Monday, December 3, 2012

Summer 2012

It's been awhile since I've updated this page. I hope to be more prompt this Winter and from now on, enjoy. The summer of 2012 included some nice trail runs, new territory, new friends, and new peaks.
Now, Winter is approaching and we are all waiting for the big storm to paste the mountains with some good powder.
The 2012 ski mountaineering season is knocking at the door, so let's hope for a great winter for all.
Included are a few pictures from this summer 2012
As well as couple pics from today's ski tour on Teton Pass, WY 12/03/12

Bella dog

Green River, Utah
Award tiles

Play Play Play

Moving fast in the Tetons

Friends in the mountains

Faithful companion

Pike's Peak Ascent 2012

Mt. Wheeler, Top of New Mexico 2012

Le French

Top of Colorado - Mt. Elbert 2012

Great Salt Lake

Another dog shot - today 12/03/12 on Teton Pass

Bella reflection on Spiral Jetty

Today on Teton Passs 12/03/12

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday morning ski tour

April 15 Snow, bike, skis....check

Sunday sunrise

Spring Sunday ski touring

Friday, April 6, 2012

Grand Traverse

Elk Mountain Grand Traverse  
March 29-30 2012

The Grand Traverse is a backcountry ski race from the towns of Crested Butte to Aspen. The course covers 41 miles and about 7,800 of vertical feet of ascent on skis. This year’s event was the 15th annual for this prestigious race.
I had heard about this race, but this was to be my first time. This race was different to me in many ways including a Start time of , 41 miles, 8 hours, team’s race, a section of dirt, and navigating at night.

Gunnison, Colorado

The Start time meant several things. Little sleep for most racers, if any. Racing at night.
A good head-lamp and some warm mittens were high on my list to attain. The race had a mandatory gear list, so each racer had a good size load to carry as well.
I teamed up with Scott Simmons from Durango, Colorado. Scott is a good friend and one of the top skimo racers. I believe we agreed to do this race while we worked together (and skied most mornings) on his roof for 2 weeks last year. Scott has skied well all year and was in peak form. We signed up and met in CB.

Bella and me taking a break from "roofing" with Scott Simmons in Durango, CO last year

As the last light of day faded away over Crested Butte, racers did their final adjustments or tried to sleep/rest. Head-lamps of 150 teams were shimmering, reflecting, and illuminating the Starting Line. An awesome spotlight lit the Guide’s Ridge far above and distant as we waited for the gates to drop. Off we went. Scott and I had good position early and we skied a good race throughout the night and into the morning. Scott was the stronger of the two of us and had also participated in this event once before. Therefore, he would lead and I would follow him and try to keep pace. “Expect the unexpected”, is what I was told by friend and veteran/former winner Grand Traverse racer Bryan Wickenhauser. In a nutshell, he nailed it. This year’s course featured an initial climb on skins, followed by a quick downhill to a river crossing. A make-shift bridge was in place and we tentatively crossed the creek. Scott was 2nd across and I was right behind him. Next, we changed to tennis shoes, which was awkward, and loaded our skis and boots on our packs and took off running into the night’s sagebrush.
This transition scattered racers for a bit. I fell a few times in the breakable snow while jogging and tried not to damage any race gear. Finally, we dawned our skis and skins. We skinned across open sections of dirt to the next sections of snow. We ran with gear in hands in other sections later on the course, due to low snow. The stars lit heavenly above us in the near perfect weather conditions as we in tandem skinned across the mountains. The dancing lights skiing across the backcountry was an amazing sight. After the half way point, we saw few skiers and were mostly on our own with glimpses of lights ahead. It was still dark when we arrived at the last hut and check-point. It was the Bernard hut and aid station and it included a mandatory 10 minute stop. We arrived to find second place only 3 minutes ahead of us. We left the hut and skied the final 7 miles to the top of Aspen Mountain. A spectacular alpen-glow welcomed us to Aspen. We then skied a few thousand feet to the bottom and through the Finish line taking 3rd place. The winning team was Bryan Wickenhauser and Brian Smith of Gunnison, Colorado. Second place was claimed by Pat O’Neil and Marshal Thompson. There were many great performances both men and women.
Scott Simmons, Chris Kroger

The Grand Traverse was a great race through the night. I would like to thank Scott Simmons for teaming up on this race. He put in a super strong performance and was calm and cool the entire race.
Finish in Aspen, CO.
Many great times in Crested Butte and Aspen and thanks to all who helped with generous lodging-hospitality and in attaining gear for this race, including: Bryan Wickenhauser, Janelle/Mark Smiley, Jess (Aspen), Jeff Burke, Reed Finley, and Keith Cozzens.

