Winter Racing across the Ridge in Bridger Bowl’s Skin to Win Race

For those that just do not get enough of racing across the crest of the Bridger Range, there is a winter ski race at Bridger Bowl called the Skin to Win. This past week saw many former Bridger Ridge Run competitors strap on ski gear to race up to the Ridge above Bridger Bowl, traverse along the Ridge above Bridger Bowl and then of course back down.

Nikki Kimball, the only woman to have run the Ridge in under 4 hours finished 2nd in the Skin to Win. This was against some strong international competition. Lately, Nikki has been honing her ski mountaineering skills and dialing in her equipment. A couple weeks ago, Nikki was crowned Queen of the Ridge for doing the most climbs up to the Ridge from the top of the Bridger Lift and skiing back down. She did 27 laps in the 5 hours. The climb is 400 feet, so that translates to nearly 11,000 feet of climbing in 5 hours carrying ski gear! This type of activity may not do much for your running speed, but it sure builds strength and endurance. Witnessing Nikki in the Skin to Win, it becomes quickly apparent just what a world class athlete she is.

For Mike Wolfe, the second fastest person to ever do the Ridge Run, it was his first experience at ski mountaineering racing. I’m not sure how he did. Doing well in ski mountaineering races, requires some very specialized equipment and some specific training tailored for the sport. Having great endurance, strength and aerobic capacity sure helps, but success at ski mountaineering racing requires much more such as skiing skills, equipment and technique. Similar to triathlons, a lot of time can be lost in the transition from skinning to boot packing to skiing as you take off and put back on your skis and skins.

For this year’s Skin to Win, the day started off nice enough with sunrise illuminating the Bridgers with alpenglow. By the time of the start it was already thickly overcast. And when most had reached the Ridge crest, the wind was blowing and the snow had started. This quickly deteriorated into a complete whiteout and competitors had to find their way along the Ridge by sense of feel.

Alpen Glow Sunrise on Bridger Ridge before Skin to Win Race

Alpen Glow Sunrise on Bridger Ridge before Skin to Win Race

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Skin to Win Rec Division Lining Up for Lemans Start

Skin to Win Rec Division Lining Up for Lemans Start

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Skinning up the Cat Track above the North Bowl

Skinning up the Cat Track above the North Bowl

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Transitioning from Skinning to Boot Packing at the top of the Bridger Lift

Transitioning from Skinning to Boot Packing at the top of the Bridger Lift

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Boot Packing Up to the Top of the Ridge

Boot Packing Up to the Top of the Ridge

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Fixed Rope Climb Above Z Chute along the Ridge

Fixed Rope Climb Above Z Chute along the Ridge

Next year, consider the Skin to Win race if you are looking for a chance to race across part of the Ridge in the winter months. I didn’t get any pictures beyond the fixed rope as the weather deteriorated severally. My camera got plastered with rime ice and my attitude went from enjoying myself to just surviving the miserable conditions.

Here are the results on the Bridger Bowl website.

Also other participant’s write up and also here.

 

After the Skin to Win. Glad thats over!

After surviving the Skin to Win. Glad thats over!

 

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Exhausted Hanging out with 2 year old after the Skin to Win

Exhausted Hanging out with 2 year old after the Skin to Win

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Skiing With Grand Daughter after Skin to Win

Skiing With Grand Daughter after Skin to Win

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About Bridger Ridge Run

The Bridger Ridge Run blog is an information portal for all those seeking to learn more about the Bridger Ridge Run event held every second Saturday of August in Bozeman Montana. This blog contains notifications about important registration dates and deadlines, history of the event, training advice and other stories and entertaining tidbits of information about the Bridger Ridge Run.
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6 Responses to Winter Racing across the Ridge in Bridger Bowl’s Skin to Win Race

  1. I cant find anything about the JBTR anywhere. Are they not having it this year. It would be fun to enter both the Old Gabe and the JBTR again. I already entered the 50K Old Gabe. Last year they were both on the same day! So you couldn’t do both.

  2. Anonymous says:

    A good way to start training for the Ridge could be to enter the Old Gabe. It is very hard and early in the year. It will remind you of how much more you need to train for the Ridge. Also as far as I know you can always get into it. No lottery!

    • Thanks for the comment and suggestion regarding using the Jim Bridger 25K or 50K (Old Gabe) as a fitness assessment. There is also the Jim Bridger 10 mile at about the same time of the year.

      Yes, getting in shape for the Jim Bridger races that occur in late June helps ensure you will be in shape for the Ridge Run in mid-August. The terrain for the Jim Bridger races is not as rocky as runners encounter on the Ridge, but there are still plenty of steep ups and downs. And it is in the Bridger range, so it helps acquaint you with the Bridger mountains.

      The Jim Bridger 10 mile is put on by the Bridger Ski Foundation. http://www.bridgerskifoundation.org/nordic/

      For information about the Old Gabe:

      http://www.math.montana.edu/~thayes/Runs/Gabe/OGRaceinfo.html

      Hopefully this year’s warmer drier winter will be conducive to using the original route that sojourns through the Bostwick canyons. The race director tends to be a little timid and safety oriented. Many times in the past he has rerouted the course to avoid snow and mud that lingers in the Bostwick canyons.

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