Red Bull Der Lange Weg, the great ski tour traverse of the Alps begins
17 March 2018 is the starting date of the Red Bull Der Lange Weg, the immense ski mountaineering traverse across the Alps from Viena to Nice following in the footsteps of the historic 1971 Austrian team comprised of Robert Kittl, Klaus Hoi, Hansjörg Farbmacher and Hans Mariacher. An international team of 7 alpinists composed of Tamara Lunger, Núria Picas, Janelle Smiley, Mark Smiley, David Wallmann, Philipp Reiter and Bernhard Hug will attempt to complete the ski tour traverse in less than 41 days.
47 years ago the Austrians Robert Kittl, Klaus Hoi, Hansjörg Farbmacher and Hans Mariacher completed the entire traverse of the Alps from east to west on skis, from Reichenau an der Rax close to Vienna all the way to Contes close to Nice in France. The alpinists didn’t choose the most direct route but instead they opted for an extremely challenging line that included some of the highest mountains of the Alps, such as Großglockner (3798 m), Piz Palü (3900 m), Dufourspitze (4634 m), and Mont Blanc (4808 m).
No one has attempted this gruelling challenge for almost 50 years and now, on Saturday 17 March 2018 an international team comprised of Tamara Lunger, Núria Picas, Janelle Smiley, Mark Smiley, David Wallmann, Philipp Reiter and Bernhard Hug follow in their footsteps to accomplish one of the toughest missions in the history of ski touring. The seven athletes will set off from Reichenau an der Rax to relive the incredibile adventure first experienced in 1971 by the Austrian ski mountaineers. Their goal: to set a new time record for this 1917 kilometer alpine traverse which boasts more than 85,000 metres of cumulative elevation gain. And in order to be successful, they must complete the route in less than 41 days!
A bit of history. It’s clear that the Austrian 1971 team was neither the first nor the only traverse of the Alps on skis. The first is generally attributed to Walter Bonatti and Lorenzo Longo who, having set off from the Yugoslavian border on 14 March 156, reached Colle di Nava in France’s Maritime Alps on 18 May. A short while later L. Dematteis and A. Guy completed the traverse, as did the Detassis brothers with A. Righini. The first solo traverse is commonly attributed to Jean-Marc Bois (1970, 30 January St.-Etienne-de-Tinée, Maritime Alps - 25 April Badgaastein, East Tyrol), while the great traverse carried out by legendary Frenchman Lèon Zwingelstein as early as 1933 is certainly worth highlighting: having set off from Nice on 12 February, he reached Tyrol on 6 April. The first solo winter traverse was completed by Italy’s Paolo Rabbia who set off on 29 December from Forcella della Lavina at Mangart (Julian Alps) and reached Garessio 2000 in the Ligurian Alps on 28 February. Ski mountaineering aside, it’s worth considering the 4000m peaks of the Alps and remembering Franco Nicolini and Diego Giovannini who climbed all 82 4000ers in a mere 60 days in 2008, travelling from one mountain to the next only on foot, by bike or on skis. And of course, in more recent times, the late Ueli Steck completed the 82 4000m summits in 62 days without motorised transport.
In short, there have been a series of different traverses, all beautiful, difficult and fascinating. But the immense traverse of the Red Bull Der Lange Weg 2018 will follow in the footsteps of the original Austrian team and climb the same mountains as the original ream did. Since the route is exceptionally demanding, only internationally respected expedition and alpine mountaineers, mountain guides and endurance athletes were chosen to participate. They didn’t know each other before and consequently have never been on an expedition together in this formation. But there’s one thing that unites them: the love for the mountains and the passion for unusual challenges. The group successfully complete the Red Bull Der Lange Weg challenge if four of them reach Nice in less than 41 days.
Tamara Lunger (ITA), 31, is a successful Italian ski mountaineer who additionally dedicated herself to alpine climbing in 2009. She was the Italian Champion in ski mountaineering twice and U-23 World Champion in 2008. Her projects in climbing include K2, Manaslu, and Lhotse. Since 2013 she has also joined some ultra-trail races and won the Transalpine-Run in 2014 together with Annemarie Gross. She gained experience in long ski tours when she crossed the Karakorum in Pakistan on touring skis in 2013. Naturally she played an enormous role in the successful first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat.
Nuria Picas (ESP) is one of the most successful ultra-trail runners in the world. The 41-year-old has won nearly every important international competition, even though the doctors told her after a climbing accident 19 years ago that she would never be able to walk again. She dominated the SkyUltra category of the Skyrunner World Series in 2012, as well as the Ultra-Trail World Tour in 2014 and 2015. In 2017, she took victory at Hong Kong 100, Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc and Maratón Transgrancanaria.
Janelle Smiley (USA) from Colorado (USA) is a ski mountaineer and climber. She won the North American Ski Mountaineering Championships in 2012 and 2014 and is 3-time US champion in this discipline. Her hunger for adventure in the snow has led the 36-year- old to remote peaks all over the world. She runs Blue Square Productions together with her husband Mark in Jackson, Wyoming. The company offers mountain guiding as well as film and photo shootings.
Mark Smiley (USA) is a professional photographer, filmmaker and mountain guide. The 37-year-old loves spectacular descents and skied Mt. St. Elias (5489 m), Canada, Huandoy East (6000 m), Peru, and Denali (6190 m), Alaska. Some years ago, he began to complete the “Fifty Classic Climbs of North America” together with his wife Janelle. Mark Smiley has led 7 international expeditions, 5 Alaska expeditions and countless trips all across the USA.
David Wallmann (AUT) is a trail runner and ski mountaineer. In ski mountaineering, he won the Reither Kogl Trophy and Nesslangerlalm Aufstieg in 2017 as well as Schönleitentrophy and Gaissau Hintersee Trophy in 2016. As a trail runner, he took the title at Stubai Basic Trail and Zugspitz Trailrun Challenge Marathon 2017. David Wallmann is a teacher in Bischofshofen, Salzburg, Austria, in his day job.
Philipp Reiter (GER) is a trail runner and ski mountaineer. The success story of the 26-year-old began in 2009 when he took part in the World Mountain Running Championships in Campodolcino (ITA). In 2017, he took second place at Südtirol UltraSkyrace in Bozen (ITA) and the German Ski Mountaineering Championship, “Jennerstier” in Berchtesgaden (GER). Reiter is also an expert photographer and cameraman.
Bernhard Hug (SUI) began his career as a mountain runner and as a team member of the National Swiss Triathlon team. The 44-year-old took part in 20 Ironman competitions. Later, he discovered adventure racing, where he finished several World Championships among the top ten with different teams. In addition, he’s seen as one of the trail-running pioneers of Switzerland. Since 2012, he’s responsible for the competitive ski mountaineering athletes at Swiss Alpine Club.
Internet: www.redbull.com/derlangeweg e Facebook Red Bull Der Lange Weg