Snowy peaks in summer, harsh flying conditions, disqualifications and a near crash marked the most recent days in Red Bull X-Alps 2011. Here are some action photos from the world’s toughest adventure race...
The almost wintery conditions in the high Alps have already taken their toll: Mike Küng and Christian Amon (pictured beneath with Christian Maurer, left, and fellow countryman Paul Guschlbauer, middle), both from Austria had to quit due to exhaustion, Küng with a lung infection and Amon from overworked thigh muscles.
Swiss athlete Vincent Sprüngli had a hairy moment after his paraglider-lines got caught in a cable high above the ground. As he started falling towards the ground, he threw his rescue parachute out but it failed to operate and Vincent fell into the trees. Luckily, he escaped with only bruises and mild shock.
Still far ahead of the pack is Christian Maurer who braved the cold of the Austrian and Italian Alps and is now currently located north of Lugano, Switzerland.
Whilst wasting no time on his high-speed journey, he had the chance to walk with Paul Guschlbauer and briefly met Romanian “roadrunner” Toma Coconea around Rauris, on the way to Grossglockner (Turnpoint 1).
Yesterday, Coconea had walked for two and a half hours to a perfect take-off position on a southerly knoll. He seemed relaxed and happy and was readying himself for launch at 11:30am.
Hikers were snowshoeing up at the top of the valley of Martello, which Maurer hiked up all yesterday afternoon. From the other side, he has the perfect starting point for a day of aerial adventures, as Thomas De Dorlodot shows in the image below.
At Cime Redano, Maurer's paraglider kissed cloudbase and dove over the back towards Switzerland. The chopper pilot was moving so fast that he was having a hard time keeping an eye on his position.
Hope for better weather conditions is keeping the motivation among the rest of the athletes up.
Follow the athletes' live tracking and get the latest news on the race on redbullxalps.com.