Friday, April 1, 2011

Shaking and baking in the backcountry

Krankkala, Pletcher in Grand Traverse

Scott Krankkala and Reid Pletcher during the March 25-26 Elk Mountain Grand Trav-erse in Colorado. Courtesy photo

Scott Krankkala and Reid Pletcher, both from Hailey, completed the 14th annual Elk Mountain Grand Traverse—a grueling 40-mile backcountry ski race over the Elk Moun-tains between Crested Butte and Aspen, Colo. March 25-26.

Competing as the "Shake and Bake" team, Krankkala and Pletcher finished in nine hours and 58 minutes, placing 12th overall and first in their Men's 18-24 age category. The winning team, Travis Scheefer and Ethan Passant of Alpine Orthopaedics, clocked 9.14:50.

The race is limited to 130 teams and starts at midnight in Crested Butte. This year's event was complicated with 10 inches of new snow before the race start but fortunately fin-ished under clear skies in As-pen.

Krankkala is a junior at Western State College in Gun-nison, Colo. This was his sec-ond Grand Traverse. Pletcher is a junior at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He re-cently won the 20-kilometer classic cross-country ski race at the NCAA Nationals.

The Grand Traverse is based on the tradition of mail routes that connected the Colorado mining towns of Crested Butte and Aspen in the 1880s. The 40-mile course starts at 9,000 feet in Crested Butte, takes skiers through Mt. Crested Butte Ski Resort, over two mountain passes and finishes in the city of Aspen at the base of the As-pen skiing mountain.

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