A 4:00 AM alarm in the hotel room got us down to race HQ in almost enough time for the 4:30 race meeting where we received the maps and course instructions. The format this year was: ski - posthole - snowshoe - tyrolean traverse - snowshoe - ski. We had about 10 minutes or so to plan our approach to the first couple CPs on the maps and then it was out into the 5:00 frosty air for a mass start on skis.
|Quick mapping session before the start in Bolton Valley Nordic Center. Photo: GMARA|
|At TA1, about to set off on the "postholing" leg. Photo: GMARA|
At this first transition area (TA1), we left our skis and set out for 3 postholing CPs. Postholing refers to traveling in deep snow with just your boots on. On the drive up, we were noticing thin snow cover with some bare spots in the woods adjacent to the highway; we figured this would make the backcountry travel a lot easier and faster than in prior races. It wasn't like that at all. The hills were cloaked in 16-24 inches of thinly crusted powder. We were not exactly chewing through the miles, therefore, as we completed this leg of 3 CPs while covering about a mile and climbing a few hundred feet of elevation. As is typical of the early stages of adventure races, but especially the Frigid, where the lead team laboriously makes a deep conspicuous track in the snow, there were a lot of teams moving together in a (now) sweaty Conga line through the deep snow. So no real navigational challenges here, as it had all been done for us by a few teams up the course.
|Postholing descent near dawn.|
|Rob making first tracks at CP 6|
|Nick at CP 8|
|Western ascent to CP9|
|The ghost of Nick with Mason at nice view at CP10 while Rob punches the passport.|
Slightly demoralized, we arrived at TA3 which was the start of the tyrolean traverse, which is when you cross a canyon using a horizontal rope. Stowing the snowshoes and getting geared up for the rope and doing the reverse on the other side took quite a few minutes and really cooled us off, but the rope, as always, was a high point of the race. Depressingly though, we learned we were the 17th team across the rope.
|Mason on tyrolean traverse. Photo: GMARA|
|Nick entering the TT. Photo: GMARA|
Following a short snowshoe to TA5, we switched to skis for the remainder of the race. A short 350 ft climb led to the area of the next CP, 17. We used the location on an old ski lodge on the topo map as an attack point for the CP and failed to find it repeatedly, eventually determining the lodge was inaccurately placed on that map. Lots of teams struggled with this CP. We found it after a long delay. Another time consuming mistake; in a short race like this, you really can't expect to place well if you waste large chunks of time making up for nav errors. On the upside, we hadn't skipped any CPs and we strategized that we should have just enough time to get the remaining 4 CPs as well as one of the Bonus CPs if we hustled and avoided major errors. So we made good time climbing 700 feet and grabbing the next 2 CPs (including Bonus B, which was worth 90 minutes). After Bonus B, things got real sketchy on the skis. The terrain near the top of the ridge would have been hard to traverse on foot on bare earth. Add 2 feet of snow and skis on your feet and the technical up and downs presented a substantial physical and mental challenge. We awkwardly made our way through this section and ended up with about 45 minutes of time left to get down off the mountain, grab one more CP and head to the finish line, which we were able to do in about 30 minutes.
|Done! Photo: GMARA|
|This is how hard Rob races|