The Elk MGT was conceived by a few individuals who loved traveling in the back country. The idea was 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 Crested Butte Mountain Resort, over two mountain passes and to a finish at the base of the Aspen Mountain.
Typically, the race starts at midnight so entrants reach the high point of Star Pass (12,303 feet) before the warmth of the day increases avalanche risk. Because of the remote route through the Elk Mountains, each team of two is required to carry enough food and supplies to sustain themselves for 24 hours. Before the start of the race the team packs will be checked to be sure all essential gear is present including shelters, stove, fuel, avalanche beacons and rescue gear, first aid and repair kits etc. The Grand Traverse is a true test of endurance that keeps racers returning year after year.
Since it’s inception, the race has been a fundraiser benefiting Crested Butte Nordic. To learn more about the Crested Butte Nordic, non-profit organization, please visit www.cbnordic.org
Traditional Pre-Start Prayer
The Blessing of the Freeheelers
by Rev. Tim Clark
O creator of these soaring snow clad summits, we invoke your protection of these beloved brethren in their tremendous endeavor of courage and fortitude.
Blessed be thou great and glorious travelers of the night!
Blessed be thy race, and blessed be thy flight!
Bless ye two together as a team, bless thou thy boards, thy poles, and headlight gleam!
Blessed be thou GU gobbling free heeled skinny skiers;
May thy kick be strong and thy glide be long!
Blessed be thou when the winds doth shriek, flinging the spindrift from the peak!
Blessed be ye when the dark night shrouds, and the moon doth hide behind the clouds!
Blessed you are and blessed you’ll remain, though we come to worship the church of pain!
Now bless ye one another as we glide into the morn,
Let the racers give voice, a great day is now born!