The Silitch Family

Adventures in the Alps and Beyond

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mommy's Disappearing Bag

As I write this blog post rain continues to pour down. The snow is disappearing fast..below 2000 meters and snowing hard above 2500 meters. We are talking about building an arc so we don't float away or maybe taking up water skiing. One of my favorite Christmas stories as a child was Morris's Disappearing Bag, By Rosemary Wells. My husband tells me time and time again the I have way too many bags. I often have bags with in bags.

One of these very important zippered bags which I keep in my Petzl Bug Pack, disappeared last night as I was getting ready to go to a night race in Switzerland. I went to get my passport which was in that little zippered bag which normally is in my Bug Pack and it was not there. That bag also contains various other important and non important things like, my French Drivers licence, a check book, lip gloss, arnica, band aids, Purel hand cleaners. I ferociously searched all over in a frenzy of despair- much to my husbands dismay, but had no luck.

"Let's just go. It will turn up." He said in a calm mannered tone, surely the calm in my life in moments of stress. " This is a great opportunity to practice reacting in a calm zen way. " He continued. "Only for you to say...easier said than done.." I murmured. Drudgingly, I headed out to the car which he kindly had loaded up in the rain...hmm driving to a night race in the race...Suddenly I lost all my motivation to go. "Think of Lance Armstrong and when he broke his collarbone and what his coach said..." Michael trying to lift my spirits. "Stick to your decision to go. It will be fun." "ok," I thought "lets go."

Off we went and arrived just before the Col de Montets to a sudden wall of snow blocking the road... The pass was closed due to all this rain. Avalanche danger was very high. We could still take the train tunnel and make it. At this point rain was turning to hail. We waited behind a line of 100 or so cards waiting to get back through to Switzerland or their home in Vallorcine. We decided to call it a night and go have a nice meal together and perhaps figure out where my zippered bag went... Did I leave it in Switzerland last week, or maybe the post office, maybe the grocery store... I was stumped.

Surely this missing bag a was a sign:
1. Old age maybe. Late 30's! After having children women's minds become absent.
2. Too much stuff in the house! Need to organize and weed out and sell some stuff! (yes-true-husbands words)
3. You have too many bags -often left is no wonder that it is missing- (Husband's words again.)
4. Put your passport back in the safe place...ok done.

So my mind was wandering to the steps I was going to take to get all those things back, like the US passport (trip to Geneva consulate and wait 2-3 weeks for new one +$100)
French drivers licence- that would be a bunch of paperwork to do.
Check book- have to change checking account number and who know what else.
Lip gloss and antibac gel...ok that could be replaced.

Upon returning from a nice evening together, I was in a much calmer state of mind and realized that it was not unrealistic to replace the items in the zippered bag. No problem. Zen mommy is back!

The next morning I woke and asked the boys casually... "Guys, have you by any chance seen my zippered bag anywhere- you know the one I keep in my backpack with the waist strap?"

"No, I have not seen it," said Birken shaking his head.
"Oh, Yes I have seen that Mommy." Said Anders. "You have, " I asked. "Where is it?"
"oh, it's behind the curtain . I put it there. " Said Anders (3 years old), simply. I gave him a huge hug and said Thank You!

There you have it. The case of mommy's disappearing bag. I still will work on weeding out stuff and zipping the bags closed. It was reassuring that my brain had not gone to complete mush. I do recommend the book too, By Rosemary Wells.

Don't let the Rain slow you down....
Michael and I did a night training session in the snow/rain with our petzl Ultra headlamps.

Today's rainy day activities with active boys:
- New Years Art Projects,
- helping Aunt Meg find a great rando set up!

-interval training on the wind trainer.

- Bryan Kest Power Yoga- and Babar Kids Yoga!

THINK SNOW and Have a safe and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pila World Cup and Festive Family Fun!

It is hard to believe that 2009 is quickly coming to an end!
2009 Highlights!

First and foremost, my family- my husband and my two boys-! We have had some great adventures together this past year in this amazing outdoor playground!

I often have to pinch myself to remind me how lucky I am to be a part of this sport Ski Alpinisme - at such a high international level. It is pretty amazing to share the start line with so many athletes from nations all over the globe. My USA teammate Mona Merrill joined me (all the way from Colorado) for the weekend of fun!

