Roller Skiing: Montée de Semnoz - 1,676 m. (5,499 ft)

Sat, 21 September 2019


Minimum altitude: 868 meters

Distance: 12.9 km

Slope Aspect: North

Trip Reports

Vertical Climbed: 831 meters (2,727 feet)

Vertical Descended: 59 meters


15th climb of the Semnoz is a roller ski competition held in the autumn for the last 15 seasons. It is part of the national Rollerski Challenge series. I'd not done any of the other competitions although I fancied giving the l'Alpe d'Huez event a go but it was cancelled this year. For the men's 10km race, around 850 meters of vertical, you have the choice of skating or classic skis. I chose classic, even though they are on average 20% slower than skating. I've done a few climbs on skating and if you are not strong enough to maintain a good rhythm it can quickly become a nightmare. In general your heart rate is higher than classic style which is very tiring. I've done a few climbs around here and I'm about good for 400 meters vertical.

So I arrived at 9.30 with my Barnett classic rollerskis. A very pleasant young woman ran over to find out my name. I was last to arrive so she checked me in then took me the 2km to the start by car as she didn't think I'd have enough time to make it. She was very interested that someone had come from England to take part in their race, not the first non French competitor over the 15 years the event has been held and the Czech, Karolina Bicova was taking part in the women's event (she was second). I warmed up a bit then lined myself up at the back of the bunch of around 60 skiers. A register was called then the gun was fired. The first couple of hundred meters were flat and by the time I looked up there was virtually no-one ahead, they were already far up the road. On the first section of climb I could see 4 skiers still. One on classic (dress in a pink panther lycra onesie) and 3 skaters. As the road steepened to 8% I could see them begin to slow a bit relative to me. At the turn for Quintal one of the stewards shouted "keep up with them", "I'm going to catch them" I replied. I was aware of the broom wagon on my heels with its engine revving away but just after the junction I caught the first of the skaters and set off in pursuit of the next.

The road surface is ok but a bit rough, the skaters were skiing on the patched sections of tarmac which were a bit smoother but they told me the rough surface was very tiring. A couple of km further up the road and I caught the next skate but the broom wagon was behind me again - it seems the first skater I caught had abandoned shortly after. The road was now some steeper ramps with flatter sections couple with hairpins. I thought I'd catch the other classic skier but as I got to around 50 meters he heard me and upped his speed and pulled away a bit. Coming into the ski resort of le Semnoz the road flattens for 500 meters, I double polled here to pick up speed and overtook another skater - who promptly abandonned just a couple of km from the finish. Here the road is really steep and I saw the other classic skier crack a bit and was able to pull level, then pass him. Just before the village there is a restaurant and people were cheering him on saying "he (me) is slowing, you can catch him". I could here the click clack of his poles right on my take. As we came to the finish I began double polling as the gradient had flattened and I didn't want to be passed. We must have looked like a couple of pensioners in a retirement home racing for supper with our zimmer frames.

1h28m for the climb, a climb rate of 525 meters / hour. I'm happy with that. Behind us one other skier, 71 year old Jean-Pierre Cochet, one of the pioneers of rollerskiing in the region. Behind us 3 abandons on the climb.

The Dragons d'Annecy ski club organised lunch for us at the restaurant. A very well organised event with friendly company. I was dropped back at the start by one of the other racers.


Warm, pleasant at altitude, no wind. Road a bit damp on slippy on the edges.


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