Family man and Winner (w Brian Smith)
Bryan Wickenhauser in the know in Gunnison, CO.

La Sportiva RSR skis
La Sportiva RSR race skins
Princeton Tec Headlamps: Apex and Byte



Saturday, February 18, 2012

Chris Kroger: Powder tour
Ski Mountaineering 2012 Results and Calendar

January 7  Jackson Hole, WY.                U.S. National Championships         11th
January 8  Grand Targhee, WY.                         Grand Targhee Classic          6th
January 29  Crested Butte, CO.           North American Championships         14th
February 11  Vail, CO            Teva Games  - Ski Mountaineering Race         10th
February 12  Vail, CO       Teva Games -  Ultimate Mountain Challenge            7th

Upoming Races 2012 

February 25  Bozeman, MT                                                  Skin to Win
March 10    Brighton, UT                                                       Powderkeg
Marh 30  Crested ButteAspen, CO           Elk Mountain Grand Traverse

Other Races 2012

February 10 Vail. CO                    Teva Games – 10k Nordic Freestyle           26th
February 12  Vail, CO                          Teva Games - Vail Uphill (Run)           19th

cold smoke...


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Teva Games, Vail Colorado

Teva Games, Vail CO Ultimate Mountain Challenge

Luke Nelson, Jared Inoye, Sari Anderson, Janelle Smiley, Chris Kroger
The Ultimate Mountain Challenge , UMC, was the title of the race and the venue followed three different events.

Day 1 – 10k Nordic Freestyle ski

I borrowed some skate gear for this race, which was a tough process. But, friends stepped it up and loaned out some of their top gear. I was thankful. I hadn’t Nordic skate skied in many years. So, I knew this could go good or bad. At the Starting area I met with friends and I quickly became informed and saw that some of the other ski mountaineers hadn’t spent much time on Nordic gear either. Now, I figured, with some past experience, that I would fair pretty well. The Teva games make it possible for amateur athletes to compete against some of the world’s finest pro athletes. I put my skis in the fifth row where the ski mountaineers looked happy, but a bit out of place. The gun sounded, I wanted a decent start without incident. I rallied a bit and hooked onto the tails of a Nordie and felt the pace was good so I locked in. After 2k, I looked ahead and saw the next group of skiers, 100 meters away…should I go for it? Or wait? I knew some of the skimo athletes were behind me, so I waited. A small pack of us formed and I was in second amongst us. The pace was good, but not quite fast enough, however, we caught a few skiers. And we were now well into the race. I saw the 7k mark and felt I had energy to pass. I went for the pass and my outside ski caught some different temperature snow and seemed to grab it. I made it around our pacer, but was suddenly winded and faced a hill-climb. Bad timing, I should have made the move on the hill. I was passed soon by not only the pacer but a few of the trailers. I stayed with it and got back into rhythm and managed to pass another fast racer just past the 9k marker and sprinted to the finish to hold my place. The race went good considering I hadn’t Nordic skied in years. Wax plays a huge roll in this sport, my wax was good, but not super-uber fast.
Which is the front and back...
Day 2 – Ski Mountaineering