She is helping pave the way for ski mountaineering racing in the USA. I look forward to our USA team of 3, Nina, Lynds and Mona for the famous Patrouille des Glaciers this year as a international World Cup end of April.

The Pila World Cup was the first world cup of the season and early for many but that did not leave it any less exciting. The first day was the first ever ski mountaineering sprint- run much like they are run in the Nordic world cup sprints, with 3-4 rounds of qualifications. It was very exciting and a crowd pleaser. Possibly a great spectator sport for the 2018 Olympics when ski mountaineering hopes to make its debue. Unfortunately in my second heat my boot broke- The Pierre Gignoux carbon boot is definitely the best boot out there in terms of lightness and stiffness but it also is more fragile. Thanks to my husband and my good friend Yuki I managed to get my old skis and boots to ski on the next day. Italian television filmed the whole weekend which is great for the sport. Here is a link for a video that gives a good idea of what the weekend of racing was all about and you can practice your Italian.

Saturday's race was a night race of 1400 meters in elevation. I had never done such a long night race with ascent and descents other than the Patrouille des Glaciers. My Petzl Ultra came in really handy and worked like a charm in the -22 Celsius temps. It was COLD- and I am from Maine. It was Maine cold and windy. Everyone wore extra layers and wind layers, many wore mittens. It made for much slower transitions. It was definitely survival temps out there and the hot tea tasted really good at the end.

Sunday's temperatures were equally cold with a little sunshine. I still dressed warmly and enjoyed the race and the amazing views. The Italians sure do know how to put on a good race. It was super well organized the whole weekend and the International Ski Mountaineering Federation also has been making some exceptional contributions to the sport. Aside from the fact that my toes are still dethawing from the cold temps, the weekend of racing was a great kick start to the season ahead. It was good to get in some intensity before a bit of volume training during the Christmas holidays with the family which have been filled with skiing of course!

Happy New Year to you all! My resolutions for 2010: I have many as we all do but the main one is: Continue to be thankful for all we have! LIVESTRONG!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

World Cup Countdown

Winter is getting underway here in the Alps with some good early season training sessions. The new Chamonix Ski Alpinisme club, which was just an idea of mine 1 year ago, is now in full force with already 25 members and a coach. We aim to bring together the passion of ski alpinisme competition right here in the heart of the Alps-Chamonix.

I had a great chance to train in my old stomping grounds of Villars, Switzerland and make some great turns with my buddy Jean-Pierre. Also in Switzerland I had a chance to visit the impressive Swiss Suva Clinique de rehabilitation and sports evaluation for my first ever VO2 Max testing.

The first World Cup race in Pila, Italy is just a few days away. It should be an exciting few days of racing. The first race is a night sprint, followed by a 1500 meter race at night, and then a time trial on sunday- all on ski mountaineering gear. This should draw out the crowds and get people excited for the season.

For the holidays I am looking forward to skiing with my boys and spending a quiet Christmas at home with my family.

Thanks so much to those who have helped support with my World Cup project so far! Please see my earlier blog post to see the details on donations and sponsorships or feel free to contact me.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Reach for the Stars!

Nina Silitch: World Cup Athlete
and member of USA National Ski Mountaineering Team

Always a sports enthusiast, I fell in love with ski mountaineering 5 years ago after my first Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route with my husband of High-Alpine Mountain Guides. Ski mountaineering or ski alpinisme as we call it in the Alps combines all the things I love about the mountains: passion for endurance, tenacity of technical climbing, and the intensity of the downhill run off-piste

2010 marks an important year for me as it is the year of the Ski Mountaineering World Championships in Andorra where I will represent the United States. It is also marks my 3rd year as a member of the US national team and the 2nd season competing on the World Cup circuit in Europe.

I feel very fortunate to be able to train, travel and race this high level of competition. My biggest fans, my husband and my 2 young boys see the value in following a dream. I hope to also empower confidence in women and show them how much they have to gain from sport and a healthy, active lifestyle.

Though many teams and athletes are subsidized financially, I am not and am responsible for costs of race entries, travel and equipment.

Please help me reach the finish line!

Sponsorship Options

Below you will find various peak possibilities for sponsorship. If you come to visit us in the Alps, I will be sure to point out these magical summits.

