At the beginning it was a challenge, a bet among a group of friends. This was how the Pierra Menta started in 1985, described by the creators as “Dakar on the snow.” A slightly crazy idea that, over the course of several months, became the route that is now iconic, touching 15 peaks between 2,000 and 2,687 meters of elevation, with exhausting climbs and dizzying descents. In March 1986, everything was ready for the first edition, in which 15 teams, all French, participated. From that moment on, the history of the Pierra Menta was enriched with stories, challenges, and anecdotes that quickly transformed it into a legend. The numbers grew rapidly, to the point that in 2006, 20 years after the launch, there were 175 registered teams and more than 4,000 spectators climbing up to enjoy the show. Meanwhile, many things happened, ski mountaineering stars were born, and the heroes of the Pierra were celebrated, including Fabio Meraldi, who would win the race 12 times. But also Kilian Jornet and the athletes from the sports section of the Italian army, like Matteo Eydallin and Damiano Lenzi.
The Pierra Menta is a difficult race, due not only to the elevation gain and the technical nature of the route but above all to the harsh high-mountain environment in which it takes place. This was demonstrated in 2023, when, for the first time since the event’s inception, the organizers found themselves forced to first modify the route and then cancel the last stage. A total whiteout, snow, hail, and winds of over 100 kilometers per hour were the elements that led to this decision. The same elements that did not stop the thousands of enthusiasts who, for more than 30 years, have put on their skis at the first light of dawn and gone up the mountains to cheer on the champions with cowbells, accordions, trumpets, and bells in an almost sacred ritual that takes place every year in March.