40 on 40 – 40,000′ on my 40th

I had 3 goals for this ski season

  1. Climb over 3K in an hour
  2. Ski a combined ascend and descent of 40K in the backcountry on my 40th BD
  3. Get in some volcano skiing in the spring
I was able to accomplish the first goal pretty quickly in the year at both the Jackson and Targhee races (Jackson was 6,400′ in 2 hours and Targhee I did the first 3,400 in 1 hour). The third goal I am still hoping to do this spring. For the second goal, my birthday was yesterday. As I was thinking of doing this, I knew it wasn’t necessarily a good idea as I would mostly likely be exhausted going into the hardest week of the year (Powder Keg week). But, I would only turn 40 once so a big birthday deserves a big goal.
The weeks prior to this, I talked to several people about where they thought a good spot to go would be. Most people were in agreement that Argenta off of Kessler Peak was the best option as it was a 3,000′ climb right from the road so it maximized climbing and reduced distance. I sent out an email to ski partners and skimo friends inviting any and all who were interested to make a lap or 2 with me. What I cared most about was having someone in the morning on the first lap in the dark and on my last lap (assuming I would be exhausted). With no surprise, Andy Paradis was totally on board to get up well before the crack of dawn and do some morning skiing. Others were planning to come up at various times during the day. The forecast for the day was not looking very promising. Warm and snowy which meant wet.
Andy and I met at 4AM and were skinning by 4:30AM. I took a large pack full of food, water, and spare cloths that we left about 900′ up the skin track and I carried a race pack the rest of the day with just a shovel, probe, ultra light shell, 1 water bottle, and a couple hundred calories. The snow started at 5AM and would continue all day. We were at the top of Argenta at 6AM and were treated to a fun descent in the dark. We stopped when the slope got brushy as it wasn’t worth hooking a ski on a tree in the dark. It was great to have company on the first climb and it definitely made me feel safer not skiing the first run alone in the dark. As we started the second lap, I settled into my own pace that I hoped to keep all day. Andy and I would pass each other at various times as he did another 2 laps. He was also able to get a couple photos
Lap 3
Lap 3
I was able to continue to climb a steady 2,000’/hour with the descents taking around 15 minutes. Both the skinning and skiing were challenging. The skin track was steep so I had to re-break several sections to accommodate my race gear with limited risers. The descents were variable snow with lots of brush to navigate. With the stormy weather, I was also wet for most of the day. The wind was also blowing hard enough that I was concerned about wind loading up high so instead of skiing various lines, I ended up skiing the same line each run so that I could sluff the new snow off the slope, then be back there in 75 minutes before too much more snow accumulated.
I had a pretty good rhythm of climbing, skiing down, then climbing ~400′ to my pack, grabbing food and continuing on. From 8,000′ to 11,000′ I was suffering quite a bit and was really starting to question if I wanted to continue. Emily showed up shortly after that and even though we didn’t ski together, it was nice to see someone. On the next descent I ran into Tom Goth and was able to take a short break to chat. The lap after that Eric and Jackie came up for a lap so by now I was feeling better seeing people at various stages of each climb and descent. By 10,000′ my feet were pretty sore from my Scarpa Alien 1.0’s. I knew Brent and Emily S were coming up for a lap so I had them bring my Dynafit boots from the truck. At 16,000′ with 2 laps left, I changed into dry boots and socks which was a savior. I climbed my second to last lap in my normal 2,000’/hour pace, then met Emily B, Emily S, and Brent and we did my last lap together which was a great way to end the day. With 200′ to go to the ridge, I had to take advantage of finishing hard and put in 1 last hard effort to finish fast and strong to the ridge before skiing back to the pack, packing everything up and heading to the car for a much anticipated beer.
20K of climbing completed!!!!
It was great to accomplish my 40K goal. I was happy with how good my body felt, the pace I was able to climb all day, and the support from the friends who came out to provide some motivational support (as well as some snacks and gear changes).
My Suunto Ambit log

  • CW-X Revolution Tights
  • Icebreaker socks
  • I/O Merino light weight top
  • Crazy Idea skin suit
  • BD Gloves
  • CAMP gloves
  • Buff
  • Patagonia Helium Jacket (Cut to fit over a pack)
  • BD Tracer Helmet
  • Smith Pivlock Glasses
  • CAMP Rapid 260 Pack
  • Salomon Nordic Poles
  • Ski Trab TR Race Bindings
  • Hagan X-Race skis
  • Scarpa Alien 1.0 boots
  • Dynafit TLT Performance boots
  • Pieps DSP Beacon
  • Voile XLM Shovel
  • Voile XLM Probe
  • Lots of music on my iPod


  • 2 bottles Herbalife Prolong with Hammer Sustained Energy
  • 2 bottles Roctaine powder with  Hammer Sustained Energy
  • 2 Red Bulls
  • 6 oz Hammer Gel
  • 4 oz First Endurance EFS Gel
  • 2 Clif Bars
  • 1 muffin
  • ½ loaf pumpkin chocolate chip bread
  • 3 slices potato/egg bake
  • 1 Aussie Crunch Bar

One thought on “40 on 40 – 40,000′ on my 40th”

  1. Chad, congrats to your 40 on 40, what an effort! But you realize what that means – to do 50 on 50, 60 on…. :))

    Have a great weekend at the Powder Keg

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