This addictive sport combines lung-bursting climbs with heart-in-mouth off-piste descents along with airy arêtes and steep couloirs negotiated on foot (with skis on the pack).
Imagine the best ski-tour you've ever done covered at many times the speed complete with tour de France style spectators, large cowbells and more than enough lycra to supply the royal ballet for several seasons! It is a well established sport in the Alps and interest from British participants that has been growing year on year. Famous races such as the French Pierramenta and the Swiss Patrouille des glaciers are highlights in an increasingly busy calendar.
The inaugural British championships will take place as part of an established race – The Cols et Cimes Hauts [high cols and summits], starting from the top of the Chamonix-Planpraz telepherique.
British participants will compete in the main race, but will be eligible for British championship titles. The race involves 1800m of ascent over multiple climbs and descents, contested as individuals (many races are in teams of 2 or 3). In order to do well you'll have to be not only fit, but also able to quickly transition between skins on/skins off/skis on feet/on pack/crampons on, etc.!
To enter, please click here, you need a license to enter races in France, but it is possible to buy one for the day (click on "je ne suis pas licencié FFME").
In order to be considered for the British championships please email team manager Es Tresidder so that a list of who is racing can be kept. Please take note of the list of required equipment.
NB: This is a completely amazing sport, certainly the most exciting form of racing I've ever done, but requires a good level of technical ability to take part safely. Please do not enter this race unless you are a very competent and experienced ski-mountaineer.
Ski-mountaineering race organisers expect competitors to be self-sufficient and the terrain can be very technical. Add to this exhaustion from high-speed ascents and the descents can be very challenging indeed. Some of the ridge sections can be considered as serious mountaineering, often without a safety line in place.
This report was originally published on the BMC website.