Visualizing the Event
Creating a Food Chart
Creating a Vertical Estimate Chart
Coordinating with Team Vertical in Atlin

Visualizing the Event

I did a lot of visualization about the day of the event. I knew mental and physical strength would play an important role in what happened, as well as equipment, food and liquid. These were all things I had control over. Next to these, weather and snow conditions were just as important. I pictured a crystal blue sky with perfect corn snow. I also watched myself snowboarding the same run many times. I didn't see myself being tired at all.

Creating a Food Chart

I knew food and liquid were essential for my performance, so I did a little research and built a chart to monitor my intake. This chart would give me one less thing to think about on the 14.5 hour day of the event.

The chart was taped to the back of the helicopter pilot's seat, and we checked it every time we got into the helicopter, 7-10 minute intervals.

I ate 1 GU, a liquid form of an energy bar, every 30 minutes, and every hour I drank 16 oz. of liquid (Cytomax, Metabolol or water). I also had my 70 oz. CamelBak filled with water and drained it twice. I was well fueled.

Creating a Vertical Estimate Chart

The vertical estimates were tricky. I had three trial runs at Northstar in Tahoe on the backside where they have vertical readers. The backside is 1,860 vertical feet and estimated to be a mile long. On the trial days, I timed how long it took to get down each run and how long the lift up was. I also noted crowds, falls, pee breaks and liquid refills.

Vertical Totals
Day 1 7.0 hours 67,000 vertical feet
Day 2 11.0 hours 80,000 vertical feet
Day 3 7.5 hours 75,000 vertical feet

I felt great on each of the three days. The times were really consistent too. Based on the trial days, I put together spreadsheets and figured my average run times.

I'd seen the profile of the run Klondike Heliskiing had chosen for us. I knew it was 3,400 vertical feet for 2.5 miles (actual: 3,025 and 2.3 miles). I decided to take my average time from the practice days, doubled it and came up with the following:

 4 minutes run time
 4 minutes heli time
 2 minutes in/out of heli

10 minutes round-trip

Original proposal to Klondike Heliskiing consisted of a minimum of 180,000 vertical feet in 14.5 hours. Based on this, I broke the day into quarters and with 3,400 vertical feet per run this would be:

run 13 1st Quarter 44,200 3.50 hours
run 27 2nd Quarter 91,800 7.25 hours
run 40 3rd Quarter 136,000 10.75 hours
run 53 4th Quarter 180,200 14.50 hours

run 22 1st Quarter 74,800 3.50 hours
run 44 2nd Quarter 149,600 7.25 hours
run 65 3rd Quarter 221,000 10.75 hours
run 87 4th Quarter 295,800 14.50 hours

If we ended up doing something between 180,000 and 300,000 vertical, I'd be happy.

Coordinating with Team Vertical in Atlin

Team Vertical
Tammy McMinn that's me (snowboarder)
Jen Hughes teammate (skier)
Leo Steiner owner Klondike Heliskiing
Bill Karman pilot (owner Kluane Helicopters)
George Robbi guide
Bernhard Kriner guide

We arrived in Atlin, B.C., Canada on April 16, 1998. We were greeted at the airport in Whitehorse by George. Right away, George asked what we planned on doing in terms of vertical. I told him we proposed to do a minimum of 180,000. He said, "Yeah, but what's your target?" I wasn't ready to say, but he said he'd have to know in the morning.

The drive to Atlin was about two hours. On the way, George talked about how critical it would be for everyone to be tuned into our needs on the event day. He also talked about how a good coach only needs to coach the top 6 inches (pointing to his temple). I liked George right away and felt confident everything would be under control.

The next morning at breakfast we met to discuss the plan. I showed George and Bill the spread sheets from the trial runs and my vertical estimates. It seemed like a bit of a bold statement to show the 295,800 target vs. the proposed 180,000 vertical feet. I told them I didn't calculate pee breaks or heli refueling. I just planned on going all out for 14.5 hours. They said the helicopter time would be less than 3 minutes for each run and didn't seem to think a 4 minute run down the mountain was out of line.

After breakfast, we went to the airport for a safety briefing on the helicopter and to practice getting in and out of the helicopter quickly with our boots on.

Next, we went to check out our equipment. I needed 3 snowboards and bindings in constant rotation for the event. K2 Snowboards provided me with three 1998 Synergy snowboards 155cm and Clicker SST bindings. I also had K2 Yak boots.