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Pierra Menta

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

This winter, I moved to Romsdalen in Norway to move closer to the mountains and to train together with Jon Albon and Kilian Jornet. Trondheim is a really nice city and I am still studying at NTNU, but I felt that moving to Romsdalen would be the ideal place for me to live and train because there is higher mountains and better for ski mountaineering. I did some races last year year I found that it was very good training for the trail running season because you do long climbs in a steady pace and effort, while Nordic skiing is short and intense.


I really like the sport of ski mountaineering but it is for me only for fun and good training. So I have at the moment no ambition to do any world cups or try for the Olympics. But I have for long heard about the race Pierra Menta in Aréches Beaufort, France. A 4 day stage race where you race together in a team of two. Each stage is between 2500-3500m elevation and in a normal year, the courses is very spectacular with narrow ridges, long uphills and steep downhills.

Me and Jon Albon have trained together pretty much everyday for the last 4 months and we decided to do it together as a team.


Equipment

Fischer Transalp RC Carbon

Pierre Gignoux Race Pro

Leki Poles

Adidas TERREX Skin Suite

Pomoca Skins

Backpack

Petzl Harness

Petzl Via Ferrata

Probe

Spade

Beacon

First Aid

Emergency Blancet

Hat, Gloves, 2 extra layers

Rain jacket and pants



Day 1

Start 0730 on Wednesday Mars 8 in Areches Beaufort. We felt ready to push and excited to start the Pierra Menta. The conditions was not ideal with not so much much snow in the mountains, strong winds, rain/snowfall and bad visibility so the organisers put the race bit lower down.


We probably had the worst start you could imagine to the race. After just 500m, Jon lost both his skins, 2 times. I was ahead so did not realise it until I noticed that Jon was not in my back. I dropped down to wait for him which ment that we fell behind and got stuck behind people wen the single track started. We did 30/30 intervals to pass people the full first climb which took a lot of energy. When we reached the top I realised my boot strap had opened up and I was really slow in the downhill. I managed to fix it but that ment we lost almost all positions we had gained in the first accent.

So it was back to 30/30 again to make up time and positions.

We finished at 15th position which was ok for with all those mistakes. After the stage, we went back to the hotel, ate some food and started watching the lord of the rings.


Nutrition for the day

1 Maurten 320

4 Maurten Gels















Day 2

Day two was a better story, we did not make any major mistakes with transitions or gear, the weather was good and we could see what Pierra Menta is all about! A lot of people was out cheering around the course and the snow conditions was way better than the day before.

We finished a respectable 10th on the stage and moved up to 11th in the overall. After the stage we ate a lot, fixed the skins and started watching the two towers.


Nutrition for the day

1 Maurten CAF Gel before the start

1 Maurten 320

4 Maurten Gels





















Day 3

Cancelled due to bad weather. First time in Pierra Menta 37 year history. We did the warmup and some cooldown but quickly went back to the hotel to take a hot shower and watch The Return of the King.


Day 4

Day 4 was a short day due to the bad snow conditions, rain heavy wind. The organisers changed the course and to an individual start with 15 second start. The course was just 500m elevation with two transitions and one backpacking. We had a fast start, skied well and was going for a top 10 position until the downhill when Jon suddenly broke his ski boot. We finished 16th at the end and 11th in the general classification.


Nutrition for the day

1 RedBull













Summary


First Pierra Menta experience was very special. It was tough consitions out there and we had lot of bad luck/mistakes the first and last day that frustrated us and made us feel like we had failed and wanted to do better. We learned a lot on what to work on for the future, specially with equipment and transitions. The weather we could not do so much about, It was sad but we think that the organisers did the right decision to cancel the 3rd stage and shorten the 4th. So with that, I weld that I didn't get the full experience of Pierra Menta of pushing all out for 4 days through up and downs, skiing in good weather, climbing ridges and going through the big crowd that is normally around the course. But we had some fun and we will be back!



Photos Philipp Reiter





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