Category: Swimming

For a few years, myself and Thomas Kofler had discussed a possible swim in Matscherjochsee, the highest lake in the Alps, situated on the Matscherjoch (Matscher pass) at 3190m above sealevel, in the Otzal alps of South Tyrol, Italy. Finally we agreed to attempt it on the first week of August this year. Thomas made a preliminary trip to the lake a few weeks before and confirmed that it was indeed difficult to reach, being on the opposite side of the valley from the nearest mountain hut and over 1300m above the parking place at Glieshof….Swimming

I trusted the assessment of Thomas seeing as he is not only a highly successful long distance and winter swimmer but he is also Tyrolian and in the past has summited some big mountains.
After a short discussion we opted to start from Glieshof and then ascend to the Oberettes Hutte (originally the Carlsbad hut, built by the Prague section of AV in 1882) at 2670m on the other side of the Matsch valley, spending the night there before continuing to the lake the next day. The group consisited of myself, Thomas, Paolo Chiarino of Italy and my club colleague Ivan Petruzela of the Czech Republic.The weather was fine, warm and sunny with only a few clouds and no wind. Day 1 went well as we reached the hut in time for dinner at 7pm. We discussed the itinerary for the next day and opted to try the traverse at the end of the valley rather than descending and then ascending to reach the pass and thus the lake. We had good navigational aids in the form of map/compass and also 2 GPS units with tracks already saved. We have compiled this list of best spin bikes, in order to help you with …

After what seems like an eternity we finally landed at the native village of Wales, the most western point of the United States of America after we started swimming from Cape Dezhnev, the most eastern point of Russia.

The swim took 6 days and the organisation took far, far longer….Fitness

To explain everything that happened both before and during the swim needs many thousands of words but needless to say massive kudos to all those involved over the years that helped to make this project succeed in 2013.

6 days is a quite a long time to cross an 86km strait but when you take into consideration the fact that we swum 134km in total and had to deal with waves of up to 4 or 5 metres, winds of up to 44knots, heavy rain, extremely strong currents, fog as thick as thick as candy floss and of course extremely cold water as low as 2c, it becomes apparent that it was a major achievement to make the crossing. Personally I am glad it was difficult not only because it was a tremendous adventure but because it meant that I got something lasting for all my dedication to do this for the last 2.5 years. I would say that the challenge was somewhere around 20% swimming, 40% psychological and 40% nature.

Fear, pain, fatigue, confusion, cold, sleep deprivation, seasickness, in the end I felt like we morphed from swimmers into 50% swimmer and 50% old school marine explorers such was the uniqueness of the challenge in the far north, well above the 10c July isotherm in an area described by one word…arctic.

This was a major success for the sport of winter swimming. There have only been two other swims that have been made at such a latitude in …