At the stroke of midnight on Friday, March 25th, my partner Brent and I started the 20th-annual Grand Traverse Ski Mountaineering race at Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado. Covering over thirty five miles and traveling over backcountry terrain from Crested Butte to Aspen, the Grand Traverse brings over 200 two-person teams to the Elk Mountains to test their mettle on an ungroomed, undulating course which spends most of its time over 10,000ft elevation.
Sunshine! I am literally bursting out of my skin with excitement, after months of endless grey and rain, these rays of sunshine feels like conditioner to my soul. I can’t sit still and my legs are itching to sprint. Eager to try out my new La Sportiva Wildcat trail runners I decide to break them in on a lap around Green Lake.
The first thing I notice is that I don’t notice the Wildcat’s at all
In a school gymnasium in Kabul, though, I’m sitting with a group of children, imagining a different world. Girls in brightly colored tunics and headscarves are eyeing a 30 foot high climbing wall with considerable doubt. “When I come back in 10 years,” I say, “Who will be my mountain guide? Who will take me climbing?” A teenager raises her hand. She lives in Kabul, but has a family home in the countryside nearby, and she tells me she’ll be the first female to stand on top of the mountains around her village.
I had a very different trip report composed—one that went through the blow by blow of our planning and disaster, that covered our constant revision throughout the weekend and tried to capture our humor and joy—but it meandered several pages and didn’t really get to the heart of the festival. So here’s a second attempt at why the Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival felt so essential to me.
Spring has sprung, in some parts of the world. Here in Mazama, it's dumping snow as I write this, but we've had some warmer afternoons that have inspired me to find some dirt to run on. I've been doing much more skiing this year than running, which has been fun, but I do miss the simplicity of running. When March hits, I get spring fever; or maybe I like doing a sport I'm better at...
For all the people out there who live for the snow sports, I’m sure this winter has felt like a gift from god after a few years of short ski seasons, but for the climbers who are anxiously awaiting the spring temps and dry rock, this winter (which started early and is somehow still going) is starting to feel almost unbearable…