While researching for a feature on high altitude adrenaline sports for Style Altitude I've discovered that running up mountains is actually a thing. It's skyrunning. Even the word is inspirational.

Skyrunning is an increasingly popular and gruellng sport - in essence it's extreme running at altitude. Technically skyrunning according to the International Skyrunning Federation is on trails over 2000m with more than 30 percent incline although running up steep mountains is a simpler definition and saves getting a protractor out. The High Trail Vanoise is one of the Skyrunning Series, summiting Grand Motte running 67km and tackling 5400m of vertical terrain.

I've been running up mountains for several years, gradually becoming fitter and more disciplined to keep going up vertically for miles, without stopping. In the mountains at the moment it's June and the snow is still thawing above 2300m so the trails are slick with overflowing streams and, sometimes, actual snow.

Mountain running means maybe going a little slower to keep breathing steady uphill AND to avoid going headlong over a rock downhill. But grazed knees and squelching trainers are always going to be par for the skyrunning course.

Yesterday I did a familiar run up from the Col du Lautaret to the Col du Galibier which is four miles and around 700m vertical. It's a familiar run not just in trainers but also on skis as a backcountry ski tour with Gav and our two Jack Russells. In the summer, though, Gav is on a mountainbike while the Jacks cover double the distance chasing marmot whistles. 

col du galibier


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