Just a few weeks ago I completed the Pierra Menta with my teammate and friend, Kylee Ohler.
The Pierra Menta is a 4 day stage race of ski mountaineering. Teams are comprised of 2 people who must complete the course together from beginning to end. Over the course of 4 days we covered 10,000 vertical meters of climbing. We went up and over various cols and peaks, bootpacked couloirs and rocky slopes, scrambled across ridges, ran through European villages, and skied down beautiful lines. Back to back each day was challenging as the legs fatigued.
But what this post is really about is the ambience. I have never experienced any race like this before. The closest was the Pikes Peak World Mountain Running Championships with people all over the trail cheering runners on. But the Pierra Menta…..where to begin???..… The Areches-Beaufort community is absolutely ecstatic about ski mountaineering, and especially the Pierra Menta race. Thousands of people came out to watch and cheer.
On the last day the slopes were covered with people. It felt like the Tour de France with the skin tracked roped off and spectators leaning over cheering and yelling. One man brought his accordion. Another man hiked to a quiet spot with his harmonica. There were bugles, saxophones, horns, whistles, flags, cowbells and more. One dude was cooking smokies atop a col to hand out. When I toped out onto the first ridge on day 4 I was so overwhelmed by the amount of people stoked to watch me and other athletes race. From within all the hundreds of people yelling “Allez! Allez! Allez!” I thought of the journey and the support of all those friends, family, and sponsors who helped me get there. It was so incredible! The emotions were overwhelming – and to say I was in one of the coolest races in the world felt like an understatement.
Imagine with your all mind. Believe with all your heart. Achieve with all your might.