Next week sees the 22nd Pierra Menta, the international ski mountaineering competition and festival of ski touring. The competition takes place over four days and covers 10,000 vertical meters of climbing in the Beaufortain range of the Savoie.
The organisers are praying for good weather. For its coming of age last year’s Pierra Menta was held in monsoon conditions.. The exact route for the event is being left until the last minute depending on the weather and snow conditions with a briefing every day at 18h00. 160 teams are expected including some women although they are not as numerous as the organisers had hoped despite their best efforts. Although one wonders whether setting the “birds” (minettes) as they are referred to in the publicity off ten minutes in advance of the “boys” so they can be chased down is the best way of encouraging women into the sport. Thankfully that idea has been dropped due to the chaos it caused on the first climb in 2006.
The race starts on Thursday the 15th March with the big leg on Saturday. Spectators can take the Grand Mont chairlift from 5h30 to follow the events. The Pierre Menta will also host the 11th Ski Alpinisme Salon at the arrival area in Arêches-Beaufort.