Closing remarks by the Commander of the PDG

8th May 2012

Dear members of the Swiss Armed Forces, athletes, guests, friends, media professionals and partners

The 15th edition of the Patrouille des Glaciers since its renaissance in 1984 has passed and again this edition was unique like all the previous ones. The PdG 2012 has reminded of us one particular thing: The high alpine terrain has its own weather conditions.

Already the preparations for the race were affected by bad weather conditions. With extra effort we managed to get everything ready for the race anyway.

Then the races late in the night on Wednesday, April 25th, started. The one from Zermatt had to be stopped and athletes who started into the journey had to return back to the foot of the Matterhorn. The race from Arolla took place without interruptions. The mix of different and adverse feelings was extreme. On the one hand there was deep disappointment for those who had to stop the race coming from Zermatt. On the other hand emotions of joy for those finishing the race from Arolla to Verbier were found.

The atmosphere of the second race from Zermatt in the early morning of Saturday, April 28th, was shaped by extraordinary physical performance in the outmost point of the course – Tête Blanche with 3600 meters above sea level. But due to the warm weather conditions in the day before the race and in the night, which led to a risky avalanche situation especially in the area of the lac des dix, the race had to be stopped in Arolla. Those athletes who departed from Arolla had to return back and those coming in from Zermatt had to end their journey in Arolla instead of Verbier.

And finally a team of the PDG was blocked in the cabin of Rossier on Sunday and they experienced how the strong winds tore off a part of the roof of the cabin. We were relieved when a helicopter of the Swiss Air Force brought these people back down into the valley on the following day.

“That is the way it is in the mountains – that is the way the PDG is!” We undertook everything to enable a good race and to guarantee safety for everyone involved. We also made necessary decisions fast and executed them competently: “Safety first!”

I would like to thank all of you for your efforts, your support and for your understanding. During the PDG I not only felt understood by you, but even carried by you – an important feeling also for the commander.

I would love to shake the hand of each and every one of you, every soldier serving for the PDG, no matter in which function and at which location the efforts were made. Every effort for the PDG was of same importance!

I feel connected with the 1450 patrols from near and far away. I hope that soon pride will replace frustration again. Pride that you engaged in a unique adventure and that you show respect: The high alpine terrain has its own weather conditions.

I would like to thank all friends, guests, partners, media professionals and superiors of the Swiss Armed Forces: Your trust in and support for us encourages us to commence with the preparations for the PDG 2014.

Vive la PDG!

Ivo Burgener, Commander of the Patrouille des Glaciers.

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