East Portal to Winter Park and Back

Last month I was out at dinner with some friends when my friend Roch started talking about his hope to one day ski the length of the John Muir Trail. The JMT—the classic 200+ mile route through the High Sierra from Mt Whitney to Yosemite Valley—is an extremely popular summer hike, but Roch figured it had only been skied a couple of times. This conversation was quite inspirational for me—Roch is an undeniably compelling and confidence-inducing orator— and I started thinking about the kinds of things I could reasonably do on skis.

I doubt I’ll ever have the skills or confidence to be scratching and jump-turning my way down the really steep stuff in the mountains, but the thought of covering a lot of miles over the mountains on more mellow terrain holds a distinct appeal. More “ski touring” I suppose, than “ski mountaineering”. This appeal is facilitated in no small part by the fact that such activity relies on a physical capacity—all day endurance—that I’ve been honing my entire life, as opposed to the more skilled and technical requirements of steeper descents. Skills I certainly don’t currently possess. Maybe I’ll get there one day.

So when some friends completed the big huck to Winter Park and back—a classic double-crossing of the Continental Divide—last weekend, and then a perfect window of stable weather was forecasted for this past week, I knew I had to give it a shot, never mind the fact that I’d only been exercising for two weeks after two full months completely off. I mentioned it offhand to my buddy Joe that I was interested in going for it this week and he was immediately on-board.

In classic style, I further set myself up for discomfort by not resting at all in the days leading up to our out-and-back venture. In the six days beforehand I racked up 40,000’ of vertical gain, including an 8500’ ski session the day before and a 100mi bike ride a couple days before that. You gotta maximize good weather in January!


At the end of a long day of skiing, the day before our traverse to Winter Park.

Joe and I got a comfortable 7:30am start from the East Portal of the Moffat Tunnel trailhead, but carried headlamps, not knowing just how long this thing might take us. The first couple of miles we skinned up the well-packed Rogers Pass Trail with vigor and overflowing enthusiasm for the adventure before us. It was pretty warm, especially considering the early hour and the cold sink of the creek drainage, and we were soon sweating through our base layers.

Eventually, the nicely-packed route ended, however, and we were breaking trail through untrammeled powder in our skinny randonee gear. Joe’s and my skis were 164cm and 160cm, respectively, with spindly 65mm waists. Exceedingly light for sure, but not the best for tromping through powder. Luckily, we weren’t sinking too badly even as we lost any semblance of a previous skin track, and soon we were emerging from the trees, donning wind shells, and expressing extreme exuberance at the morning magnificence of our alpine surroundings.


Hiking up to the ridge that would take us to the Divide. All photos, Joe Grant credit.

From the shore of the beautifully frozen Heart Lake, we considered our options for crossing the Divide. The Rogers Pass Trail switchbacked steeply up a grassy headwall straight ahead, but this slope would’ve required crossing a snowfield that—not having brought any metal traction of any kind (axes, crampons)— we weren’t willing to chance. Instead, to the north, on the other side of a lake, was a talus slope and minimal snow that allowed access to a windblown and largely snow-free ridge that would take us up to the Divide. Looks good.

About to crest the Divide.

About to crest the Divide.

The 12,100’ Divide itself was about as pleasant as could be in January—enough wind to make us hurry, but not so strong as to blow us off our feet, which is more typically the case—and for the first couple hundred feet of descent we kept our skis on our backs and ran down the windblown slope in our ski boots. Which is not nearly as bad as it sounds due to the light weight and outstanding ankle articulation of modern skimo footwear.

Once off the Divide we continued to traverse in a northward direction, angling more or less towards the Riflesight Notch on Rollins Pass Rd at 11,100’ or so. The footing on this traverse was mostly hard-packed and scant snow, so we kept the skins on to facilitate our contouring line. Eventually, we reached plentiful soft snow in a broad, low-angle meadow where we were psyched to finally rip our skins and enjoy a pillowy descent down through the trees into the South Fork of Ranch Creek drainage.

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 4.54.15 PMFor about 10 minutes, this was the one instance of the entire 8hr outing where our lightweight, skinny equipment wasn’t perfectly ideal. The powder in the trees was soft and deep and even with a steep-ish angle, we wallowed a bit. Not long, however, as we soon linked into an old snow machine track that dumped us out onto Rollins Pass Rd, having successfully cut off a giant oxbow in the process.