If you have a company logo I would be honored to represent it on my website. For larger sponsorships, a logo can be placed on the race suit at the cost of printing.

Club Aiguille du Midi

Club Les Drus $150-$300

Club Mt Blanc $350-$500

Club Haute Route $1000 -$5000

Club ALPS $5000 and more

Send checks to:

Nina Silitch

270 Chemin de la Deviaz

74400 Chamonix-Mt Blanc FRANCE


pay hassle free and safely online with PayPal

Thank you kindly for your interest and support!

Stay updated with our adventures all season long at: & Twitter: MTMAMAN



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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Autumn Adventures in the Alps

The Boys on their Bikes! Be sure to watch this video of our backyard Jungle Gym- . Enjoy!

here is a smaller version if you have trouble viewing the YouTube one.

Here are some recent pics of Autumn Adventures here in the Alps

Lastly, Autumn colors are pretty amazing here in the Alps too and that is coming from an New Englander!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Trail des Aiguilles Rouges

Course details: 51km/ 31 miles
Ascent: 3361 meters/ 11, 027 feet
Descent: 3602/ 11, 817 feet
taken from my Suunto t6c

There is something special about racing the trails in your own backyard. Often you don't have to set your alarm for quite as early, but for this race that was not the case. The 5 am start meant that I woke with the French bread makers at 3 am. Yup. It brought me back to the middle of the night feedings when the boys were babies, however with night feedings you could always go back to sleep.

We were looking at running in 2hrs of darkness but my Petzl Ultra belt lit the way for me (as well as those runners who were in front.) Most people raced with Petzl tikkas but I wanted to be sure to have a good path as the course was super technical, riddled with roots, rocks and pine needles then in sections scrambling up slabs and across streams. The evening thunderstorm the night prior gave the whole course an additional slickness which was a real challenge. I took a couple nasty diggers, pushing the envelope a bit too much on the downhill, one while crossing a stream and slipping on a slick rock. The worst crash was when I fell into a "cascade" small waterfall in a stream. I felt a firm hand on my arm pulling me up out of the river. I later learned that this kind souls' name was Lionel. Other runners stampeded by like a herd of wildebeests. For a moment I thought I was done in for the race, smashing up my knee and rolling my ankle but after a few minutes and a good adrenyline rush, I forged on.

It is amazing how much concentration it takes to run downhill. You really have to train your muscles and mind, focusing on having "soft" knees and visualizing stable footing, engaging your core muscles for support. If you loose concentration for even a second, you could be toast. Needless to say this course had 11, 620 feet of descent. Yes, the thighs were screaming at the end and still are as I write this race report.

Somewhere along the course I looked at my watch at 4hrs and thought, hmm if I was doing a marathon I would be finished by now. I was almost half way through this one. I managed to fuel efficiently with Hammer Nutrition Perpetuum combined with the occasional blueberry pompegranate Gu Chomps; Endurolytes and Sport legs helped with electrolyte loss and cramping- though my legs did threaten to cramp a few times, and I just tried to visualize them being long and light. I tried to be efficient as well at the aid stations and take the time I needed to refill my Nathan water carrier and my bottle for Perpetuum. I went with the multi hour bottle of Perpetuum which would last 4 hrs. The Nathan Women's Intensity running vest was awesome. Super light- carried what I needed and so comfortable!

Managing your digestion and blatter is always a challenge on a long course. That sounds crazy but true. When you are out there for 9 hrs you have to pee at some point or else you are dehydrated and could suffer in other ways. I was pleased that I managed to pee 3 times on the course, trying to discretely find a large boulder or tree to duck behind. I was a little short on water as I did not fill up as I should have at the 2nd aid station. I took some water from a fast running stream up high..and did not treat it. This would be a huge taboo in my book of outdoor education and hopefully the giardia microbes will not come to haunt me in 10 days!

While filling up with water, I managed to drop my Ipod shuffle in the stream; if any of you were wondering....they are somewhat waterproof....and it managed to keep me movin' through the remainder of the course. I would put songs that got me going on repeat...maybe even 4 times up a big hill. It really helped and I did not have listen to the sloshing of the water in the pack or the rustling of the number on my shirt. I love that mini! Thanks WCC! It keeps me movin' and groovin' especially on the long runs.

