Monthly Archives: September 2011

Dream Job Alert! Ski Less, Work More!

Hard-working, organized and articulate Swedish ripper, Martina Palm, on her lunch break.

Rules are made to be broken, right? Which is why I just defied the only rule I can think of at ChamonixInsider.com and that is to mention the ‘J’ word ( as seen in the title above) anywhere on this blog.

Anyway, I’m going to make an exception here because this is such a good opportunity for some lucky Swedish rider who:

– loves skiing

– speaks Swedish and English

– loves skiing

– wants to spend the winter in the Alps

– loves skiing

– wants to spread some Salomon love to the online community

My good buddies over at Salomon gave me a call to tell me about one of those ‘J’ things I keep hearing about and it seemed like a good opportunity for a Swedish shredder to get his boot wedged firmly in the ski industry door. If that’s you then click to open the PDF below to find out more. BTW, cute Swedish girls in Chamonix need not apply. Our current supplies of this valuable resource are running dangerously low and we need to protect what little we have. (Fortunately, some of the crew have taken matters into their own hands and have begun a systematic re-seeding program, however this latest crop won’t be fully flowering for years to come).

For everyone else, don’t blame me if you miss any powder days…

Retail_Customer_Service_Expert_092011

As for my own interest in this? Just trying to make the connection between good people and good brands so that we can all be one big, happy family.

That, and one less Swedish slayer on the mountain means more fresh tracks for me…

Chamonix Climbing, Skiing and General Irresponsibility, Colin Haley Style

Powder for breakfast.

Ice for lunch

Rock for dinner.

Internationally-renowned triathlete Colin Haley getting his fill in Chamonix. And big shout out once again to alpine filmer extraordinnaire Bjarne Sahlén. Sometimes I’m just as blown away by the skills behind the camera as in front of them.

La Classica Moderna: Balmasse, Pou & Pou’s New Route on Brouillard Pillar

"Climbing the perfect Mont Blanc granite was a pleasure. There is no place in the world with granite quite like this one." -Iker Pou, PlanetMountain.com

OK, I’m a little off the back here but definitely worth posting is that back in August Hervé Barmasse (Italian), Iker Pou and his brother Eneko (Basque) established a new route on the left side of the Brouillard Pillar.

The new route, La Classica Moderna, is around 350 meters, 11 pitches, 6c max, no aid, no bolts.

La Classica Moderna, Brouillard Pillar, Mont Blanc – 350m / 6c

The team emphasizes that the name of their route refers to the classic style in which they climbed including completing the route to the summit of Mont Blanc.

Photo: Damiano Levati

In an interview with PlanetMountain.com, Hervé states,

“Reaching the summit of Mont Blanc after [climbing] the Brouillard makes all the difference. Above all, if you’re opening a new route [you endure] far more hours trudging uphill with heavy sacks, as well as the risk of violent storms which can surprise you late in the day. You must have diverse abilities: a good set of lungs and the desire to put in a lot of effort as well as knowing how to climb and progress up mixed terrain. Furthermore, when you establish a route a bivy is practically an obligatory stop-off. On the other hand, abseiling down means being safely off the mountain in less than two hours in the comfort of Rifugio Eccles without a worry in the world. [Our] ascent respected the philosophy and ethics of the first ascentionists of this pillar – Bonatti and Oggioni who climbed the Rosso right to the top of Mont Blanc – who couldn’t but finish on the summit. [We did this] despite knowing full-well that more than half of the [climbers] who established new routes on the Brouillard abseiled off.”

"It's a spectacular face and, perhaps due to fatigue or too heavy rucksacks, but I imagined the ridge which leads to the summit of Mont Blanc to be much easier." -Iker Pou, PlanetMountain.com.

The route is the second stage in Barmasse’s ‘Exploring the Alps’ trilogy where he “…wants to rediscover alpinism on [three great] peaks in the Alps.” The first leg was a solo climb of the Matterhorn’s Picco Muzio route in April.

Click here to read the full interview on PlanetMountain.com.

"Spectacular, the most beautiful bivy we've ever had." -Iker Pou, PlanetMountain.com

Legendary Alpinist Walter Bonatti Dies of Cancer at 81

22 June 1930 - 13 September 2001

“Every climb I did was about challenging myself, about not knowing if I had what it took to survive. I seldom felt a feeling of great triumph when I made it to the top; that feeling came when I was on the mountain itself and I knew there was nothing that could stop me.”

Climbing legend Walter Bonatti died of cancer last night at the age of 81. Although he stopped climbing at the young age of 35 his iconic ascents of the Grand Capucin, Petite Dru, Gasherbrum IV and others have firmly established him as one of the greatest climbers of all time.

