Despite the snow and ice getting the better of at least two fell races at the weekend (the Pennine Bridleway Relay and the Mickleden Straddle), two fell runners are revelling in the freezing temperatures on the icy slopes of the French Alps at the European Ski Mountaineering Championships.
Who are they?
Dark Peak's Es Tressider and Borrowdale's Ben Bardsley
|Es is seen here approaching the finish line of (and about to win) the 2011 Jura Fell Race - (Photo by Konrad Borkowski http://www.ephotographica.com)|
|Here's Ben just setting off on Leg 2 of the Ian Hodgson Relay October 2011 (photo by Fell Running Briefs)|
What is Ski Mountaineering?
Well let's let Es explain - his website (http://www.es-on-ice.co.uk/) describes......
"This addictive sport combines lung-bursting climbs with heart-in-mouth off-piste descents along with airy arêtes and steep couloirs negotiated on foot (with skis on the pack). Imagine the best ski-tour you’ve ever done covered at many times the speed complete with tour de France style spectators, large cowbells and more than enough lycra to supply the royal ballet for several seasons! It is a well established sport in the Alps and interest from British participants has been growing year on year."
|A Ski Mountaineering Start (photo from the ISMF European Championsip Ski Mountaineering Facebook)|
"In order to do well you’ll have to be not only fit, but also able to quickly transition between skins on/skins off/skis on feet/on pack/crampons on, etc!"
So how are they doing?
Es and Ben competed in the Team Event yesterday (Sunday) and came 17th.
|Ben on Twitter is @quarryside|
Ben told us and other followers on Twitter
"Just competed in the Team race at the European Ski Mountaineering Champs. Amazing course.... But bloody freezing! Minus 20C! The Euros are in Vallouise this year. It is so cold everyone's having transport issues! Car battery charger working overtime! Snow -SUBLIME"
|Vallouise a commune in the Haute Alpes department in South East France (wikipedia)|
"I raced with Es Tresidder today. 2000m climbing and even more descent! Really exciting skiing- couloirs, tight trees, narrow icy paths! It's incredibly competitive, only the key ski mountaineering nations are here. Our aim was not to come last and we didnt! Mission accomplished."Today it was the sprint race and Ben said a young unheard of German won by a massive 7 seconds!
Es and Ben will race again on Wednesday in the individual races.
Good luck guys!