With a solid base laid in December it was time to up the ante, and I started putting in around 4,000m per week, often at night. The Patrouille des Glaciers race starts at night and continues into the next day, so it’s important to train in similar conditions when possible. Going out at night is not something for the inexperienced though: there are many dangers to be aware of, and if you’re reading this and thinking you’d like to give it a try, make sure you check out things like:
- Where are the piste grooming machines working?
- Are they using cables? On steep slopes, piste grooming machines often use cables to lower themselves down the slope safely. This is really dangerous if you’re out on the slopes either on piste or off: there have been deaths from people skiing into tensioned cables at night as they’re all but invisible. Enquire with the services des pistes before heading out at night.
- Have you got a survival blanket and charged mobile phone?
- Have you packed extra layers to keep warm, particularly on the way back down?
- And of course, it goes without saying you need a decent head torch. Even in a full moon when you don’t really need one to see where you’re going, piste grooming machines have difficulty seeing you without one, as do other skiers coming down in the dark… On Patrouille des Glaciers years it’s surprising just how many people there out there training at night: you are rarely alone.
So January was a big month, totalling 16,000m. This included my first ‘nocturne’ race – a race at night, in this case uphill only followed by a pasta party at the top before skiing down again. You can find a write up of the Thyon Les Masses Nocturne here.