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Q&A With Julian Carr

How peak bagging in the Wasatch ignited Julian Carr’s Discrete Peak Series.

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SKIING: Why did you start the Peak Series? 


JC: I fell in love with bagging peaks in the Wasatch a few years ago. I was hiking Mount Olympus three times a week, and as a result I was in the best shape of my life. I loved the views and sense of accomplishment. Then a friend of mine invited me to run a trail race in Moab with her. When I got home I got online and looked for more trail races that were less than 10 miles with intense elevation and came up with nothing. Everything was long and rowdy. I realized trail running is one of the fastest growing sectors in the outdoor industry, and there were truly no short distance races that feature an awesome, classic summit. So, last summer I stepped up to the plate and created the Peak Series.

Sign up for a race here: #pushpeaks

SKIING: Races have to be pretty difficult to put on logistically.

JC: I really enjoy crafting these courses. Planning really just involves a lot of teamwork and conversations, and I work closely with the venues and their mountain safety teams. I also have to get insurance, permits, a fire marshal, and environmental teams. Then there’s marketing and promotion—lots of work, lots of fun. And obviously the day of the event has lots of moving parts involving EMTs, volunteers, aid stations, timing services, vendors, photographers, venue personnel, and racers. I have a tremendous helping hand, Ian Smith.

SKIING: Why do you think skiers should trail run?

JC: We celebrate going down mountains each winter at every resort, so why not celebrate going up the same beautiful mountains?

SKIING: Boom. Well said. Why is the Peak Series perfect for a skier?

JC: It’s a perfect combination of agility, endurance, strength, and grit— our specialties.

SKIING: What do you love so much about the Wasatch?

JC: For how small the range is, it has hundreds of dynamic mountains full of intense ridges and peaks—and they’re all very accessible. You can have an out-of-this-world mountain adventure on any given day on dozens of mountains, all within a 20-minute drive from Salt Lake City.

SKIING: What’s the best way to train for these races?

JC: Hike to peaks! 

SKIING: What are you goals for the Peak Series? Would you like to see it grow?

JC: I’d like to add a couple mountains each summer. This year, the officials from Jackson Hole came out for the Deer Valley race and loved what they saw. 

SKIING: How many participants do you average in a race?

JC: This summer we had 259 entries for Deer Valley. Our Alta race is this weekend, July 16, and we expect over 300. Our final Peak Series is at Snowbird on August 28, and we are hoping for over 500. 

SKIING: What makes the Peak Series stand out?

JC: I have 3 p.m. start times, enabling each participant to experience a celebrating vendor village complete with their favorite brands, live music, and good food and beer.

SKIING: What do you like more, skiing or trail running?

JC: Tough question. Nothing beats a chest-deep pow turn. But hiking to a peak on a cool evening, hitting the summit right at sunset, taking some deep breaths, gaining clarity, and watching the city lights turn on always leaves me smiling. Let’s bag some peaks!