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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