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The Black Diamond Wasatch PowderKeg

The Black Diamond Wasatch PowderKeg

Travel
By Sam Bass
posted: 03/17/2006



FOURTH ANNUAL WASATCH POWDER KEG
Racing Course
Total Ascent: 5,413 feet
Total Descent: 5,102 feet
Total Distance: 8.4 miles
High Point: 10,545 feet
Low Point: 8,251 feet
Record Times: 1:33:08 (Men's, 2005), 1:56:07 (Women's, 2005)

Recreational Course (Not Shown)
Total Ascent: 3,550 feet
Total Descent: 3,352 feet
Total Distance: 5.8 miles
High Point: 10,545 feet
Low Point: 8,251 feet
Record Times: 1:20:46 (Men's, 2005), 1:44:16 (Women's, 2005)

Entry Fee: $55
Info: bdel.com/powderkeg

COLLINS CHECKPOINT (CP), ALTA
The race's first climb, nearly 2,000 feet in almost two miles, promises to pump lactic acid through your legs. On the flats before the checkpoint, admire faster climbers whizzing across the High Traverse (not shown) a good 20 minutes ahead of you-even though you started at the same time. Catch your breath, show your bib to checkpoint personnel, steady your legs, and tear off your skins.

GUNSIGHT CP, ALTA
Head across the High Traverse, a roller-coaster-like track that crosses the western face of Germania Ridge. At the break in the cliffs known as Gunsight Notch, plunge eastward into a tight, 35-degree couloir that opens up to a thigh-torching 1,400-foot descent that ends near Alta's Albion base area.

CAT HOUSE CP, ALTA
From the Gunsight descent, carry your speed across the flats and up the hill through Checkpoint 3, announcing your bib number as you pass. Keep your momentum as long as you can to shorten the upcoming climb. Stop, slap on skins, and start huffin'.

PATSY MARLEY CP, ALTA BACKCOUNTRY
Climb a graded cat track with tight switchbacks up 1,740 feet in just over two miles to Patsy Marley Peak. Summit, shed your skins, and drop the cornice. On the peak, wind can be high and visibility can be close to zero.

MICHIGAN CITY CP, ALTA BACKCOUNTRY
Tear down the wide-open north face of Patsy Marley, but beware the compression zone as you approach the trees-or be prepared for a hard fall over the handlebars. At the bottom, pass through Checkpoint 5 and apply your skins.

BLACK BESS CP, SOLITUDE BACKCOUNTRY
At 661 vertical feet, this final skin is not as long as the Collins or Patsy Marley climbs, but it'll feel that way-or worse. You'll de-skin just above the Honeycomb Cliffs and scurry along the ridge to the Comb Couloir, a narrow, 250-foot-long, 40-degree notch in the cliffs that drops you into Solitude Mountain Resort.

HONEYCOMB CANYON CP, SOLITUDE
Drop six feet off the cornice into Comb Couloir, and blaze straight down 600 vertical feet to the checkpoint. From there, strap your skis to your pack and hike 600 feet up a boot-pack that takes you through Hidden Couloir and back above the Honeycomb Cliffs.


TWIN LAKES CP, SOLITUDE BACKCOUNTRY
The hardest parts are over, so smile as you drop off Twin Lakes Pass toward Brighton Ski Resort. Carry your speed as far as possible before skating along the northern shore of the frozen reservoir. Pop over the dam at the lake's east end and onto the slopes of Brighton. You're nearly there.

THE FINISH
You can almost smell the burger grease from here, but the final descent is longer than it looks. Crest the final knoll, cross the finish line near Brighton's Millicent Lift, grab a Wasatch Beer, and line up for the barbecue.

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