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June 7, 2013

Skin Suits, Race Skis and a Fistful of Fitness

Pacific Northwest rando skiers with experience skiing on the south side of Mt. Rainier usually use the trip to Camp Muir from Paradise as a measure of fitness, and there are plenty of fit skiers who feel happy with any ascent to Muir that takes less than 4 hours. Some of them needed to sit down and collect their thoughts this week when word went out on the ski forums that the record for climbing and skiing Rainier had been unceremoniously dropped to 3 hours, 57 minutes and 55 seconds. That's all the way from the Paradise parking lot to the summit via the Disapointment Cleaver route and then down again. Yikes.

Rainier has been on the map for a while recently, with a super fit group headed by Stano Faban of fame and including his friends Eric Carter and Nick Elson, smashed the old record with an incredible time of 4:19.12. Stano was stoked, but the record wasn't fated to last for long. Here's a link to a report on

Jason and Andy Dorais, brothers from Salt Lake City with competitive running backgrounds, had seen a sub-5 hour effort on Rainier fall by the wayside last year due to a routefinding mistake. For the record, Jason was the winner of the 2013 Vertfest Race Division and the brothers hold the round trip record on the Grand Teton, so they've been working at this for a while. They arrived at Paradise shortly after a fresh snowfall and had to wait a few days for the DC route to be reestablished by climbing rangers. With the route in and wanded, they set out on Thursday, June 6th, in full rando race attire with race packs and a minimalist crevasse kit, and a fairly simple plan to gas it as hard as they could.

Conditions weren't ideal, and there were a few sketchy moments while climbing and a couple of falls during the ski, but the Dorais brothers had the mindset and fitness aspects nailed. Rangers, guides and other climbers and skiers moved out of their way and yelled encouragement as they flew up and down the mountain, and they ended up stopping the clock at 3:57.55. It's a number that's hard for me to wrap my mind around, but if anyone could do it, it's these guys. And they think the mountain will go faster. It would be easy to write these guys off as aerobic jock dead enders who do nothing but train, but the reality is they're both medical school grads finishing up their residencies in emergency medicine at a Salt Lake hospital. My hat is off to them. Here's some links to their own accounts of the event: Andy's and Jason's.

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