Monte Rosa SkyMarathon 2021 – Results, Summary and Images

Maguet and Boffelli

It was here in Alagna that a new sport was born 25+ years ago and in 2021, after missing the 2020 edition due to Coronavirus, the Monte Rosa SkyMarathon finally emerged with a successful and exciting edition with 558 athletes from 36 countries.

VIEW THE FULL IMAGE GALLERY AT IANCORLESS.PHOTOSHELTER.COM

Start low, go high, reach a summit, and then return as fast as possible. A sport free of the clutter of mountaineering equipment, a sport that is fast and light. This is the Monte Rosa SkyMarathon.

Back to the core values of the sport, skyrunning, the ‘buzz’ in Alagna was electric at the start.

Retracing the original route from Alagna Valessia at 1192m the route went via the Bocchetta delle Pisse (2396m) to the Indren cable car station (3260m). From here the route continued upwards via the Gnifetti Hut (3467m), Colle del Lys (4250m) and then the summit, the Margherita Hut at 4554m.

An out-and-back route, at the summit, participants (in teams of two) turnaround and re-trace all the way back to Alagna along paths, ski runs, glaciers for a 35km loop and 3490m of vertical ascent and equal descent.

Ahead of the race, conditions in the mountains had been warm and snow conditions were less than ideal. However, a weather window appeared, and the race was confirmed to go ahead on Saturday 19th June, albeit with an earlier start of 0530. Mountains are fickle and snow can be exceptionally challenging, especially beyond midday – an earlier start would hopefully provide better conditions for longer.

Roped together in teams of two for much of the race, the route starts with dry single-track before opening with the need to cross moraine, snow fields and glaciers, it is the ultimate test for a special few as strict vetting takes place in advance of the race to ensure all have the necessary skills and experience.

With past champions, William Boffelli and Franco Colle returning, anticipation was high. However, this time, the winning duo had new partners, they would race head-to-head. Nadir Maguet would join Boffelli making for an incredible pairing. Colle would be joined by Tadei Pivk. Sevennec and Viret, also hot favourites to contend the podium.

For the women, Giuditta Turini and Laura Chiara Besseghini would be hot favourites pushed by the El Kott twins and Vasinova and Sperger.

From the gun, William Boffelli and Nadir Maguet dictated the pace and with 2000m vertical covered, they had a commanding lead over Franco Colle and Tadei Pivk. Climbing the steep couloir beyond Indren cable car station, it was interesting to see Maguet lead Boffelli and unusually, Boffelli seemed to be struggling?

“Nadir was really strong, and the pace was fast, I was struggling a little to hold the pace and so Nadir lead. However, the higher we got, the better I became and after the couloir at the higher altitude, I took the lead, and it was Nadir’s time to suffer a little…” Boffelli said post-race.

The duo was too strong, and the lead gained early on was maintained all the way to the end, however, there was no fast times, the show conditions were just too challenging.

Colle and Pivk
Leaving the summit and the iconic Margherita Hut 4556m

VIEW THE FULL IMAGE GALLERY AT IANCORLESS.PHOTOSHELTER.COM

Colle and Pivk, as expected ran a very strong race and while always in contact with the La Sportiva duo ahead, they were unable to catch them finishing 2nd.

Daniel Thedy paired with Henry Grosjacques

Daniel Thedy paired with Henry Grosjacques
Alexis Sevennec/ Léo Viret

Daniel Thedy paired with Henry Grosjacques rounded the podium with Daniele Felicetti/ Filippo Beccari and Alexis Sevennec/ Léo Viret placing 4th and 5th respectively.

El Kott twins.

In the women’s race, the hot favourites of Giuditta Turini and Laura Besseghini were relegated to 2nd after a strong performance by the El Kott twins from Sweden, Lina and Sanna. Their time of 6:22:12 was apparently a “little disappointing” according to the twins, they told Hillary Gerardi (who competed in and won the 2VK) that they had hoped to beat her time when paired with Holly Page of 5:51:32. It only shows how much slower the conditions were…

Giuditta Turini and Laura Besseghini

Marina Cugnetto/ Roberta Jacquin placed 3rd, just 1-minute behind Turini and Besseghini for hard fought podium places. Marcel Vasinova/ Eva Sperger and Noemie Grandjean/ Sophie Bertschy placed 4th and 5th respectively

  1. Boffelli-Maguet (ITA) – 4h45’58”
  2. Pivk-Collè (ITA) – 5h01’28”
  3. Grosjacques-Thedy (ITA) – 5h13’07”
  4. Felicetti-Beccari (ITA) – 5h20’39”
  5. Viret-Sévennec (FRA) – 5h29’01”
  1. El Kott Helander-El Kott Helander (SWE) – 6h22’12”
  2. Turini-Besseghini (ITA) – 6h31’30”
  3. Cugnetto-Jacquin (ITA) – 6h32’35”
  4. Vasinova (CZE) – Sperger (GER) – 6h38’57”
  5. Grandjean (FRA) – Bertschy (SUI) – 6h55’59”
André Jonsson and Rémi Français

A special note must go to duo, André Jonsson and Rémi Français who sacrificed any top-5 possibility by sacrificing their race to go to the rescue of two other competitors who came victim of a crevasse.

“A race is a race, but sometimes things happen that makes positions and time splits irrelevant. About halfway up the glacier, one guy in the team ahead suddenly disappeared through the snow and his teammate was not far from being pulled down as well. I threw myself, grabbed him, held as hard as possible so they did not slide farther into the crevasse and then Rémi pulled our rope to stop me following them… More teams joined and we soon got them to the surface.”

André Jonsson

Safety and experience, two essential requirements for the race.

It’s a timely reminder that the Monte Rosa SkyMarathon is an extreme race and why all participants are strictly vetted and compulsory equipment and the requirement to be roped together is an essential requirement.

Less cloud, more sky – skyrunning

“Skyrunning differs to other sports and this is the discipline we launched in the late 1990’ s,” Giacometti said. “Skyrunning has always existed; across the world it is just that it became a formalized sport in our hands. I am called the father of skyrunning, but it is for the aspect of race organization, when we started 25+-years ago, nobody talked about this.”

