The Friend’s Hut Field Team Race Day Dispatch

Dispatch #6 – Race Day updated and Race

 

Date: March 25-26, 2016

Location: Friend’s Hut, Race Course

Team: Ben Pritchett, Tom Schaefer, Megan Paden, Jake Beren, Geo Bullock, Kevin Krill, Lisa Merck, Paul Merck, Mitch Evans, Rob Wisebaum, Keith Bauer, Steve Jenison

 

Mission: Reassess the Course Situation. Consider Options. Set and man Final course.

Obs: After only one successful ski cut into the Crystal basin under Star Pass and sitting inside the Star Base Tent for the rest of the day the entire EMGT Route was in question, especially Star Pass. The Avalanche Team was unable to get any visuals below Star Passas the winds and snow kept up without any relenting. Every effort to venture outside of the tent was thwarted by the wind, snowfall and zero visibility. Geo and Kevin left the Tent at 3:30pm to ski cut the uphill route back to the Hut. The rest of the team made it back to the Hut at 6pm to report that they had no visibility up to this point.

After an hour of heavy debate with the entire EMGT staff it was decided that the race would be turned around at the Friend’s Hut due to rapidly deteriorating conditions and no way to ensure safety for the racers or staff. A book could be written about what the Teams and Base went through and discussed during this decision making process.

From this point forward all efforts were put into the Reverse as all resources were now needed on the CB side of the race. In a nut shell; Tom, Jake and Megan were dispatched to set the upper end of the track to the top of the Course at Porcupine Point. They left at 9pm. Keith and Steve were dispatched to set the down track and then the spur over Strand Hill They also left at 9pm or so, consequently leaving the sweep job unmanned. Ben and Geo left to set the Trail 400 portion of the approach to the Friend’s Hut. All returned aside from Keith and Steve to report near blizzard conditions and virtually zero visibility even with powerful headlamps. With alarms set for midnight again everyone got less than 2 hours of sleep before needing to depart for their placements on course by the time the first racers were due between 3 and 4 am.

At 3:10am I heard, “Tom, you have racers coming at you” over the radio. With staff barely in place and water just warm enough the racers started showing up at the Friend’s Hut. The first few hours during the migration of racers up the final push to Porcupine Point were gloriously filled with moonlight on the mountains. Headlamps were bobbing up and down and racers quietly congratulating themselves on achieving this point. Freedom Point at Twinkle Pass (aka Porcupine Point), the highest place on course became a mini party of dancing, singing, hugging, massaging, coughing, high fiving, meeting, farting, drinking and everything else that goes on as 500 racers de-skin to the encouragement of slap happy course workers.

As the clouds grew and it began to snow again lightly the morning gray started to lighten the sky. At 7am the racers were almost gone and we commenced to breakdown the areas and proceeded to get ready to clean up and go home.

 

Sign Out: Signing out from the Friend’s Hut with the race in the bag. All we gotta do now is clean the Hut, retrieve the repeater, take down Star Base, pack/eat the leftover food, pack up all of the race supplies including 12 water jugs, 2 dozen strobes, stoves, pots and the course markings. It’s not over yet.

 

“The Meeting”, deciding to send the Reverse:
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The first racers through the Friend’s Hut Checkpoint:
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The final push to Porcupine Point, the highest point on course. Star Peak in the background:
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Racers in the night.
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The light show above the Friend’s Hut on the uphill and skiing powder in the trees.
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Scenes from Friend’s Hut checkpoint
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