EDELWEISS RAID is the unofficial World- Championships for Mountain Troops held every year in Austria, sponsored and supported by the Austrian Federal Army, and hosted by the Austrian Army’s 6th Light Infantry Brigade (High Alpine).

Opening ceremony at Standschützen Kaserne Kranebitten.

As of December 2012, Austria took over the EU lead in terms of mountain training and education.The conceptual term for this initiative is called “Pooling and Sharing (P&S) Mountain Training Initiative (MTI)�?.  The Edelweiss Raid competition is conducted under the auspices of this initiative and is designed to be the ultimate challenge for mountain infantry to test their skills and share their knowledge, tactics, tips and procedures with regards to high-alpine, winter warfare.

The Swiss team sorting out their gear upon arrival.

This year’s Edelweiss Raid saw teams from Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France, Poland, Bulgaria – and for the first time – Russia, taking part in a grueling 40 kilometer course at an altitude of 4,200 meters above sea level.

At the passport control desk; “Occupation?”  “Nyet, just visiting.”

Contestants must cover long distances on skis in full battle dress and with combat equipment in high mountain terrain, and accomplish a number of specific, mountain-infantry relevant tasks en route.

A satellite GPS overview of the course on Day 1 of the competition.

Over the course of the competition, contestant teams must demonstrate the following key attributes:

  • maximum physical performance
  • extraordinary skiing and winter mountain-warfare skills
  • extraordinary perseverance
  • extraordinary leadership qualities of the commanders
  • ability to work in a team

Only the elite need apply – only the strong survive!

A German team on the march…

The task list for the teams over the 2-day competition consists of:

1) reconnaissance
2) search for persons buried by an avalanche
3) rescue of persons buried by an avalanche
4) plan and execute a ski-march
5) bivouac in high-alpine winter conditions

1) skiing with a rope tow
2) grenade throwing
3) rapelling
4) live firing
5) orienteering
6) casualty transport

Mother Nature threw some appropriate weather at the troops to test their winter bivouac skills.

The competition has now officially ended with all teams having crossed the finish line – apart from the Bulgarian team, which had to withdraw from the competition because of an injury.  We’ll post the official results as soon we know them.

You can also find further information here – any military units interested in participating in future Raids can also contact the organizers through that website as well.

All images copyright Austrian Armed Forces.