And this is where my education in very low-angle, groomed ski travel began. We were faced with 5mi of perfectly-groomed road that was just barely downhill, i.e. perfect terrain for skate skiing with a quickness. With his on-point technique, Joe could’ve made efficient, effortless work of this, probably easily getting down it at 10-15mph.

Instead, he was saddled by my bumbling gumbiness. I’d alternate between awkwardly skating and exhaustingly double-poling, always lagging behind. Occasionally, I’d experience an oh-so-fleeting moment of grace where I would accidentally coordinate my limbs, planks, and poles in the appropriate fashion and briefly get a tantalizing taste of the efficiency and speed that this mode of travel can offer. And then it’d be right back to the spastic flailing, where it seemed I was more working against myself than in any organized effort towards forward progress.


That’s a grimace, not a smile.

Joe attempted to offer a few helpful tips, but it’s simply going to take a lot more practice on my part. After what felt like an eternity, we reached the outskirts of Winter Park and shouldered our skis for the final few blocks of gravel and pavement leading to the base of the resort itself. It had taken us three and a half hours from when we left our car at the East Portal.

My flailings in the past 45min had left me pretty exhausted, so the respite of espresso and a man-sized whack of bread pudding from the village cafe were sorely needed, and I countenanced the return trip back over the Divide with at least a little bit of dread. After hitting the restrooms and refiling our water bottles, we were back on the trail 38min after reaching town.

At least on the trip back the continuous slightly uphill grade made skins the logical choice—I can actually perform the kick-glide technique of skinning on a groomed surface with acceptable competency—but now we were toiling under the unseasonably warm mid-day sun, drenched in sweat. Traveling through the wintery woods, under our own power, headed back up to the alpine—it was glorious.

So as to avoid any pow-wallowing, we hooked into a perfectly direct and steep climb up a groomed snow machine trail to Riflesight Notch and from there linked into yet another just-in-the-right-spot snow machine track that took us above treeline and back to the talus and tundra of the Divide itself. Back up there, of course, the steady breeze carried a lot more bite, but it didn’t take long for us to scurry into the lee side and back down to Heart Lake.

Descending the ridge back down to Heart Lake.

Descending the ridge back down to Heart Lake.

By this point I was certainly starting to feel the accumulating effects of the day’s efforts, so I was really looking forward to removing our skins and enjoying an expeditious descent through the powder and back to our car, beers, a hamburger. Alas, this was not to be. The deep, untracked snow and the exceedingly low-angle terrain conspired to make the final few miles of our journey much more frustrating than I’d imagined. Just a few more degrees of slope would’ve been greatly appreciated.

Thankfully, though, as in all big endurance endeavors, the end eventually comes, and, 8hrs after we’d departed, we were particularly pleased to have made it back with zero mishaps and plenty of daylight. A day well spent.

UD Proud To Be Working With Krissy Moehl

The timing of this couldn’t be more perfect – we have partnered with Krissy Moehl at the beginning of her new book tour: Running Your First Ultra, and our new and updated Jenny Collection of women’s vests and handhelds hit the shelves in one week.

Krissy Moehl - Ultra RunnerKrissy brings a vibrant new perspective to the team along with thousands of miles under her belt.  Moehl’s positive and encouraging attitude and her deep knowledge and enthusiasm for the sport will be terrific for everyone.


Running Your First Ultra

Her book is like having a partner on the trail. Moehl will become your guide to completing a 50K, 50-mile or 100-mile race. Her experience translates into the most effective and easy-to-follow training method, broken down into phases to help all runners take it to the next level and accomplish their goals. She shares her love of the sport by providing helpful tips, bonus content and personal stories. Her commitment to growing the sport and passion for coaching others running their first is evident in the care she’s taken to create detailed plans and lifestyle adjustments. With Krissy’s book, you will find all the resources and encouragement you need to succeed in challenging your mind and body with an ultramarathon!

We look forward to working on products, events, and spending time on the trails with Krissy!

** Fun facts about Krissy:  she’s left handed, a Scorpio and not to worry – she doesn’t like the color pink either.

SHE’LL BE IN COLORADO ALL WEEK – find an event to check out near you….


  • Boulder Bookstore

Boulder Bookstore is hosting a book reading and signing. Guests will purchase a $5 voucher as a ticket to the event. This voucher can be used as credit towards buying Running Your First Ultra or towards any other book on the day of event.


  •  – 
  • Boulder Running Company, 2775 Pearl St, Boulder.

Boulder Running Company is hosting a social gathering starting at 6pm followed by a presentation/slideshow starting at 7pm and Book signing.


