North America’s Extraordinary Backcountry Ski Race

The Elk Mountains Grand Traverse was conceived by Jan Runge in the 1990’s.  The race’s genesis was partially based on the historical mail routes that connected the Colorado mining towns of Crested Butte and Aspen in the 1880s.  It also drew inspiration from the Patrouille des Glaciers, a point-to-point ski race in Switzerland which Runge had become familiar with in the 80’s.  In 1998, with the help of the community, Runge gave it a shot, sending a brave field of competitors from Crested Butte, over the Elk Mountains, to Aspen.  It worked, and the Extraordinary Backcountry Ski Race was born.

New Ownership

In 2012, event ownership was transferred to The Crested Butte Nordic Council, a nonprofit nordic ski area that provides 50km of cross country ski and snowshoe trails around Crested Butte.  The race is now a major fundraiser for the organization.

The Summer Grand Traverse

For over a decade, the idea of a “Summer Grand Traverse” circulated.  Finally, in 2013 CB Nordic began to organize the first ever Summer version of the event.  The event was canceled that year due to low participation numbers.  In 2014, they gave it another shot and successfully sent a field of Mountain Bikers and Runners to Aspen.  The following year, the Summer GT was broken up into two events, the Grand Traverse Mountain Run, from Crested Butte to Aspen, and the Grand Traverse Mountain Bike, returning the following day from Aspen to Crested Butte.  The two events were an immediate hit and it became apparent that they hold the same allure as their skiing counterpart.

The Grand Traverse Triple Crown

With the addition of the Run and the Bike in 2015, it became possible for competitors to do all three events.  That year, the Grand Traverse Triple Crown Competition was born when a handful of athletes Skied, Ran, and Biked between Crested Butte and Aspen for the fastest cumulative time.  A culmination of the evolution of the Grand Traverse, the GT Triple Crown has established itself as the Ultimate Competition for the Ultimate Mountain Athlete.