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The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world.

- Alexander von Humboldt


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Chamonix

Oct 11, 2018

Registration for Marathon du Mont-Blanc is About to Open.

News from Chamonix: With regards to scenery, there might not be another sporting event like it, with regards to challenges, the same could be said of the 90km race with 6220 meters of vertical.

WRITTEN BY

The Outdoor Journal

Fortunately, there is a distance to suit every level of runner, with 8 races over 3 days of competition. From the 24 hour race around the valley of Chamonix Mont-Blanc, at an average altitude above the 2000m mark, to shorter distances such as the 42km, 23km, 10km, and even races for children. There’s no excuse to miss out on experiencing this beautiful part of the world.

In 2018 the event saw 10,500 registrations and 300 elite athletes, with 80 countries represented. The race also attracted 47.4 million viewers in France, and over 30,000 people actually attended the event in the valley of Chamonix Mont-Blanc. It’s fair to say that this is a big occasion.

THE RACES

The below information was provided by Marathon du Mont-Blanc

The Mont-Blanc 90km race: One of the most technical ultra trail races and also one of the most demanding in its category with narrow, sometimes exposes paths, snowy sections, and an average altitude above the 2000m mark.

Vertical : 6220 m +/-
Maximum time: 24 hours
Number of runners : 1 000 max

The Mont-Blanc 42km race: A marathon distance at it’s origins, it is a 2730m vertical trail which is rolling in the first part of the course until Vallorcine, but very technical in the second half with the mythical passage of the Aiguillette des Posettes.

Vertical : 2 730m + / 1 700 m –
Maximum time : 9 hours
Number of runners : 2 300 max

The Mont-Blanc 23km race: The course remains practically unchanged since 1979 ! This race is a benchmark for the evolution of trail running in regards to sport performances and the diversity of it’s participants.

Vertical : 1680m + / 870m –
Maximum time : 6 hours
Number of runners : 2 000 max

The Mont-Blanc Duo étoilé 17km race: Discover the unique ambiance of a night race where team spirit and sharing are key.

Vertical : 1300m +/-
Number of teams : 500 max

The Mont-Blanc 10km race:This 10km race, a port of entry for the other Mont-Blanc marathon races, accessible to all. It is the opportunity to run as a family, amongst friends, and for the pure pleasure of participating in a festive race in the forest on the cross-country ski trails without technical difficulties.

Vertical : 325m + / 325m –
Number of runners : 2 000 max

The Mont-Blanc Vertical Kilometer: With it’s 3.8km it is the shortest race format of the weekend, but you still have to climb 1000m along a single track path, craftily placed beneath the Planpraz cable car.

Vertical : 1000m +

Pre-registration for the 3 longer races, 90k, 42k, 23k races from Monday 15th October at 9:00 am to midnight on Sunday 4th November 2018. It’s not first come, first served, but if more people that the maximum quota apply, then a ballot is organized. With the results of that ballot announced on Thursday 8th November.

For more information, visit http://www.montblancmarathon.net

Cover Photo: Gaestan Haugeard

 

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Athletes & Explorers

Oct 15, 2018

9 Climbers Die at Gurja Base Camp: What We Know So Far

Even if many questions remain unanswered, a tragedy that seemed bizarre at first has slowly come to reveal itself, as a five member South Korean expedition and four Nepali guides die during a violent snowstorm.

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WRITTEN BY

The Outdoor Journal

Since this article was published, The Outdoor Journal has published an update to this story, entitled: Update: 9 Climbers Die at Gurja Base Camp. What Really Happened? The Experts Opinion.

The Himalayan Times were the first to report that “at least nine climbers including five Korean nationals were killed when a massive landslide buried the base camp of Mt Gurja (7,193 metres) on the lap of the south face of Mt Dhaulagiri in western Nepal”. This was according to the expedition organiser, Wangchu Sherpa, Managing Director at Trekking Camp Nepal.

“Endless glaciers under my feet make my heart throb, I feel like I should discover every corner of the Himalayas.” Kim Chang-ho.

It was the deadliest accident within Nepal’s climbing community since 2015, and those that passed away included decorated Korean team leader Kim Chang-ho. Kim had previously topped the world’s 14 highest peaks, in record time, and was of the few that had done so without the aid of oxygen. The rest of Kim’s team, from the Korean way Gurja Himal Expedition 2018, included Lee Jaehun, Rim Il-jin, Yoo Youngjik, and Jeong Joon-mo. The Nepali support team who also lost their lives were named as Chhiring Bhote of Hatiya-2 , Dena Angjuk Bhote of Hatiya-6, Phurpu Bhote of Hatiya-6 all in Shankhuwasabha district, and Natra Bhadur Chantel of Dhaulagiri Rural Municipality-1 in Myagdi district.

The Dhaulagiri Range, home to Gurja Photo: MITESHSTHA

SNOWSTORM, AVALANCHE OR LANDSLIDE

The climbers were waiting out the weather as they planned on a summit attempt, the nearby 24,000 foot Gurja. Only 30 people have successfully reached this peak, in stark contrast to the 8000 people who have made the summit of Everest. The goal of this particular expedition was to establish a new route to the summit, and name it Korean Way: One Korea – Unification of North and South Korea. However, in the early hours of Friday 12th October, a violent snowstorm hit the camp and the BBC reported on a freak accident that scattered the bodies as far as 500m, but contrary to the Himalayan Times did not report a landslide or avalanche.

“Base camp looks like a bomb went off”

The Kathmandu Post reported that upon arriving at the camp, Nepali climbing guide Lakma Sherpa said “When a team of locals reached the site, it was clear immediately that the camp was hit by snowstorm” and that “officials suspect that a massive avalanche on the mountain may have triggered the snowstorm.”

Meanwhile, Shailesh Thapa Kshetri, a police spokesman in Nepal, told the New York Times that it was unlikely that an avalanche had struck the team, because the bodies were not buried.


The reality of what had happened in base camp on Friday night is clearly open for debate. However, all eyewitnesses were agreed upon a scene of total destruction. Helicopter pilot Siddartha Gurung told AFP: “Everything is gone, all the tents are blown apart”. Dan Richards of Global Rescue, a US-based emergency assistance group assisting in the retrieval effort that “Base camp looks like a bomb went off” and “at this point we don’t understand how this happened. You don’t usually get those sorts of extreme winds at that altitude and base camps are normally chosen because they are safe places”. Suraj Paudyal, a member of the rescue team hypothothsised when talking to CNN “It seems that a serac (a piece of glacial ice broke) and barreled down the couloir (a gully on a mountainside) from the top ridge of the mountain and the gust created the turbulence washing the climbers and staff from their tented camp at the base camp”.

There are clearly more questions than answers remaining, but perhaps those questions will begin to be answered over the next few days as investigations continue.

RECOVERY EFFORTS

On Saturday, a helicopter was dispatched to the site and the bodies of the victims could be seen. However, due to high winds, and not having a safe place to land, the helicopter was forced to return to base. Locals reached the basecamp on Saturday evening, but were again beaten back by the weather, before the helicopter again returned in the early hours of Sunday morning, and all nine bodies were recovered within a couple of hours.

Eight of the bodies have now been airlifted back to Kathmandu, whilst the body of local Netra Bahadur Chhantyal was handed over to his kin upon retrieval.

Having become the first Korean to summit Everest, Kim was once quoted as saying “Endless glaciers under my feet make my heart throb, I feel like I should discover every corner of the Himalayas.”

Cover photo: The Dhaulagiri Range, home to Gurja by Prajwal Mohan

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