  •  – 
  • Shoes & Brews, 63 S Pratt Prkwy, Longmont

Shoes & Brews is hosting a Group Run at 6pm. Afterwards Scott Jurek will interview me talk show host style and we can both answer questions. It will be fun! Book signing afterwards.

Trail Sisters - Runners Roost Denver


  • Runners Roost

3pm Womens Only Fun Run

4pm Panel — including: Hillary Allen, Gina Lucrezi, Cassie Scallon, Kimberly Dobson, Anita Ortiz, Junko Kazukawa

A film by Sandi Nypaver & Sage Canaday

$5 suggested donation to benefit Girls on the Run

Book Signing afterwards

More about Krissy and her book.

‘Twas an Ultra Year – UD Athletes set FKT’s!

Twas’ a great year for UD athletes and new records. We are proud that we have 2 super motivated ambassadors that both set unbelievable FKT’s on the Appalachian Trail. Scott Jurek and Heather “Anish” Anderson should be very proud of their achievements as are we.

Gear Junkie thought so too!

“Few trail runners have generated publicity like Scott Jurek. The vegan ultrarunner’s speed record on the Appalachian Trail was no exception. Jurek arrived at the northern terminus on July 12th, running the trail with a support crew in 46 days, 8 hours, 8 minutes.

Heather “Anish” Anderson’s 2015 unsupported Appalachian Trail record was seen by some as even more impressive. With no substantial help from the outside, Anish completed the AT in purist fashion, hauling her own gear and picking up resupplies at traditional points along the way in 54 days, 7 hours, and 48 minutes, finishing at the southern terminus in September.”

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Check out Gear Junkie’s other 9 most Defining Moments in the Outdoors -> Read More

Ultimate Direction – Dirty 30 Race Will Be June 4th 2016!

Meandering single-track through groves of aspen, green meadows and thick pine forests. Rocky ridges provide majestic views of snow-capped mountains. Golden Gate State Park shows off the BEST Colorado has to offer!

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There is a 12 miler and a 50 km, so no matter your distance there is something for everyone. Registration opens January 30th.  This race sells out – so sign up soon! Amazing prizes, incredible trails, live music, yummy food and of course beer! Make it your premier ultra race or come back to set a new PR! Either way we hope to see ya on the trail! Stay tuned for events leading up to the race and tips and tricks to having your best race ever! Cheers to many smiles and miles.


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Kissing the Rock – A Hardrock Story by Matt Trappe

The hardrock miners of Colorado experienced adversity on another level through the hardships they faced in the San Juan Mountains. When the mines closed and the jobs dried up the town of Silverton was in search of a new identity.

The Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run epitomizes the community aspect of mountain running perhaps due to the grueling nature of the course and the adversity the runners face. The mentality of everyone vs. the mountain exists especially at Hardrock. Friends and runners gather each July in Silverton and a town is reborn.

Matt Trappe came to UD last summer and had an idea to capture the story of Silverton, we love the town and the race and said YES – lets make a film. He has worked super hard to create a beautiful film we are happy to share. Watch the Trailer: https://youtu.be/u9Q3_beydfs and stay tuned for the film to launch in Feb.

Kissing The Rock A production by Matt Trappe Photo & Film
In association with Louder than 11
Edited by Matt Trappe Louder than 11
Additional Editing by Jess Carfield
Score by Fizzix Productions
Post Produced by Louder than 11
Produced and Directed by Matt Trappe

Film made possible with support from Ultimate Direction, Hoka One One, Clif Bar, Feetures! and Competitor Magazine.

About Matt Trappe: http://www.trappephoto.com/about/

Silvertron Depot - Matt Trappe Photography

Silverton Depot – Matt Trappe Photography

Silverton - Matt Trappe Photography

Silverton – Matt Trappe Photography

Andrew Hamilton – Completes All The Colorado 14’ers in Record Time {Exclusive Interview}

Andrew Hamilton finished all the Colorado 14’ers (14,000 ft peaks) in a record time of under 10 days! He used a Ultimate Direction Fastpack, slept very little and had to battle with marmots over his trekking poles.

Learn more about Andrew: http://andrewhamilton.com/

“Climbing Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks (14ers) has been a significant part of my life.  I started climbing them with my step dad Henry Siracusan when I was 11 years old (my little brother Joe was only 3 when he started).  As a raft guide in Buena Vista in 1996 and 1997 I loved the views of the Sawatch 14ers and tried to get out hiking as much as possible.  Finally in 1998 Joe and I took a couple of weeks that summer to finish our remaining 14ers.”

