February was a hard month. After 2 months of averagely cool temperatures we got our first real cold snap, with a period of 2 weeks where it was -20 C or colder at night, and barely -15 C during the day. I piled on the vertical though, just dressing more warmly and not pushing it too hard when it was really cold. Below around -14 C alveoli can be damaged by the cold air if you exercise too hard. And the easy test: when you breathe in, if the moisture in your nostrils freezes, it’s probably too cold to push hard. Which was the case for the first 2 weeks of February. I started some longer outings when I had time in Feb, doing up to 2200m vertical in some sessions. One of the biggest challenges when it’s this cold is hydration. Everything freezes so quickly it’s hard to have enough to drink. For shorter training sessions it was enough to go out with hot water in the water bottle, but for longer sessions it became problematic. Typically you can defrost bottles by putting them inside your jacket. Camelback hydration systems tend to freeze up way too easily in very cold conditions.
February was also the month of an absolute epic night trip with my inimitable training buddy Billy Burns. Billy had seen a line to climb from way down below Crans Montana up to the top of their pistes from his excellent vantage point where he works. The snow line was so low and the quality of the snow low down really excellent following the cold temperatures and low cloud gently topping up the lower slopes with huge cold flakes, this was a now or never trip: conditions aren’t often this good these days, so it was time to make the most of it. You can read about our Crans Montana epic here.
So 18,000m in Feb, and nearly ready for our first big training race, the Patrouille de La Maya.