Cody’s Challenge is a cathartic and joyful way to end the ski season (with video)

When Cody’s Challenge started 14 years ago, it was to remember Cody St. John and support the foundation started in his name. St. John, a ski patroller at Steamboat Resort, died in a car accident in April 2007 while on his way to orientation at the University of Wyoming nursing school.

The annual ski mountaineering challenge raises funds for the Cody St. John Foundation, which provides funds to ski patrollers who wish to further their education in the medical field.

Fourteen years later, the event still serves the same cause. But it has also evolved.

“It’s become a community thing where we have a cool memorial where it’s not just about Cody, it’s about everyone,” said Kyle Lawton, who was a friend of Cody’s and is now the course leader. for Cody’s Challenge.

This year, many people thought of Drew Hyde, who died in an avalanche a few weeks ago.

Mara Rhodes was one of the few people to wear Patriots gear to honor and remember Hyde. Rhodes wore a Tom Brady jersey while participating in the challenge on Saturday.

“We just rounded up some of Drew’s favorite things. He loves adventures like this and he’s from Massachusetts, not far from where I grew up,” Rhodes said. He’s one of my favorite Bostonians of all time, and I miss him dearly.

Although it was hard for Rhodes and Lawton not to get emotional thinking of their friend, the day wasn’t about being sad, but about embracing the tough course and soaking up a glorious end-of-life day. ‘winter.

“It’s exactly the kind of stuff Drew loved to do,” Rhodes said. “Challenging and fun community events. … It’s an incredible tribute to Cody and all the people we lose too soon.

With an 8:30 am departure from Thunderhead Lodge, the sun was shining. Even before we started, people were shedding layers, anticipating a sweaty rush.

For 10-year-old Ryder Robinson, the first ascent was the best part because it was long. 13-year-old Oscar Dalzell relished the adrenaline that got him on the first ascent.

At the top of the event’s first and biggest climb, some people shed their skin in one quick motion. Gigi Lobeck, 13, made sure to take a few moments to take in the view at the top of Morningside, which was her favorite part of the course. Others stopped for a beer before heading down Chute 1, which was 13-year-old Ethan Maines’ favorite part of the day.

Cody’s Challenge is, as it is called, a challenge, but it is still the type of event that attracts young athletes and newcomers to the sport of skimo.

Oscar Dalzell nears the top of his final Cody’s Challenge climb on Saturday April 2 at the Steamboat Resort.
Shelby Reardon / Steamboat Pilot and Today

Steamboat resident Ashley Matuga just got into skinning this year, but she dipped more than just a toe, climbing Thunderhead and Storm Peak and spending a lot of time on the hill.

So she and Erin Ross, a regular at the Cody’s Challenge, signed up for the long course.

“I think it’s a really good opportunity to support Cody’s foundation and ski patrol and to get here and see what it’s all about,” Matuga said.