Ski mountaineering, however, has a special place in the hearts of Vrijlandt, president of the UIAA and Kähr, a UIAA executive board member.
That’s why both Vrijlandt and Kähr are in Switzerland 29 April -3 May 2014 to participate in the Patrouille des Glaciers, considered to be the largest and toughest ski-mountaineering events in the world.
The history about the race can be found on the PDG website here:
The course of the legendary team competition PdG starts in Zermatt and leads through Arolla to Verbier. This mountaineering race was established during the times of World War II, when mountain specialists of the Swiss Armed Forces searched for ways to verify their physical preparedness and technical proficiency in harsh alpine terrain. The interest to compete in the race increased steadily during the years. Therefore the capacity of the race was doubled by carrying out the race twice on two different days. Despite this, usually there are not enough starting slots available for all athletes interested in participating in the race.
Those who have participated in the famous event will tell you that it is one hardest endurance races in the world. The course from Zermatt, via Arollo to Verbier has to be completed in one single stage and it consists of a demanding topography that tests the toughest ski mountaineers.
Thomas Kähr training for PdG in Bernese Oberland, Switzerland (Photo: Supplied by Thomas Kähr for UIAA)
A significant part of the route takes place in a high alpine glacier terrain which demands the participants to have mountaineering skills and the use of climbing equipment.
Both Vrijlandt and Kähr are veterans of past PdG races and say they are looking forward to this year’s edition. Kähr participates in three to four ski mountaineering competitions every year.
Participants must meet the following requirements:
Have 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.