Whitefish Whiteout Rando Race

January 25th, 2009

Whitefish Whiteout 2009 course map

This weekend my attempt at a “serious” rando racing season took me all the way up to Whitefish, MT, for the 2nd Annual Whitefish Whiteout at, well, Whitefish Mountian of course (formerly Big Mountain).

Whitefish is about 5 1/2 hours from Bozeman - kind of a long way to drive for a race I was going to have to pay $60 to enter and almost surely not win. The snow is terrible here in Bozeman though, and I had no other weekend plans, so I figured why not? It would be a fun road trip, and interesting to check out Big Mountain - which I haven’t been to in probably 10 years. I managed to line up a free place to stay right at the base of the mountain via CouchSurfing.com, too. And gas is cheap right now. So I really had no good excuse not to go.

The start and registration area for the Whitefish WhiteoutAfter two weeks of unseasonable sunshine the roads to Whitefish were clear sailing, and I arrived just a couple of hours after dark in exactly the 5 1/2 hours Google had promised. My CouchSurfing hosts were super cool and I enjoyed a couple of beers and learned a lot about pottery. I had to be up to the hill by 8AM though so I turned in early. It was a nice short drive to the mountain in the dark A.M. Unlike the Targhee race two weeks ago this one involved no “teams” or partner shenanigans (it’s just a standard Individual race), so it was nice not to have the craziness of looking for a partner like I had at Targhee. However, right before the start I ran into a technical difficulty with my G3 skins - the tip loops were separating from the adhesive layer! - but I managed to get them workable in time so the race was a go. The start was going to be a “LeMans” style one - where you start back away from your skis and have to run up and put them on after the race starts - so we all lined up our gear on the line. At 8:30 we were off.

Skis laid out for the Whitefish Whiteout LeMans startThere was a “Recreation” division with a shorter course, and a full-on “Race” division. The Recration division only involved legs 1, 6, 7 and 8 of the course map I put up here, and the Race division involved all 8 legs. The Recreation division was about 2500′ of vertical, and my altimeter watch clocked the Race course at about 5000′ - just about twice as much. For both divisions the first climb is right up the face the mountain from the base to the tip-top - about 2,100′ I think. It’s a brutal way to start your morning. The record time to the top was set this year at 29mins 40 secs I believe. It took me more like 40mins, and I thought I was going to pass out by the top. Then the Race division descended down a steep face which was quite harrowing covered in the icy moguls the last few weeks wrought. Then the course climbed back the top, and descended a similarly icy but less steep face. The third ascent involved a boot pack up “N.B.C.”, and ended at the top again. The course then continued down the backside of the mountain (the dotted line on my map - much better ski conditions on that side!), with a long traverse and a short skin back to the front side. Finally, you descend to the bottom via some groomed blue runs - by this time covered in regular skiers so it was a bit odd.

Whitefish Whiteout 2009 - Mens AT results - I got 5thWhitefish Whiteout 2009 - Womens AT podiumWhitefish Whiteout 2009 - Mens AT podium

My time was 2hrs 15mins. I think I was 5th out of 8 in my division (though one guy got lost - so, 6th?). I’m pretty proud of doing 5000′ of skiing in just over 2 hours, but I have a long way to go before I catch the fast guys. Our local Montana ski mountaineering badass, Brandon French, did the course in 1hr 33mins. That is no small gap to close. But I was glad I did the Race version anyway. No more messing around in the Recreation division! Much more fun to challenge (and brutalize) myself in the Pro races. Perhaps if I keep it up, train more, work on my transitions, get true race equipment… ? At any rate I got a cool t-shirt (last year I guess they had cool raffle prizes but not this year - a sign of the economic times?).

Next weekend there’s a race on my home turf, Bridger Bowl: the Skin to Win Randonee Rally! See you there. :)

Whitefish Whiteout 2009 - skinning up Haskill Slide to Moe-Mentum, my one in-race pic

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3 Responses to “Whitefish Whiteout Rando Race”

  1. Congrats on your race! What kind of skis are you using?

  2. thanks! I don’t actually have race skis, I’m using my lightweight touring boards - the K2 Baker Superlights. great skis in general, and they’ve been working OK for racing too, even on the ice.

  3. [...] new snow at Bridger in three weeks, so I haven’t been touring or skiing much. I raced up at Whitefish last weekend, and checked out the course conditions at Bridger the day before the Skin to Win, but [...]

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