The Mezzalama Trophy is an international ski mountaineering race with classical equipment, included in the calendar of the Grande Course and in the calendar of the Long Distance World Cup of ISMF, and is open to teams composed of three athletes, even of different nationalities.
The race takes place every two years on a high-mountain route in harsh weather and environmental conditions: altitude exceeds 4,000 meters in several points and requires mountaineering-type skills. For this reason, the Mezzalama Trophy is influenced strongly by the general and high-altitude weather conditions and can be postponed or, in extreme cases, even cancelled.
300 teams can participate and the curriculum of each athlete is decisive in deciding whether a team is admitted or excluded from the race.
A real marathon on skis, and therefore, to be precise, on mountaineering skis, those with mobile locks that are used for the descent, but also and especially for the climb, by pasting “sealskins” under the insole.
The glaciers on which the crucial part of the race takes place, more than 3,000 meters a.s.l. and in two sections of the route even reaching higher than four thousand, are those of the Aosta Valley, covering the peaks of Monte Rosa, above Cervinia, Gressoney and Champoluc.
It is the highest ski mountaineering race of the Alps, as it climbs higher than the peak of Castor (4226 m) and the Pass of Naso del Lyskamm (4150 m), but it is also the most classic race, as it was first organized in 1933, at a time when the first skiing resorts and ski lifts opened.
The number of athletes per team (three) has remained unchanged over the history of the Mezzalama Trophy, but the “modern” Mezzalama has been held every two years since 1997, and has increased both the length and the difference in height compared to the original route of the 1930s and the 1970s.
In the last 9 editions, the race has always started off from Breuil-Cervinia (2020 m) and ended in Gressoney-la-Trinité (1624 m).
In 2015, instead, the race will run from Gressoney-la-Trinité to Breuil-Cervinia, the route will be the same but in the reverse direction: the 20th Mezzalama Trophy crosses the finish line at the foot of the Matterhorn to commemorate and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first ascent to the top of most beautiful and emblematic summit of the Alps.
Following the reversal of the race’s direction, the track is new to everyone. In addition to an increase in overall altitude gain of about 350 metres, the most difficult sections are the steep descents of the Lyskamm Nose and the Castor’s west wall. However, the new cut-off time checkpoint set at the Mantova Hut (3470 m) seems slightly less difficult than the traditional and formidable one at the Breithorn Pass: to be allowed to continue the race, men’s teams must pass it in under 3 hours, women’s and mixed teams under 3 hours and 15 minutes.
Monterosa SpA has taken appropriate measures to allow the competitors to train and try out the new track. Every morning from 5:30 until 8:15, the grooming and preparation of the pistes rising upwards from Gressoney-La-Trinité will be suspended. The area available for ski mountaineering training includes the G3 Jolanda slope up to the first crossroads, then left to Bedemie, continuing onto the G5 Alpericka slope up to Alpe Gabiet; from that point, it climbs part of the G7 Salati slope up to the large plateau above the hotels, at an altitude of around 2500 m. It continues along the left-hand track, indicated by orange poles, which leads up to Orestes Hütte and onto the Indren off-piste area.