Ultra runners and climbers Philippe and Anna Gatta started a major expedition on the 20th September that will travel the length of the Great Himalayan Trail in Nepal. Philippe and Anna are well into the journey that will change both of them, not only from a physical perspective but from within. You can read the daily blog here
Philippe Gatta aims to run the 1,700km route in under six weeks, completing the equivalent of 40 marathons in 40 days.
Anna Gatta will also be running long sections of the route with Philippe, covering 670km, with 39km of ascent and completing the equivalent of 16 marathons. In addition, she will provide essential logistical support to her husband on the sections when he is running solo.
The Great Himalayan Trail (GHT) extends for 1,700km and includes over 88km of vertical gain. The route includes many passes at an altitude higher than 5,000m and two that are at 6,200m, and it navigates through some of the highest mountains in the world, including Everest, Makalu and Kangchenjunga.
The Gattas are facing temperatures ranging from -25 degrees Celsius to +35, will run at altitudes from 880m to over 7,000m, and in jungle terrain, forests, deserts and on glaciers. To add even more to the challenge, on the 30th day Philippe is planning to complete a speed ascent and descent of Baruntse (7,129m).
“It is amazing to look back at the last 18 months, since we decided to run the Great Himalayan Trail. After all of the expeditions and races I have done in the past 15 years, I never thought that this would be so complex to organize. When we climb a big mountain, we establish a base camp with all the gear we need for the following weeks. Of course, there are limits to the amount of things we can take but that’s nothing compared to the challenge of running 40km every day, carrying all we need in small packs and across the Himalaya. There are still areas of uncertainty – about the trail in several sections and about the conditions on the trail and mountains after the monsoon – but that’s all part of the adventure. We have both set new personal records in term of training intensity and volume and are very confident and happy about our preparation, the kit and the logistics.”
The journey has been troubled due to heavy snowfall and difficult conditions; here is an outtake from the 18th October, day 24.
“Yesterday Philippe called from the sat phone. He was devastated since he realized that after 10 hours of opening up a path in extreme conditions to Tilman Pass they had advanced only 2 km due to snow up to waist and hidden crevasses. Despite very hard efforts they simply couldn’t continue. Philippe said it had been harder than the summit day of Everest. He and the Sherpa return back to the Kyangin camp and have decided to not take more risks and turn back to Katmandu to analyze what parts of ght that are still possible to realize. Another pass he was supposed to do, Tashi Labsta 5800m, is not doable now neither and the 3 cols had avalanches…”
The Ultimate Trail – facts and figures
– Distance – 1,700km across Nepal
– Vertical height gained – 100km
– Temperatures ranging from -25 degrees Celsius to +35
– Altitude from 880m to 7,220m
– Jungle, glacier, forests and desert
– Dolpo – 300km with eight passes at over 5,000m
– Philippe will be self-sufficient for seven to eight days in a remote area where he is unlikely to meet anyone.
– Philippe will use a pack with a maximum weight of 10kg, which will hold all of his equipment and food for the section.
– The Three Cols – from Everest to Makalu
– Four days above 5,000m with two technical passes at 6,200m
– Challenges will include glaciers, crevasses and abseils.
– 230km in a very wild region
– From rain forests to a 5,160m pass
– Lacking in good trails but littered with landslides
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A recipe for success – the world’s top athletes, a dream location, three challenging events.
Two important firsts are announced by the International Skyrunning Federation today: the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships will include the ultra distance for the first time and Chamonix, the most iconic outdoor sports arena, will host the events at the end of June, 2014.
January 30, 2013
Chamonix, France, offering the most famous and spectacular mountain panorama, will stage the second Skryunning World Championships at the end of June, 2014.
Three distances will be disputed:
– The short, steep Vertical KM – 1,000 metres skywards – by night. A timed race, it will test your VO2 max to the limit.
– The Mont-Blanc Marathon – the 42 km course starts in Chamonix and finishes at 2,016m altitude, gathering 2,511m elevation gain and 1,490m on the downhill, this beautiful trail offers some of the best scenery of the Mont Blanc massif.
– The Mont-Blanc 80KM – an exclusive, new course to be inaugurated this year, it features a challenging 6,000 metres of vertical climb along ridges, over snow fields, crossing into Swiss territory and traversing glaciers in a point to point loop from the town of Chamonix.
The races are open to both individuals and teams. Individual World titles are at stake in each discipline as well as a combined title, based on the best results of two out of three races. Countries will be ranked according to the best results of three men and one woman in all three disciplines.
Held every four years, the Championships represent the second edition since the inauguration of the ISF in 2008 and the first time that the ultra distance is included.
In occasion of the first Skyrunning World Championships in 2010, winners of the individual titles were Urban Zemmer (Italy) and Laetitia Roux (France) for the Vertical Kilometer®; Kilian Jornet (Spain) and Laetitia Roux (France) for the SkyMarathon®, and the combined titles went to Nicola Golinelli (Italy) and Laetitia Roux (France). The country ranking was headed by Italy, followed by Spain and France for a total of 13 nations.
The bid for the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships has been awarded to the experienced and highly competent local organiser, the Club des Sport Chamonix, which manages year-round major international sports events.
Marino Giacometti, ISF President, commented: “We’re proud to present the World Championships in Chamonix and, with the support of the Club des Sport, we’re confident the events will be a perfect showcase for skyrunning and draw the best in the world for some intense competition.”
In 2013, the Vertical KM and the Mont-Blanc Marathon will feature on the Skyrunner® World Series calendar for the first time, an occasion to gather the world’s top athletes and thousands of participants for a preview of what is to come in 2014 – a competition to set your heart racing – starting right now!
Programme, race and entry details will be published at a later date. In the meantime see here for details of the 2013 events. Subscribe to our newsletter for all the news and follow us on twitter and Facebook for updates.
Skyrunning website HERE