An inside look at the Breck Ascent Series

ascent pic 3

The Breckenridge Ascent Series is a unique and exciting set of uphill races that ascend the peaks of Breckenridge mountain: here is a look inside the five-race series.

Due to the rising popularity of early morning skins and randonee racing, the Breckenridge Recreation department developed the Ascent Series four years ago. The season-long competition begins in January and ends in April, taking competitors up each of the peaks of Breckenridge mountain. Races occur during the early morning hours or in the evening and start at the base of each peak. Competitors can use any method of climbing the mountain, but must ski or snowboard back down.

breck ascent competitors ascending
Breck Ascent competitors ascending

Race divisions are divided into lightweight and heavyweight setup categories. Lightweight setups usually include a touring-specific ski, binding, and boot, such as a Dynafit. This equipment is constructed with lightweight materials and helps competitors quickly ascend. Some racers use Nordic setups with kicker skins. This makes the climb easy, but the descent becomes a bit more challenging.

A heavyweight setup includes essentially everything else: a split board, a heavier touring binding (such as a Marker Duke), or a telemark setup.  These weigh more, therefore increasing time spent ascending the peak. However, some argue that an easy descent makes these setups worth the challenge.

Nikki LaRochelle, a Breckenridge resident and Hagan Skis team racer, gave us a competitors look at the series.  LaRochelle has been competing since the event began and credits the social after parties as her initial motivation. LaRochelle grew to enjoy the athleticism of the series, quickly winning a few races. She now successfully competes in other randonee events, such as the COSMIC series.  While she uses the Breckenridge Series as training races, LaRochelle encourages anyone to get involved.

“If you want to race the Ascent Series,” LaRochelle says, “you can push as hard as you want. Or, you can take it easy and just complete the course – there are plenty of people who do that. It’s all what you want to make it.”

If you are interested in putting your skinning skills to the test, the Breckenridge Ascent Series is open to all levels and abilities. Visit the Town of Breckenridge website for more detailed information about how to get involved and register. The next uphill race, separate from the Ascent Series but still one ambitious climb,  is the Imperial Challenge on April 10 at 5:30 pm. Try out a race to get a workout, meet inspiring athletes, win great prizes and experience the mountain in a new way!

– Jesse Ambrogi-Yanson