The highly anticipated ski mountaineering race was next on the venue. All the good skimo friends were down in Vail and ready to rally. I was told the day before to expect a long race, and I was also very nicely given a heads up from Sari Anderson that it would be a long course, as she had previewed the course the week before. Much thanks.
The Start line was huge with about 146 entrants. This time, I wanted the front row. I took stage right and the day was perfect for racing. Bang! And the race was on, the pace went out fast and I stayed behind Luke and then moved over behind Wick to pace. I knew it was a long race and did not want to loose this lead group. It was going to be a challenge to stay with them, though I have been feeling a bit stronger lately and was going to give it a try. As we made the first turn, Sully, went by me and made the lead pack. I was just hanging on the back. As we went into the trees, I got bucked off the back and was falling off the lead group slightly. They were pulling hard in the front trying to gap people early. I heard Sully yell down to me from a swithback above – “ here we go again Kroger!”, it was Sully. I had formally met him in CB a few weeks ago. Briefly and quickly, we knew we got along. We had dualed it out the day before and I had passed him with 1k to go and held him off. He had held onto the lead group and was encouraging me to catch back up.
There were two racers behind me a few switchbacks, it was Kloser and Jan Koles. I held my own to the top and stripped skins and headed downhill solo. I was already in ‘no-mans’ land, racing alone – not ideal. You can often push harder or work together if someone is close to you. On the downhill I passed Jon Brown and then I crashed in some powder as I saw a tree laying across the trail in front of me, ugh. I re-grouped, cleaned my glasses off, looked at my skis and then was off again. At the transition for the second climb, my skis must have had slow wax, as two skiers went flying by with glide as I halted to a stop. I did my transition and heard Jon Brown pull in behind me. I skinned around the turn and saw Kloser and Koles putting skins on. I hurried to be ahead of them. I stayed ahead until a steeper climbing section. I looked back and saw Kloser, JB, and Koles only a switchback behind. Kloser got by me here as well as JB. I quickly regained and passed JB. Ahead was some relatively flat skiing, so I pushed it for some time trying to gap and perhaps make some time on leaders. I couldn’t see Kloser anymore -  he was rallying. A quick look back revealed nobody in sight behind me. The second downhill was a bumpy awkward ski through the woods and I got off track for a bit. At the bottom of the third climb, I heard the gate-keeper say Kloser is 2 minutes ahead. I was fluid here initially, but would soon hit the sun and feel some Bonk! It was the last major climb I was looking ahead to see if there were any racers falling off the lead – it looked like I could see a few amongst the skiers ahead. I kept a steady pace, but 2/3 of the way up the climb, I was feeling some hurt. I had not drank enough water and started too late to try and catch up with that. I ate some food and slowed for a bit. But the end was near. I kept going and flew down the next downhill looking sharply for pin flags to lead the way. I reached the final bootpack completely blown apart now. I needed fuel and energy. I ate more fuel and felt like I stumbeled up the muddy boot-pack. I felt slow here. The final descent was just ahead and it felt good to have gravity pull me downhill to the Finish. It had been a good race, I had skied better than previous races. Better hydration and timely fueling are key for long races and I will keep that in the memory bank.
Final stretch of flats: Chris Kroger and Jon Brown
Day 3  Vail Uphill

The Vail Uphill is a 2,200 foot ascent from Vail village to the top of the Gondola on a groomed ski run. The length was reported at about 2.0 miles. There was an option to Run or Ski up the mountain. I wanted to ski. And I like short vertical ski races. I actually arrived ready to ski, but changed my boots to running shoes and crampons just 30 minutes before the race – yikes. I looked over the UMC friends and they were mostly running. I had not run since the Fall, but was game for the challenge. I put on the mini-crampons for the first time and jogged around. Luke jogged by, smiled and said ‘try turning those around’…he had loaned them to me and I was a total rookie putting them on backwards. We both laughed. I thought ski poles would be an advantage, but have never compared times with and without. I looked to see most not using their poles. I went without as well, though next time I would bring them if I ran. I fancied the second row for this Start. Quickly, the leaders were running out ahead and fast. I managed a steady pace and looked ahead and watched the leaders race up the mountain. There were over 150 racers at the start, and I was going to rally up the hill with fellow ski mountaineer and friend Jon Brown. He passed me on the lower slopes, but I stayed close and we ran together the rest of the way. I passed him again after the half way marker and managed to stay just ahead, both of us ran quickly down the long final flat section to the Finish. The Vail uphill was another great race and also ended the UMC. 

Sunrise and Finish Line

Scott Simmons, one of the top skimo athletes, will be my partner in the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Teva Winter Games

7th place Ultimate Mountain Challenge

Vail, Colorado February 10-12, 2012

'Classic' bus ride in Vail, CO.

