Ski mountaineering race greets avalanche victims who died training for it – CBS Denver

ASPEN, Colorado (CBS4) – Perhaps it is the rarefied air that uplifts the senses. Or the darling break during a quick workout. But somehow everything – EVERYTHING – tastes better at altitude.

This is especially true for the banana bread served on Saturday atop Aspen Mountain.

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(credit: Anna Stonehouse / Aspen Times)

It was given to all participants of the Grand Traverse, a 40 mile ski tour over high mountain terrain from Crested Butte to Aspen.

The gesture paid tribute to Owen Green in particular. The 27-year-old Aspen resident coined the phrase ‘banana bread with a view’.

“We decided we wanted to do something special there,” said Erin Young, who worked with Green at Snowmass Tourism.

Racers assemble for the early morning start of the Grand Traverse in Aspen on Saturday. (credit: Facebook / Grand Traverse)

As a young told the Aspen Times, a friend of Green’s once noticed a serving of banana bread on the dashboard of Green’s car as he was on his way for a hike. The friend asked about it. Green replied that they couldn’t touch it until they had climbed a summit and improved their surroundings.

“He said to me, ‘Well, you can’t eat banana bread without a good view,’ and that’s where the ‘banana bread with a view’ started,” Young said.

Owen Green (left) and Michael Goerne in an undated photo. (credit: Aspen Times)

Green, 27, of Aspen, and Michael Goerne, 37, of Carbondale, were killed on February 16 by an avalanche while training for the Grand Traverse. They died in an area near Crested Butte titled Death Pass.

On Saturday, each participant in the race was offered a piece of banana at the last checkpoint of the race.

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(credit: Anna Stonehouse / Aspen Times)

The volunteers there had 10 breads on hand, but faced the possibility of having to eat the banana bread themselves. This season was one of the worst statewide for avalanches, and race organizers feared another disaster in the backcountry. They considered canceling the event for the first time in 22 years of history.

However, conditions improved and the course “ended up being almost perfect,” said Cam Smith of Crested Butte.

Smith and Rory Kelly won this year’s race.

Cam Smith and Rory Kelly celebrate their victory on Saturday in the Aspen Grand Traverse. (credit: Facebook / Grand Traverse)

Young had planned to participate and was Green’s training partner before stepping down in January. But as a co-worker, she always shared his enthusiasm.

“Hearing Owen talk about their excitement about running and how seriously they took training, they were so into it,” Young said. “It’s all there: the gear and the training and the skins and all that.”

(credit: Dean Krakel)

In addition to the Banana Bread Salute, the race organizers printed Green and Goerne’s names on the bibs.

“I don’t know if it’s closing, necessarily,” Young added, “but just having all the runners carry their names across the finish line was really such a cool way to do it and keep that in everyone’s mind. “

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