Pinkham Notch, NH–Since the Mt. Washington Auto Road first opened in 1861, it has been a proving ground for all types of adventurers. Throughout the years, many have secured their place in the history of the Auto Road, be it with a fastest time, or a landmark ascent.
History was made again with the 2017 Ski, Shoe & Fatbike to the Clouds. Held in cold, blue-sky conditions on March 5, it marked the first time that fatbikers have joined this annual winter event. First held in 1996 as Ski to the Clouds, it quickly proved to be a new and unique challenge for Nordic skiers, and at that time was held entirely on the Auto Road. In later years it was modified to increase the race distance to 10 kilometers, utilizing the Great Glen Trails Nordic system for the first four kilometers, before beginning the steep ascent up the Mt. Washington Auto Road. The race finishes just before the halfway point of the Auto Road at about 3,800 feet.
In 2013, a separate snowshoe category was added to entice snowshoe racers to take up the challenge, and was so successful that in 2014 the event was renamed as Ski & Shoe to the Clouds. In 2016, a new fatbike category was added, which quickly became the largest group of racers, but was sadly cancelled due to lack of snow.
Mother Nature was kind to us this year, and the 2017 event was attended by 120 racers in three disciplines–18 Nordic skiers, 33 snowshoers, and 69 fatbikers. Whether on skis, snowshoes or fatbikes, the race lived up to its reputation as North America’s Toughest 10K, testing the racers as only Mount Washington can.
The fastest time was posted by veteran racer Tristan Williams, with a blazing time of just 48 minutes 37 seconds, winning the men’s Nordic division. Tristan was closely followed by fatbiker Jeremiah Macrae-Hawkins, winning the men’s fatbike division with a time of 50 minutes 37 seconds–the second fastest time on course. Kudos to all the racers who battled the Mountain and finished, but particularly to the winners of each division:
Men’s Nordic Tristan Williams 48:37
Women’s Nordic Meredith Pietrow 1:01:42
Men’s Snowshoe Andrew Drummond 51:49
Women’s Snowshoe Hilary McCloy 1:05:56
Men’s Fatbike Jeremiah Macrae-Hawkins 50:37
Women’s Fatbike Renee Bousquet 1:12:26
A heartfelt "thank you" goes out to all the event sponsors, who have helped make this annual event such a success. For 2017, those sponsors included Dion Snowshoes, Stan & Dan Sports, Polartec, Littleton Chevrolet, Hannaford, and the Old Village Bakery.