PDG madness hits town…
The final day of the Patrouille des Glaciers and you’ll delighted to hear that the record of yomping across mountains in the dead of night from Zermatt to Verbier has been beaten – they can get here in under 6 hours now. I’m told about 5 hours and 50 minutes, which slashes 25 odd minutes off the previous record.
What is the PDG? Well it’s a ski touring race from Zermatt to here where competitors enter in teams of three, and set of at midnight. It’s incredibly hard. And possibly suicidal.
It’s only every two years means that in a PDG year at the start of the season everybody who does a bit of touring starts having whispered conversations in the Pub Mont Fort about having a stab. Most of us promptly decide it’s too much hassle. After all, it’s like two marathons in one night. On snow. And across some pretty scary mountains.
It’s also a pretty impressive logistical exercise for the Swiss Army (and due to Swiss national service a huge number of them descend on resort and seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in the pubs).
But the Army marshal the whole thing and manage to dodge crevasses, avalanche-prone-slopes and cliffs and still get every single competitor and spectator safely off the hill. And yes, people do hike up to watch the racers coming through the cols in the wee small hours of the morning.
But the biggest thing is that it seems to somehow articulate a Valaisanne (and Swiss) sense of pride – a way to assert their Valais-ness…