A biennial high-mountain hike across the glaciers from the Valais, in Switzerland, following section of the Haute Route, either from Zermatt to Verbier (53km; a complete of nearly 4,000m vertical climb) or, for that "short'' course, from Arolla to Verbier (26km; about 1,900m vertical climb). For uphill sections, touring ski bases are fitted with skins, and boots are unclipped in the bindings, that allows skiers to climb easily. Compulsory equipment includes avalanche transceiver, head-torch, survival blanket, rope, shovel and harness.

Who goes? Seasoned and also the seriously fit touring latex clothes fans, nearly half less than Three decades old. Mostly Swiss with 15 per-cent foreigners and 10 % women. The three,700 participants, who race in teams of three, tripped in waves of 50 every half hour from 1am, or later for that short course. The record time for that full course, set with a French-Italian team, is 6hrs 48min 18sec. The feminine record, set with a Swiss team, is 8hrs 15min 15sec.

The lowdown Caroline Ogi, from Bern, says: "I did the short course in 2004, setting out from Arolla at 4am. The very first climb is steep, and until you reach the Col de Riedmatten checkpoint within certain time you're not allowed further - we had Ten mins to spare. Then you can certainly take your time, and you ski across glaciers and cols, unless you reach Verbier, in places you run about Ten mins on the finish - downhill, luckily. It's actually a race, but it's about spirit - you almost cry towards the end because you're so tired and proud of yourself.''


Places are limited to 500 with this 9km end-of-season dash from Valluga (2,650m) to St Anton village centre (1,305m), but the mass start - at 5pm - is fairly something. The course covers piste, off-piste plus an uphill stretch and racers run 100m with the streets towards the finish. Nearly all are on skis, but there are categories for snowboards, telemarks and short skis (up to 1m), too. Helmets compulsory.

Who goes? The competition's hot, with an above average contingent of local ski instructors and also other resort workers. Racers result from throughout Austria, too, in addition to France (a Frenchman supports the record of 7min 52), Switzerland and Germany, plus some Britons take part. The minimum age is 17.

The lowdown Dieter Leiter, a ski shop worker from St Anton who came third in 2006, says: "To get in a good position for your start, you have to be at the very top one hour prior to start. It feels pretty dangerous when 500 people tripped together, and you've got to become careful when it gets narrow. A number of people fall over. After i did it, the very best part was powdery, but it was icy information. The steepest bit could be the Eisfall, around half way. You adopt off your skis to the climb, that can take about Thirty seconds but is knackering. Most of the people use off-piste skis, about 180cm.''


Founded in 1928 from the British, that is the world's biggest amateur downhill race. 1,800 skiers take part, triggering every 12 seconds from nearby the summit in the 2,970m Schilthorn down a pisted course that takes in thigh-busting schusses, gullies, hairpin bends and a minimum of one uphill slog. If there's enough snow, it's 15.8km to the finish at Lauterbrunnen (and a pair of,000m of vertical). Helmets are compulsory, catsuits common along with the odd eccentric cruises down in fancy dress costumes. Skis only; some click into 220cm planks; most just add 10 or 20cm to their usual length. For true punishment, do the Inferno Langlauf (cross-country), too - three gruelling circuits in the cliff-edge village.

Who goes? Racers must join being a person in a ski club, like the Kandahar ( or perhaps the Ski Club of The united kingdom ( Taking part are Swiss, Germans and Austrians, about 200 British skiers - mostly members of the Kandahar Ski Club - along with the odd Czech, New Zealander or Spaniard. You ought to be 18, but there is no maximum - veteran racer Peter Lunn took part aged 90 in 2005. The typical varies - last year's winning time was 4min 26sec (on the shortened course) along with the tail-enders clocked around 24 minutes.

The lowdown M?¡ì1rren-bred Oliver Feuz, a past winner, advises: "Stay as part of your limits, don't go too fast and watch out for other racers. Keep warm and calm at the start don't forget, perhaps the fastest guys get nervous.''

Entries for next year's race closed in September. to go in in '09, join a golf club - or form your own..

20.5.11 04:50


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