4 & 3/4 Peaks out of 5

Posted: January 2, 2012 in Running, Training
Chris Goodfellow's Zermatt 5 peak Challenge
The ‘Zermatt five peak challenge’ – In the aftermath of Kona, recovering from the race and shingles my mind started to look forward.  What was next?  The answer my brain came up with was the ‘Zermatt five peak challenge’.  This entailed running up to the top of every ski mountain in Zermatt.  It is not a formal event, just one crazy mans idea of a great day 🙂
I guess I will start with the broken nights sleep leading up to the run.  I found my self waking up every 30 mins looking out of the window checking the weather was still looking good.  I could not sleep much and time seemed to slow down, with the night going on forever, kind of like the night before a big race.  When the alarm did finally go off at 5am it really did feel like the middle of the night and as I got my self ready to head out, I did start to question what the hell I was doing.

It was a new moon as I left the flat, and as I slowly distanced myself from  Zermatt, it felt like I was entering a different world.  This world was totally silent except for the crunch of snow under my feet.  From time to time I would stop and take it all in.  I could hardly believe how utterly alone and isolated it felt running up the mountain in the dark.  I felt like an explorer with the unknown ahead of me and there was a mixture of apprehension and excitement.

Before reaching the top of the first peak (Rothorn) I had not seen a single thing move since I had left the flat.  Only at the top did I see the first sign of movement in the form of a chamoix.  It was amazing how still the mountains were and the very smallest movement of the chamoix caught my attention immediately, like a hawk focusing in on its prey.  I had hoped to watch the sun rise at the top of the first peak, but as I stood there staring into the expanse on darkness the sun was not showing any sign of hitting the peaks.  Heading back down the mountain towards Gant the sun finally kissed the top of the Matterhorn at ten to eight.  Magic does not even come close to the way the mountains look as the sun slowly spreads over them.  Having been running in darkness for almost 3 hours I was hypnotized by this view of the sunlight expanding across the vast mountain range on the other side of the valley.

The climb from Gant up to Hohtalli was tough, steep and cold.  Being north facing, the sun would not be hitting these slopes for a good couple of hours.  I had never run up to this peak before and it was the only real unknown of the days challenge (aside from doing each climb back to back of course!).  So I was relieved to reached the top around the 4 hour mark, still feeling in good shape 🙂

I then had a 20 minute down hill section heading towards Gornergrat.  The climb up to the third peak was a short 200m one and as I emerged into the sunlight for the first time that day I felt an new man.  I stood still for a few minutes just soaking up the view and then, re-energised by the sunlight, descended from Gornergrat with a bounce in my step soaking up the warmth of the sun 🙂  The clock read 4hrs 30mins.
By the time I reached Furi the downhill had taken its toll and mentally I was not is a good place.  The climb from Furi up to Scharzee is up through a beautiful valley but despite the view, the bounce in my step had gone.  Towards the end of this climb the clock passed the 6 hour mark.  This was the longest I had ever run and mentally was a difficult barrier to push through.  My body was still surprisingly in good shape and I was holding a good pace, but despite this, my mind was shot.  I reached the top of the forth peak and the clock was at 6hrs 15mins.   I did not have enough day light left to safely make it all the way to the top of the final peak.

I so very badly wanted to stop.  I was going to stop.  I was done.  4 out of 5 is not bad!  Why would I bother running any further given I could not make it to the last peak?  At that point I surprised myself.  I am not sure why or what happened but I found myself running down to Furg and up towards Trockner Steg.  This section is steep and packed with skiers.  I was expecting to find it tough, really tough.  But then out of no where, I had found a another gear! 🙂

I have to say, I honestly was enjoying every step.  The clock passed the 7 hour mark and the slope eased to a gentle gradient in the last few km to Trockne Steg.  This was to be the finish for today.  I found myself turning around and even running backwards as I starred at the mountains I had run up.  As is always the way, the view is always that much better when you have made it up there under your own steam.  Multiply that view by four peaks and you get some idea of how special this view was right at that moment.
I hit Trockner Steg and the time was 7hrs 12 mins and 2 secs.  4 and 3/4 peaks in one day.  Just in time for some lunch 😉
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Comments
  1. Kerry jones says:

    Briliant chris as always – you never cease to amaze me or inspire me love to you both xx kerry x

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