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  • Writer's pictureDominik Wychera

Mountain Attack - SKIMO

Updated: Feb 27, 2023

The "Hervis Mountain Attack" is one of the biggest and prestigious SKIMO (ski mountaineering) races in the world, luckily it is in Austria.

As I am always looking for new challenges in my life and spending weeks in the mountains doing ski touring and cross country skiing during winter I decided to sign up for my first ever SKIMO race. Of course it had to be one of the hardest. So I signed up for the Mountain Attack in Saalbach-Hinterglemm which is only about an hour drive from my home. There were 3 different categories:

  1. Route Schattberg Race 1017hm climb

  2. Route Tour 2036hm climb + downhill

  3. Route Marathon 3010hm climb + downhill

I decided to do the Marathon with more than 3000 meters of climbing which was a big challenge for me as I have never done so many high meters before.

I drove there with no expectations, my only goal was: finish the race. I didn't know about the nutrition, hydration, dressing game, jackets for the downhill, different gloves to keep me warm, a headlamp and so on.

I packed my backpack with all the safety gear, my hydration bag, gels, jackets, crampons, musli bars, mobile phone and was ready to go. More than 3000 athletes lined up in the town of Saalbach-Hinterglemm, the vibe was amazing. I quickly realized I was part of the group with the lets say "not so professional gear". I was still having carbon skis and boots, but just my normal ones from backcountry touring.

I didn't care, I was ready for the challenge, didn't care about my time as long as I stayed under 4 hours (winning time 2:20h haha).

The gun went off at 4pm and we all started into the race at the same time. We ran with our skis in our hands 200m through the town to reach the slope where a 1000hm uphill awaits us. My heart rate went crazy and everyone was pushing the pace. I didn't even try to go with the front but the amazing atmosphere motivated me to go all in. That climb was so steep that everyone used crampons for more grip. It was amazing.

I reached the Schattberg in a pretty decent time, but the wind and the cold temperatures on top of the mountains were not easy to handle. I took off my climbing skins, closed my boots for skiing down and put on a jacket. Watching other competitors I already lost 5 minutes only in this transition. On the way down I was fast, my background from skiing was. very helpful. Back in the valley I took off my jacket again, put on the climbing skins and opened my boots for walking. Quickly found the right pace again for the second 1000hm up to Zwölferkogel. Some parts of the slope were too steep to walk on skis so everyone put them on the backpack and walked straight line up the hill- there were more than a hundred athletes ahead of me, so the steps in the slope were already a perfectly made staircase.

Up on top I was much quicker and also the wind was not as strong. Quickly changed I was racing down the mountain already getting ready for climb 3. This part of the race was not as steep, but that means the cadence had to be higher to keep up with the others. My nutrition and hydration was okay and I could push to the end. Into the last downhill I overtook about 7 people, reached the finish line in 3:54:24 in 105th position- what a fun day in the mountains.

Pictures: Sportograf


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