Skiers plan Aspen to Vail backcountry trip
Twelve skiers and three guides will leave Aspen on Jan. 28 on the nearly 100-mile backcountry ski trip to Vail by connecting five 10th Mountain Division Association huts.
The tour, which honors 10th Mountain Division veteran and hut system founder Fritz Benedict, arrives in Vail on opening day of the FIS Alpine World Championships on Feb. 2.
“This trip celebrates the incredible spirit that created the original ‘Interconnect Ski’ from Aspen to Vail in 1989,” said Buck Elliott, founder and co-owner of Paragon Guides, which is leadng the six-day Benedict 100 backcountry ski trip.
The 1989 “Interconnect Ski” was a three-day ski marathon completed by 12 skiers who transferred the spirit of the 1950 championships in Aspen to those in Vail by relaying a symbolic Interconnect Flag that was presented by gold medal alpine skier Stein Eriksen at the opening ceremonies.
“With the Benedict 100, we re-enact the Interconnect route, and once again honor the history of alpine skiing by finishing our tour on opening day of the 2015 Championships,” said Elliott.
During the 2015 Benedict 100 event, participants will ski six days, covering from 11 to 18 miles each day as they travel between Margy’s, Betty Bear, Uncle Bud’s, Jackal and Shrine Mountain Inn huts.
“Days will be long, temperatures will be cold, we’ll have predawn starts, and — so long as there’s fresh snow — we’ll have plenty of trail to break,” says lead guide and Paragon Guides co-owner Will Elliott. “Fortunately, when we arrive at each hut, we’ll be welcomed by hut hosts who will make life a little easier for our crew. They make sure the hut is nice and warm and that there’s plenty of food and drink to recharge our batteries.”
As cellphone service allows, Paragon Guides and participants will post updates from the trail throughout the six-day journey to Paragon Guides’ Facebook page.
Each year, the Lions Club uses race proceeds from the FireKracker 4K race to provide eye examinations and eye glasses for those in the Roaring Fork Valley who are in need.
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