Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 14, 7:30 a.m., then make your way to Alta for the 7th Annual Wasatch Powder Keg backcountry ski race. The Powder Keg is a test of strength and endurance for any backcountry skier as they start their climb at 8,666 feet and scurry up to 10,619 feet and back down.
The race starts at the base of Alta for both race and recreational categories (Overall vertical - Race: 5,500 feet / Rec: 3,900 feet). Both courses finish at 8,755 feet. The Racing Division course is 9.44 miles (15.2 km); the Recreational Division course is 5.76 miles (9.3 km). Backcountry ski gear-telemark, alpine touring or splitboards are allowed to participate, but Nordic equipment and snowshoes are prohibited.
The competitive course will have long sections of steeper, mixed terrain up to a "Black Diamond" rated run at Alta which may include moguls, variable snow and other natural obstacles so be prepared for a robust pace.
Each competitor must have: a beacon operating in the 457mhz frequency; a commercially-made snow shovel; an avalanche probe of at least 190 centimeters (probe poles are acceptable); safety straps or ski leashes as required in the ski areas; climbing skins; water and food as needed; a helmet; and a lightweight jacket.
It will take most registrants 2 to 5 hours to get back to the finish line. Competitors who haven't started the Davenport Hill climb by 10:30 a.m. will be asked to return to Alta base. In case you're worried about getting lost, the course will be marked by gates and flagging at crucial points as well as mandatory checkpoints.
The $60 entry fee covers the race, finish-line party, and other goodies. The race division will travel just over eight miles and have four climbs for close to 6,000 feet of climbing. The recreational division will have only three climbs for around 4,000 feet of climbing. There will be categories for male/female and AT/Tele within each division. There will be a BBQ, awards ceremony, and raffle following the race.
More information and registration are available online.