Fifty Ways To Tame the Catamount– Sunday March 14, 2010
By Jim Fredericks, Catamount Trail Director
Despite the warm temperatures, threatening rain, and ominous dark clouds, fifty ambitious skiers braved the unknown to tame the Catamount at the 3rd Annual Backcountry Challenge Race and Tour. With temperatures in the low forties, 30 recreational participants and 20 competitive racers started the 17 km trek from the Trapp Family Lodge to Bolton Valley Nordic Center on one of the most popular sections of the 300-mile Catamount Trail.
Corn snow and soft forgiving conditions narrowed the guesswork for participants strategizing what equipment, wax, and accessories to use on this demanding course. Even with Bolton Mountain socked in by a heavy layer of clouds and looming steel blue skies overhead, participants’ spirits were not dampened by the adventure that lay ahead. As it turned out, about half the participants escaped the impending rain and occasional snow pellets soaking some of the later skiers.
Ninety minutes after the recreation skiers debarked on their journey, an energetic field of twenty competitive racers charged out of the start vying for the top positions on the podium or just trying to improve on their previous year’s results. With a blistering pace out of the start, Eli Enman of Sleepy Hollow Ski and Bike Center led the charge followed closely by two-time champion Eric Tremble of Jericho and Catamount Trail Chief and Olympian Marc Gilbertson from Hyde Park. The steep 2300 ft vertical climb up Bolton Mountain interrupted many of the top competitors grueling pace as they applied their kicker skins to increase their climbing ability. Faced with the lack of skins and blessed with the forgiving softer snow conditions, Eli Enman lengthened his lead keeping up his uninterrupted pace over the mountain and setting a new course record of 1:31:02. Eric Tremble passed Gilbertson on the highest point of Catamount Trail after removing his kicker skins at the optimal time and securing his second place finish in 1:34:19 followed by Gilberston in third place time of 1:36:25.
In women’s field, Betsy Rickert of Stowe took an early lead easily outpacing second place finisher Ann Bushey of Montpelier by over 47 minutes to secure the win in 2:24:46. Third place went to Sandra Owen of Benson in her first attempt at taming the Catamount with a time of 3:32:11.
Following their heroic efforts over the grueling course, all participants were treated to a meal and over $2000 in raffle prizes and award donated by sponsors Outdoor Gear Exchange, Rossignol Ski Company, Darn Tough Socks, Seventh Generation and Silversmith Jewelry Design Company. A special thanks goes out Trapp Family Lodge, Bolton Valley, and Stowe Rescue for making this Catamount Trail Association event so successful.