Monte Rosa Skymarathon 2018 Preview

Mountains dominate the life of Marino Giacometti and Lauri van Houten. It’s not a job; it’s a passion that dominates 12+ hours of every day. They are the visionaries of the sport, Skyrunning. In 1989, Marino set a record running from the village of Alagna to the summit of Monte Rosa. It laid the foundations of the sport and now, 25-years after the first official event in 1993, Lauri and Marino return to the birthplace. Introducing Europe’s highest race. Following in the footsteps of the race where it all began in the Italian Alps, retracing the original course to the summit of Monte Rosa at 4,554m from the town of Alagna.

Iconic names such as Bruno Brunod and Fabio Meraldi are once again being talked about in the same breath as Kilian Jornet.

“Older generations were already Skyrunners. My grandfather crossed the mountains working for example. ‘We’ as Skyrunners added more speed but in essence it has always been the same thing, Skyrunners have always existed.” Bruno Brunod says, “What I liked was going quickly to the summit. 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.”

Marino was a visionary and many like to call him the ‘Father’ of Skyrunning.

“Skyrunning differs to other sports and this is the discipline we launched in the mid 1990’s. Skyrunning has always existed; all across the world it is just that it became a formalised sport. I therefore consider myself the father of Skyrunning for the aspect of race organisation because when it started 25-years ago nobody talked about this.”

So now, 2018, 25-years in the making, the sport’s founders present an exclusive new event, this time in teams of two, roped together to race in true skyrunning style across moraine, snow fields and glaciers for 35 kilometres with an astonishing 7,000m ascent and descent.

Marino and Bruno in the Aosta valley

Just as Bruno Brunod was Kilian’s hero. Kilian followed his dreams from the inspiration Bruno provided, Kilian is now the epitome of Skyrunning and along with Emelie Forsberg, the duo will line-up top international athletes including skyrunning stars – past and present – and ski mountaineering champions aiming to challenge the incredible records set in 1994 by Italians Fabio Meraldi in 4h24’ and Gisella Bendotti in 5h34′.

Fabio Meraldi will be present at the race but not participating. Bruno Brunod unfortunately is unable to attend due to a prior commitment. Marco De Gasperi, the Italian legend, laid the foundations for his incredible Skyrunning career on the slopes of Monte Rosa when just at the age of 16, he was given special permission to run to the summit and back. He will also join the party in Alagna.

Marino and Fabio Meraldi at Trofeo Kima

BREAKING NEWS

Kilian Jornet confirms he will run the race with his partner, Emelie Forsberg. Lauri and Marino first met Kilian in 2006, “he impressed immediately,” Marino says. “He was a natural Skyrunner. We all know the history; he was born in the mountains and as such he has just developed in an organic way. As I said, a natural.”

A timely reminder of Fast and Light

The stage is set for 2018’s most spectacular Skyrunning event.

The course retraces the original route from Alagna Valsesia at 1192m via the Bocchetta delle Pisse (2396m) to the Indren cable car station (3260m). From here the route continues upwards via the Gnifetti Hut (3467m), Colle del Lys (4250m) and then the summit, the Margherita Hut at 4554m. The route re-traces all the way back to Alagna along paths, ski runs, glaciers for a 35km loop and 3490m of vertical ascent.

Friday 22 June 

  • 0900 race office open
  • 1800 Mandatory race briefing

Saturday 23 June

  • 0600 Race start (the race has a 24-hour window for bad weather, so, the start may be postponed to Sunday 24 June.
  • 1030 First athlete arrival
  • 1700 Awards

Detail

This race is unique and therefore experienced athletes will only take part. One may almost consider this to be an exhibition event. Athletes are responsible for their own safety and equipment but specific requirements are necessary. For example, from the Indren cable car, teams must be roped together via an approved harness. They must have two carabiners, micro metal crampons are essential and poles are required.

ONES TO WATCH start list HERE

The race brings much experience from the ski and mountaineering world, and therefore, on first glance one may not recognise many of the names listed. Especially if looking at this from a ‘run’ perspective. Therefore, below I will concentrate on the names that crossover from the run/ Skyrunning world:

FORSBERG and JORNET

 

SYMONDS and OWENS

GERARDI and PAGE

– Hillary Gerardi

Lefort and Rozados

Paloncy and Mann

Tomasiak and Kaars Sijpesteijn

Zanchi and Fernando

and many more….

The 2018 Monte Rosa Skymarathon is a new moment for the sport… As races over the world increase and lines get crossed, the Monte Rosa Skymarathon goes back to the roots of Skyrunning in the place of it’s birth.

