Power of Four is one hell of a skimo race. If you enjoy being surrounded by people in colorful spandex suits or smearing gels on your face as you bootpack up steep ridgelines or skiing fast down a single track mountain bike trail, this race is for you.
At the finish line, Scott Archer, a US National Skimo Team member told me that Power of Four is the hardest skimo race in the States. It is the US Nationals teams race, so racers complete the course in pairs as they vie for the national title.
The course, set and refined over the years by Cosmic Skimo, starts just before dawn at the base of Snowmass Ski Area and ends at the Gondola Plaza at Aspen Mountain. It is a burly 24 miles with 10-11K of vertical climbing, depending on whose watch was counting.
After climbing up the east flank of Snowmass, skiers traverse from Burnt Mountain to Buttermilk Mountain, where they rage on a fast inbounds run down to a quick trot on the bike path to Aspen Highlands. Teams climb straight up Highlands, on and then off-piste, towards the legendary Highlands Bowl.
When avalanche conditions permit, the race heads up Highlands Bowl, the climax of the race. Top finishers can make the climb in under 17 minutes. The bootpack is nearly a mile with 850 vertical feet, skis on packs. Max Taam and John Gaston, who have won the race now five years straight, packed up highlands bowl in 16:54 in 2020 with a finishing time of 4:28:37. Most racers finish in over 6 hours.
After the fun of Highlands Bowl, racers traverse in-bounds until they drop into the Congo Trail, a harrowing two mile, 2,000 vertical foot descent down single track mountain bike trail where catching an edge nearly anywhere could lead to a fast finish against a tree.
After the thrills of the Congo Trail, the race proceeds for a five mile and 3,000 foot ascent up the Midnight Mine Road before competitors plunge towards the finish through some steep tree runs on Aspen Mountain.
If your legs are still functional once you cross the finish line into Gondola Plaza, you can enjoy a beer, music and some food. If you wore your Gucci spandex suit, Dolce & Gabbana windbreaker, and Prada ski boots, you will fit right in, since you’ve just landed in downtown Aspen, Colorado.
For the 2020 race, finishers were lucky enough to see Shaq (AKA DJ Diesel) spin some tracks at The Little Nell after the race.
If you like skiing and suffering uphill, but not quite enough to climb all four Aspen Snowmass mountains, then you can race in Power of Two, which sends you up the course starting at the base of Aspen Highlands.
You can find more information about the race here.
I hope you enjoyed the first Animus Endurance race report. Please leave your comments and questions, or email us at AnimusEndurance@gmail.com.