Run steep, get high!

“Older generations were already Skyrunner’s. My grandfather crossed the mountains working for example. Skyrunner’s added more speed but in essence it has always been the same thing, Skyrunner’s have always existed.” Bruno Brunod says, “I felt the same when I was a kid in the pastures, I always ran up and down the summits that surrounded me. It is something I felt inside, something I liked.”

The start.

The consensus post-race was that Marino Giacometti, the race organization team, Alagna and Monte Rosa participants were equal stars of the 2021 edition, especially after a such a tough and challenging year with Coronavirus. We look ahead now to 2022 with another year of less cloud, more sky!

Epic, pure and simple.

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Episode 210 – Petter Engdahl

Episode 210 has an interview with Petter Engdahl and Speedgoat Karl co-hosts.


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INTERVIEW : PETTER ENGDAHL

NEWS

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Hypothermia – Be Prepared HERE

Mandatory Kit HERE

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The Arctic Triple Ultra-Trail 2021 Results

The Arctic Triple Ultra-Trail series of races concluded in Svolvær, Lofoten today after two stunning days of racing. With distances at 12km, 24km, 48km and 80km, there is a distance for everyone! The whopping 100-mile race, that journeys the length of this stunning archipelago started with a boat ride from Reine to the races start line in Kirkefjord.

It’s difficult to some up in any meaningful words how truly spectacular this stunning part of Norway is, Lofoten has distinctive scenery with dramatic mountains, peaks, open sea, sheltered bays, beaches and untouched lands.

The Arctic Triple races bring a stunning trail and road running experience that links the best of the area with a stunning journey on foot, which for the brave starts in Kirkefjord, a 100-mile journey ahead.

Travelling from the south west, the races encapsulate the entire group of islands from Moskenesøy to Austvågøy. Passing through an amazing scenery of mountain ridges, white beaches, green hills and grey cliffs – almost the entire time the ocean is in view. All the races conclude in Svolvær, next to the ocean with 80km, 48km, 24km and 12km races all taking part of the respective sections of the 100-mile route.

The 100-mile started at midday on Friday June 4th, the 80km at 0900 the following day, the 48km at 1300 and the remaining two races, 24 and 12km at 1600 and 1700. In addition, there is a 100-mile and 50-mile relay.

View the IMAGE GALLERY for The Arctic Triple.

With 24-hours of daylight, darkness was no issue for any runner to deal with and incredible wall-to-wall sunshine made the journey for all, a truly remarkable experience. The only problematic conditions arrived during the nighttime hours when a heavy mist and cooler temperatures rolled in from the sea.

A full report on the journey, the landscape and the race routes will follow in the coming days.

Race Results

100-Mile

Terje Sandness 26:36:43

Lena-Britt Johansen 31:34:16

80-km

Gaute Løset 10:20:46

Tore Bergbjørn 11:09:44

48km

Sylvia Nordskar 5:33:03

Joanes Veka Tretli 6:05:34

24km

Pavel Serov 2:28:39

Marlene Jasund 2:55:46

12km

William Fjellheim Urliksen 1:03:17

Elisabeth Brevik 1:24:49

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Hypothermia – Be Prepared!

Yading SkyRace China, 2018.

Hypothermia and Hyperthermia

They sound the same, don’t they? But don’t be confused. In the following two articles we will clearly explain the differences and do our best to inform you how to avoid it and what to do should it happen.

This article will be about Hypothermia but before we begin, lets provide an initial explanation to avoid confusion.

Hypothermia – Refers to the cooling of the human body which in severe cases can result in death.

Hyperthermia – Refers to the elevated temperature of the human body due to a failure of thermoregulation and in severe cases can result in death.

The bodies core temperature is normally around 37 deg C. When the core temperature drops, Hypothermia starts to set in. A drop of below 35 deg C signifies mild conditions whereas anything below 33 deg C is considered severe.

“Hypothermia occurs when an individual’s core body temperature decreases to a level where muscular and cerebral functions become impaired. The most common cause of this loss of body temperature is exposure to cold and/or wet conditions. When exposed to cold conditions, the body can lose heat through a variety of routes. These include conduction (contact with cold or wet objects, such as snow or wet clothing), convection (heat being carried away from the body by wind, i.e., wind chill) and evaporation (sweating and respiration). Once the body’s core temperature begins to drop, the symptoms of hypothermia will begin to appear.”

Grainger.com

Let’s be clear here, conditions on the trail, fell or mountain don’t necessarily need to be bad for Hypothermia to set in. Running and moving fast creates heat and a runner can generate a great deal of heat in a short space of time. Imagine a scenario where you are moving fast, and you have been travelling this way for say 2-hours. You are warm, no hot! You are a little fatigued, hungry, a little dehydrated and then disaster happens…. you fall and twist an ankle.

Wear the correct layers to keep warm. Protect the extremities, hands, feet and head.

Suddenly moving becomes impossible and you start to cool.

I probably don’t need to elaborate too much here as it’s very easy to see and visualize the scenario that follows.

Low blood sugar, low energy a cooling body and mild Hypothermia starts to set in. Conditions do not need to be bad or inclement for this to happen! However, bad weather only adds to the situation and can speed up any decline. Imagine the scenario where conditions are bad – rain, wind, snow, ice, windchill and so on. The Hypothermia process is then escalated and speeded up rapidly requiring much faster action from the individual who is impacted by the conditions and those around who can provide help.

As the body cools, certain things start to happen and in mountain running we always warn runners of the possible signs of Hypothermia – Mumbles Grumbles and Stumbles.

A good water poof layer with taped seams and hood is essential.

Look out for:

An inability to make decisions.

Shivering.

Confusion.

A reduction of consciousness.

Slurred words.

Unusual behavior.

In severe cases any shivering may well stop and you will see visual signs of change such as blue lips.

A space blanket is an essential item for any kit list.