The Teva Mountain Winter Games was host to many winter extreme venues. The, UMC, Ultimate Mountain Challenge was a venue that was targeted to ski mountaineers and snowy mountain enthusiasts to test their range of skills over three consecutive days.
The UMC race featured most of the finest ski mountaineering athletes in the country. The three day event consisted of three different races:

Day 1          Feb10          Nordic  10k Freestyle
Day 2          Feb11          Ski Mountaineering Race  18 miles, 10,000 vertical
Day 3         Feb 12          Vail Uphill  2.0 miles and 2,200 vertical (Run or Nordic)

The UMC three day event featured approximately 26.6 miles of length and included 12,300 feet of vertical gain. The event tested a wide variety of skills – more details  hopefully later this week.

The Ski Mountaineering Race drew the largest gathering in the United States ever with 146 racers starting the event.
The Vail Uphill/ Run also drew a huge crowd with about 167 racers
The Nordic event had 70 athletes at the start with many well known names.
Racers included many former and current Olympians and many National Champions in various sports.
After the three days of incredible skiing I finished the Ultimate Mountain Challenge in 7th place overall.
The winner of the UMC was Brian Smith from Gunnison, Colorado. The women’s UMC winner was the always cheerful Sari Anderson from Carbondale, Colorado. Congratulations to both their great performances.

The winning Overall time was 5 hours 12minutes 29 seconds
I finished 7th in which was 15 minutes and 12 seconds back of first place.


Results Ultimate Mountain Challenge

Results Nordic 10k Freestyle

Results Ski Mountaineering

Results Vail Uphill

Pictures: Hope for more soon.
I will try to get a short write up as well in the next few days about the races.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

North American Ski Mountaineering Championships - Individual

ISMF Ski Mountaineering Race 1/29/2012
Crested Butte, Colorado

The Individual ski mountaineering race was the highly anticipated showdown of the top ski mountaineering racers in North America. Our friends the Canadians came down to Colorado looking to ski well and for podium positions.
In brief, the initial skinning climbed about 1,700 feet which was followed by an approximately 700 foot Class 5 Ridge to the summit of Peak 12,128. The arĂȘte had fixed ropes the entire length and was called the Guide’s Ridge or The Peel Ridge. Next, was an awesome run down the back of the Peak; then we skied and skinned two laps on the upper mountain. The race ended with a fast ski to the bottom.
The North American Championships Final Results were:

MEN                                                           WOMEN

Manfred Reichegger   (Italy)                  
Lorenzo Holznecht     (Italy)                  
  1. Reiner Thoni   CAN                    1.  Janelle Smiley   USA
  2. Luke Nelson    USA                    2.  Sari Anderson   USA
  3. Jason Dorias    USA                    3.  Stevie Kremer   USA

Congratulations to the 2012 North American Ski Mountaineering Champions Janelle Smiley and Reiner Thoni. And great performances to all the podium winners.

A quick re-cap of my race from my view: I usually take to the front row, but it looked crowded up there and I was happy in the second row. I was ready in the morning, but could have been more dialed in. The race alarm sounded 1 minute and we stood anxiously waiting to get our race on. The initial pull up the mountain was the expected quick wave. I had a pretty good start and kept ahead of some of the eventual top ten. I got to the ridge seconds before a big wave of racers came stomping in. My transition to the via-ferrata was pathetic; I got my skis on my pack quickly but could not get my poles behind my backpack. My poles were getting jammed in my hoody each time I tried to stuff them. Luckily, Sari Anderson saw my troubles and came to my aid. With all the commotion around, I remember her saying ‘what are you doing Kroger? She graciously came over and in one move cleared my hood and stuffed my poles behind my pack. I was slow at this transition and was passed by many racers who made the top ten. The ridge was great. I like mountaineering, so this was awesome. I felt no exposure and felt very comfortable on the arĂȘte. At the top we ran off the backside of the peak until we could get back into our skis. We next skied and skinned two laps on the upper mountain before the final downhill and skate to the finish.
It was good to see all the smiles at the Finish. After the two days of racing I finished 14th after the combined times at the 2012 North American Championships.
It was great to see all the good friends from around North America in Crested Butte.
I am still looking for a little more speed and efficiency out there on course and hope to put a dandy together in a race soon.

I had to work the next day back in Jackson, so I unfortunately had to get on the road immediately after the race. I said some quick good-byes and rallied home by 11:10 P.M..