Philippe & Anna ready for ‘The Ultimate Trail’

Ultra runners and climbers Philippe and Anna Gatta have announced details of a major expedition that starts later this month. Together, they will travel to the Great Himalayan Trail in Nepal, where Philippe will attempt to be the first person to run the length of the high route.

The Great Himalayan Trail extends for 1,700km and includes over 88km of vertical gain. The route includes many passes at an altitude higher than 5,000m and two that are at 6,200m, and it navigates through some of the highest mountains in the world, including Everest, Makalu and Kangchenjunga. Philippe Gatta aims to run the route in under six weeks, completing the equivalent of 40 marathons in 40 days (10 Ultra-Trails Du Mont Blanc or seven Marathons Des Sables).

Anna Gatta will also be running long sections of the route with Philippe, covering 670km, with 39km of ascent and completing the equivalent of 16 marathons. In addition, she will provide essential logistical support to her husband on the sections when he is running solo.

The Gattas will face temperatures ranging from -25 degrees Celsius to +35, will run at altitudes from 880m to over 7,000m, and in jungle terrain, forests, deserts and on glaciers.  To add even more to the challenge, on the 30th day Philippe is planning to complete a speed ascent and descent of Baruntse (7,129m).

We’ve been working closely with the Gattas to develop a range of ultra light, ultra functional kit to help them achieve their objectives.  Together, Philippe and Anna have played a key role in the creation of our new Vapour Light Hyper collection, which includes the world’s lightest waterproof smock and  insulated mid-layer jacket.  The new products will be used throughout the trip, ahead of their  launch in Spring 2014.

Philippe Gatta comments:

“It is amazing to look back at the last 18 months, since we decided to run the Great Himalayan Trail.  After all of the expeditions and races I have done in the past 15 years, I never thought that this would be so complex to organise.  When we climb a big mountain, we establish a base camp with all the gear we need for the following weeks.  Of course, there are limits to the amount of things we can take but that’s nothing compared to the challenge of running 40km every day, carrying all we need in small packs and across the Himalaya.


“We will leave very soon but are still busy fixing last minute details.  That is good, as it keeps the mind busy instead of worrying about the many things that could go wrong.  There are still areas of uncertainty – about the trail in several sections and about the conditions on the trail and mountains after the monsoon – but that’s all part of the adventure.  We have both set new personal records in term of training intensity and volume and are very confident and happy about our preparation, the kit and the logistics.


“In terms of our kit, what has been accomplished with Berghaus is fantastic.  Every single product has been improved; insulation layer, jacket, fleece, pack and amazing new products have been developed, all with two fundamental characteristics in mind – ultra-light and reliable.


“Once we get to Nepal, there are will still be many things that we cannot control, but we will not worry about those now – what will be will be.  Problems will come and I just have to be prepared, go carefully, stay focused and enjoy sharing this amazing adventure with Anna.”

Anna Gatta comments:

“When moving fast in the Nepali mountains, I enter a rhythm – a state – beyond any other feelings I have when trail running elsewhere.  I forget about the time, since I know I will have to go on until sunset.  I forget about the world outside and instead I feel that I wake up inside.  Afterwards, when I come back home, it is like I have gotten my priorities right.  Sharing a big part of the complete Great Himalayan Trail adventure with Philippe will take me to another level – an ultimate challenge – mentally and physically.  It will change me.”

Throughout the expedition, the Gattas will be sending updates to Berghaus, which will be posted here on the Berghaus community, Facebook and Twitter.  The Gattas will depart for the Himalaya on 20 September so watch this space!

The Ultimate Trail – facts and figures

– Distance – 1,700km across Nepal

– Vertical height gained – 100km

– Temperatures ranging from -25 degrees Celsius to +35

– Altitude from 880m to 7,220m

– Jungle, glacier, forests and desert

Key sections

– Dolpo – 300km with eight passes at over 5,000m

– Philippe will be self-sufficient for seven to eight days in a remote area where he is unlikely to meet anyone.

– Philippe will use a pack with a maximum weight of 10kg which will hold all of his equipment and food for the section.

– The Three Cols – from Everest to Makalu

– Four days above 5,000m with two technical passes at 6,200m

– Challenges will include glaciers, crevasses and abseils.

– Kangchenjunga

– 230km in a very wild region

– From rain forests to a 5,160m pass

– Lacking in good trails but littered with landslides.

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