Updated: Jan 12
The Patrouille des Glaciers (PDG) is by far the most cult ski touring event in the world. The course leads from Zermatt via Arolla to Verbier, and takes you through the spectacular high-altitude mountain regions of the Valais Alps.
The PDG began during World War II, as a way for mountain specialists of the Swiss Armed Forces to train in harsh mountain terrain. It was stopped in 1949 for a long time after three patrollers fell to death in a crevasse, and started up again in 1984. Since then it has been held every two years and has become increasingly popular and there are now more candidates than places. The race is still organised by the Swiss army with its military precision. For a long time only military patrols took part, but the high-altitude mountain race has long since become the ultimate test of strength and stamina. The race requires a certain level of fitness & ski mountaineering experience to enter, despite this the race draws in thousands of participants. However, only the toughest and fittest make it through to the end.
The PDG is unique in that it is undertaken in teams of three. That means you have to know your team mates inside out, and be able to progress together. Despite the competitive edge, there's a strong community spirit among the patrollers. The event is open to all - both elite athletes and common adventurers - and as a matter of principle, there's no prize money on offer for the winners.
Nowadays there are two different races in which a patrol (consisting of three people) can participate in, a normal and short one:
Zermatt - Arolla - Verbier: 53 kilometers, altitude difference +3994m and – 4090m. This is equivalent to 110 km without altitude difference.
Arolla - Verbier: 27 kilometres, altitude difference +1881m and – 2341m. This is equivalent to 53 km without altitude difference.
Already getting excited? Have a look at the route of the full PDG below:
The edition of the PDG in 2018 brought two new records. The Italian team of Robert Antonioli, Matteo Eydallin and Michel Boscacci made it from Zermatt to Verbier in 5 hours 35 minutes and 27 seconds and the women’s team of Jennifer Fiechter (CH), Axelle Mollaret (F) and Laetitia Roux (F) made it to Verbier in 7 hours 15 minutes and 35 seconds.
Unfortunately, the edition of 2020 was cancelled due to Corona, but all teams are now focused to prepare themselves for 2022 edition. This year we will follow up with some more blogs about this famous ski tour. For example about our experience in the 2018 event and our preparations for 2022. BEAT will have a few teams participating next year in the whole and half PDG. Ask us for more information to join this spectacular event!