ACT QUICKLY

Grainger.com
  • Speed is of the essence with Hypothermia as mild conditions can spread quickly and before you know it, they can become severe and critical quite quickly.
  • If you have additional clothing (you should have, see a post on mandatory equipment) put as many layers on as possible including hat, gloves, warm base layer and windproof. If you or the person are wet from rain, ideally you would remove wet layers and replace with dry.
  • Ideally eat sweet foods. Avoid coffee, tea, and alcohol, If the victim can swallow without danger, give him/her warm, sweet liquids to drink.
  • Place warm objects and add heat/ layers next to the victim’s head, neck, chest, and groin.
  • If possible, get off the mountain or out of the bad conditions as soon as possible. If this is not possible, try to find shelter. If you are unable to move add as many layers as possible and seek assistance from the emergency services. A personal tracker such as Garmin InReach is a great addition to a mobile phone when out in remote and isolated environments.
  • Keep a potential Hypothermia case awake if you are looking after someone. If you are suffering from Hypothermia, do everything possible to avoid losing consciousness.

Of course, the above is not a comprehensive and fool-proof guide as mountain conditions and the condition of the casualty should indicate what action to take.

Do not try to evacuate a severe on unconscious casualty. Seek the services of the professionals with an emergency call.

weather.gov

All the above can be avoided with good mountain practice and skills.

The recent trend and desire to move fast and light is all well and good providing that you can move fast. However, when you can’t move fast, that is when problems arise. Personal responsibility, self-awareness and an understanding of the challenge, terrain, and weather, at minimum, requires you take stock of the situation before departing on any adventure and always think of the worst-case scenario.

Ask, ‘Do I have enough items with me should I become immobilized in bad weather and need to wait for rescue or help?’ If the answer is no, you need to reassess your equipment.

Mandatory kit should be something that you take with you on all your adventures, particularly on mountain journeys when in remote and isolated places, be that in training or racing. The more extreme the terrain, conditions or risk of adversity, the more equipment you should take.

Also remember that altitude and going high can impact in multiple ways. For example, it may be warm and sunny in the valley, but the higher you go, weather systems can change completely. For every 100m of elevation gain, temperature can drop by 0.65 (+/-) degrees. 1000m of elevation gain could see 10 degrees cooler temperatures, add wind and other inclement conditions and suddenly, without the right equipment, you are in a difficult situation. Be prepared!

Mamores VK Scotland

As a minimum carry with you: Read winter kit list.

  • A pack that can carry at least 1ltr of liquid with capacity for mandatory kit
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers to protect from the elements
  • A base layer Top and bottom) ideally merino wool.
  • A down or primaloft jacket that will retain heat/ warmth in wet conditions.
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Buff
  • Space Blanket
  • Liquid
  • Compass (know how to use it)
  • Map (know how to read it)
  • Whistle
  • Mobile phone
  • Spare food – energy bars or similar.

for more extreme conditions, consider the following:

  • Bivvy bag
  • Sleeping bag
  • Spot tracker or similar
  • Stove such as a Jetboil
  • Dehydrated meal

The above to some of you may sound extreme, believe me, when you need the above, you will really need them, and you will be more than thankful that you have them with you. Also understand clothing, how it works, how to layer, what garments are best in what conditions. Educate yourself on the pros and cons.

Good Practice

Be prepared!

Ideally always go to the mountains or remote challenging locations with company – buddy up!

Check the weather and make a sensible decision based on you, your ability, your objectives, and skill level.

Know the route that you are taking and tell a friend or family member where you are going, when you are going and when you anticipate returning.

Have a contingency plan with options to shorten or abort a route with quick and easy escape routes.

Have a mobile phone that is charged and contains relevant contact numbers for emergency services.

Can you read a map, take a bearing or do you have a phone or GPS device that will give you a location? This will be essential when requiring help. If you can provide a grid reference you will be rescued far quicker when a rescue party that needs to search for you. what3words is a phone app for this and is better then nothing in an emergency. OS Locate possibly a better option as it provides grid reference.

Look after each other and look after others on the mountain.

Know whistle signals – six blasts every minute signifies an emergency.

Hypothermia can happen to anyone, even the most experienced runners or mountaineers. However, if you are sensible, have the necessary equipment and understand your ability and the ability of those around you, the risk of Hypothermia should be reduced greatly.

In the next article we will look at Hyperthermia.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Mandatory Kit for Ultra Trail, Ultra Running and Ultra Marathon

I was notified of the horrific incident in China over breakfast whilst on location in the mountains of Norway.

I immediately typed ‘China’ into a Google search and the headline was everywhere:

Twenty-one dead as extreme weather hits ultramarathon in China”

The Yellow River Stone Forest 100k, held at Yellow River Stone Forest Park in Gansu Province in northwestern China was organized by the Baiyin Municipal Committee, Sports Bureau, and local branches of the Communist Party of China.

It was clear that a horrific tragedy had occurred and I, like everyone else asked, ‘How could this happen on such a huge scale?’

On the start line 172 participants toed the line, ahead 100km. Reports outlined cool and breezy conditions at the start. But by 1pm in the afternoon, conditions had changed considerably, and the race was hit by freezing rain, gale-force winds and dropping temperatures. With most participants somewhere between 20 and 32km, the weather continued to become more severe, runners were ill prepared and defenseless against the conditions resulting in the death of 21 souls, the main cause hypothermia.

‘The runners were racing along a very narrow mountain path at an altitude of about 2,000-3,000 meters.’

GT

The race was halted at 2pm after messages were sent out by emergency trackers, cell phones and some runner’s posting on social media. Search and rescue efforts were put in place and somewhere between 700 and 1200 rescuers were called in to action – the exact figures vary depending on which news outlets one uses. Using state-of-the-art technology such as drones, thermal imaging, and radar, 151 runners were eventually confirmed safe despite harsh conditions and delays due to landslides.

There has been much debate, many questions asked, and a great deal of blame fired around on all media platforms. The deaths prompted outrage in China, with many questioning the preparedness of the Baiyin Municipal Committee.

