By Logan Smith

ASPEN, Colo. (CBS4) — Maybe it’s the thin air heightening the senses. Or the cherished pause during a brisk workout. But somehow, everything – EVERYTHING – tastes better at altitude.

That is especially true of the banana bread served 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 trek 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 up there,” said Erin Young, who worked with Green at Snowmass Tourism.

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

As Young told the Aspen Times, a friend of Green one day noticed a serving of banana bread on the dashboard of Green’s car while en route to a hike. The friend asked about it. Green replied they could not touch it until they had ascended a peak and improved their surroundings.

“He was like, ‘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 Carbondale’s Michael Goerne, 37, were killed Feb. 16 by an avalanche while training for the Grand Traverse. They died in an area near Crested Butte hauntingly titled Death Pass.

Saturday, each race participant was offered a piece of banana at the race’s final checkpoint.

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(credit: Anna Stonehouse/Aspen Times)

Volunteers there had 10 loaves on hand, but faced the possibility of having to eat the banana bread themselves. This season has been one of the worst state-wide for avalanches, and race organizers’ feared further backcountry disaster. They considered canceling the event for the first time in its 22-year history.

However, conditions improved and the course “ended up being close to perfect,” according to Crested Butte’s Cam Smith.

Smith and Rory Kelly won this year’s race.

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

Young had planned to participate and was Green’s training partner prior to backing out in January. But as his co-worker, she still shared in his enthusiasm.

“Hearing Owen talk about how excited they were to race and how serious they were taking the training they were so into it” Young said. “Everything about it: the gear and the training and the skins and all that.”

(credit: Dean Krakel)

In addition to the banana bread salute, race organizers printed the names of Green and Goerne on the race bibs.

“I don’t know if it’s closure, necessarily,” Young added, “but just having all of the racers bring their names across the finish line was really such a cool way to do it and keep it on everyone’s minds.”


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Logan Smith