On the "trail" of the PTL
Oh, PTL. I intended to post more regular updates about Beat’s progress in the race, but this week in Chamonix has gotten away from me in a big way. My phone’s sim card died and there’s nothing I can do about it because the phone is AT&T-locked (I hate phones. Up until a month ago I was a proud smart-phone holdout; I had a dumb phone that I rarely used and carried with me only sporadically, and I already miss it, so much.) So our communication is worse than it would be if pay phones were still a thing. But I digress from this retro-grouching. Beat and Daniel are still alive. In a race like PTL, that’s pretty much all that matters.
I figured I'd put in a good "training" week here in the Alps — by which I mean fortifying the mental weaponry and testing how well the legs work rather than accomplishing any real physical conditioning. So on Tuesday I boosted myself out in the deluge and climbed through tedious fog until there were no more trees, only the blurred outline of rocks, a river gushing down the trail, and fierce blasts of wind. Gusts were well above 40 mph. Any time I turned straight into the wind, I was forced to gasp through a fire hose of rain. I felt like I was drowning; I really couldn't breathe. This is what I imagine waterboarding must be like. And the whole time I felt vaguely nauseated because I knew Beat was out on steep and exposed terrain in this weather. I have this conviction that PTL is so dangerous, but then I took a big tumble while attempting to run downhill — slipped on a wet boulder and managed a full somersault and a highly painful jarring (though luckily no dislocation) of my right shoulder. This is why I'm so cautious-to-a-fault and frightened on exposed terrain. People who make a lot of mistakes do not belong in no-fail zones.
On Thursday, I took the bus into Italy to catch Beat and Daniel in Morgex. Despite weather and other hardships, they're making good time on the course and feeling relatively good. They've had some tough nights — 100 kph winds and rain on a high ridge on the first night, and a class-four scramble with an exposed ridge traverse on Col d'Annibal. The usual. The navigation is also tricky this year, with lots of off-trail travel, lost-in-translation route descriptions, and a GPS track that mainly just connects distant points with straight lines.
This is what you get when you ask tired people to smile. See that mat on the left? That's where they were permitted to sleep for a few hours in Morgex. No blankets, no pillows. Just a hard mat in a loud gymnasium. Yup, that's the PTL I know and (don't) love.
tracking page. Oh, PTL.