In ultra-running circles, worldwide, Twitter, Facebook and other social outlets had continuing heated debates that pointed blame, questioned mandatory kit and the overall experience level of runners, and organising team. To clarify, Jing Liang was one of the poor souls to lose his life, an experienced athlete who has raced at UTMB and Hong Kong 100, so, not a novice. And the Baiyin Municipal Committee had organized previous editions of the race without problem.

“The tragedy in China has weighed on me heavily. It could have been any of us out there pushing through with the ultrarunner mindset,” said Camille Herron. “Part of being an ultra-runner is being able to trouble shoot.”

The Global Times on May 24th published an article titled Deadly cross-country race exposes hidden yet common safety problems in China’s red-hot marathon pursuit – It was an article that did not hold back.

‘While it’s the hypothermia that directly caused their death, several insiders in China’s marathon business said the organising committee should shoulder the main responsibility for failing to provide enough organisational, tactical, rescue, and security support for the event.’

Global Times

It is only correct questions are asked, and without doubt there is much to learn here, not only by those who organise races but also for those who run them.

As many running friends have commented to me personally, ‘shit happens’ and sometimes you cannot plan for freak occurrences. After all, this is why they are called freak – An incident, especially one that is harmful, occurring under highly unusual and unlikely circumstances.’

However, the required ‘mandatory’ equipment for the Yellow River Stone Forest 100k was at best minimal – cell phone, whistle, water container, headlamp, race bib, GPS tracker, GPX file (I assume on watch or phone) and timing chip.

A jacket, trekking poles, water, energy supplies, first aid, petroleum jelly and Buff were considered ‘recommended’ but not mandatory.

Anna Cometi at Everest Trail Race, Nepal.

It’s fair to say, that even with the ‘recommended’ items, in the freak weather encountered in China, maybe the outcome would have been no different due to the severity of the storm. However, we will never know the answer to this and at best, we should all use this as a lesson to be better prepared.

Remember though, while we tend to associate danger with cold, wet, wind, altitude, snow and ice, the opposite; heat, humidity and sun can be equally as dangerous and fatal. Take for example, The London Marathon. In 2018 the race was hit with 24-degree temperatures which caused havoc; one runner died after collapsing during the race and 73 were hospitalized. Now for some, 24 degrees may be considered a warm day, however, for many British runners who trained through a UK winter, it was exceptionally hot and something they had not trained for.

While mandatory kit is useful, being specific and training for an event is equally, if not far more important than the equipment you will or not wear. An understanding of the event, the challenges it can bring, and the dangers are all part of the process.

“It is essential to adapt yourself and your equipment to your reality, to test it during training outings in various conditions and to bring everything that will be useful and necessary to you for the race.”

UTMB

The nature of an ultra-running event is to push boundaries, go to the unknown and find a new personal level. Safety, to some extent, is an illusion and to assume that because you have entered something ‘official’ does not mean that you are safe. UTMB sum it up well (and they have a great deal of experience in managing route, runners, and weather):

Choose clothing that really provides good protection in the mountains against cold, wind and snow, and therefore gives better safety and performance. In the event of an incident, your equipment must also allow you to wait for help in sufficient safety conditions.”

UTMB

The above sums it up for me, and quite simply I would summarize:

  1. Know the event.
  2. Understand yourself, your limits, and your expected time on the course.
  3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  4. Prepare and plan meticulously with training that simulates the event and conditions.
  5. Don’t compromise.
  6. Imagine the worst conditions possible and then plan for them to deteriorate even more. Remember, shit can happen!

Make educated decisions about risk.

Learn about the equipment you are using, understand layering.

Act quickly and quite simply, be prepared to turnaround and understand (in advance) what exit routes and speedy options exist.

Physically prepare so that you are in the best position possible to achieve your desired goal – be realistic.

Be mentally prepared for the highs and lows and accept that YOU are ultimately responsible for your own safety.

Understand that yes, one day, you may not return from an adventure… And to clarify, there is no guarantee on what day you will die, it could be tomorrow crossing a road, next week through illness or on the top of the mountain in a race – life is a risk we manage daily.

I personally see mandatory kit implemented to protect runners from themselves. The educated, experienced, and knowledgeable know what to bring, I most certainly do, and I usually carry far more than would be required.

However, racing does change the mindset, particularly at the elite level when every gram of additional weight could be seen as a disadvantage.

Jason Schlarb in Costa Rica at The Coastal Challenge, mandatory kit here is liquid and electrolytes.

Good friend and elite runner, Jason Schlarb posted on May 24th, ‘This sounds like something that could happen in many, many races or in my own adventures. I know I go as light as I can in races and don’t really prepare to be able to stand around in the cold… it’s a race… I’m embarrassed it took me realizing how this could totally happen to me,’

Choosing the lightest weight clothing possible to gain a few grams is not always the best option, opting for clothing which really offers good protection in the mountains against the cold, wind, and snow, provides better security and ultimately, a better performance.

Therefore, a no compromise approach to mandatory kit levels the playing field and means that every participant should be carrying the same and therefore carrying similar (+/-) additional weight. As UTMB states, ‘All runners must have the mandatory equipment with them at all times or face a penalty.’

In addition, UTMB go one-step further and have options based around kit lists for heatwaves, cold conditions and finally bad weather scenarios. They would implement the necessary list based on weather forecasts pre-race and it is the responsibility of the runner to have all items available.

Contents for ‘winter’ conditions.

