On a very windy Sunday March 26th, 2006 the 31st annual Al Johnson Memorial Uphill Downhill race was held at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. For newcomers, the AJ is a telemark race from the bottom of the North Face Lift to the bottom of the Last Steep. The race begins uphill, covering 600 feet of vertical to the top of the North Face. From there competitors (and entrants in general) find their way down to the lowest point on the North Face double-black diamond Extreme Limits. Costumes are de rigeur, the more outrageous the better. And this year, even with the howling wind and blowing snow, we saw a plethora of superb costumes.
Our favorite costume, for obvious reasons, is shown at left. Note the carefully constructed lemon twist garnish - this is the sign of a true bartending professional. A big "clink" of the martini glass to this creative lass. Certainly the most enticing cocktail we have ever seen!
As the photo at right shows, the wind played havoc with many costumes. Next year we're sure to see more aerodynamic outfits.
The partially hidden sign reads, "Dangerous Curves Ahead". That warning appeared to be quite true.
Creativity, that's what it's all about.
Can you imagine how many hours must have been lavished on this woven duct-tape outfit?
Versace never looked so good... looks like Donatella has competition!
This looks like a recipe for disaster. Alison is fine because she can see. But her two teammates? They're in for a world of hurt on the downhill...
Update: Alison informed us that in the photo at left the team was a caterpillar. At some point during the uphill they began a "cocooning" stage. Then, at the top of the Face the three skiers shed their caterpillar skin and morphed into butterflies, complete with gossamer wings. Quite inventive and apparently the first time an entrant has skied with two costumes for a carefully planned evolution.
Who needs to buy a wig when you have plenty of liter water bottles cluttering up the house? Karen shows her recycling spirit.
And what do you do with all that leftover heating duct when the job is finished? Save it all for the Al Johnson!
Whimisical - who knew tele-tubbies really existed?
Even ladybugs can join in the fun.
The "Furthur" magic bus rides again! Constructed of three post-and-beam arches (front, middle, and back), this bus was "driven" by six certainly certifiably insane people.
Just getting to the start line was a major undertaking. After this photo was snapped the wind gusted to 40 knots. The crowd watched in awe as the bus morphed into an aspen, bending but not breaking. Finally when the gust diminished and the bus regained its rightful form the crowd let out a throaty roar of approval.
All lined up and ready to go... H-Baum is ready, bullhorn in hand.
The finish line on Black Eagle.
And finally, an honorable mention to our second favorite costume. We're calling this guy "Trash Can Dude". For all we know the entrant might have been a woman, but that is highly unlikely given the unflattering nature of the garb. The trash can had two quarter-size eye holes near the top rim for peeking out. Can you imagine skiing down the North Face without the use of your arms for balance? It's similar to the political balancing act faced by our mayor Alan Bernholtz. Hopefully both guys can keep their balance...
Trash Can Dude, you ROCK!
Congratulations to all you entrants, and thanks to Michelle at the Alpineer and H-Baum at CBMR for a spectacular event.
For more information check out the Al Johnson Race web site.