Locals head to Moonlight Basin at the end of March to claim bragging rights for skiing or riding the most difficult lines on the mountain. The Headwaters Spring Runoff, an amateur hike and freeride competition, brings together 50 of the toughest adults and 10 juniors to pit their toughness against each other.
Moonlight Basin hosts its fourth annual Headwaters Spring Runoff Mar. 28. "It definitely features high caliber athletes," events coordinator Michelle Johndahl told OnTheSnow.com. No wonder: It requires a timed 1,000-foot vertical climb followed by a judged line through the Headwaters double black diamond terrain, where above tree line chutes chop up with rocky ridges.
"The terrain is nothing too friendly," explained Johndahl. The climb starts from top of Six Shooter lift and follows the Headwaters lift line to the ridge. The ski patrol puts in the boot-packed trail a few days before event, so competitors first in line aren't disadvantaged by breaking trail. The fastest hikers, started in heats and carrying their gear, reach the top in about 20 minutes.
Competitors pick their own routes through Headwaters, where they are judged on the degree of difficulty for their line, control, and fluidity. "There are some cliffs, and a couple lines have mandatory drops," added Johndahl. "Last year, we saw some lines that probably had not been skied before. It's pretty cool to see people finding new routes."
Spectators head to Stillwater Bowl, the best place to view competition. The event, open to skiers, telemarkers, and snowboarders, finishes with awards and live music in Headwaters Grille.