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More than 600 participants, 4 days, 10,000 meters of elevation gain. They say the Pierra Menta is the “Tour de France of ski mountaineering.” On the mountains of Arêches-Beaufort (Savoie, France), where the race is held every year, sweat and effort mix with the joy and pleasure of the ski mountaineers. Participating in the Pierra Menta means being among the elite of ski mountaineering. With its format, unchanged since the year of its launch, the event continues to draw the best athletes from all over the world, who train for up to an entire year to prepare for this challenge, which without hesitation can be defined as a top goal for the season. The race route, which is part of the Grande Course circuit, is unique and incomparable, requiring endurance on the climbs and impeccable technique on the descents.

The Pierra, as enthusiasts call it, is one of a kind. It is the perfect mix of competition, effort, enthusiasm, and a festive atmosphere. Thousands of spectators converge on the small town of Arêches every year to experience — together with the ski mountaineering champions — an event that is much more than just a race.


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.



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