Standard UTMB kit list:

  1. Pack destined to transport obligatory equipment throughout the race.
  2. Mobile/cell phone with international roaming allowing for its use in the three countries (load into its memory the organisation’s security numbers, keep the phone on, don’t mask your number and don’t forget to leave with the battery fully charged)
  3. Personal beaker 15 cl minimum (bottles or flasks with lids are not accepted)
  4. Supply of water of 1 liter minimum
  5. 2 torches in good working order with spare cells/batteries for each torch
  6. Recommendation: 200 lumens or more for the main torch
  7. Survival blanket of 1.40m x 2m minimum
  8. Whistle
  9. Self-adhesive elasticated bandage which can serve as a bandage or strapping (minimum 100 cm x 6 cm)
  10. Food reserve, recommendation: 800kcal (2 gels + 2 energizing bars each of 65g)
  11. Jacket with hood which will withstand bad weather in the mountains and made with a waterproof* and breathable** membrane – the jacket must, imperatively, be fitted with an integrated hood or one which is attached to the jacket by the original system designed for that purpose by the manufacturer – the seams must be sealed – the jacket must not have sections of fabric which are not waterproof, but air vents fitted by the manufacturer (under-arm, in the back), since they do not damage in any obvious way the impermeability, are accepted.
  12. It is the runner’s responsibility to judge, with these criteria, if their jacket fits the regulations stated and so bad weather in the mountains, but, during a check, the judgment is made by the person in charge of the check or the steward.
  13. Long-legged trousers or race leggings OR a combination of legging and socks which cover the legs completely
  14. Cap or bandana or Buff®
  15. Additional warm second layer: a warm second layer top with long sleeves (cotton excluded) of a weight of a minimum of 180g (men’s size medium (M))
  16. OR the combination of a warm long-sleeved underwear (first or second layer, cotton exclude) of a minimum weight of 110g (men’s size medium (M)) and a durable water repellant (DWR protection) windproof jacket*
  17. The wind-proof jacket does not replace the obligatory waterproof jacket, and vice versa
  18. Hat
  19. Warm and water-proof gloves
  20. Waterproof over trousers
  21. ID – passport/ID card

You may read the above and consider the list to be an overkill. I personally do not. On considerably more than one occasion, I have encountered conditions where the above was completely required. Please don’t cut corners, technically compliant does not always equate to useful.

Read an article on ‘What goes in my Winter Pack.

Ultra-distance and mountain races are designed to push boundaries, but personal responsibility and self-awareness goes a long way. The above, without a doubt, can help should a situation turn badly, but ultimately, a good understanding of one’s ability is a great place to start. Maybe (?) to stand on certain start lines in the first place is already a bad decision.

Luis Alberto Hernando at CCC

Will Gadd, a prominent Canadian ice climber, paraglider pilot and mountain guide summed his thoughts up so well in a recent article:

‘If we go into the mountains, we are taking a larger-than-daily-life risk. The only way to totally avoid that is to not go… I’ve spent decades in the mountains and have had three serious accidents in my groups in all that time. Pretty good odds, no? But, to my guest who got hit in the arm by a rock while I was guiding her, and to my partner who I dropped a rock on, that record means very little. I also reviewed the avalanche forecasting where, the next day, an amazing woman, who was very close with my family and deeply loved by hers, died. I didn’t’t think any of those outcomes would happen, but they did. I really can’t keep us—you or me—completely safe. That’s my painfully learned truth after thousands of personal and professional days in the mountains. Days sometimes end badly, even with the best practices and motivations.’

The debate will continue and there are no simple answers, but the situation in China should be a learning curve for all and wake-up to a greater understanding for race organizations and runners. Maybe we will see more in-depth mandatory kits imposed on races worldwide? Also, maybe there will be greater vetting so that races can understand if runner has the required experience to participate.

A good friend, Graham Kelly said recently, ‘I am sitting wondering where personal responsibility, vetting and experience sits in the sport we all love. I am at best mid pack these days (more often chasing cut offs). There are races I won’t enter (that I used to enjoy) knowing the burden on race staff/volunteers could be unacceptable in my mind.’

Hillary Gerardi at Glen Coe Skyline

Vetting in races of an extreme nature, such as Glencoe Skyline already happens, ‘The organisers have an obligation to ensure that the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline® is as safe as possible, but without diminishing the nature of the challenge… The nature of the challenge is very severe and there is a risk of serious injury or death whilst participating in this event… Our route features long and sustained sections of scrambling terrain, which is roughly equivalent to moderate standard rock climbingBe under no illusions that a slip or trip on these serious sections of the route could result in death.’

In the above scenario, equipment alone is not enough, so educate, understand and asses.

I for one, like to think I am prepared for most scenarios when going out. I constantly adapt my pack and its contents for the planned adventure, terrain, anticipated conditions, and my expected time out. I also know, through bitter experience, whatever I have planned for, I can expect it all to go wrong, and I then add additional items for the ‘freak’ scenario that unfortunately our runner friends experienced at the Yellow River Stone Forest 100k. I am also never worried about turning around and going home, it can be frustrating for sure, but the trails and mountains will be there for another day.

We can try to plan for every scenario, we can educate and anticipate the worst-case scenario so that we increase not only our individual opportunity to return home but maybe those around us.

Ultimately though, shit happens, and when it does, I want to be as prepared as I possibly can be, I hope you do too.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Episode 209 – Damian Hall discusses UTMB and Ironman news of UTMB World Series

Episode 209 has Damian Hall joining Ian to discuss the new UTMB World Series that sees UTMB joining with Ironman.


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We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create! 
Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON
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INTERVIEW : IAN and DAMIAN HALL discuss the new UTMB World Series.

Important notes in addition to the discussion.

1.We would not expect to see Ironman branding at UTMB? No, this is the UTMB World Series, therefore the brand UTMB will be the one visible  

2. We would not expect to see significant price increases for UTMB and UTMB races? This is not at all the plan  

3.How long are Running Stones valid for? Running Stones remain valid until you succeed at the lottery. If you do not run for 2 years, you are required to ‘re-activate’ your Running Stones by running one race.

To clarify, you can collect stones as follows:

NEWS

Check FKT website for latest updates HERE

Latest Reviews

inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G300 Max Review HERE

VJ Sport ULTRA shoe review HERE

VJ Sport ULTRA

La Sportiva CYKLON shoe review HERE listen to Episode 208 of Talk Ultra is a special show with DANIEL FEENEY and Jonathan Wyatt discussing the collaboration between BOA and La Sportiva for the new, Cyklon shoe.