The weather was actually a perfect temperature. I was never too cold or too hot. In the morning it drizzled lightly with rain to make it even more interesting, rain and darkness, but it was quite refreshing. I had Skins Capri's and also Skin's arm bands. The arm bands were great as I could just slide them down when I got hot or pull them up when cooling off. I had a Wild Roses technical tee shirt with a handy zip pocket in the rear for gels etc. Stashed in my Nathan Intensity pack I had a super lightweight Wild Roses wind proof, lightweight gloves and a Buff. On my feet I had Asics 2130 Trail shoes and Smartwool Womens Phd Trail running crews. On my wrist I had a Suunto T6c to help monitor HR and ascent. Leki lightweight Carbon poles to get me up and down the hills. And of course a Bondi Band to keep the hair back and sweat away!

Here were my cheerleaders at the end! They finished strong with me around the lake!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Forum des Sports Chamonix- Cycle Race

Forum des Sports- New Section Club Ski Alpinisme! Right to left, Nuno, sectataire, Daniel- President, Nina- V. Pres, Yann- Coach!

Future club member- 2018

Michael and his partner at the Start

Michael and his pit crew at the finish! Go Daddy Go!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Climbing in the Aiguilles Rouge

A beautiful indian summer day in the Aiguilles Rouges

Monday, August 31, 2009

North Face Ultra Trail- Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie [TDS]

Last year I ran 1/2 way around Mont Blanc -competing in the North Face Ultra Trail:

CCC® (Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix): passing through 3 countries - France, Italy and Switzerland, and approximately 98 km and 5600 m of +altitude change - semi-autonomous. Maximum time limit was 25 hours. I completed it in just over 18hrs and placed 10th for women overall, 8th for Sr Women.

This summer I made a reconnaissance of the 100 mile, Ultra Trail du Mt Blanc, in a running tour of Mt Blanc - approximately 166 km and 9400 m of altitude change - semi-autonomous. We covered 102 miles and over 30, 000 feet of climbing in 5 days.

Instead of running the new course, Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie [TDS]: approximately 105km and +/- 6700m - semi-autonomous, I happily crewed for my American friend Kim Gaylord. She is an experienced ultra-runner, recently transplanted from the Italian Alps back to L.A. She managed to train amongst the movie stars and pulled off an amazing 3rd place in this tough race. Crewing for Kim was a nice change for me.. The course passed through amazing, tough and rugged countryside of the Alps. I passed through Col des Saisies, Col Cormet de Roseland and Col Petit St Bernard. Believe me throughout the day it made me want to take up road cycling. It was beautiful, true alps.

Next adventure....Trail des Aiguilles Rouge- hosted by our own Chamonix Mt Blanc Running Club.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Running around the Matterhorn-

Musing on the Matterhorn:
I always dreamed of visiting the Matterhorn when I was a child. My father went on business trip in Europe and brought back a special bar of Toblerone chocolate and there was this great magical mountain which the chocolate was in the form of. When I was a young girl I grew up eventing and my oldest best friend named her dark bay horse "Toblerone" in honor of our love of the great chocolate. Now you can find Toblerone almost anywhere but you can only go to Zermatt (or Cervinia on the other side) to see the Matterhorn. my first time skiing in the Alps was at Crans Montana. I remember on a really clear day we could see this pointy peak. My husband of has climbed the Matterhorn many times. The first time I saw this magical peak up close was while visiting him when he was guiding in Zermatt. Someday we will climb it together. My dearest friend was recently engaged on the Matterhorn! What a place to be engaged! It is also a great place to run around as you are surrounded by this magnificent view of this magical peak. We adventured there on the train from Chamonix to Zermatt as a family. We wanted to share with the two boys the magic or the Matterhorn while Mommy got a little exercise running up the mountain.

The Matterhornlauf was a perfect run to do on a sunday morning: 12.6 km and 900 meters in elevation gain. The course started in town and winded its way up to the top of Glacier Paradise with the Matterhorn in full view.

Our team of Brava Bellas of Lyndsays website Lizzy Hawker of GB, (2nd place), Mara Larson of US (13 place), Lyndsay Meyer (US, 3rd for age group) and Me.

Our team did not actually count as we were "mixed nations" but if it had we would have done really well.

