Alpine running in Chamonix

Alpine running is a name given to moving fast in a mountain environment. It’s a blend of climbing, running and skiing: whichever is applicable to the terrain. It’s normally done “fast and light”, taking minimal equipment, to aid the speediness.

Given that I like climbing, skiing and running but will never be able to invest the time to become a really skilled Alpinist on technical accents, I think I’ve found a niche! I’m going to tell my friends that I’ve become an alpine runner. They will tell me that I’m doing “not-trail, not-running”, and that I’m going “not particularly fast and not particularly light “. I’ll say I’m still learning.

Running Skiing

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. 


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.


Can diabetes make you happy?

Which line to ski? We ended up doing one of the smaller ones! (Red Arrow)

Which line to ski? We ended up doing one of the smaller ones! (Red Arrow)

When I was diagnosed in august last year my first concern was could I go skiing again?! After exercising daily, testing my blood obsessively and plenty of trial (and some error) I’m pleased to report that diabetes has had very little impact on my ski season. The weather and snow conditions have made it frustrating at times but I’ve still managed to have some awesome experiences.

My final ski of the season was the Gigord couloir in chamonix, last week. Skiing this kind of thing is a great transferable skill for managing diabetes. I need to carry the right kit (just like a diabetic), manage risk (just like balancing the risks of low blood sugar with the long run costs of high blood sugar), and solve problems with a clear head.


Diabetes and being ill don’t mix

Gratuitous shot of Mont Blanc. What an amazing view to have whilst marching 850m up a hill.

Gratuitous shot of Mont Blanc. What an amazing view to have whilst marching 850m up a hill.

I’ve just come out of a two week long cold. Despite evidence to the contrary (I got diabetes six months ago), I think of myself as someone who never gets ill. So getting a cold and feeling low on energy and not wanting to run was a real blow. Not least because my fund raising page reminds me that I only have 54 days left to the Marathon. Given that I want to run it in a very challenging time, two weeks of almost no quality training is a real blow. I’m still waiting for comments on whether I should run the marathon in a Onesie by the way. So far two people have commented, and that’s not quite enough to encourage me to do it!

Data Skiing