The Pierra Menta: http://www.pierramenta.com/ The french would say that this event is when hundreds of people come to the Areche Beaufort region to put skins on their skiis and endure 4 hard days of endurance racing. Others would call this event the “Tour de France” of ski mountaineering. This year marked the 24th year of the Pierra Menta. The event normally attracts many teams from other nations, but this year was particular as it was the first year as a World Cup ski mountaineering team event. http://www.ismf-ski.org/ranking/index.html The race was exceptionally well organized with over 200 volunteers.
The days began at dawn- dawn comes early in the Areche Beaufort region-known for some of the best cheese in France http://www.fromage-beaufort.com/fr/index.aspx# but also the birth place of some of the best ski alpinisme. Usually about 5 am: up, breakfast, gear on and head out to the start for an easy warmup of about 45 minutes (the warm up always included the trusty “femme funnel” pit stop in the woods. http://www.freshette.com/ (http://www.rei.com/product/407267 For those of you ladies out there who are still stuggling with peeing with your harness or race suit on- this has to be the best invention out there. (It is also great for moms who have little girls who need to pee in a pinch)
The starts always went off with a very fast bang. We tried to just hold our own amounst the 160 other teams without breaking a pole or loosing a ski. Each day got progressively harder and longer. To check out each stage of the race look at: http://www.pierramenta.com/etapes.php
Day 1: 2508m climbing over 20km Long
Day 2: 2785 m climbing over 32km LONG DAY
Day 3: 2550 m climbing over 21km long and technical day
Day 4: 1731 m climbing over 14 km not as long
Many teams apply to race in the Pierra Menta; this year there was about 170 mens teams accepted and only 13 womens teams, opposed to 21 teams last year. All 13 womens teams were strong.
Check out the link for the results of each stage and the total results.
And also thanks to Yuki, Manu and Daniel of our newly formed Club de Ski Alpinisme de Chamonix. http://www.chamonixskialpinisme.blogspot.com/ our new site! And Vincent-great vid coverage on you tube.
What is most impressive about this race is the spectators that come out to cheer. Each day when the racers wake up to start, spectators also wake at dawn to skin up to higher parts of the course.
So, I better not say now, if I will be back for the Pierra Menta next year.
For more photos check out the slide show below: