Friday, November 18, 2005

Ski Mountaineering

I'm sitting here in my office, looking out the window. The meadow is covered with a thin cover of snow. The temperatur hoovers around zero Celsius, or maybe a little below.

If you're an ski-mountaineer like me, the following article might interest you.

Mountaineering racing: An uphill, downhill battle

By Christopher Solomon
Special to The Seattle Times

The sight of skiers dashing uphill while trading sharpened elbows usually signals an untapped powder stash ahead. These days another diversion has backcountry ski hounds charging up the peaks: ski-mountaineering racing, a sport that's generating a big buzz among the swelling ranks of backcountry skiers.

Ski-mountaineering races combine the thigh-frying ascents of ski touring with downhill plunges in sometimes made-for-crampons terrain. At least seven races are scheduled around the West this winter, including one at Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia Jan. 7 and a Feb. 25 event at Alpental, near Snoqualmie Pass.

Though competitive ski mountaineering is a New World novelty, the sport is as old as the Great War, when the European soldiers who patrolled Alpine glaciers turned sentry duty into sport. (The Ironman of the genre remains the wicked Patrouilles du Glaciers, or "Glacier Patrol," a 33-mile slog along the famed Haute Route between Zermatt, Switzerland, and Verbier, France, that includes 25,000 feet of ups and downs across crevassed glaciers. Top racers finish in seven hours.) >> Full Article >>