The Esplanade Epic -race report

What a great way to finish the season, with a small group of your friends, ripping around the Esplanade range eating up the vert.  The idea was to traverse a large section of Golden Alpine Holiday’s terrain from the sunrise hut to the vista hut over rolly-polly ridges, bowls and peaks.  The course was almost exclusively in the alpine and the terrain they have to work with is amazing.  The traverse usually takes groups 3-4 days but with fast and light gear it’s easy to do it in a fraction of that time.

After all the snowing and blowing last week, the GAH guides and volunteer staff  had their work cut out for them making sure the course was safe.   Upon arriving at the first cabin our guides had us practicing avalanche rescue techniques and briefing us on the weather/snow conditions.  Due to the later start of  the race and rapid day time warming the safety staff made the decision to eliminate the crux section to the last hut from the race.  In an effort to keep a healthy amount of vertical the course would now include two laps around the first lodge, Sunrise then over to Meadow and the finish line, bagging Cupola pk along the way. 

photo courtesy of Jefff Colvin

The race itself was fun, the late start, course change and hard effort at the Dash meant most of us slowed it down a bit and just enjoyed moving through the mountains quickly.  We got in tons of high fives, chatted with everyone along the way and actually enjoyed some good pow skiing in between sections of sastrugi and windpress.  Brandon and Reiner duked it out most of the race, Brandon got him at the end.  Colvin(3rd) and I(4th) finished together with Julie as the second female behind Melly B.

To ensure we all made it to the Vista hut safe and sound we travelled as a group with a guide and I think this part of the trip was my favorite.  Cooling off while listening to our hilarious guide trio, Tim, Nate and Brody banter, was awesome,  then to top it off Cody and Heidi kept the food rolling all night, chefing up a storm in the little kitchen.  All the Ops staff at GAH were really impressed with the race scene and what we do, and we’re all really grateful for their open-mindedness and vision. 

photo courtesy of Jeff Colvin

Great stuff, good show put on by GAH, sunburns all around and lots of ideas about ironing out the wrinkles for next year.  First completely off-piste race in Canada, I think things are heading in the right direction, it’s an exciting time to be involved in Canadian skimo.

For some pictures check out


5 Responses

  1. Good to hear you guys had a good race. Funny though, that Joal and I pulled out the morning of due to concerns about the latter portion of the race and the late day sun and GAH never communicated that the changes they made would be an option. Kind of made us feel a bit like pariahs really. The 12pm start had me a little concerned right from the get go in February. Maybe next year get everyone up at 5am and rolling for 10…..Just a thought.

  2. yah, the late start was something they recognised to change next year……. and there was certainly some wrinkles with communication between racers and organisers, mainly stemming from the fact that GAH had never put on a race before and didn’t understand completely the amount of setup, TIMING and flow of the races. With the amount of terrain they have at their disposal and all the “ah-ha’s” I heard, finding an appropriate, challenging course shouldn’t be a problem in the future.

  3. Glad all are safe. Looking at the topo and the blue ski I think they made a good call. Sounds like we missed a good day with the group-would have definetly been in for that. At least they were thinking what we were thinking.

    Teams is another idea for next year.

  4. Hello to all you, well done on the final race of the season, the weather and terrain looked wicked. I am also happy to hear that you were able to impress the GAH guides wiht all the newly aquired Euro Skills and tight suites. You all are pretty inspirational with the amount of work especially you Ian on this web site and planning of the golden races, etc.. You all worked extremly hard all season and i am happy to be able to Congragulate you on a very succesful 2009/10 season… It was a big year for all of you, esecially with the wedding and the world cup races.
    I also find the need to express my apologies for Billies absence, i know that she wanted to be there but it meant alot to me and my family that she was able to make it to my sisters wedding.

  5. Thanks for the kind words Aiden, we missed Bill up there but you were good enough to let us abduct her for a month in Europe so it’s only fair that you should get to spend some time with her…. 🙂

    Next year we should all head in there, hopefully the stability is a bit better and we can get’er done. If they do a teams race, you could harness Billie up and get her to drag you around. 🙂

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