La Sportiva Cyklon

INSTINCT XX20L Pack review HERE

Instinct XX 20L

NEED A TRAINING PLAN?

12 – 24 Week Multi-Day Training Plans now available HERE

100-Mile Training Plan now available HERE

We also have several places that have become available for bespoke coaching and training plans. Like more information? HERE

Episode 209 stream

Spotify HERE  

ITunes HERE 

iOS HERE

Android HERE 

Web player HERE 

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Episode 208 – BOA and La Sportiva Special

Episode 208 of Talk Ultra is a special show with DANIEL FEENEY and Jonathan Wyatt discussing the collaboration between BOA and La Sportiva for the new, Cyklon shoe.


Talk Ultra needs your help! 
We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create! 
Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON
Donate HERE

NEWS

Check FKT website for latest updates HERE

Latest Reviews

inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G300 Max Review HERE

VJ Sport ULTRA shoe review HERE

La Sportiva CYKLON shoe review HERE

INSTINCT XX20L Pack review HERE

ARTICLES

  1. What goes in a Winter Pack? HERE
  2. VJ Sport Xero Shoe Review HERE
  3. adidas Terrex Speed Ultra Shoe Review HERE
  4. adidias Terrex Speed PRO SG Shoe Review HERE
  5. La Sportiva VK Boa shoe review HERE
  6. Moonlight head lamp review HERE
  7. inov-8 Roclite Pro boot review HERE
  8. Review of 2020 HERE
  9. Icbebug Pytho 5 Review HERE
  10. inov-8 Mudclaw G260 Review HERE
  11. inov-8 G270 Long-Term Review HERE
  12. Fuelling for a Multi-Day like MDS HERE
  13. Winter Running – Hints n Tips HERE
  14. Icebug Route Winter Studded Shoe Review HERE
  15. The Ultimate Guide to Desert Multi-Day Racing (updated) HERE
  16. Haglöfs L.I.M Essens Jacket HERE
  17. First look at VJ Sport new shoe HERE
  18. adidas Terrex Two Ultra Parley shoe review HERE
  19. Exped Down Socks and Bivy Booty review HERE
  20. Coros VERTIX review HERE

NEED A TRAINING PLAN?

12 – 24 Week Multi-Day Training Plans now available HERE

100-Mile Training Plan now available HERE

We also have several places that have become available for bespoke coaching and training plans. Like more information? HERE

INTERVIEWDANIEL FEENEY and Jonathan Wyatt discuss the collaboration between BOA and La Sportiva for the new, Cyklon shoe.

Spotify HERE  

ITunes HERE 

iOS HERE

Android HERE 

Web player HERE 

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

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Web – www.iancorless.com

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La Sportiva Cyklon Review

The La Sportiva CYKLON is here. Renowned for shoes that perform in mountain, challenging and arduous terrain, La Sportiva have moved up a level with the CYKLON collaborating closely with BOA® Fit System to provide a new mountain running shoe with a difference.

Available in multiple (4) colour options, the standout for me is the classic and directly recognizable La Sportiva colours on black/yellow/red which has always been pleasing to the eye and one that grabs attention.

The CYKLON on first impressions could almost be mistaken for a lightweight boot due to the built-in sock-liner which comes higher up the leg, to beyond ankle height which has two purposes: 1. It keeps out debris from entering the shoe. 2. It provides additional support.

The CYKLON has slightly unusual sizing, I take an EU44 (UK9.5) in all my shoes, the same applies here in the La Sportiva, but this comes out as a UK9.5+ – I guess a 9 and 2/3rds. It works fine and, in all honesty, I would say that little extra room was welcome.

They are not the lightest shoes, 340g for an EU44, but on the foot and running they feel superb, secure, and strong. They certainly don’t feel like a 300g+ shoe. The weight is listed as 315g for ‘standard size’ which is typically UK8/ EU42.

Drop is 8mm and cushioning is 20mm at the front and 28mm at the rear providing excellent protection for tough and challenging terrain.

Designed to excel in mountain environments, 6x world mountain running champion, Jonathan Wyatt (who works at La Sportiva) has been closely involved with the development of the shoe with all important athlete feedback. In his words, the CYKLON is the next step from the extremely popular MUTANT. While similarities can be seen, particularly in the outsole, the CYKLON moves the shoe design on significantly. The addition of BOA® significantly changes things too and the two brands have worked together to develop and tweak to ensure that the shoe is as perfect as it can be.

It’s often easy to get bogged down in jargon when discussing a shoe and all brands have their names to describe key features, here in the CYKLON ‘Dynamic Cage’ is a buzzword and one of the key USP’s of the shoe. Working with a supremely comfortable and secure sock-like fit, the Dynamic Cage holds the foot like no other shoe I have tried, it is as good as VJ Sport ‘Fitlock’ but at the same time, completely different.

The midsole is EVA Memlex which helps absorb shocks, offers protection through double density and it also has stabilization inserts.

The outsole is FriXion XF 2.0 with 7mm lugs which clearly shows what the CYKLON is for – challenging mountain terrain that includes mud, snow and/or ice.

The upper has 4-way mesh and has a multi-layer side panel overlay. It’s all about foothold and protection and while it’s too early to comment on longevity and life, the CYKLON upper screams durability. This is only emphasized at the form of the shoe with a real sold toe bumper and the rear where the overlay gives way to the sock-liner.

THE SHOE

The CYKLON is actually a little tricky to get on, a little like putting neoprene socks on. It is worthwhile just taking an extra minute to ensure you have your foot in the shoe correctly and that the sock-liner is adjusted, a yellow tab helps you pul them on. The sock liner does come above ankle height, so, you may want to consider what sock length you use.

First impression is the incredible hold of the foot. This is even before the BOA is adjusted. It’s like sliding your foot in to shoe gloves. Turning the BOA, the shoe tightens to the foot via 4 key points. The bottom one is fixed, the other 3 are independent and move according to foot shape and applied tension from the BOA – this is the Dynamic Cage. Quite simply, the more you turn the dial, the more secure the foothold. I have tested multiple shoes with a BOA system before and one of my constant complaints was that I often felt I couldn’t get the foothold I wanted, not so in the CYKLON. The foothold here as stated previously, is up there with the best and this is due the sock-fit and the Dynamic Cage working in harmony.

