The Lugicap raid

It was February 2009, and three friends, three lovers of the great frozen spaces, set themselves a crazy challenge: to cross the Jura Massif, completely autonomously, in the month of February. They called it the Lugicap Raid.

Not such a difficult challenge, you might say. 

But when there is, a quadriplegic on the teamyou quickly realize that this is an extraordinary adventure.

Indeed, to cover 68 km in the heart of winter, in the middle of nowhere, in a Nordic mid-mountain region, over 8 days, totally autonomously, without any assistance, and with a severely disabled personit had to be done.

But if the challenge was great, their motivation was even greater! 

Frank, one of the members of this expedition and co-founder of the Lugicap company, tells us about his incredible adventure.

Frank Emeyriat, Lugicap raid participant

A daring gamble, this Lugicap raid

All around us, people were staring at us, not without amazement, but also with a touch of admiration. Will we succeed in this challenge? 

In front of the journalists on the France 3 set, Fred Martin's speech was all-conquering: " I've been preparing this expedition indirectly for 15 years. After my accident, I started by learning to speak again..."

For a time, this lover of the mountains, snow and gliding saw his passion vanish after an accident. Now a quadriplegic, it was hard for him to imagine ever again hitting the snowy slopes of our beautiful Jura mountains. But, quite simply, his passion was stronger.  

"We've chosen what's hardest for a tetraplegic person: cold, snow, roaming, autonomy... we're throwing down a challenge to immobility!"

Frédéric Martin, founder of Lugicap

Lugicap, the fruit of passion

Handicap couldn't rob Fred of his passion of hiking through snow-covered mountains.

During a stay at a ski resort, his movements were considerably hampered by his wheelchair. That's when he came up with the idea of installing a Sled to support the wheelchair. This would enable the disabled person to glide over the snow. 

Fred had just invented the "Lugicap". With his new machine, he could continue to live his passion. 

On the snow-covered slopes of the mountains that lend their flanks to hiking enthusiasts, he could still experience the thrills. 

And while it's not possible to scale peaks or climb steep slopes with the Lugicap, it's perfect for gentle strolls across plains and valleys. Marked snowshoe routes and cross-country ski trails lend themselves well to this, in complete safety.

Months of preparation before the Lugicap raid

And that's exactly what our Jura tour is all about. 

In addition to Fred, our team includedFred's brother Arnaud and me, Frank Emeyriat. That's right! We were a dream team, out to conquer a feat never before achieved. 

Lugicap raid team

We had spent months preparing for this expedition to our snow-covered mountains. As you can imagine, everything was carefully organized. To spend days walking in the cold, nights in bivouacs at -20°C, with a quadriplegic in the ranks, nothing could be left to chance.

The choice of the equipment we needed to take with us was crucial to the success of such a trip. Naturally, we were able to draw on our many years of accumulated experience, as well as on advice and information gathered here and there. Even if such an adventure had never been attempted before. 

Nevertheless, we were able to define exactly what we needed: clothing, equipment, food - in short, just what was necessary for an 8-day raid in complete autonomy. 310-liter pulka, a sort of sledge. It was full to bursting. But on top of that, we added 2 other bags, emergency snowshoes, a shovel, a transport cart, a shovel - almost everything was there! 

Pulka on Lugicap raid

Raid Lugicap: the start at last!

On the eve of departure, excitement was at its peak. We were like lions in a cage!

We set off on Sunday, February 15, 2009, on a sunny morning with a temperature of -15o C - just what we'd hoped for. The sun was shining, and it was ideal to start our expedition, as if nature had given us her blessing. 

When we were asked, "What do we wish you? Courage? Luck...? "I would answer " Fine, cold, dry, windless weather please. The rest, we manage ".

After a final interview with a journalist from Le Progrès who had come for the occasion, and a farewell to friends, we set off. At long last! 

The serious business had begun. We threw ourselves into the deep end, and it has to be said, not without apprehension, but with great confidence. 

Arnaud and Fred, the 2 brothers, were and would remain linked to each other by a lanyard, from start to finish. I was in charge of the pulka.

A difficult 1st day of running-in

Day1 was predictably tough. 

After a 4.5-hour walk, Arnaud says he's "in the red", suffering from hunger, thirst and cold. 

According to the two brothers, the Lugicap was not sliding well. 

We then decided to set up camp. The next step was to set up a bivouac. Our first night was to be spent in temperatures of -20 oC.

