The Patrouille des Glaciers in the Valais Alps is famous and infamous all over the world. Experts refer to it as the toughest ski mountaineering race in the world, and with good reason. The participants face significant challenges and spend months preparing for the big day. Most of all, this challenging mountaineering race requires discipline and endurance. This is also true for the members of the Telecoms department responsible for maintaining the temporary mobile network under extreme high-alpine conditions at six locations, all at altitudes above 3,000 meters.
In total, more than two tons of equipment, including base stations, antennas, repeaters and other telecommunications equipment are being transported to the mountains by the Air Force. Reto Näf from Swisscom, who is part of the Telecoms department and responsible for network construction at the high mountain stations of the PdG, says: “The construction and operation of the network at these altitudes is a challenge for people and technology.” During the race, an additional 15 specialists from Swisscom and the Telecoms department will be working around the clock at the technical headquarters in Sion to ensure the safety of all participants. Nonetheless, it’s impossible to plan for every eventuality: in 2012, Swisscom employees and members of the Telecoms department had to remain at the Dent Blanche Hut technical station for almost a week after the end of the PdG due to precarious weather conditions.