I was worried at the rear of the shoe where the overlays for the heel stop and the sock-liner starts. Hold for the heel is excellent but I did wonder if I would have an issue? The answer was no. Hold and comfort was superb.

There does feel just a hint of arch support in the shoe. It’s nothing crazy and for someone who uses neutral shoes, it caused me no issues or problems. As mentioned, there is some stability added to the midsole and this all comes down to La Sportiva making sure you have a secure and resilient shoe that can handle the terrain that the shoe is designed for.

Width up front is a 3 on a 1-5 scale, 1 being narrow/ precision and 5 being wide. For me, a 3 fit it about right based on the intended use – technical and challenging terrain of mid distance.

The 20-28 cushioning is more than I anticipated as is the 8mm drop. When running on mountain, skyrunning and technical terrain a shoe with more ground feel and lower drop is usually preferable, say 18-24 with 6mm drop! However, the CYKLON excels on the rough stuff giving a very confident and secure feel and they adapt to quick changes of direction. The FriXion outsole with 7mm lugs works superbly. Interestingly. AT Grip Spike can be added to the outsole for use on icy ground. The footbed is Ortholite and specifically designed for mountain running.

IN USE

I have 124km in the CYKLON and this is a first impression review. There are two key features which I want to rave about:

The sock-like fit is superb.

The BOA system Dynamic Cage is incredible and holds the foot like no other.

The 2 features above are stand out and on all my runs, this security and foot hold has put a huge smile on my face. Tree roots, rocks, mud, climbing, descending and so on, the CYKLON just holds the foot and gives complete confidence. The downside is that all these layers and hold make the shoe run hot! I could feel that the heat generated when running had difficulty to escape despite the breathable upper. Quite simply, the anti-abrasion mesh and TPU reinforcements all add up. I did a challenging and technical 26km run that had me out for 2h 45min and while I had no pain, irritations or discomfort, my feet were noticeably hotter than in other shoes.

BOA is always going to turn some people off, I get it, laces work, are simple and you snap one, you can easily replace it… BOA has come a long way in recent years and here on the CYKLON I can see the advancement and in all honesty, I don’t think the foot hold in the CYKLON would be as good if provided by laces – the BOA brings a whole new dynamic to the shoe and I am completely sold. For perspective, BOA do offer a full guarantee on the system. Here they use a L6 dial and TX4 lace and I asked the question, ‘what if a lace breaks?’ Quite simply, BOA replied, ‘A lace snapping is highly unlikely, however, should it happen, you can just tie lace together (as you would with any lace), and this will work.’ One of the great things about BOA is the ability to adjust quickly on the go, especially useful in cold weather. We all experiences laces coming undone, it’s a pain to stop and do them up again. With BOA they will not come undone and if you need to tighten, you just stop, bend down, turn the dial and off you go.

Cushioning in the CYCLONE is on the firm/ protective side and considering the intended use, probably comes as no surprise. However, I did expect a little more bounce? However, with 50km on the shoes, I found them more responsive – they are not plush or bouncy. They are solid, secure, and reliable and trustworthy. Again, this is a shoe designed for mid-distance and not long distance. Certainly, I found 3-5 hours perfectly comfortable. I haven’t gone beyond that time in the CYKLON yet. There is some support in the shoe and that can be felt when the terrain becomes very challenging, it helps guide the foot, not control it.

The outsole is solid, reliable, and durable. It’s ideal for mountain terrain and excels on rock and technical terrain, particularly in conjunction with the foot hold and BOA system.

SUMMARY

The CYKLON is somewhat unique in that it almost occupies its own category, almost a crossover between mountain running shoe and boot. It excels in challenging terrain with incredible foot hold, protection, and a great outsole. Standout features are the sock-like fit in conjunction with the BOA/ Dynamic Cage which provided me with arguably one of the most secure footholds I have experienced.

Intended for mid-distance, I see the CYKLON as a great shoe for any mountain adventure, long or short. It’s crossover capabilities and weight would have me choosing this shoe over a boot, particularly if I wanted to hike fast in the mountains.

Climbing and descending is solid and reassured.

All-in-all it’s a great shoe and La Sportiva fans, particularly those who have used the Mutant are going to love.

The downsides for me are that the shoe runs hot and particularly in summer months this could prove to be an issue? It’s not the lightest shoe and despite the amazing foot hold, it probably doesn’t feel like a nimble and light race shoe, so, if looking to race, another shoe may be preferable? Day-to-day mountain adventures, fast or slow, the CYKLON will be a great addition to any shoe rotation.

Website here

Price 185 euro

The shoes were provided free for testing purposes and this is not a paid review or promotion.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

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INSTINCT XX 20L Multi-Day/ Stage Racing Pack – REVIEW

The INSTINCT XX 20L pack is a new addition to the stage/ multi-day racing scene and finally, dare I say, this pack begins to address many of the failures experienced in other packs.

It is in summary, the best pack we have used.

To clarify, this pack was provided free to test and this is not a paid review or advertisement. You can read and view some initial videos here.

The only way to test any pack like this is in a ‘real’ scenario for male and female. So, Abelone Lyng and myself set off for a 3-day fastpack covering 65km carrying all we required.

Our 65km route.

We both carried a pack, and the INSTINCT had more than required for one person. You can see in the photo above the majority of contents but in addition to the above was a 2-person tent, merino top and leg base layer, down jacket, hat and gloves. Also, 3 Firepot meals and additional snacks. Total weight, inc the pack was approx 6.5kg with 800g water.

See a time-lapse of packing below:

HERE are the pack contents itemised with weights and links.

There are several key features to the instinct and depending on the adventure you are undertaking, you would pack the bag differently. For our 3-day trip we needed a tent, but as an example, if doing a race like Marathon des Sables, you would have no need for a tent and this would free up considerable space for the food requirement of six or seven days.

