In exactly a week’s time I hope to be climbing up the Rosablanche mountain, two thirds of the way into the iconic Patrouille des Glaciers ski mountaineering race. The brainchild of the Swiss military, it was originally conceived as a test of endurance for alpine troops during WW2. But after a tragic accident it was discontinued, only to be re-invented as an adventure race. In recent years it’s become a classic and is hugely popular. It’s 53km in horizontal distance but with 3,994m to climb, it’s equivalent to 110km! For us, it promises to be 14 hours of fun!
Follow our progress on the PdG 2016 App. Our team number is 097.
I’d like to think I’m as ready and fit as I can be but like the morning before an exam – you always think you could have done more. The question is have I done enough? Is there enough in the memory bank to see me through?
All will be revealed in a week’s time. My team mates are both incredible characters. Bernie Shrosbree is an ex-special forces Royal Marine and former triathlete. I met him during a 500 mile cross-country skiing expedition around Norway. He may be 57, but there’s still a formidable engine in his tank. He’s a performance coach with Red Bull racing. Then there’s Pippa. She’s a great cross-country skiing athlete, having completed both the Vasaloppet and Birkebeiner classic Nordic races but she’s also an excellent downhill skier. She’s in great shape and an excellent addition to the team. We came together after she approached Bernie through a mutual friend about doing the race; Bernie and I separately had been talking about it and it made sense to come together. As for me? I hope I can bring some hard won ski-mo and mountaineering experience to the team. I’ve had the benefit of living in Austria recently and have a couple of seasons of ski-mo racing seasons under my belt where (I hope!) I’ve made my mistakes and learned from them. I’m also, as Bernie so politely puts it, ‘the admin bitch’. It’s a thankless task – how is it that these races take over your life? – but I can’t wait for the race to begin. It promises to be an epic experience – and that’s what I’m personally looking for.
As always this race would not be possible without the support and help from partners and friends in the sports world. Matrix Fitness have provided us with much-needed financial support while the guys at Mountain Equipment have been generous with their expertise and products to ensure we’re wearing gear that’s right for 14 hours of strenuous activity in the high mountains in temperatures that could range from as low as -20ºC to 10ºC. There’s never the perfect combo, but we think we’ve got it right with their range of super-light, warm and breathable ski-mountaineering gear. In a race like this, you also want proper ski-mo racing skis, bindings and a rucksack you can attach your skis on without taking off. That meant only place – Dynafit – and they’ve been very generous with the discounts, and super helpful as well. Finnish watchmaker Suunto have also been good with the discount code to ensure we can accurately keep track of the adventure with a Suunto Ambit3 Peak. One of its unique appeals are its recovery features. It will be interesting to see how long it recommends for us afterwards!