Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Patrouille des Glaciers 2016: From Zermatt to Verbier


Last night the classic ski mountaineering competition Patrouille des Glaciers 2016 got underway. The first 734 teams taking part in Patrouille des Glaciers 2016 set off yesterday at 22:00,Staged once every two years, 4700 athletes have registered for the 20th edition.
The Patrouille des Glaciers (PDG), the legendary ski mountaineering race is organized by the Swiss Army. From Tuesday, 19 and Friday 22 April the "toughest team competition in the world" takes the patrols over 112 kilometres from Zermatt via Arolla to Verbier.
4,719 participants, 1573 teams from 12 countries will take part in the event.
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.
Since then the PDG has lived up to its mythological status. Interest in this unique military event has increased with every competition. In 2006, the number of mountaineering enthusiasts who applied to participate was so high that the command decided for the first time to hold two separate events from Zermatt, as it had been done from Arolla for some time already.
The growth in popularity of outdoor events and challenging endurance competitions has been proven by the enormous interest in the PDG and has led to multistage enrolment procedures. Swiss military teams whose members fulfil the technical and physical requirements for this alpine competition have priority. In a second round, the remaining starting tickets for civilian teams are drawn.

Participants can choose between two routes/categories and have to complete it in a single stage:
Course Z: Zermatt-Verbier (Distance: 53 km, change in altitude +3994 m / -4090 m, equivalent flat distance; 110 km)
Course A: Arolla-Verbier (Distance 26 km, change in altitude +1881m / -2341 m, equivalent flat distance: 53 km).

Men's Record: 5:52:20 by Florent Troillet, Martin Anthamatten, Yannick Ecoeur (Suisse) in 2010.


Participants who register for the PDG competition must meet the following requirements:
  • Broad alpine experience that qualifies them to independently master unexpected situations under extreme conditions in an inhospitable mountain environment.
  • Careful personal preparation and adequate training in order to meet the physical, mental and technical requirements of the competition.
  • Full compliance with the PDG regulations and willingness to follow instructions of the PDG command to the letter before, during and after the race.
  • Willingness to show the ‘PDG spirit‘ towards their own team members and all other participants by displaying mutual fairness, caution and solidarity as well as recognising their own limits and respecting nature and the unique alpine world. This sporting fairness also entails acceptance of registration procedures and admission decisions.
By enrolling and signing, the team leaders give a personal undertaking that they will participate personally in the PDG and by their signature they acknowledge that they are only enrolling team members who meet the following requirements:
  • Sound alpine knowledge
  • Active alpine touring skills and experience participating in mountaineering competitions
  • Excellent skiing skills
  • Experience in skiing while roped to others
  • Very high level of training
  • Ability to complete the following distances under normal conditions within the times allocated:
    - Zermatt – Schönbiel within 3 h
    - Zermatt – Arolla within 8 h 30 min
    - Arolla – Riedmatten within 1h 45 min
    - Arolla – Verbier within 8 h 30 min
The race can be followed live on http://pdg.swisscom.ch/ and with the PDG App.

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