April 6 & 7, 2019
SKI-to-SKY Ski Mountaineering Race
The essence of ski mountaineering racing is moving efficiently through challenging winter alpine terrain. We’ve designed a course with this very much in mind. Utilizing the amazing terrain in the Shannon Creek Valley behind Squamish’s Sea to Sky Gondola, this will be an incredible event!
Because the race takes place entirely in backcountry terrain, we are somewhat limited by weather and avalanche conditions. Below we describe our ideal course, this is subject to change or cancellation based on conditions. Please understand that our goal is to provide you with the absolute best racing experience possible but we will only hold the race if we can be absolutely sure of racer safety.
The longer “Long” race course AND the shorter (but still challenging) “Short” race course will both start at the Habrich Climbers Trail Junction on The Sky Pilot Valley Trail. This will require an approximately 45min skate/skin from the top station of the gondola. Racers must plan the approach to the starting line into their warmup! A skin track will be set in advance for races to follow on the ascent. This will be marked with green pin-flags. The descents will be marked by red pin-flags and larger bamboo wands.
Both race courses will follow the standard summer route up to the Stadium Glacier below the North Face of Sky Pilot before dropping back down the gully to treeline. Both courses will then climb up to the top of “Cleavage Col” before dropping down to the low saddle between Sky Pilot and Habrich.
From here, the Short course will descend the main gully “Home Run” back to the road and the Start/Finish area. The short course will aim to cover approximately 900m of elevation gain.
The Long course will drop off the far side of the saddle into the Ledge Basin before climbing up to the high point of the ridge between Habrich and Sky Pilot. The final descent will drop down the large south facing “Exit Gully” and then continuing down the road to the Start/Finish area.
We will do OUR BEST to follow this route. If avalanche conditions dictate a change of course, this will be communicated to athletes via email (based on registration), through our event Facebook Page, and at the pre-race meeting. Please do follow these resources during the lead-up to the race and don’t be surprised by any changes. We will be sending out updates whenever possible!
Athletes are encouraged to register to ensure they receive all race communications!
- Final race course announced via social media, email blast, and website by 7pm.
- Registration closes.
- 8:15am – MANDATORY pre-race meeting at S2SG Basecamp Cafe.
- 9:00am – Racers begin uploading S2SG and skinning out to start area.
- 10:45am – Start corral opens. Beacon checks begin.
- 11:00am – Elite Race Start
- 11:05am – Recreational Race Start
- 1:00pm – Elite Course cutoff time.
- 2:00pm – All racers finished.
- 4:00pm – Post race party and awards.
- Avalanche delay date. Same schedule as Saturday.
CAN I DO THIS?
This course will be challenging for all participants and while it intended for first time racers, it is NOT a good time for someones first time on backcountry skis. Racers in both courses will experience very challenging skin tracks (on the ascent) that will be frustrating for beginner ski tourers. The descents will range from open alpine bowls to tight trees in steep chutes. If you cannot execute a turn in close proximity to trees OR are unable to sideslip around obstacles, this race is not for you. The Exit Gully in the Long course is an extremely steep chute with a wind blasted entrance. If you are comfortable dropping into Couloir Extreme on Blackcomb Mountain, you should find this reasonable. Depending on the condition of the entrance to the chute, a hand line may be fixed in place to assist athletes down the steepest section.
Because of time limitations for both volunteers (we don’t want them to freeze) and the S2SG (the last download of the evening is at 6:00pm), we will have strict time cutoffs that ensure all athletes have returned to the finish line within three hours. For athletes registered in the Long Course, if you reach the cutoff point (announced at pre-race meeting) beyond that time, you will be directed to continue via the short course and included in those results.
What if the weather sucks or avi conditions are bad?
We’re going to do everything in our power to make this race happen. That being said, the nature of the event makes it very susceptible to weather and conditions. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:
- If the avalanche danger in the South Coast region is “High” or “Extreme”, the race will be delayed (to March 11th) or cancelled.
- In the days leading up to the event, our organizers will be preparing the course with our guide team who is responsible for ensuring competitor safety. They will be forecasting avalanche risk throughout the course on specific features. If certain terrain features are deemed unsafe, the course may be changed or cancelled (EVEN if the avalanche is not High or Extreme).
- We are blessed with butt-loads of snow on the South Coast. With that blessing comes the curse of occasionally high freezing levels and rain. The course is at risk from rain opening up creeks and other issues that might make the course nearly impassable. If that happens, we may be forced to cancel. If it’s pouring rain during the race, we may delay or cancel. If it rains and then everything freezes rock hard, we may delay or cancel.
- By registering, you acknowledge that all this is a possibility!
You might be getting the idea that there’s a lot that could go wrong. We’ve got plans in place to deal with bad conditions but if safety becomes an issue, we’re not taking any risks. We will be VERY communicative via race social media/email list/website about any anticipated issues so you won’t be surprised. It’s the event’s first year so bear with us and let’s make it rad!