Gatta crosses 1,200km of Himalayas in 34 days

Catch up with Philippe Gatta after a truly epic journey on the Great Himalaya Trail.
By Josh Sampiero

French adventurer and mountain runner Philippe Gatta set out on one of the world's most challenging journeys, the Great Himalaya Trail, with a goal in mind: Complete the 1,700km trail in 40 days.

He didn't succeed – massive snowfall made traversing the high passes simply impossible. But over 34 days he chewed up 1,200km of distance and 62,200m of elevation gain, averaging 41km a day. His wife Anna joined him for a large portion of the trip, clocking in 615km of her own during 16 days of running. Scroll down and enjoy the story. 

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Up to speed
Up to speed Philippe is happy to be running here, but that wasn't always the case. “Sometimes, instead of being able to run 8 or 9 km /hour, we were walking. Technical trails slowed us down, and often we were doing 12- 14 hours days, not getting to rest until after dark. It's extremely demanding on the body.” © Anne Gatta
Cyclone snow
Cyclone snow “This is Tillman pass, after the Phailin cyclone. I didn't expect so much rain and snow, but it was very rainy and snowy throughout the trip,” says Philippe. The heavy snow from the cyclone forced the Gattas to re-route their trip. © Philippe Gatta
Ridge run
Ridge run Passang Gumbu Sherpa climbs the summit ridge of Island Peak. Following Island Peak, Philippe and Anna summited 3 more peaks of the next three days – Cho La (5,330m), Renjo La (5,340m) and Tashi Labsta (5,755m). © Philippe Gatta
River wild
River wild “I crossed the river first. It was a difficult river to cross, and we went back and forth along the shore to find the spot,” says Gatta. “It took us almost an hour to cross. The sherpa was scared. It wasn't really deep, but the water moves quickly, and it's cold. You don't want to fall there.” © Philippe Gatta
Hauling through the Himalaya
Hauling through the Himalaya Anna descending from the Tashi Labsta pass at 5,755m, heavily loaded. “Our bags generally weighed between 8 and 11 kilos," says Philippe. “Food, clothes, sleeping bag, GPS camera, a head torch, a knife...” © Philippe Gatta
Green Ganesh
Green Ganesh “That's about halfway through the trip, after we left the Manaslu region,” says Gatta. “It's still 1,900m up, but in Nepal, that elevation is quite warm, so it looks green. You have to go to 3,500m to get out of the forest.” © Anna Gatta
Simple life in Saldang
Simple life in Saldang “This was the largest village I saw over three or four days, and I found a teeny shop where I bought some biscuits,” says Philippe. “It's a very rough place. They are cut off from all communication most of the year, because of the snow.” © Philippe Gatta
Solo shot
Solo shot “There's no one in this picture because I took it, and I was alone,” says Philippe. “I had to be self-sufficient for eight days.” © Philippe Gatta
Everest above
Everest above Mt Everest in the background as Philippe and Anna trek across the Great Himalaya Trail. They spent many days within just a few kilometres of Mt Everest. The closest? 2 kilometres away, at about 6,200m. © Passang Gumbu Sherpa
Lovely Larkya La Pass
Lovely Larkya La Pass Philippe in the Larkya La Pass. Says Philippe: “On this trip, I reached a point of exhaustion I never reached before.” © Anne Gatta
Anna purring along
Anna purring along Anna Gatta racked up 615km, and over 30,000m of vertical in 16 days. Her average per day was 39km, +1,900m and 9 hours. © Philippe Gatta
A risky run
A risky run Philippe may be in a safe spot in this picture, but it wasn't always the case. “I risked my life many days. It's more dangerous than I thought. Massive landslides and rock falls,” says the mountain runner. “It's gambling, and it's simply dangerous. I'm not willing to take the risk again.” © Anne Gatta
Trekking Cho La
Trekking Cho La Anna and Philippe crossing Cho La pass at 5,330m. “You need to be so lucky to do it under 40 days,” says Philippe. “If you have bad weather, you simply won't be able to finish in 40 days.” © Passang Gumbu Sherpa
Island Peaked
Island Peaked Philippe takes a quick moment to rest on top of Island Peak. © Passang Gumbu Sherpa
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