Monday, June 8, 2009

GF Adventure: The Trooper Traverse, a 4-day ski mountaineering route

In 1944, a group of soldiers from Camp Hale's 10th Mountain Division in Colorado completed what has come to be known as the Trooper Traverse. It is a serious and committing 4-day ski mountaineering route over the Sawatch Mountains from Leadville to Aspen. The traverse crosses two wilderness areas, surmounts three 13,000-foot passes, and spends almost its entire length above 11,500 feet in elevation.

My buddy, Josh, and I recently retraced the traverse (I was on assignment...the article should come out this winter) - our route was a little over 30 miles in length, and the trip was epic, to say the least. But we successfully completed the route, rolling into Aspen on Day 4 after not seeing a single soul since early on Day 1.
Mother Nature definitely conspired against on this trip - it began snowing on the afternoon of Day 1, and continued snowing for more than 24 hours straight. We faced problems with slab avalanches, and then Days 3 and 4 smacked us with rainstorms after we've already fought our way through the snowstorm and whiteout conditions that reduced visibility to just a few hundred yards.

But we were all smiles in the end (and quite tired), and celebrated the journey as the soldiers did...with an Aspen Crud at the Hotel Jerome. (An AC is equal parts vanilla milkshake and bourbon.) To check out a detailed photo gallery from the trip, check out my website here. (Just place your mouse pointer over the right-hand portion of each photo and click to advance through the gallery.)
- Pete

7 comments:

Amanda on Maui said...

Congratulations to you both on surviving, and enjoying the hell out of, what sounds like an amazing journey.

I take it you agree with distilled grain alcohols being gluten free? Karina from glutenfreegoddess also believes this, so I am trying to find out more so I can know what is actually safe for me, and others, to drink.

peterbronski said...

Hey Amanda,

Yes, in general distilled spirits are safely gluten-free. Back in January I did a detailed post on the topic, including a couple of concerns: http://noglutennoproblem.blogspot.com/2009/01/distilling-facts-about-distillation.html. Overall, I personally haven't had any problems with high-end distilled spirits of any kind, though when it comes to vodka, some people stick to the potato vodka.

Cheers, Pete

gfe--gluten free easily said...

Wow, Pete, your adventures always amaze me. Your description and the photos were fabulous. Sorry about those rainstorms and avalanches though--scary. I bet it was a great combination feeling of success and relief sitting there having an Aspen Crud. By the way, I'd never heard of an Aspen Crud before, but I'd like to try one ... without the mountaineering effort beforehand though. ;-) LOL

Shirley

peterbronski said...

Hey Shirley,

You probably haven't heard of an Aspen Crud because it's unique to the Hotel Jerome. The drink and its name dates to the Prohibition Era, when the Bar Jerome was a soda fountain shop. Locals knew that the codeword for a spiked milkshake was to order an "Aspen Crud." Prohibition obviously ended, but the drink has withstood the test of time...

Cheers, Pete

gfe--gluten free easily said...

Thanks for the additional info, Pete. I love hearing the history of such foods/conventions. Now, I'll know for any Jeopardy competitions I get into. ;-)

Shirley

Anonymous said...

HI, Congratulations - and quite impressive! My son and I tried that route a few years ago and unfortunately were thwarted. I saw the date on your story - when did you actually go on the trip? Thanks!
Michael

peterbronski said...

Hi Michael... thanks for leaving a note! We completed the traverse in late May into early June. We chose that time of year for stable snow, and instead got pounded with 36 hours of snowfall, as well as slab avalanches on Day 3. Epic. Would love to hear the details of your attempt.

Cheers, Pete