The pack has a maximum capacity of 24L and compresses to 18L by rolling down the top of the pack and compressing it. We recommend you view the videos here. This is extremely useful in self-sufficient races when you basically ‘eat’ the contents of the pack and therefore the pack reduces in size, weight and volume.

Here is a review video which gives a real-time review of the INSTINCT XX 20L.

Both Abelone and myself found the pack arguably the most comfortable we have used and tested and it stands out in several areas:

  • Flexibility and adaptability.
  • The ability to reduce the pack size as per requirements.
  • The ability to segregate items in different areas – top pocket, main pocket, two mesh pockets, zipper pockets.
  • The front of the pack is the best we have tried not only for two hard bottles but the ability to use four bottles or use two bottles and use the other pockets for storage.
  • The fit is excellent and while extremes of size, both large and small cannot be accounted for, in general, we feel that the pack will work with most body sizes and shapes.
  • Movement while running is minimal but not zero. It is the best we have used.
  • There are many small features – zipper pockets, elastics, the external carabiner fitting and so on that make the pack a pleasure to use.

With full weight (8kg) you soon realise if you have the Instinct packed incorrectly and it is worthwhile playing and spending time with different configurations. What works for one, may not work for another, so, find what what works for you. Certainly, what I personally thought would work for me initially, did not work and I had too much movement in the top pocket. When I re-packed, the improvement was considerable.

The one size fits all and elastic side does provide incredible flexibility and comfort and both Abelone or myself found no hot spots or irritation.

Packed correctly, the ability to access what you need, on the go, is superb. Ultimately, fine-tuning the pack to an individuals need is part of the process of what makes fastpacking fun. However, the crossover of fit, packing and individual needs between Abelone and myself was seamless and we could easily swap and change at any time with just an adjustment to the chest and elastic side straps making for a perfect fit.

How to fit the pack?

Notably, there are features to the pack that we did not use or mention:

  1. Large zipper pocket that will take a 2 to 3ltr bladder that will occupy the length of the pack between the back pad and the main compartment. This pocket could also be used to segregate clothes, for example, clean and dirty.
  2. Removable top pouch that we did not use that can also be used to secure a helmet if required – useful for snow/ climbing adventures.
  3. Three different areas to secure poles.
  4. Ice axe and shovel friendly with attachment points.

Specs:

The XX allows : 
– 2 x 750ml+ bottles/softflasks in front
– 2 XL vertical front zip pockets
– 2 zipped shoulder pockets
– 2 XL mesh front pockets
– 3 fixing options for poles (front/back)
– Ice pick on back
– Shovel fixture
– Easy backside carrying of sleeping mat or other objects (ex: tent)
– Independent 3L water bladder pocket
– X-Large 2-in-1 overlapping stretch mesh pockets on lower backside

KEY FEATURES : – Large back door = instant access to main compartment and easy viewing of internal items
– Independent roll-top pocket for increased storage
– Removeable top pouch carries smaller items (first aid kit, knife, etc). A stretch mesh pocket over the top allows instant access to jacket storage or a solar battery panel

COMFORT  & PROTECTION : 
– Entirely made of Cordura© Nylon 6.6 ripstop
– 3mm perforated EVA padding in back panel
– 3D mesh shoulder straps/back panel for ideal sweat dissipation

Is the INSTINCT perfect? No, it’s not, but it comes pretty darn close… I guess the question that I have is the zipper on the main compartment? If that fails, this would cause huge problems, however, it is a special zip, reinforced and extremely durable, I have no reason to think this would fail. The pack may be compromised on fit with small men or women, however, in general, based on myself and Abelone, we can see it fitting most body shapes.

Ultimately, for both of us, the INSTINCT XX 20L is the most complete and flexible pack we have used. It’s great to look at, it is really well thought out, it provides multiple options and flexibility and without doubt, has the best bottle holding and capacity of any pack I have used. The option to compress the pack to 18L means it can also be used for long single-day races, such as UTMB, when the need for mandatory kit is high.

Quite simply – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Website HERE

Price 225 euro

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

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Kilian Jornet and David Goettler team up in Nepal, April 2021.

Image from Tromso, Norway 2017.

Kilian Jornet today confirmed he is back in Nepal with David Goettler – the plan still remains a mystery?

“A simple idea and a high possibility of failure summarises perfectly what we are searching for in the next weeks in the Khumbu region.”

– Kilian Jornet

David on his own IG just today posted an image from his last rotation at 6800m on the #Lhotse face between C2 and C3. 

One more from my last rotation up to 6800meter on the Lhotse face between C2 and C3. The face itself was super dry. I hope with the recent small snowfalls it changes to a bit better and safer conditions.

@David_goettler

It begs the question, are the duo planning to resurrect the project of Ueli Steck. Maybe the Hornbein route on the west ridge of Everest… Climb the Hornbein Couloir then traverse to the peak of Lhotse? Steck unfortunately died before he had the opportunity…

“Steck had originally planned to attempt it after completing an audacious Everest-Lhotse traverse—summiting the world’s tallest and fourth-tallest peaks in one push without supplemental oxygen.”

Outsideonline

Time will tell what the duo plan, one thing is for sure, they may will need to be flexible and adaptable, particularly with the ever-changing Covid situation. In theory, they will have 4-weeks to attempt anything and then the monsoon will come.

It would appear that David has been training and getting acclimated for some time in the area, at least 3-weeks. David summited Island Peak just 2-weeks ago.



david_goettler IG

Whereas Kilian has been training in Norway. While Norway is a perfect training ground, it lacks altitude and Kilian will need to play catch up when in Khumbu. One thing is for sure, Kilian adapts quickly but as we all know, altitude and the mountains are the boss!

Update May 5th 2021: Both Kilian and David have been acclimating above 7000m on Everest,

We wish them well and safe passage on the journey.

One thing is for sure, Kilian will be looking for fun and adventure.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

Follow on:

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Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

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