My great supporters, Michael and the boys! Along the Way! Thank you M and the boys for sharing this experience!

Stay tuned for what is coming up!- The 2009 Ultra Trail du Mt Blanc! It should be very exciting this year! 4 Great Races and thousands of participants!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Running around Mt Blanc

One often hears about hiking the Tour du Mt Blanc in 10-12 days, a beautiful tour that passes through France, Italy and Switzerland, circumnavigating the Mt. Blanc Massif. I partnered with Sierra Mountain Guides for their first ever Tour du Mt Blanc Running Trip.

We took 6 days to complete this tour-and covered 102 miles and 32,560 feet of elevation gain and loss (yeah that is a lot of downhill.) We averaged about 18-10 miles a day. Our route followed the general route of the Ultra Trail du Mt Blanc with a few variations.

Day 1:
Travelled from Chamonix to Les Contemine, France. 20 miles, 5000 feet gain. This day we ran along the L'Arve river down the Chamonix Valley to the small town of Les Houches. From here we took a lift (just one!) to the Col de Voza and descended down to the city of St. Gervais and then went up the valley to the small village of Les Contamines where we had a lovely stay at the Hotel Chemenaz.

Day 2: Our biggest elevation day. 18 miles and 8, 323 feet in elevation gain. A 2 col day. 2 cols a day keeps the doctor away! We left Les Contamines and climbed up from the lovely church of Notre Dame de la Gorge to the Col de Bonnehomme and the crete de Bonnehomme. We reached our highpoint of the 2,665 meters and crossed a small patch of snow! We headed down and up to our next col, Col de la Seine or (pain!) and then descended into the Italian Valley of Val Veny to our refugio for the night Elizabetta. At the Elizabetta hut our night was far from restful as we were sandwiched like sardines in an upper bunkroom with an orchestra of snorers....c'est la vie in a mountain refuge. One thing the high alpine hut had going for it was the glacial stream which was a great spot for a recovery leg soak!. We managed to find a cold stream to soak our legs in each day. 10 minutes of cold soaking really helps with recovery!

Day 3: Our shortest day. 9 miles to Courmeyer and just 1540 feet in climbing. We had a restfull day here exploring Courmeyer and soaking in the famous Pre St Didier natural hot springs.

Day 4: La Fouly: 20 miles and 7, 020 feet of climbing. We left in the misty rain and climbed a steep and steady climb from town to the Bertone refugio and then traversed the Val Ferret to the beautiful Bonnatti hut for a very thick italian style mocha (basically chocolate pudding and expresso) This gave us a jump start up to the Col de Ferrett and brought us in for the final descent into Switzerland into the town of La Fouly. One really notices a change from country to country. Once we arrived in La Swiss, cows were grazing there to greet us. The villages were swept clean and there were even Gnomes to welcome us.

Day 5: Col de la Forclaz. 18 miles and 4,579 feet. We headed down the valley and made a short climb up to the beautiful village of Champex, a classic village that the haute route passes through. From Champex, we climbed up the famous, steep and technical climb up the Bovine pass. From the high mountain pasture we overlooked into the Swiss Valais and out to Lac Leman. We stopped for a drink and cake at the Refuge de Bovine- (fyi. they don't take Visa). From here we headed down to the Col de Forclaz, a pass we cross many times in the car heading over to Switzerland.

Day 6: Big last day. Another 2 pass day! 18 miles and 7, 635 feet in elevation! We headed down to the small village of Trient. We discovered the water was not drinkable at that moment but managed to fill up at a little store before our first big climb. We crossed the border from Switzerland back to France (there is no border patrol) We only realized that the Swiss are very acurate in their descriptions for how long it will take to get somewhere and France is a little more laissez-faire. We fueled up in Vallorcine before our last big climb from the Col de Montets into the Aiguilles Rouge nature reserve. Here we had some clouds as a backdrop but still managed to get a great view of the Mer de Glace glacier and the Chamonix Aiguilles. We even saw some wildlife other than cows, a young bouquetin (ibex). Just when we arrived at the Flegere the rain started to come down and kept us cool for our final descent into Chamonix.

It was great to get back home, see my boys and husband and slip those feet into an ol' pair of flip flops! And perhaps get a well needed pedicure!

To see our trip in video format click here!