Grace Staberg to go for women’s 24-hour vertical ski record

Quest for 58,000 feet equal to 24 laps up and down Copper Mountain Resort

Grace Staberg of Silverthorne poses for a photo while training at Villars Winter Park for the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Jan. 9, 2020.
Photo by Ben Queenborough / Olympic Information Services

Grace Staberg of Silverthorne will attempt to ski up and down Copper Mountain Resort 24 times in 24 hours on Monday, April 26, as part of a quest to break the world women’s uphill vertical ski record.

Staberg will begin her attempt at 58,000 total vertical feet at 9 a.m. Monday, the day after Copper closes its chairlifts for the season. Staberg will have friends and members of the local ski mountaineering community help her pace her progress up and down the mountain to eclipse the existing record of 57,890 feet set last month by Martina Valmassoi of Italy.

Staberg will ascend each lap at Copper from Center Village before heading up Main Vein and climbing east toward the top of the Super Bee lift. She will top off each lap at Spaulding Ridge near the top of the Storm King lift at 12,441 feet.

Staberg said she hopes the record attempt will inspire and motivate ski mountaineers, especially in North America, to go out and reach for their goals, no matter how big or far-fetched they might seem. The 2020 Summit High School alumna added that she was motivated to try the challenge to bring the local skimo community together.

“With COVID, it was hard when races did not have the same social aspect,” Staberg said. “When I came back home (from Europe), I hadn’t seen the people I trained with since the end of last skimo season. So after a winter of being away, this felt like a good way to end the season close to home. And the effort is special at Copper with the people I’m used to training with.”

Staberg said it was last April when she had originally thought about attempting the record, in part because she wasn’t sure if a World Cup ski mountaineering season would take place amid the pandemic. Staberg was the lone American ski mountaineer to ultimately compete in Europe this season at the World Championships and on the World Cup and national cup circuits, at which she won several silver and bronze medals. Staberg said she was further motivated to attempt the record at the end of this season after seeing other women go for the record this year.

The longest Staberg has ever skied in one duration is 12 hours, during which she scaled 25,000 feet. Staberg said she has prepped for the record attempt by skiing an eight-hour day two weekends ago followed by a 21-hour day this past weekend.

Staberg said she will try to fuel the attempt by eating 200 to 300 calories per hour. She said she will intake mostly natural foods — such as mashed potatoes, rice and oatmeal — as well as some energy gels. She also believes drinking warm beverages throughout the attempt, such as a flask of cider, will help her to have enough caloric energy when it gets cold into the night.

As for the last half of the attempt taking place overnight into a new day — the opposite of what others have attempted — Staberg said she’s opting to start and finish at 9 a.m. to maximize sleep before having to stay awake for the endeavor.

Staberg’s gear will include two pairs of Dynafit carbon race boots — in case a boot breaks or her feet swell — and two pairs of skis. Staberg will rotate the skis each lap to save time by having skins adhered to the new skis she’s picking up when she gets to the base after each lap.

Staberg said Summit locals including Nikki and Brad LaRochelle, Ross and Jill Seager, Tracy and Michael O’Brien and Mark Koob will take laps with her, among others.

“Most of the Summit skimo community is going to try to come out if they can to help however they can,” Staberg said.

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