Arctic temperatures have blanketed the Alps these last 2 weeks, some mornings with the thermometer reading -19 C (-2 F)! Growing up in Vermont and Maine these frosty temps are quite common in January. Back then I grew tired of freezing my tail off at the top of a GS course. Not only did I soon switch over to a more aerobic sport , cross country skiing, to keep my engine warm but also moved to a sunnier state, Colorado. Now I have switched over to another sport, ski mountaineering which keeps my heart and mind equally warm.
I have had a little break in the World Cup calendar. Despite the Siberian temps, I have bundled up just like we did when we were kids,and headed for the mountains on my own, with friends and with my family, all heartwarming and important moments to stay balanced.
Perhaps it’s only in ski towns in France that when teachers strike and there is no school, kids go skiing! These two weeks I took advantage of having some more time to pump up the volume in my training logging more than 15,000 meters of climbing in 2 weeks, but also get out find some new terrain that I had not skied before. I headed out with a friend one day up the Col de la Floria, a good climb from the valley floor to the top (1440+meters) There was a nice long boot pack at the top and a great steep ski coming down. Another time I explored the, Aiguille de la Gliere Nord, once again a great varied climb, boot pack, with an impressive view to the other side. It is these kind of days in the mountains that bring me warmth and a smile.
I managed to get in some good races as well in these 2 weeks. I squeezed in 2 Mountain Ski tour uphill victories ( Flaine and Les Contamines), both excellent for my own uphill climbing but also really fun ambiance. I did not have these on my calender but decided to go as there were not only good training opportunities but also a great chance to see another part of the Alps and go with other from my local Chamonix Ski Mountaineering club. The Tour de Grand Veymont in the Vercours region of France was also the CAF (Club Alpine Francais) national championships. This time artic temps prevailed. Mittens and hand warmers were the ticket. It was a gorgeous course, a great sunday out as a club and I came home with the win for the women and the CAF national champion title.
The Trophee de Gastlosen is the 2nd largest race in Switzerland next to the famous Patrouille des Glaciers, with over 1200 participants. Two years ago this race was a world cup and I raced with my USA teammate and pal lyndsay. It was the first team race of the year for me with 2300 meters of climbing. I raced in Chamonix Club mixed team. We placed 23rd overall out of 210 teams with a time of 2h53 reaching our goal of being the first mix team and also breaking three hours. It was probably the coldest temps I have ever raced in with the thermometer around -21 C. at the start but the great backdrop of the Gastlosen mountains and the technical climbs and descents kept me moving and made for an excellent day.
Now it’s tapering time for the next world cup which will be held on the active volcano of Mt. Etna in Sicily, Italy. on February 24 and 25th. This volcano has been rather active these past few months so it will surely be an interesting race! See this article for pics and news. Surely the HEAT will be on in Etna.
This is a great time for everyone to slow down, breathe, and rejuvenate together.
If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”—