The Elk Mountain Grand Traverse
Elk Mountain Grand Traverse
- One pair of full length/full width skins with a tail clip that climb well. These will be great for the steep climb up Star Pass.
- One pair of 3/4 length skins that run slightly more narrow. These will help with lower angle climbs and provided added glide for the kick-and-glide touring on the flats.
Pomoca Race 2.0's are the best skins you can get for both applications. Just purchase the thicker and thinner widths. Or you can buy it by the roll and make your own climbing skins.
Eye & Skin Protection - You need ski goggles, sun glasses and ski protection (sunscreen) for the Grand Traverse. A pair of low light or clear lens glasses are crucial for this race since the race starts at the spry hour of midnight. We recommend the Julbo Aerospeed sunnies that are photochromic, transitioning from CAT 0-3. The Julbo Airflux goggles are the best goggle for racing and/or backcountry skiing because they have the ability to snap off the frame to provide max flow. They breath so well you can even wear them while touring, say if in a whiteout (not ideal).
Face Protection - A buff, neck gaiter or balaclava is required for the GT. If we're counting grams (which we are), get yourself a buff.
Base Layer (top and bottom) - Race suits are the ideal base layer for this category. They are designed for skimo racing and moving at a fast, aerobic pace in the mountains. They have specific pockets for a avalanche transceiver, skins next to your stomach to keep warm, and the crucial snack pocket on your chest. Storing snacks in the race suit pockets is important because otherwise you'll be trying to choke down frozen food at 2:00 AM (speaking from experience). A two piece race suit is a more flexible layer system and helps facilitate going to the bathroom. The Dyanfit Mezzalama Race Top and Bottoms are our favorite.
Emergency Insulation Layers - This is an important and often overlooked item on the GT gear list. Moving at an aerobic pace produces a lot of heat/energy. But a single gear malfunction, health concern, or emergency stop will dramatically drop your temperature. The insulation tops and bottoms called for on the packing list are a crucial part of this race's necessary gear for that reason. We recommend a lightweight synthetic jacket and like the Dynafit Mezzalama Polartec Alpha Tops and Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Pants are great lightweight insulation choices. Be warned however that these pieces run on the cold side of insulating layers.
Wind Shell - The Camp Anorak Wind Jacket and Pants are the lightest option for this gear list item. I've come to enjoy touring in this style of jacket as well. It's superlight, soft over a base layer, and just enough to cut wind, cold, and slight precip. However, it's definitely not durable.
Socks - Socks matter more than you would think. Preventing blisters, swollen feet, and general foot fatigue is a huge challenge for races this long. The Dissent Compression Socks do a remarkable job in making my feet happy no matter the length of the tour. Bring an extra pair of ankle socks (because you need extra socks according to the packing list) if you want to save a few grams (you do).
Gloves & Warm Hat - You need two pairs of glove and a warm hat. The Camp Tempest Mitts are a great 'My hands feel like ice blocks' pair of backup mittens. I've even put these on my feet when they were in a desperately cold situation (hopefully it doesn't get to that for you).
Pack - A pack in the 25-30 liter category is ideal for the Grand Traverse because of the backcountry-specific gear list. Normal randonee race packs are just too small. The Dynafit Blacklight 30 is an awesome purpose built, lightweight pack for this category. It will also be a phenomenal touring pack for the rest of the season.
Avalanche Rescue System
Shovel & Probe - If you want the absolute lightest option here, look to the CAMP Crest Shovel and Carbon 240 Probe. These are great options if you want to do a lot of skimo races. If you want to get a transceiver, shovel and probe for all of your backcountry travel, consider a kit that has the three items sold together for a better price.
Headlamp - Get the brightest headlamp you can find to facilitate route finding. The Petzl NAO+ is a great option that's bright and has a rechargeable, long-lasting battery life.
Sleeping Pad - GT says this item must be a minimum 20” x 45” x 1/2” with a minimum R-value of 2. The sleeping pad can either be a close cell foam like a Thermarest Z-Rest (which is light, but bulky) or an inflatable pad like the Camp Essentials Mat.
Team Gear System
Shelter - The Brooks Range UltraLite Alpini Shelter feels like cheating at only 230 grams. Unfortunately, the company went out of business and these are no longer produced. If you can find one congrats. If not, check out the Black Diamond Mega Light flourless, 4-season ultralight tent. Whatever your shelter might be, it needs to allow two people to sit upright together, permitting the team to use their stove inside the shelter.
Course Map – A waterproof map sufficient for navigation is required. This is the one GT recommend. Laminated paper copies are unfortunately not allowed.
fuel at below-freezing temperatures. That's if you go with a MSR Pocket Rocket or Jetboil style of stove.
Repair Kit – This is the minimum required for the GT: Spare pole basket, Multi-tool must include knife, pliers & screwdriver), 3’ of duct tape, 3’ of bailing wire, 3’ of 2mm cord, 1 spare headlamp, 1 set of spare batteries for headlamps
Blister Kit – This is the minimum required for the GT: Moleskin/ second skin/ chosen blister treatment, alcohol swabs, 3’ of athletic tape