Project GT: Headspace

Team Under Par is ready for the Grand Traverse. Kinda.
Grand Traverse Headspace

We’re ready. Or at least Jonny and I have decided that the statistical probability of us finishing the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse is greater than spending a miserable night bivvyed on the trail. We’re cool with that. After yet another day of training in crappy weather, this time on a 21-mile slog on Vail Pass, I’ve realized that our physical condition will be the least of our worries come Friday at midnight. After that tour, my legs had more in the tank. My brain however, was another story.

I’m excited about two things during the Grand Traverse: the start, with its pomp and circumstance and rush of adrenaline, and the finish, where I’m sure to be a trembling, overjoyed shell of a human. I’m terrified of all the messy bits in between. I’m not looking forward the dull throbbing in my muscles, the piercing pain of inevitable blisters, and the emotional rollercoaster that 12 hours of continuous high-output exercise will create. But in Aspen, there will be a huge juicy burger and ice-cold beer, no doubt the best I’ve ever tasted. That alone, I’m trying to rationalize, will be worth the trek. I suppose beating the old guys will count for something too.

Here are some photos from our final training tour.

Jonny Holton enjoys a long, flat walk through a pounding snowstorm.

After 19 miles of touring, a little powder skiing on skinny skis does a body good.

I show classic signs of training rage after six hours on Vail Pass.

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Connie Sciolino (center, in red) is the founder, owner, and head coach of The Alpine Training Center, a gym in Boulder, Colorado, designed specifically for mountain athletes.

Project GT: The Pain Cave

Connie Sciolino's gym, The Alpine Training Center, caters to mountain athletes. We're using it to prep for the Elk Mountains Grand Traverse.