A Brief History of My Relationship With Bicycles (As an Adult)

rollins2This summer, from mid-April to mid-August, I had a bone stress injury in my right tibia (reaction, fracture, it doesn’t really matter, treatment is the same) that prevented me from not only running, but really, precluded almost any pain-free, bipedal perambulation. Because I was necessarily relegated to biking for those four months, I had a real awakening with regards to the wonders and merits of it as a means of satisfying, continuous movement in the mountains.

Despite a fairly negative attitude towards biking (at least, as anything other than pure commuting) over the past few years, I actually have a bit of experience with the activity from my college days. In my first 10 years of running (1995-2005), I sustained something like 12 stress fractures. In high school, I was young and healed quickly and as a means of coping, I  would haphazardly spend some time cross-training on my mom’s stationary bike in our basement. Soon enough I was back out pounding the gravel and dirt.

In college, however, I distinctly remember having a conversation with the school’s athletic trainer, Bruce, asking him why this particular stress fracture was taking longer than the four weeks of downtime I would typically require in high school. His response?

“Tony, your’e not 15 anymore; your body takes longer to heal now.”

This was a depressing thing to hear at a mere 19 years of age.

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Rounding the Chamonix Loop: A UTMB Recap

The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc Starting Line. Photo credit: Michel Cottin

The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc Starting Line. Photo credit: Michel Cottin

The thirteenth running of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc occurred last weekend, bringing roughly 2,500 eager ultrarunners to the quaint mountain town of Chamonix, France. Located at the base of Mont Blanc, Chamonix serves as the starting and finishing point for this grueling endurance race which spans terrain in France, Italy and Switzerland. A highly respected and immensely challenging course, UTMB has become one of the most desirable races in the ultra running scene, attracting mountain runners from 89 countries.  Over the 104-mile course, runners navigate trails in the day and the night, in a multitude of weather conditions, summiting nearly a dozen peaks, and covering over 66,000 combined feet of elevation gain and loss.

UTMB Elevation Profile

UTMB Elevation Profile

This year was the race debut for Ultimate Direction athlete, Sage Canaday, and heading into the event, he was picked as a top favorite. Having spent the four previous weeks training around Mont Blanc, Canaday explains in his irunfar interview  that he had scoped out roughly 40 miles of the course, learning the nuances of this steep and technical terrain.

Sage scouting out the UTMB course. Photo credit: Matt Trappe

Sage scouting out the UTMB course. Photo credit: Matt Trappe

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Scott Returns Home

Boulder’s own Scott Jurek has, after traveling for more than two months, finally returned home. We are thankful to see that he made it through with minimal injuries and that he is making a solid recovery. We are still in awe of his accomplishments and are honored to have been a part of his “masterpiece”. We thank all the supporters, whether you were following remotely, or were one of the many people who directly supported him on the trail. As Scott remarks, it was immeasurably helpful to both him and Jenny to have the support. Scott and Jenny, we look forward to seeing you sometime soon!


Photo: Luis Escobar

Photo: Luis Escobar Scott crosses a river by headlamp, wearing a prototype UD vest. His 2,200 miles worth of input will help make this vest one of our best ones yet in 2016.

Photo: Luis Escobar

Scott powers through the forest, reaching for a UD Body Bottle Plus to rehydrate. Photo: Luis Escobar

Photo Luis Escobar

Photo: Luis Escobar

UD Athletes Establishing New FKTs

As FKTs gain more and more recognition in the sport of trail/mountain/ultra running, bigger, tougher, and faster routes are being established. The sky is the limit for the FKTs we have witnessed recently. The UD Team is proud to have some athletes that are creating and completing incredible routes.

Scott Jurek

Scott stands within view of Mt. Katahdin, the last climb of the Appalachian Trail.

Scott stands within view of Mt. Katahdin, the last climb of the Appalachian Trail.

Scott completed his “masterpiece,” a nearly 2,200 mile quest on the Appalachian trail, spanning from Georgia to Maine in 46 days, eight hours and eight minutes on Sunday, July 12, surpassing the previous record by just over 3 hours. Check out Scott’s Signature Series of UD products, complete with our best-selling Ultra Vest.

Justin Simoni

Justin Simoni lets out a victory cry after conquering all of Colorado's 14ers on the Tour 14er. He is pictured wearing the Fastpack 30.

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