Bad weather and snow conditions only allowed parts of the Patrouille des Glacier ski mountaineering race to happen. After a week of heavy snowfall a first wind storm hit the Alps in the night of Wednesday to thursday, forcing to a stop the big race, the small race was able to start and finish without any issues. In the early hours of Saturday a sudden rise in temperatures brought the avalanche danger to high level. For safety reasons the organisation stopped the long race at Arolla and stopped and called back all the racers on the short race.
Those decisions created a severe deception among all the racers, months of training and preparation seemed to be thrown away, but in the mountains it is important to adapt to the weather and stop when the risks become high. Thanks to the awareness and precautious attitude of the organisation no accidents happened. The following night a new wind storm hit the northern alps with record high speeds of 190 km/h. Seven persons from the race staff stranded at 3500 m altitude had to seek shelter in a roofless refuge and wait until monday for rescue...
On the long Race the participants were ranked on the time from Zermatt to Arolla with a solid victory of the BOMBLAJO team.
Kilian Jornet's comments the fact on his arrival at Arolla, thus winning the shortened race with William Bon Mardion and Matheo Jacquemoud
The race was shortened, it is normal. Since the start with all our fellow racers we felt that the temperature was really too high, the huge amounts of snow that had fallen recently were in very poor conditions, and it is not surprising that some avalanches took place on their own, creating a great hazard regardless of the great security job done by the swiss army.
Team "Les Enfants du Sourire" wins the womans long race in 3h 31min et 35s, establishing the 10th place among all the teams! We were able to have an interview with Mireia Miro before the race.
From Catalunya Mireia Miro, age 23 is part of the same generation of ski tour racers as her fellow countryman Kilian Jornet. A real genius on skis she holds already an impressive result list but is a newbie on the PDG. She shares with us her feelings a few minutes before 03:00 AM, the start of the seventh and last group of Racers.
Petzl: What represents the Patrouille des Glacier race for a young ski tour racer from Catalunya ?
Mireia: A few seasons ago this race was absolutely not on my tot do list !!! But spending the whole winter here in Verbier, i discovered the huge momentum around the race and the aura that shines on it. Since I've been so motivated to take part in this race, one of the three mythic races with Pierra Menta (France) and Mezzalama (Italy).
Petzl: Technically speaking what are the specificities of this race ?
Mireia: Without doubts the logistics and equipment are the key elements. The start at night, multiple check points, the necessity to be a team of three, roped up on some long sections, temperature contrasts, too hot in the bottom of the valleys and cold on the peaks, 2000m of positive gain right on. All these factors need a perfect logistic and coordination between us three in order not to loose precious minutes.
Petzl: About the night start, you will be running with the new NAO Headlamp, why and what do you think of it ?Mireia : Night racing is really the charm and specificity of the PDG, being at ease directly impacts your performance. The trick is to have a lightweight headlamp (every gram of our equipment counts), very powerfull to see the terrain during the fast descents, and with enough autonomy to go through a long night. We were proposed this lamp for the season and were imediatly seduced with it's ratio, weight, power and autonomie. The reactive lighting mode is very helpfull to save the energy when not needed (going up) and have the full power in the downhill, without having to fiddle around any buttons.
Petzl: You are in the team with Laetitia Roux and Séverine Pont Combe, who is in first position ?
Mireia Miro: First of all it is a huge pleasure for me to tie in with these great champions. Laetitia is in great shape and knows very well the path, she will be first, I think Severine will be second and i will close the group. Our team is called "Les Enfants du Sourire", (Children of the smile) it is the name of an organisation in support of children in Ladâkh, we are proud to race for them.
During the event our swiss salesforce from Altimum were able to lend 100 NAO headlamps for a real "on terrain" test, all the testers were greatly satisfied by the performances and use of the lamp.
Looking forward to better conditions for the next Patrouille des Glaciers in 2012, we wish all ski mountaineers a great end of season.
All results and informations are available on www.pdg.ch