Saturday was VertFest. As usual, it was overflowing with instant gnar concentrate. Just add stoke.
This year was the sixth annual VertFest, my fourth. It has been at a couple of different mountains; this was my second time at this venue: Alpental in the Snoqualmie Pass (just east of Seattle, WA). On Friday afternoon three of us (Kaan, Kat, and Keith) loaded into a car and began the journey south from Vancouver. We arrived at our accommodations in North Bend and went out for dinner and music. The live jazz was bumpin’ and the excitement was building.
Saturday morning we set out for Alpental. The torrential and non-stop rain though the night had translated into ass loads of pow at the mountain. The last few kilometers of the drive were a bit hairy. Kat and I got ourselves into race mode while Keith suited up for a day of more relaxed adventures.
The VertFest race is a hike up the mountain followed by skiing down as fast as you can. The entire race is in-bounds at Alpental resort to showcase back-country skiing to the crowds riding the chair lifts. The net vertical climb is 2,280 ft for the recreational division (that is Kat and I – the pros do two laps).
At ten am, just as we began the race, the freeway we had driven in on (I90) was closed due to the ongoing snow storm. (Later in the day we would hear explosives being used to trigger avalanches followed by the awesome thunder of the avalanches themselves.) We began the long march up. Keith managed to snap a couple of photos of us maximizing gnar. Super appreciated!
As you can see I made my ascent with no hat on. At the summit when I went to put on my helmet it would not fit! I had to spend 2-3 minutes breaking out the ice that had formed in my hair. The race officials got a chuckle out of this. For a moment I did contemplate just wearing my ice helmet. Rationality won that one and I eventually got the helmet on.
Kat wore her smile all the way up and down the mountain. Quite a difference from her last VertFest where she was somewhat more overwhelmed by the gnar. This time the gnar was overwhelmed by her.
I had a gps running in my backpack. Here are some of the details it recorded. It was still finding satellites at the start of the race – that is why there are some big gaps between the first few data points.
As indicated by the trail map at the top, the ascent is on the left and the descent on the right.
You can see the flat spot at the top where I was breaking ice out of my hair for several minutes. My official time was 1:24:04.1, nearly seven minutes better than last year!
With the race complete, Kat and I had some lunch, rendezvoused with Keith, grabbed some super fat Black Diamond demo skis, and went to frolic in the mad pow.
I was super tired but the conditions were so amazing that I was able to keep the body running on a rich mix of gnar and stoke. Keith shot this video of me trying to keep my shit together (and doing a poor job of it). Notice I am whacking my pole at the beginning for extra gnar points.
I managed to forget my camera in the car so all of the event photos you saw above were taken by either Kat or Keith. Several of them are poached directly from Kat’s blog. Check out her gnarly description of events!