The GORE-TEX® Grand Traverse is an unsupported backcountry ski race. The equipment racers carry into the backcountry is crucial. Each team must be independently prepared for a 24-hour bivouac. Due to the length of the course, varying conditions, and the number of racers, all participants must be prepared to be self-supporting in any and all situations.
The Mandatory Equipment below will be checked during the Gear Check process of Athlete Clearance on Thursday or Friday. For important information about gear check, see the Athlete Clearance page. Both team members must be present during this process for teams to be cleared.
Random gear checks will occur prior to the race start and the top 5 teams finishing in each category (Men, Women, Co-Ed), and other teams chosen randomly, will have their gear checked at the finish.
This is a self-supported race. Racers will be disqualified if they accept outside support. If racers lose their equipment, they cannot rely on other racers or organizers and volunteers to find it. They must find it themselves, or quit the race.
Important Gear Considerations:
The race travels more than 40 miles, beginning in the dark, through alpine terrain following an un-groomed route. Teammates must be capable of erecting a temporary shelter in minutes. Light gear may enable racers to travel faster, but it is more prone to failure. If racers break their gear, they must fix it. The race will not provide evacuations for racers with broken gear. Most importantly, the following list is the essentials required on course, however racers should exercise their own backcountry sense as to what supplementary gear they may wish to carry.
Individual Gear – EACH PARTICIPANT must carry this gear:
Participants should pre-purchase a CORSAR (Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue) card at the Colorado Department of Local Affairs website. Participants with a valid hunting/fishing license, boat, snowmobile or ATV registration are already covered by the fund. Racers must provide proof at gear check.
Skis – Skis of any type can be used. Minimum length of 150cm. At least 3/4 length metal edges strongly recommended. No snowboard splitboard systems permitted.
Boots – Commercially manufactured boot with over the ankle cuffs at least 15cm tall, measured from the heel sole. Boots must be compatible with bindings, designed for un-groomed backcountry terrain. THIS IS NOT A NORDIC SKI RACE!
Bindings – Skis must be fitted with bindings that allow free movement of the heels for ascending. Bindings must accommodate aski retention suitable for ski area use. Note: The use of a ski retention system (leashes) is mandatory on Aspen Mountain. Each racer’s ski retention system will be checked at the top of Aspen Mountain before racers are allowed to enter the ski area and descend to the finish.
Poles – 2 alpine or cross-country ski poles. A broken pole seriously impairs a team’s travel and many teams carry a spare pole.
Climbing Skins – Good quality, cut to fit racer’s skis and freely fixable/removable. Skin failure can easily force a team out of the race and many racers carry extra pairs of skins and/or kick wax.
These items are the minimum to be worn or carried at all times regardless of weather. Racers should consider bringing/wearing more layers under most conditions. In prior years, temperatures have been as low as-20F and winds have exceeded 60mph during the race. The race course crosses several running streams where falling into water is possible, making a spare set of socks and clothing imperative.
Wind Shell – Jacket & Pants that are windproof and water resistant.
Neck & Face Protection – Neck gaiter, balaclava or Buff. Wind chills of -60F degrees have been calculated on the course.
Insulation – Jacket must be warm down or synthetic. Pants must be warm down, synthetic or heavyweight fleece. Each team must be independently prepared for a self-supported, 24-hour bivouac. These items are a critical part of your warmth strategy in the event of a bivouac.
Extra Base Layer – Non-cotton top and bottom. These are in addition to base layer worn at start.
Extra Socks – Non-cotton. This is in addition to socks worn at start.
Gloves – Racers must have at least two pairs of gloves or mittens. Temperatures can vary greatly during the race and most racers carry both lighter and heavier gloves or mittens to accommodate these extremes.
Eye & Skin Protection– Sunglasses, goggles and sunscreen
Pack – Sufficient to carry the following gear
Food and Water – Minimum 100 oz of water and food to sustain you for 24 hours
Note: Checkpoints MAY have limited water supplies and should be considered only supplementary! DO NOT rely on checkpoints for water! This is a backcountry race with limited support and racers MUST be prepared for a 24-hour bivouac.
Headlamp – Each racer must carry at least one headlamp. Back-up team headlamp and spare batteries are discussed under Repair Kit below.
Sleeping Pad – Minimum 20”x45”x1/2” with a minimum R-value of 2. Closed cell foam pads and inflatable pads with a patch kit are allowed. No yoga mats (too thin & cold). No open cell foam mats (absorb water)
Avalanche Transceiver – Avalanche transceivers must be worn (on the body and NOT in a pack) and “on” at ALL times during the race. Transceivers must be on the 457kHz frequency. A transceiver check will be completed at final check-in and at various points on-course. Failure to pass any transceiver check will result in disqualification. Participants are advised that newer transceivers are more accurate and more reliable. Units newer than 5 years old are strongly recommended.
Avalanche Shovel – Commercial quality, minimum blade size of 7.9”x7.9” (20x20cm). Minimum handle length of 13” (33cm).
Avalanche Probe – Commercial quality, dedicated probe pole required. This is not a ski pole! Minimum length of 7.5’ (230 cm).
Team Gear – The following items can be shared between two team members:
Emergency Shelter* – Two-person shelter. Brooks Range Ultralite Alpini Shelter 200 or the Terra Nova Bothy 2 Emergency Shelter are practical examples, but other brands of two-person shelters are allowed. A fly or “blue tarp” will not pass. In an emergency situation, it is strongly advised that teams stay put, set up the shelter and wait for support to arrive. NOTE the Shelter replaces the Bivy requirement of previous years.
Course Map – Teams must carry a waterproof map of the course. This is not provided by the race.
Emergency Plan – Teams must carry a copy of the Emergency Plan. The Emergency Plan is on the back of the medical card racers fill out at gear check. Racers receive these back at final beacon check.
Compass – No electronic compasses.
Altimeter* – Must be calibrated at race start.
Stove – Commercial quality stove must be capable of melting snow in sub zero temperatures. Solid fuel stoves (Esbit) are allowed. Teams may be required to demonstrate the ability to melt snow at gear check-in.
Fuel & Igniter - A full fuel container or eight solid fuel blocks. Matches and/or lighter to start stove. Propane (isobutane mix) is the recommended fuel as butane is not an appropriate fuel at below-freezing temperatures.
Pot with Lid – Minimum capacity 20 oz.
SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger* – Each team must carry a SPOT beacon and know how to use it. SPOT beacons may be owned or rented from Trackleaders at registration (Rental SPOT fee- $40 / Personal SPOT fee- $15). Rented units will be handed out during the beacon check at Mountaineer Square Friday night. Visit www.findmespot.com