By Nicole Lindstrom

Gwyn's High Alpine Restaurant has been sitting atop the Snowmass Alpine Springs Lift since 1979. Although the building is new, many traditions have stayed the same, including owner Gwyn Knowlton's longtime passion of uphilling to work.

Snow or shine, Gwyn has been uphilling to work since the restaurant's opening and continues to do so multiple days a week. The journey itself is 2.25 miles with a 2,461 vertical feet gain. When you add it all up, it's pretty staggering: 37 years of skinning three days a week over the span of five skin-able months per year equates to 135 miles a year, adding up to 4,995 miles. In vertical feet, that totals roughly 49,220 feet climbed per year (or 1,821,140 feet since 1979).

Highlights include watching the morning sunrise at the top of Green Cabin as well as skiing down in fresh powder.

Although never stuck in a blizzard, Gwyn has had to call for snowmobile backup with 18-plus inches of powder, when conditions are too deep for uphilling.

Her personal initiative — contagious by nature — has since spread across Gwyn's employees who've also jumped onto the daily commute.

Thinking of uphilling to Gywn's High Alpine? Gwyn suggests starting with the climb down and practicing on shorter hikes to the bottom of Alpine Springs.

Gear? Yak Tracks and cleats will do the job, or skis and skins, anywhere from heavy metal to super light.

Embracing the cool-morning air with skins on your feet and wind in your hair ... Gwyn and her employees know the joys found in early hours and the intimate connection of sunrise. What better way to start the day?

Uphilling to Gwyn's High Alpine, Snowmass
Uphilling to Gwyn's High Alpine, Snowmass

We had the chance to sit with Gwyn and talk about her weekly commute. Here is what she shared with us:

How long have you been skinning to work?

Thirty-seven years — a combination of hiking and skinning. Since the beginning of Gwyn's High Alpine in 1979.

How many times a week do you skin to work?

I try for three times a week, sometimes I only get two times because I have to drive chefs up on snowmobile.

Tell us about the climb. How many miles is it? Vertical feet?

It is roughly 2.25 miles and 2,461 vertical feet.

Do you incentivize your employees to skin to work?

We have a drawing with fun prizes at the end of the season party. Every time you skin or hike up you get a ticket in the pot. We give away gift certificates for dinners, to ski shops, skis, televisions and other fun stuff.

When did you start this initiative and why?

George and I started it as a way to stay in shape in the winter and then employees and friends wanted to join. It was 1979 ... yikes!

What are the top 3 things you gain from skinning to work?

I have much more energy for the day. And, I love good food and fine red wine. That way I can enjoy it. I also sleep much better.

What is the experience like?

Beautiful, quiet and I get to see the most spectacular sunrises.

Who do you like to share this experience with most?

My husband Jamie.

How has skinning to work impacted your life? What has it added to your life that wasn't there before?

It's the best start to the day. Sometimes it is meditative, other times it is just lovely appreciating the mountain and the outdoors.

Anything else you would like for us to know?

Skinning is fun, snowmobiling up is fun too. I have the best commute to work!

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