Snow camp - Lugicap raid

A busy day

Our days were full: 

  • Wake up at 6 a.m; 
  • Self-massage ; 
  • Dressing ; 
  • Preparing Fred ; 
  • Lunch ; 
  • Snow removal and tent clearance ; 
  • Take Fred out of the tent;
  • Put everything in the bags;
  • Loading the pulka...

Occasionally, we'd find that we'd forgotten a bag in the snow, so we'd have to reopen the bag and put it away again before setting off. 

It took about 4 hours each day to tidy up the bivouac.

Camp in the snow 2 - Lugicap raid

Human qualities more important than physical ones

It took stamina, self-sacrifice, courage and what have you, to swallow the ten or so kilometers that lay ahead of us every day. 

Our strengths: Fred's determination despite his disability, Arnaud's clear-sightedness in the face of his brother's disability, and the unity of the group we formed. 

It's these important levers that have enabled us to see this extraordinary adventure through to the end.

By doing this raid with Fred, despite his handicap, we defy the reasonable, the imaginable. 

The 3 adventurers of the Lugicap raid
Arnaud towing Fred during the Lugicap raid

The Lugicap raid, an inspiring expedition that attracted media attention

Our winter raid with a quadriplegic person attracted a lot of media attention and interest from tourists and locals alike. 

We were proud to be a source of inspiration for skiers, walkers and hikers, who were curious about our adventure. Many even wanted to take photos with us. 

We've been touched by the support and admiration we've received from those who are used to these great icy spaces, who were able to measure the feat we were achieving. 

Thanks to this unique experience, we had become real stars! 

Today, thanks to this article, I'm happy to be able to share our story with the world.

But the Lugicap raid was not a smooth ride 

Obviously, this expedition had its share of setbacks.

Moments of fear

I remember one in particular. 

As we rounded a steep left-hand bend at the start of a descent, the pulka almost toppled over. The pulka almost overturns. As I continue, I hear Arnaud's voice, not reflecting the usual serenity. So I stop and glance back. I see Fred lying in the snow, his armchair overturned! 

In my head: I tell myself that this is the end of the adventure, even imagining him already lying in a hospital bed. 

I get rid of my accessories and run to the two brothers. Arnaud is busy on the Lugicap. After a while, Fred is put back in the chair. Hope returns.

All the more so when Fred surprises us again by saying: " Did you guys take any photos? Because this one we won't take twice! ". I thought I was in for a shock. Fred did well, and so did we.

Moments of exhaustion 

But the hardest stage was the one at Pré Poncet.  

By mid-day, my legs weighed a ton each. 

Arnaud and Fred no longer had the same smile on their faces, and that was rare enough to be noticed. Arnaud says he's been "in the red since this morning".

It was time to tap into our already depleted reserves. This was no time to stop. 

We had to hold out for two more days to finally see the finish line. 

But before that, we had to climb for another 2 hours to get over the pass. 

So we hung on. Drawing on our innermost resources to reach the roof of our expedition.

The delivery

Imagine our excitement on the last day of our expedition.

Arnaud wakes us up half an hour early. " Don't miss the finish !! " 

We pack up our equipment for the last time, not forgetting to make the most of the view and the wide open spaces we love so much, before hitting the road. 

Finally, we arrive, greeted and applauded by a crowd of admirers, friends and journalists. 

We had succeeded in our mad gamble! Our joy was intense and special, especially for Fred. He had won! He had won this unprecedented battle against his handicap, against immobility.

Arrival of the Lugicap raid

From Lugicap raid to Lugicap company

It was from this extraordinary human adventure that Lugicap was born, a few years later. 

A company created by Fred Martin and myself, his friend Frank Emeyriat. 

From the raid to Lugicap - the 2 founders

So that other disabled people can experience the thrill of gliding

Lugicap's aim is to give all people with reduced mobility access to snow and ice sports. 

That's why we design accessories to suit individual conditions and situations. 

Whatever the terrain, enjoy tailor-made activities with your guide(s). A walk or hike with friends on the snow, a moment of skating or an adventure off the beaten track? The choice is yours. 

Lugicap offers solutions that adapt to your desires, the activity you want to practice (skating, hiking, walking), the terrain you want to play on (ice, snow, sand) and your mobility constraints. Like Fred, you can enjoy the thrill of sliding despite a severe disability. Contact us to discuss your project.

Fred Martin, 1st Lugicap ambassador