Ski Mountaineering Racing Lesson #1: Wax on

I took part in my 2nd uphill ski mountaineering race last night, the Ybriger Nachtskitourenskilauf at Hochybrig. It hurt all the way, from the very start, to the second I crossed the line. It hurt even more when all my really hard work to catch the woman in 3rd place ahead of me, went to vain on the flat and downhill sections because I hadn’t waxed my skins! There is a lot I have still to learn about this sport!

The Course


The Start Hurt

I got a shock at the start when everyone started off running uphill. Man, that hurt. I tasted blood in my mouth after a minute (anyone got an explanation for that?). Then I knew I had to settle into it or I would blow up horribly. The next major discomfort were the dehabilitating cramps in my calves. I guess dragging the weight of my super-not-light skis at a much faster pace than normal, sent my calves into shock! But after I raised my heel on the bindings and dug in to the steeper uphill section the cramps eased.

The Middle Hurt

When I approached mid-way I realised I had closed in on the woman who was ahead of me at the start. I was determined to try to keep closing on her until, in my imagination, the big sprint at the finish when I would overtake her. Alas, that was not to be due to the problem mentioned in the opening paragraph!

The Finish Hurt

Despite my disappointment at not passing my rival in 3rd place. I was happy to still have some fuel in the tank to push through at a nice pace to the finish egged on by my friend Sylvain over the last few metres to the line.

The Result was Ok

All in all I was happy with my result. I was a long way off the first woman but she is a professional biathlete who has obviously got a lot of racing and experience under her belt. I was within 2 minutes of 2nd and 3rd place respectively, and 2nd place was a well-known ITU triathlete in her day! So – hurray! I’ve got some form again.

Unfortunately I have no photos but here is are the results:

My friend Mathilde came in close behind me and that was a great show. We both dug deep.

Ski Mountaineering Races are…great!

I really like these races. You are pushed to the limit the whole way. There is no avoiding it, just getting to the top is a struggle, there is no hiding or drafting and not much tactics involved in the shorter races, its just all go right from the start.

The Ybriger Nachtskitourlauf costs 25 CHF to enter and that includes a meal at the end, so does the Night Attack in Flumserberg. They are usually at night so you have the day to lounge around and relax (unless the race is a longer one)

You nearly always a bag of goodies to bring away and a very high chance of getting a prize for performance or in the raffle (at the Flumserberg Night Attack 2 people out of our 6 person gang came away with raffle prizes). The ski down is nearly always great fun in the dark, although the conditions last night were less than optimal as it was raining and the snow was slush.

The people are nice and friendly and not pretentious at all, this makes a change from some other sports where people are really into fancy equipment but in the end are still afraid of the pain factor. Although there is still a lot of flash gear at the ski mountaineering races, the majority of competitors are quite unassuming characters.

There is a list of upcoming races on the SAC website


One thought on “Ski Mountaineering Racing Lesson #1: Wax on

  1. On the blood taste when exercising question, I used to only get that when running in the cold, and took to wrapping a light scarf around my nose and mouth during winter which seemed to help.
    A couple of web searches yielded these results: (see response #3) (mucus-related)

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