Mammut is going horizontal. #project360 is no longer just about marveling at traditional alpine tours and classic climbing routes;it now includes perhaps the most famous ski-touring race in the world: the Patrouille des Glaciers – which takes place from tomorrow till Saturday.
Zermatt to Verbier is 53 kilometers as the crow flies. However, if you want to ski this route through the heart of the Alps rather than fly it, it is 110 km of challenging terrain. For many die-hard ski touring fans it is the season’s highlight as a multi-day tour. The valley town of the famous Matterhorn is the starting point for perhaps the most famous ski touring race in the world: the Patrouille des Glaciers. It was first introduced by the Mountain Brigade of the Swiss Armed Forces in 1943 as a way to test soldiers’ fitness. In the following years the competition was banned due to an accident, but started again in 1984. The PDG (as it is known in professional circles) is now open to both military and civilian participants. Thousands of athletes now start this race to complete the grueling distance as quickly as possible. Those who don’t regard ski-touring as a race, but who are still very ambitious skiers, are familiar with the section from Zermatt to Verbier as the first stages of the Haute Route, perhaps the most famous alpine crossing of them all.
Those wanting to start the toughest ski touring race in the Alps don’t just need iron-man fitness and excellent skiing skills, they also need to be very familiar with the Alps and be able to negotiate high alpine terrain with ease. Now, with the multi-award-winning #project360 Mammut is bringing this legendary route to screens and mobile devices with breathtaking panoramic images. After tours such as the north face of the Eiger, the Matterhorn Hörnligrat, Mont Blanc and the Elbrus, “The Nose” (the legendary climbing route on El Capitan) and the notorious extreme icefall classic, the Rübezahl, the Swiss mountain sports specialist has taken on the Patrouille. Two teams of athletes tackled the route from Zermatt to Verbier with 360° cameras and brought back fantastic images, which you can admire online at http://project360.mammut.ch/#home.
For the PDG, Mammut incorporated the 360° cameras into two backpacks for the new avalanche airbags. The new models will be available in winter 2016/17 and are the lightest avalanche airbags on the market: the Ultralight Removable Airbag 3.0 is just 1.5 kg with the whole system and carbon cartridge. So there’s no longer any argument to scrimp on safety on a ski tour. However, the avalanche camera backpacks, which were specially made for the project, weigh more than 8 kg, which wasn’t quite comfortable, even for professional ski mountaineers. Who better for such a project than Beni Hug and Tony Sbalbi, who made the headlines last year when they climbed every 7000 m mountain in the Aletsch region on skis
within 24 hours. But Beni and Tony asked for back-up for this project. The young Austrian ski mountaineer and Mammut athlete Daniel Rohringer made a significant contribution to the tracking and carrying work and was the final part in the trio that successfully completed the first stage between Zermatt and Arolla.
In Arolla, an equally strong women’s team took the backpacks with 360° cameras: Mammut Pro Team athlete Andrea Huser, Claudia Stettler and Mammut Alpine School mountain guide Julian Beerman formed the team for the PDG stage to Verbier. Andrea is not only one of the best trail runners in the world, in winter she is on her skis, touring and freeriding, every free minute she has. With Claudia there was another experienced ski mountaineer on board who knew the Patrouille route well from previous races. The fact that the two work well as a team was proved by their win in the Matterhorn Ultracks ski touring race.
The project resulted in breathtaking images of the wide and sometimes wild glacier landscape, including all the highlights of the famous ski touring route. Anyone still looking for a ski touring classic for spring can get inspiration at http://project360.mammut.ch/#home and immerse themselves in a horizontal look at the mountain landscape. The Patrouille des Glaciers is the ninth interactive tour that Mammut has brought to the home of everyone with an interest in the mountains and alpinism.
Put on your skins, fasten your bindings, next stop, Verbier!