Travis Scheefer leading in overall COSMIC points
The COSMIC randonnee race series took an interesting turn at the sixth stop of the seven race series, the San Juans Rando. Until now, the COSMIC series races have always been on ski areas with the occasional dabble off-piste. Racers would skin up and ski down runs typically open to your everyday resort skier.
The San Juans Rando race on Saturday, April 18 was a completely different ball of wax.
Gunnison resident Bryan Wickenhauser has been on the randonnee racing circuit for several years including a stint on the U.S. Ski Mountaineering team that traveled to Europe to compete. He felt the course rivaled those he raced on in Europe.
“It was the best venue this type of racing has ever seen in North America,” says Wickenhauser. “Not a groomer in sight, not a chairlift in sight.”
The race started at the Molas Lake trailhead in the San Juan Mountains between Silverton and Durango. Competitors climbed 2,600 vertical feet to a notch in the rocky ridge for their first descent. Wickenhauser led the charge to the notch with Crested Butte resident Travis Scheefer on his heels.
When the two reached the notch, course marshals gave them the green light to drop off the other side into a powder choked couloir.
While a race is a race, Scheefer maintained backcountry etiquette as the two looked down the couloir.
“I came into the notch first so Travis let me ski it first,” says Wickenhauser.
The two racers were treated to 12-18” of fresh snow on the descent before turning back uphill for the next climb, a 1,600-foot ascent. The climb finished with a brief boot pack to the 13,370-foot high summit of the Grand Turk.
From there it was all downhill to the finish line and that’s where Scheefer made his move letting his skis run and taking the lead into the finish line.
“We got to the top together and the little 23-year-old out skied me on the way down,” admits Wickenhauser. “It was great skiing, especially for Travis and I because we were in the front.”
So good in fact, the two went back for more that day following the race, skiing a couloir next to the one in the race.
“After the awards ceremony we went out on our big sticks and skied it proper,” says Wickenhauser.
Scheefer is in the lead of the overall COSMIC points series for the season and looks to seal the title at the final race of the season, the Marmot Grind at Arapahoe Basin on Saturday, April 25. Wickenhauser should finish the season in second. Both have qualified for the U.S. Ski Mountaineering team headed to the 2010 Andorra ISMF Ski Mountaineering World Championships.