Irwin Guides to Host First US Ski Mountaineering Qualifier of the Season


Oct 15, 2014 (Crested Butte, Colo.) – The Irwin snow cat skiing area located just outside of Irwin, Colorado will be the venue for the Irwin Guides Ski Mountaineering Race, presented by Griggs Orthopedics and Millet on December 6th, 2014. Located just miles from Crested Butte above the old mining townsite of Irwin in the Ruby Range of the Elk Mountains, the opening event of the USSMA Series will showcase the fastest backcountry ski racers in North America. The start of the race will be at nearly 10,400 feet and take racers to the top of Scarp Ridge at 12,100 feet three separate times for a total of almost 5,000 feet of elevation change in the course of the 10-plus mile race. This isolated venue can only be accessed by snowcat or snowmobile in the winter months, creating a truly unique backcountry experience for a racers and spectators alike.


“We are excited to host the 5th annual Irwin Guides Skimo event,” says Billy Rankin, Irwin Guide’s Snow Safety Director and Risk Manager. “With our unique geographic location and micro-climate that delivers an average of 600 inches of snow per year, we are able to host this race in early December. Our remote backcountry setting requires unique considerations for the race so the Irwin Guide’s Snow Safety team fully supports this event. We will be evaluating snowpack stability and mitigating avalanche hazards on the course, if necessary, to provide an exciting off-piste race.”

The USSMA series also welcomes Griggs Orthopedics as title sponsor and Millet as its new sponsor for 2014. “Sponsoring the Irwin race is a no-brainer. Griggs Orthopedics also proudly sponsors the local professional ski mountaineering racing team (gOCb) as well as a skimo development program for kids and adults in Crested Butte. We are also hosting a skimo camp the following weekend to grow awareness and interest in the sport, which is in line with our mission to promote health and wellness via sports such as ski mountaineering,” says Griggs Orthopedics Office/Marketing Manager Sarah Stubbe. gO and Millet will be present at the start/finish area to help create both an authentic athlete experience for racers and a welcoming environment for spectators to enjoy the race.

"Millet is proud to partner with the event organizers, Elk Mountain Events, starting with the first race at Irwin,” says Millet Marketing Manager Maro LaBlance. “Millet is very active in the skimo scene in our native Europe, so partnering on the Irwin race was a natural fit for us. With a gorgeous mountain setting, a tough course, and top athletes from all over the country chasing the podium, there's no question that skimo is alive and well in North America.”

The Saturday evening awards party will be held in conjunction with the CB Avalanche Center’s Avy Awareness night party. Sunday morning, the second of five US Team Qualifiers will take place with a Vertical race at 8AM at Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

Additional race venue information and athlete registration is available at and



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