Saturday, April 19, 2008

Patrouille des Glaciers. From Zermatt to Verbier

This morning the first patrol comprised by Troillet Florent, Moret Didier and Hug Alexander from Switzerland arrives at Verbier. The legendary ski touring race started in Zermatt in the night from Wednesday, 16th April 2008 to Thursday, 17th April 2008.
The origin of the Patrouille des Glaciers goes back to the last world war when the mountain brigade No. 10 had the task of defending the south-eastern area of the central region of the Swiss Alps. The idea of carrying out the Patrouille des Glaciers was the initiative of two captains in the Mountain Brigade No. 10 shortly before World War II. Rodolphe Tissières and Roger Bonvin, both alpine officers, determined to test and consolidate the capabilities of the troop with a special long patrol race. In actual terms this meant running the Haute-Route between Zermatt and Verbier in one stage. The idea was to give the participants the opportunity to put into practice in one major exercise the technical knowledge they had attained during their long service in the mountains.
Nowadays the Patrouille des Glaciers continue to be a military competition organized by the Swiss Army but open to Swiss and foreign military or civilian patrols and takes place every two years. Participants can choose between two routes/categories and have to complete it in a single stage:
Course A: Zermatt-Verbier (Distance: 53 km, change in altitude +3994 m / -4090 m, equivalent flat distance; 110 km)
Course B: Arolla-Verbier (Distance 26 km, change in altitude +1881m / -2341 m, equivalent flat distance: 53 km).
International participants in the 2008 edition came from Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the USA.