Somewhere between my third (or possibly fourth) spill off my paddle board into Gore Creek and my first lung-busting lap up the mountain bike course, it finally sunk in that the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, CO was so much more than just the suffering I was subjecting myself to. Featuring adventure and mountain sports like freestyle kayaking, bouldering (think rock climbing 25-foot walls with no rope), mountain biking, a dock dogs competition, and slacklining, the Games has a competition for just about everyone. That’s not to mention the carnival of fun one-offs: the gear expo, open air concerts, a mountain film festival and demos of new bikes and boards. To be sure, the majority of my time was taken up preparing for, and being worn down by, the Ultimate Mountain Challenge, a two-day race consisting of a down-river sprint through class II and III rapids, a world class mountain bike race course, a 10k trail run straight up the ski slopes and a road bike time trial climbing Vail Pass. But even if the Ultimate Mountain Challenge isn’t on your bucket list, the GoPro Mountain Games should be high on your adventure travel calendar as a place where testing your physical mettle and enjoying the mountain lifestyle come together.

Austin Parker

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