What is the Pierra Menta: read on..
(from www. Skimo.com)

From 13th to 16th March 2008, more than 160 two-person teams will attend the 23rd edition of Pierra Menta, the most legendary alpine ski competition in the world. The wonder of this mythical event will strike once more…….
A legendary alpine ski competition
• The most famous: 23 years of existence• The longest: 10,000 meters total climbing over a four day competition• The largest participation: 160 two-skier teams• The friendliest: spectators by the thousands support the teams, including on the top of Grand Mont (2686m), amidst the mountains.• The fairest: equal treatment for all over the total run but separate premiums for men and women.• The most international: the whole of Europe’s mountain world will attend
With Whom?
Smiling women and men are the spirit of Pierra Menta. They are accomplished mountaineers as well as amateurs, running the show for outstanding performers without dough, dope or showing-off…Simple heroes: the best European champions in their field but also fully dedicated, unobtrusive and anonymous athletes, practising a sport unspoilt with scandal or fashion.
At Arêches-Beaufort, in the magnificent alpine site of Beaufortain, Savoie.Four days of ski routes around the famous Pierra Menta summit that gave its name to the competition.
From 13th to 16th March 2008, when the mountains are gradually turning to spring snow.
Alpine skiing is the competition version of mountain cross country skiing. A two-person team ski up without any mechanical assistance and race down as fast as they can. The winners are clearly the fastest. Uphill, the skis are equipped with so called “sealskins” that prevent sliding back. They are removed when rushing downhill. The participants, on their own during the competition, are expected to be familiar with high altitude mountain conditions and truly respectful of the natural environment.
During the four stages, the participants may have the opportunity to climb such summits as Mirantin (2460m), Grande Journée, Grand Mont, Mont Coin, Légette…Carrying skis and wearing crampons will occasionally prove necessary. Each skier shall have his or her ARVA – a radio safety device used for locating victims of snow avalanches –, a snow shovel and a sounding probe, just in case!
Self sufficiency: everyone carry their own supplies (drinks and food). Departure is at daybreak. The last participants reach the arrival line many hours after the winners. Great spirit: cow bells, songs, happy mood.
And what else?
Pierra Menta is also a fantastic mountain, the result of Gargantua’s anger. In a fit of rage, he shot this obelisk in the middle of Beaufortain’s alpine pasture land. This stone needle now stands pointing up, reaching 2714m.
Information and registration for the 23rd edition of Pierra MentaOfficial site:http://www.pierramenta.com/