Patrouille des GlaciersBack-country skiing

The Patrouille des Glaciers (PDG) is one of the cult events in the ski mountaineering calendar. The course leads from Zermatt via Arolla to Verbier, and represents a sporting tour de force for participating teams. The contest takes place every other year, in even-numbered years: 2014, 2016 and so on.

Best season

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Description

The start is worth seeing at least once in life. Days before the race, Zermatt teems with competitors training for the event, both women and men. The contest, organised every other year by the Swiss army, is regarded as the toughest of its kind in the world. Nevertheless, only a selection of teams that apply can take part as the number of places is limited. In 2014, however, the number of three-person teams permitted was raised from 400 to 1800.

The Patrouille des Glaciers leads from Zermatt via Arolla to Verbier through the spectacular high-altitude mountain regions of the Valais Alps. The event has its origins in border patrols during the Second World War. The PDG 2014 celebrates the 30th anniversary of the relaunch of the contest in 1984.

  • Starts at the Bahnhofplatz in Zermatt, mostly late evening or very early morning
  • Starts on various days at the end of April/beginning of May
  • Bahnhofplatz/Bahnhofstrasse: entertainment for spectators around each category start
  • Information brochure with starting times and details of entertainment available locally
  • Civilian and military patrols from all over the world take part
  • Teams of three: women, men and mixed teams
  • Participants from Zermatt repeatedly achieve excellent results
Zermatt (station) - Schönbiel - Tête Blanche - Col de Bertol - Plan Bertol - Arolla - Col de Riedmatten - Pas du Chat - La Barma - Rosablanche - Col de la Chaux - Les Ruinettes - Verbier

Distance: 53 km

D+ 3,994 and D- 4,090

Effective kilometres: 110

Please observe the equipment requirements in the Regulations of the Patrouille des Glaciers (Point 9 and Annex 1).
Cheering supporters are a great boost for contestants and an important element of the event. Live reports on athletes’ progress on the Bahnhofplatz by the station. Entertainment activities and refreshments for spectators.
Please observe the registration deadlines and the Regulations for the Patrouille des Glaciers.

Important! Requirements include: sound alpine knowledge, active alpine touring skills and experience in mountaineering competitions, excellent skiing skills, experience in skiing while roped to others, and a very high level of training. Further information is available on the PDG website.
Zermatt is car-free. Private vehicles are permitted only as far as Täsch (5 km before Zermatt). The Täsch–Zermatt road is closed to the public.

Onward travel to Zermatt is either by private taxi or shuttle train. Trains depart every 20 minutes; the journey takes about 12 minutes, and ends at the Bahnhofplatz in Zermatt.
Täsch has car parks with both covered and open-air parking – e.g. at the Matterhorn Terminal or privately operated facilities.

Onward travel: see “Getting there”.
By train to the Matterhorn village: 3½ hours from Zürich airport or 4 hours from Geneva airport. Change at Visp onto the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (Matterhorn Gotthard Railway). From Visp, the railway leads through the Mattertal valley past idyllic small villages to Zermatt.

Zermatt is also the start and finish point for the world-famous Glacier Express panoramic train journey (Zermatt to St. Moritz or Davos).

Map and arrival

Condition 

Technique 

Experience 

Landscape 

Difficulty hard
Distance 53 km
Ascent 4277 m
Descent 4342 m
Duration 5,52 h
Lowest point 1545 m
Highest point 3635 m

Starting point of the tour:

Zermatt (1'620 m)

Destination of the tour:

Verbier (1'520 m)

Properties:

  • Nice views
  • Tour route
  • Altitude ski tour
  • Clear area

Download


Tour map (PDF)
Google-Earth (.kml)
GPS-Track (.gpx)

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