Published on 7 March 2022 Reading time: 4 min
Already four times winner of the Pierra Menta, Kilian Jornet is back in Arêches-Beaufort to take part in this race which he appreciates so much for its atmosphere, its course and its values. He took the opportunity to spend a few weeks in the Beaufortain, “just a perfect place for ski touring”!
Interview conducted in Arêches-Beaufort, Thursday March 3, 2022
We know that the Pierra Menta is one of your favorite races in which you like to participate, why? What makes this race special?
It is a race that is part of the history of ski mountaineering. In four days, we discover the region, we travel all over the Beaufortain massif, we climb ridges, we make beautiful descents with beautiful landscapes: it's real ski mountaineering! There is also a great spirit of sharing, with the teammate first, but also with the public, with all these spectators, it's incredible!
Beyond the Pierra Menta race, you know this Beaufortain massif well as you have often come there, you arrived more than a week ago, what do you think of this environment?
For the practice of ski touring in winter, the Beaufortain is just perfect!
The peaks are accessible on skis, with plenty of possibilities, from the quietest to the most technical. You can also link all the different peaks, there is no impassable barrier, so you can travel all over the massif in a very natural way. And the conditions are often good. Its geographical location means that we often have snow. This year, there is not much snow elsewhere and here it is quite good. It's one of the best places in the Alps for ski touring, that's for sure. The other particularity is this village atmosphere, still preserved without large resorts where there is no soul as can be seen elsewhere. Here there is life all year round!
Is there a mountain, a route that you particularly appreciate, a favorite?
It's hard to say, there are so many different places! Magical places like the Grand Mont ridge but wilder corners around the Pierra Menta. If the weather is bad, you can go forest skiing towards Côte 2000, if the conditions are good, you can start from Grand Mont and go as far as Mirantin (with lots of loopholes if you're tired...).
Do you sometimes come in the summer too? The UTMB doesn't go very very far, but not quite?
I came less in the summer. I did the vertical kilometer of Mirantin a few times (a race that takes place at the beginning of September). Otherwise I did a lot of road cycling, it's magic here for this practice. The pass of the meadow to work on power! Le Cormet de Roselend but also a little further, towards Les Saisies or Megève. For the trail, we find all the advantages of the massif for skiing, we can go to all the peaks, cross the ridges and it's great for exploring!
You have often faced local riders, such as Florent Perrier, Greg Gachet, William Bon Mardion, Xavier Gachet… are there any common characteristics, a composite portrait of these Beaufortain skiers?
It is a true land of champions. With the tradition of Pierra Menta, there is a real school of champions here, with local pride. They are all super good descenders, seasoned guys who don't give up in the races! Moreover, the first time we won the Pierra Menta with Florent Troillet in 2008, we did a "fifth stage" at the Beaufort Cooperative. The objective: a row of Beaufort wheels to be turned over against William Bon Mardion and Florent Perrier. And then they blew us up! I was still in the first while Florent and William had already finished their row!
How do you see the enthusiasm around ski-touring? More and more practitioners, beyond the Covid effect, how do you see the future?
First of all, it's good to have a diversification of practices related to winter tourism, not just alpine skiing because we know the limits of single practice, whether in environmental terms or for the long-term economy. term. It also makes it possible to lengthen the season, to promote contact with nature due to a slower practice. Traces developed here, which are secure and signposted, are really important, to allow everyone to discover the practice. There is also the role of the guides… In general, there are plenty of ways to do ski touring. You can go fast uphill, freeride downhill or just go for a short ride. This diversification allows everyone to enjoy this practice.
And what's next for you? What are the next projects?
Continue to enjoy the mountain!