Patrouille des Glaciers

The world's toughest mountaineering race since 1943
The PdG app manages to bring a hardly accessible mountaineering race to your home and lets you motivate and cheer on the teams.
Software development, Concept and design

Tradition and Hightech

The Patrouille des Glaciers, the toughest mountaineering race in the world, was originally initiated by the two captains Rodolphe Tissières and Roger Bonvin of the then Swiss Mountain Brigade 10. The patrol race served to test and increase the troop's operational capability as part of the pre-World War II mobilisation organisation. Since 1943, this race has been held every two years.

Homescreen of the Patrouille des Glaciers App
Detailed view of stage


The app contains important information, live streams, 360° videos, an interactive map, live tracking and timing, rankings, congratulations and news. With the PdG map, users can follow their favourite team at every turn, keep up to date with the current status of the team via push message, and easily access all rankings for the various routes and categories.
Apps with love has been realizing the app since 2012 and, in addition to the native iOS and Android apps, also developed a comprehensive CMS to manage the app content and various complex APIs to external data suppliers.

Detailed view of stage on map and video stream
Elevation profile of the route
Patrouille des Glaciers Live Stream

Creating a Live-Experience

This apps makes it possible to experience a mountaineering race that is otherwise difficult to access and allows viewers to join in live on the team’s journeys. The participating teams also use the app as a clear, practical logbook.

Interactive route profiles and live views of the positions

For fans and participants of the Patrouille des Glaciers, the PdG App offers highly useful content. Special care was taken to ensure that the users get the best possible live feeling during the race and that they can find the all important information directly on the first screen. With the app you can follow as many teams as you like, you can easily browse through the rankings, you have access to various live cams and 360° videos and the 360° panoramic images of some checkpoints allow you to explore the locations. 

Hightech in the Background: From LORA-GPS and RFID-Tags to 4G

With this project, Swisscom and Apps with love have done pioneering work and implemented an exemplary use of new technologies in the middle of the Swiss mountains. Of course, the technologies used have changed over the years.

LORA-GPS technology and frozen trackers

At the PdG 2018, the participants in the Patrouille des Glaciers were tracked via the low-power network for the first time. LORA GPS trackers were used to transmit the current position of each individual team in real time. We were forced to find trackers that were also resistant to the low temperatures. To do this, we deep-froze the trackers in the laboratory with Swisscom to simulate the extreme weather conditions of the PdG and test them properly.
The trackers sent their position, temperature and battery status via the LORA network to the Swisscom LPN gateway, which forwarded this data to the backend system of the PdG app. There they were stored in an in-memory cache and immediately transmitted to the interested apps and web browsers via MQTT.

Time measurement via RFID Tags

Time measurement took place at various checkpoints along the course, using RFID tags that each athlete wore. Each time measurement was immediately transmitted to a backend of the official timekeeper via the 4G mobile network. There, data (time, results and rankings) is calculated in real time and transmitted to the PdG backend, from where the data then again is transmitted to the apps via MQTT.

Real time due to MQTT and in-memory processing

For the streaming of real-time data (locations, timings, rankings) to the apps and web browsers we used MQTT for the first time, a machine-to-machine communication protocol designed for IoT devices. In total, over 700 million messages were transmitted via MQTT during the two days of the race, with one message averaging around 340 bytes in length. In combination with the in-memory processing of all race data, we were able to display the time measured at a physical checkpoint in the app within milliseconds.

4G as State of the art in 2024

Today, 4G is in use along the entire route. This means that both the determination of positions and timekeeping are carried out via GPS trackers, which transmit data via 4G.

The LPN gateways are prepared for installation at lofty heights (Photos: Swisscom)

24/7 Support

As the races start at night and last until late afternoon the next day, the app has to be stable around the clock. We therefore provide 24-hour support during the race days and make sure that everything works, especially at night.

Project manager Martin Moser in the PdG 2022 command center
Command center during the PdG 2022
Projectmanager Martin Moser in the PdG 2022 command center

Key Facts

2 race days with 2 races each 

1540 patrols of 3 runners

Around 50'000 active Users during the PdG

Around 50'000 congratulations

130'000 patrol followers

1st place category charts iOS and Android

3rd rank overall Charts iOS

Average interaction time of 55 minutes

Status PdG 2022

Martin Moser
Martin Moser
Project Management
Still waters run deep. A project manager with whom you can imagine sitting around a campfire, barbecuing the grizzly you’ve just caught, and pondering about the stars until the sun comes up. If you want to realise a project in a hyper-laidback, worry-free way, you’re safe in his paws.
Nick Gerber
Nick Gerber
Concept & Design
He knows every shortcut and every Easteregg, there's not a single software tool that he hasn't already tested and sworn at. The clear winner: Notion. He uses it to work in such a structured way that, in addition to conceptualizing, designing and developing websites, he has time to ask the really important questions in life. For example, who tops the own goal statistics in table soccer.
Olivier Oswald
Olivier Oswald
CTO | Co-Founder
His hair is well insured and is testimony to IT experience from the very earliest days of this art. There is no technical challenge that he hasn’t already faced at one time or other. It goes without saying that he has guru status and can generate WLAN through meditation.
Alain Stulz
Alain Stulz
Technical Lead iOS Development
iOS developers with advanced skills. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Bern in his pocket and the improvement of our office automation always in mind. The ace hidden in our sleeve!
Raphael Neuenschwander
Raphael Neuenschwander
iOS Development
The nicest guy on earth with an accent to die for. If we were childless, we would adopt him. Plus, he’s an absolute professional when it comes to bits & bytes.
Daniel Geissbühler
Daniel Geissbühler
Backend Development
Could actually do almost everything that we do with his experience in project management, requirements engineering, consulting and sales. But at h'd rather focus on 0 and 1, .Net and system architecture, exchanges with his colleagues and good teamwork.
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