I am very proud to have experienced one of the most important and tough ski touring races in Europe. The Patrouille des Glaciers, mountaineering and skiing combined, cover 53 kilometres without marked areas, and with an elevation difference of 4000m.
I am very proud to have been present in one of the most important and tough ski touring races in Europe. Along with two colleagues of the Natural Athlete (Natruly, today) team, I in the prestigious Patrouille des Glaciers. A race in which mountaineering and skiing are combined, and where we covered 53 kilometers without marked areas, and with an elevation difference of 4000m.
It is a very exclusive competition, and although civilians and military can participate, only those who meet a series of requirements can do so, such as having experience in the alpine environment and specific preparation to be able to pass this test successfully, so we were delighted to be able to take part.
Although there are two modalities, the team I led, did the longest route between Zermatt and Verbier. A very complicated route and full of difficulties.
The adventure begins at 10 pm on Friday and at that time the first participants left. The starting order is decided based on the time that each team has previously estimated to reach the finish line.
Our team left at 3 am on Saturday, being the last to do so. This supposes a great added difficulty since at 8:15 in the morning the passage is closed at the Col de Riedmatten, about 33 km from the start, due to the danger of an avalanche. As a consequence, we only 5 hours to cover those initial 33 km. A tremendous handicap that, in the previous moments of the test, had our team very worried.
After managing to overcome the hurdle at kilometres 33, we had within reach the personal challenge we set for ourselves of completing the route in just eight hours.
As we have already said, it is a very tough competition and the materials also play a very important role. These are very light and have very delicate pieces that are easily breakable. In the previous training, I broke my ski in half. If this had happened in the race it would have meant the end of the adventure.
The complexity of this race means that the materials that have to be carried throughout the course are many and very specific. Of course skis, seal skins, but also a compass, an altimeter, climbing harnesses, a rope, a snow shovel, two pairs of goggles, two pairs of gloves and thermal clothing. In addition, we carried an emergency kit, some flashlights, since as we have said the race starts at night, and three avalanche victim detection devices, since there is a great danger of avalanches throughout the route.
Of course, it is an adventure where teamwork and physical and mental self-improvement are promoted. We were encouraged by all the well wished of good luck and support that made us enjoy this experience even more.