation 10,465).
Racers are invited to tackle the mountain anyway they please. The sun rose on a starting gate full of snowshoers, skiers, runners with spikes and folks in jeans and snow boots. Front runners were in shoes and spikes, but fresh snow, with more falling during the race, made conditions ideal for snowshoes and skis.
Costumes and Mardi Gras beads added to the party atmosphere, with the loudest cheer recipient(s) winning a prize and the everlasting respect of the remaining racers—the winners did the race in tutus.
“I didn’t come in first…or second for that matter,” said Muriel Eulich of Snowmass Village, Colo. “Actually, my sister, Noelle, and I went to the bathroom and when we came out everyone had started the race, but at least we won the costume contest.” The sisters were dressed as Black and White Swan ballerinas and provided a dramatic, tongue-in-cheek performance for the raucous crowd of racers.
The Base Camp Bar & Grill start was new for 2011, and added 332 feet of vertical gain to the course.
“I liked the extended course,” said overall winner Bernie Boettcher of Silt, Colo. “It started out a little mellower, and gave me time to get in gear before the big hill.”
Racers receive a packed swag bag, the option to buy a shirt and an opportunity to win awesome prizes at the post race pancake/beignet breakfast.
“This race is like a Mardi Gras piñata, all you have to do is hit the top of the mountain to win something,” according to Boettcher.
A snow cat is on hand to bring up a back pack of warm clothing or your skis. And a pack is a good idea to carry down any winnings.
Race director, Andrew Bielecki has been orchestrating the Mother of all Ascensions for 18 years and seen grow and become the highlight of the morning Mardi Gras festivities. With a successful 2011 race behind them, he and his crew are already planning for the 2012.
It’s a huge party, well…it was after you climbed up to 10,465 feet in the blizzard,” says Boettcher. “Snowmass and the organizers pull out the stops for this one, and everyone goes home with a smile on their face.”
Top 3 Women Overall
Jennifer Mendez of Aspen, Colo., 40:42.7
Heidi Vosbeck of Glenwood Springs, Colo., 44:27.1
Mary Cote of Basalt, Colo., 45:26.8
Top 3 Men Overall
Bernie Boettcher of Silt, Colo., 32:15.2
Dan Nielsen of Avon, Colo., 35:26.5
Charlie Wertheim of Carbondale, Colo., 36:04
For more information and to sign-up for the 20th running in 2012, go to events at www.snowmasstourism.com.