After something like 35 years of climbing and skiing in the mountains I've been reminded over and over that the best outings are the ones filled with the most uncertainty. Sure, heading out on a typical Teton powder day is filled with anticipation of fun but the conclusion is nearly certain most days… cruiser skin tracks, blower powder and, generally, good times. Tons of fun but minimal adventure and little uncertainty.
Now that my skimo race season is over, it's time to take my race fitness to the mountains and ski some fun lines. One of the short comings of competing is ski mountaineering races is that training needs to happen and, depending upon your degree of commitment, should be specific to the demands unique to the racing format. It's not that you can't come off of a program of shralping the gnar in the backcountry and still perform well in competition. It's just that you probably won't do as well.
It's interesting to compare the last four race efforts via the heart rate profile for each. I don't think it's lost on any reader that longer events require slower average paces. But it is helpful and instructive to see this visually in the graphs below. Pretty cool.
After 35 years of competitive endurance racing of one sort or another, no sport has captured my interest quite like ski mountaineering racing. Sure, it has the usual, vomit-inducing qualities they all share - heavy breathing, masochistic throttling of one's capacity trying to keep up with or vanquish fellow competitors. Nothing unique there. In that regard, it's much like mountain bike racing. But it's the technical side of the sport that captures my interest. The gear and technique involved fascinate me.
The Power of Four Ski Mountaineering Race in Aspen, Colorado a couple of weeks ago was an adventure into the physiologic unknown for me. Sure, I've done plenty of exercise of that duration and longer. I've also gone just as hard for periods of time. But I've never really combined that kind of duration with that kind of focused effort. There just aren't competitive events of that length happening that often. I think endurance mountain bike racing will be the venue for similar efforts as that sport continues its growth but since I don't own a mountain bike right now, those races pass me by.