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Shasta Ascension Backcountry Race delayed until spring

Bill Choy
Mount Shasta Herald
Photos from last year’s Shasta Ascension Backcountry Race. The event has been delayed from January to later in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An annual winter race tradition will be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of the current situation with COVID-19, the Friends of the Mount Shasta Avalanche Center decided to postpone the Shasta Ascension Backcountry Race to later in the spring. Originally, the race was scheduled to take place in  January,

Avalanche Center executive director Casey Glaubman said they delayed the event until March or April “in the hope that things may be a bit more back to normal. By then, we hope that once again we can all gather in funny costumes, drink a beverage of choice together, and marvel at how someone can move so quickly uphill, wearing jorts.”  

“This year is about adaptation,” he added.

The Shasta Ascension Backcountry Race is open to splitboards, randonee and telemark skiers, and snowboarders.  It is a fun and unique event, which including having costumes being encouraged and folks dressed up.

The race follows a traditional ski mountaineering  format with a timed event that follows an established trail through challenging winter alpine terrain while passing through a series of checkpoints. Racers climb and descend under their own power using backcountry skiing equipment and techniques.

Glaubman said the decision to delay the race was made at their board meeting last week,

“He said while it was a tough decision to make it was the correct decision considering the circumstances everyone is facing due to the pandemic.

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Friends of the Mount Shasta Avalanche Center board president Hanne Meyer has been part of the center since its formation. 

She is also hopeful things will improve by the time March and April roll around and the race will take place. She added she and her fellow board members felt the delay was the right decision to make.

She said the event has become a tradition for many people and is a way to bring everyone from the community together to go out into the great outdoors and enjoy a fun and exciting winter event.

“It’s great to see how everyone comes out and enjoys themselves each year,” Meyer said. “It’s important to see it continue.”

 Glaubman said that a great part of the race is how so many folks from all over come to Mount Shasta to compete, have a great time, and meet new folks who also like to slog up hills.

He added that while the race is delayed, the organization has plenty of other things happening this winter. They are continuing to hold virtually Know Before You Go Avalanche Awareness Talks and Companion Rescue Beacon Clinics on the first Friday and Saturday of each month. 

He said that they are hard at work to make sure the avalanche center is still a valuable community resource and to offer events like this.

They are  still planning on continuing the 19-year tradition of the Snow Ball, but in a virtual format.

This year, the Snow Ball is taking the form of a week-long silent auction and raffle, with items ranging from fly-fishing trips to a brand-new refrigerator, and just about everything in between, Glaubman said. 

The silent auction will run from Jan. 16 through Jan, 24.

He said that this “is a great opportunity to support an organization you love while snagging yourself some sweet prizes.”

“We have gotten some great items coming in every day,” he said. “We’re so excited about this event.”

 Go to shastaavalanche.org for more details and a link to the auction page where you can scope the items and plan your bidding strategy.

Glaubman is taking a glass half full approach to the delay.

“While all this might seem like a bit of a let-down, it just means that our season of fun, backcountry events here in the Mt Shasta area is being extended by a few months,” he said. “The bottom line is that the Ascension Race isn’t going anywhere, at least not permanently. Before you know it, it’ll be time to pull out your skinwax, put on a funny hat, and join all your fellow weirdos in a mad dash uphill to glory.”