Monte Rosa skiing – Orestes Hutte

This time last year I discovered two things:

(1) skiing with type 1 diabetes is not only possible, but I have been able to push my own personal limits in exactly the same way as I did before the diagnosis.

(2) the Monte Rosa ski area, and the best hospitality EVER at the Orestes Hütte.

After starting 2014 there, we had to finish 2014 there too. The snow wasn’t as good as last year, but we still had loads of fun exploring the area on skins, found some fun couloirs and had an amazing last day. Every skier should visit the area and the hut. 

Skiing

All haste and no speed – how to go from hero to zero in an ultra marathon

Henry David Thoreau said “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”

My new friend Harry and I had been splashing through half frozen puddles on a (suspiciously) small path through a hilltop bog, visualising our glorious podium finish after the 44 mile run through the Brecon Beacons. We were feeling strong and had opened up a big lead on the field with the group behind us out of sight. But as we crested the ridge, I realised that we were WAY off track.

Races

Does training help the body burn fuel more efficiently?

An important part of getting fitter, and improving both speed and endurance is training the body to burn fat at higher levels of intensity. This is really important for athletes who do the things I like doing – running (because they can go faster and further) and mountaineering (because mountaineers don’t have very good access to food to top up their limited carbohydrate stores).

One of the advantages of having diabetes is that I can observe how much carbohydrate I need to eat to keep my blood sugar stable. Does this mean that I have an insight into how well my body is adapting to burning fat? Can this help anyone else?

Data Training

Mont Blanc via the NW ridge of Mont Maudit

“And while we’re there, it would be rude not to climb Mont Blanc!”  

Sat in the Cosmiques refuge, Oli, Nico and I were wondering what to climb the following day. We had settled on climbing Tour Ronde – a popular peak on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif – although none of us were that excited about the 2.5 hour approach walk across the heavily glaciated Vallee Blanche. I had stumbled on a mixed snow and rock climb up the North West ridge of Mont Maudit, which stands at about 4450m and is just below Mont Blanc. The best thing about it was that the “approach” to the climb involved scaling Mont Blanc du Tacul – a peak of over 4000m in its own right. Nico and I had been forced to turn back 50m below its summit two days before in favour of a sprint, slide and rush back to catch the last lift. So we had unfinished business there.  

In one voice, we exclaimed “let’s do that!” And of course we all knew that after attaining the summit of Maudit, all we had to do to reach the roof of Europe was walk – no climbing involved – another 500m higher. We would then continue on to the Goutier hut and therefore complete the traverse of Mont Blanc. Simples! We changed our breakfast time from 5am to 3am and immediately went to bed, we were so excited.

Skiing

Ultramarathon “taper” – and the unforgettable goats

The last "run" five days before the ultra

The last “run” five days before the ultra

A lot of preparation has gone into getting myself ready for the CCC tomorrow. The CCC is the little sister of the ultra-tour du mont-blanc (UTMB) – a mere 101km and 6100m of climbing. (The 6100 of downhill will be the difficult bit of course.) This is more than enough for me. I feel fit, strong and have no idea how fast I will go. I hope I’ll finish it of course.

They say that success in running ultras can be boiled down to winning the “ultra-eating” competition. One can expect to burn about 700 calories an hour. The body can absorb up to 300 calories an hour if one eats as much carbohydrate as possible. Competitors frequently suffer from nausea or vomiting, and this can lead to exhaustion if they cannot hold food down. 

Running