15 March, 2010

Pierra Menta Stage 4

Stage 4 of Pierra Menta, the shortest, but fastest pace one.  The past three stages where all just shy of 3000m of elevation gain and loss, Stage 4 was only 1629m, made for going all out and fast on.  The course consisted of three climbs.  (Photo Right:  Stage 4 Start.  Credit;  Jocelyn Chavy)

The first one, 1153m, which forced everyone to start out as aggressively and as hard as they could in order to have a good position for the bootpack that was only 400m or so ahead.  The competition was fierce, with everyone vying for the best position, and really trying to sprint into any space that was long enough to fit a pair of skis in.  It continued up, switchbacks, and steep skintracks to Passage Du Dard (2342m).  A really fast transition, and a slight recovery from the fast paced long up, down a wide opened bowl full of extremely variable snow.

The second climb, started out steep, then moved into a series of switchbacks to a long bootpack to the top of Pointe Du Dard (2489m).  The bootpack was a classic Pierra Menta style ridge, right up a big exposure, with lots of snow to rock, to grass, and a run across the summit to the next transition.  Burning as hard as we could, we moved past the transition, gaining a few positions and on to the leg burning descent.  The course dropped through big gullies, wind blown and breakable crust sections, and big blind rollovers.  (Photo Left:  Top of the first ascent.  Credit:  Jocelyn Chavy)

Nearly finished, we hammered the last ascent, as series of short switchbacks to the transition only 58m up.  After a blisteringly fast transition we careened through the forest, full of massive rollers, creek beds, and unbelievably painful leg burning hard turns to an icy access road.  Flying down big 180 degree corners with burms on them, we continued pushing, knowing Canadians Melanie Bernier and Andrew McNab were hot on our heels.  A photo finish with two other teams, we finished 58th, and the finally out the four days the first Canadian Team across the line.

Team Canada continued to come in fast, and all finished really close together.  Overall rankings, were Melanie Bernier/Andrew McNab 67th, Alex Wigley/Stano Faban 76th, Reiner Thoni/Billie Velisek 109th, and Jeff Colvin/Julie Matteau 116th.  A big congrats to our Team USA friends Brandon French and Ben Parsons, who finished Stage 4 in 28th, and 36th overall.  Kilian Jornet and Florent Troillet took the overall title, and in the womens Francesca Martinelli and Roberta Pedranzini.  Everyone has been really happy with the race, the experiences, and everything we learned.  Heading back to Canada now, everyone is looking forward to training more, and improving results for next year.  The next race around the corner is the Dogtooth Dash, in Golden, April 4th.  (Photo Above Right:  Stage 4 finish line.  Credit:  Jocelyn Chavy)  Check out Skimo Stoke for a great recap of Stage 2, here.


  1. Hello

    Very interesting about ski mountaineering.

    Just a comment, could you add date on each post (with blogspot you can even choose the date you want (not necessarily the present date you enter the post)).

  2. Thanks Youri. No problem, actually the second person looking for the date, as soon as I get back from Europe I'll hook it up!

  3. Super impressive blog Alex. Originally caught my attention from the mountaineering posts.

    More recently, it opens up a whole world of randonee racing. Saw a few people on the Spearhead traverse this weekend (one mentioned that it was probably you that passed our slow-lumbering group at Ripsaw this Sat.).

    For what it's worth, I'm a big fan of the blog.

  4. Thanks Jay!

    I do remember seeing your group out there. I do usually stop to chat, but was on a bit of a time crunch to get the traverse done before work! No record that day either, too much trail breaking, and a bog head wind on the Overlord! Looks like you guys had an amazing day for the traverse though. I'm sure our paths will cross again.