 

A new era of the sport begins…

Race website HERE

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Kilian does it! – Aconcagua: Summits of My Life

 

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Kilian Jornet finishes the year as he started with another successful Summits of My Life. This time: Aconcagua.

After several days and weeks adjusting to the altitude, an initial attempt on December 19th was stopped due to 90km/h winds after Kilian reached 6500m. Showing incredible powers of recovery, Kilian refocused and on December 20th said:

“I consider this failed attempt like a big training in altitude.”

Emelie Forsberg also attempted a summit attempt on the same day, like Kilian, Emelie was forced to stop due to the severity of the wind.

What followed for Kilian and SoML team was a waiting game and the hope a weather window would allow a new attempt.

“When things do not go as expected, you go fast back at the start point and you try it again soon.”

©iancorless.comIMG_5813Canazei2014_kilian

On December 23rd a weather window arrived, Kilian departed on Aconcagua 2.

Meanwhile, back at camp Emelie Forsberg confirmed that she would not attempt a second time.

“When I could not find the pleasure in pushing myself hard towards a good time up and down to the summit, and my mind was not prepared for a 20 + day I decided not to try again. The mountain will be there for a long time.. To be motivated and inspired is more important. Anyway, today I cheer on Kilian! Gooooo!”

– Emelie Forsberg

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News came in approximately 3:30-4:00 hours after the start that the Catalan had reached Plaza de Mulas at 4300m. Apparently he was feeling well and conditions were excellent.

10881694_884879004868078_3943298045920486081_nDue to limited communication we received no news until Kilian returned back to Plaza de Mulas approximately 6 hours later. News from the Summits of My Life team said:

10384520_885039491518696_56788107141495139_n “BREAKING NEWS: Kilian reached the summit of Aconcagua and is back to Plaza de Mulas Base Camp. He feels well but still 25 more Km to go. Enjoy it and goooo!!!”

Based on his start and elapsed time, this would have suggested that Kilian had time in hand to break Carlos Sa’s official time of 15:42. However, it was not yet possible to know if the record of 3:40 from Plaza de Mulas to the summit set by Brunod, Plessier and Meraldi has been broken (This record was not broken). It is also worth noting the unofficial record by Jorge Egocheaga who claimed a time of 13:46:19  in 2006.

KILIAN MADE IT!

#suutowatches ©suunto

#suutowatches ©suunto

After 12h:49 min of effort Kilian achieved in his second attempt the fastest time running up and down (4000m+/-) Aconcagua (alt 6.962). Congrats Kilian!!

You can hear the first words form Kilian HERE ©salomon ©salomonrunning

READ ABOUT THE ACONCAGUA SUMMIT ON THE ‘SOML’ BLOG

(EL ACONCAGUA, NUEVO RÉCORD DE KILIAN JORNET EN EL PROYECTO SUMMITS OF MY LIFE) HERE

and in ENGLISH HERE

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All information and images ©summitsofmylife

The Record:

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In 2000 Brunod,Plessier and Meraldi climbed from Plaza de Mulas in 3-hours 40-minutes to the summit and Carlos Sa did 15:42 from National Park Horcones. Two records, I wondered which Kilian would go for?

“I will go from the entrance and I will try to achieve both records. Also, Emelie Forsberg will try a female record too,” Replied Kilian to my question. “Aconcagua is easier than the Matterhorn. It’s rocky but not steep. Altitude is the big issue. You can get sick and have problems so the challenge is different. Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the western and southern hemisphere at just under 7000m.”

History:

The first attempt to reach the summit of Aconcagua by a European was made in 1883 by a party led by the German geologist and explorer Paul Güssfeldt. Bribing porters with the story of treasure on the mountain, he approached the mountain via the Rio Volcan, making two attempts on the peak by the north-west ridge and reaching an altitude of 6,500 metres (21,300 ft). The route that he prospected is now the normal route up the mountain.

The first recorded ascent was in 1897 by a British expedition led by Edward FitzGerald. The summit was reached by the Swiss guide Matthias Zurbriggen on January 14 and by two other expedition members a few days later.

The youngest person to reach the summit of Aconcagua was Tyler Armstrong of California. He was nine years old when he reached the summit on December 24, 2013. The oldest person to climb it was Scott Lewis, who reached the summit on November 26, 2007 when he was 87 years old.

Read up on my pre Aconcagua post HERE

LINKS

Summits of my Life HERE

Kilian Jornet HERE

My interviews with Kilian:

The Human Carabiner – HERE

The Matterhorn Summit – HERE

You can also listen to Kilian Jornet on Talk Ultra podcast HERE