Ever wonder what it would take to ski tour for 40 days in a row? Well, seven skiers just set out on an absolute bender of a ski tour: a mission to traverse the Alps east to west. Red Bull’s Der Lange Weg (German for “the long way”) event started this weekend, pitting Tamara Lunger, Núria Picas, David Wallmann, Philipp Reiter, Bernhard Hug, and even Jackson’s own Mark and Janelle Smiley against the elements and the limits of the human body on a 1200-mile ski tour.
In 1971, four Austrians set off on the same route, skiing from Vienna, Austria to Nice, France. They did not choose the easy way, instead opting to link together ascents of iconic peaks like the Großglockner, Piz Palü, and Mont Blanc. Along the way, they stayed in mountain huts and camped, a format this year’s team will follow.
Things looked a little different in 1971. Red Bull Media photo.
The mission covers 1917 kilometers (nearly 1200 miles) with more than 85,000 meters (nearly 280,000 feet) of elevation gain. Athletes will be moving for 41 days straight, dealing with weather and conditions as they come and putting their extremely high level of mountain experience to the test. All seven skiers are professional athletes and/or mountain guides and will have to deal with complex avalanche situations, technical climbing, and leg-destroying descents day in and day out.
On the mountain, they have to make their own decisions, which is not an easy task with a team of seven athletes, as competitor Philipp Reiter explained: “We are a big team: seven stubborn personalities, seven own opinions! Nobody is used to take orders, everyone wants to give orders – we have to find a good agreement here. But seven is an odd number, so we will always have a democratic majority!”
However, everyone is psyched for the days ahead. “My personal goal is to arrive in Nice, have fun and make new friends,” Tamara Lunger said before the start. “I want to take each day as it comes and enjoy what I’m allowed to experience here.”
David Wallmann is especially looking forward to the summit experiences on the tour: “The highlights are sure to be the highest mountains in every country we cross: Grossglockner in Austria, Dufourspitze in Switzerland and Mont Blanc in France.”
This year's crew of stoked individuals, ready to start the biggest ski mission of their lives. Red Bull Media photo.
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