1949 – Fourth ascent of the north face of the Grandes Jorasses.                              1951 – First ascent of the Grand Capucin (with Luciano Ghigo, east face, VII/400m).                                                                                                                                     1953 – First winter ascent of the north face of Cime Ovest di Lavaredo.               1954 – Center of the controversy surrounding the first summit of K2. Survived open bivouac at 8100 meters with freaked out porter.                                                1955 – Epic, solo first ascent of the southwest pillar (Bonatti Pillar) of the Petite Dru.                                                                                                                                                    1956 – first ski traverse of the Alps (1795 km, 73,193m of ascent, 66 days)          1957 – Grand Pilier d’Angle du Mont Blanc.                                                                      1958 – First ascent of 7925-meter Gasherbrum IV (NE ridge w/ Carlo Mauri)     1959 – The Red Pillar of Brouillard.                                                                                      1961 – one of two survivors of a 7-man team’s tragic attempt on the Central Pillar of the Freney of Mont Blanc.                                                                                                   1961 – Rondoy North, Patagonia.                                                                                           ???? – Awarded the French Legion of Honneur.                                                              1963 – First winter ascent of the north face of the Grandes Jorasses.                   1965 – First winter solo of the north face of the Matterhorn.                                  2004 – Awarded the Italian honorific title Cavaliere di Gran Croce.                     2010 – First climber to receive the Piolet d’Or Lifetime Achievement Award.

Bonatti’s book, The Mountains of My Life is a classic in mountaineering literature and tells the story of his most famous climbs. The book includes his description of the controversial first ascent of K2 where Bonatti was intentionally abandoned by his partners Lino Lacedelli and Achille Campagnoni high on K2 after carrying the oxygen that would be the key to the pair’s successful summit. Bonatti refused to drop the high-altitude porter, Amir Mahdi, who had accompanied him in order to descend to safety and the pair heroically survived an open bivouac at 8100 meters on one of the deadliest mountains in the world.

Lacedelli and Campagnoni originally accused Bonatti of using some of the oxygen on the carry thereby jeopardizing their own summit bid and it took 50 years for Bonatti’s version of the events to be verified as the truth. Mahdi has been less fortunate and has still not recovered all his fingers and toes that were lost to frostbite in the ordeal.

“Perhaps the finest alpinist there has ever been.” -Doug Scott

“Bonatti was one of the greatest climbers of all time – the last true Alpinist, an expert in all disciplines. But more importantly Walter was a marvellous, tolerant, loving person.” – Rheinhold Messner

“He was a complex person, and a sensitive one too. K2 always preyed on his mind. But he was also a man of great integrity. And a great gentleman.” -Sir Chris Bonington.

“If in normal conditions it is skill, which counts, in such extreme situations, it is the spirit, which saves.” -Walter Bonatti

Walter Bonatti (far right) on the Italian side of Mont Blanc

Sources: Mountains of My Life by Walter Bonatti, The Guardian, UIAA, Alpinist

And Now for Something Completely Different: Vincent Girault Gives the Folks in Vallorcine an Earful

Percussion skills or shampoo commercial. You decide.

Big thanks to alert reader ‘Blackie’ Blackwood for sending this our way and livening up a Wednesday morning filled with bad news.

I’ll second Blackie’s advice to slip on the cans and turn this one up.

According to the info on YouTube: “Vincent is a French native musician. He has been building The Electronic Conspiracy (Electro Rock) as a drummer / music producer and plays drums with Neimo (Pop Rock) & Altess (Hardcore). He toured with Vegastar (Electro Pop) in 2008, and punctually appeared with Sophie Ellis Bextor, Robyn, Enrique Iglesias and Jenifer for some TV shows. http://www.myspace.com/vincentgirault”

Fear of a Flat Planet: Massive Rockfalls on the Dru

The Dru

Lying in on a Sunday morning instead of firing up the American Direct has its advantages. Photo: Luc Moreau

While the next President of the United States is telling us how the jury is still out on global warming (what do those so-called ‘scientists’ at NASA know?), those of us in Chamonix are running for cover as the permafrost melts and the mountains crumble around us.

Yet another in a series of gargantuan rockfalls from the Dru happened this weekend when more than ten thousand cubic meters of rock fell causing tremors that were felt in the centre ville.

The first happened Saturday afternoon, the second on Sunday morning around 10:00 am, and the third on Sunday afternoon.

According to an article on LeDauphine.com, the series of three rockfalls were the biggest since 2005 when the west face released and took most of the Pilier Bonatti with it.

The cause of the rockfalls is widely attributed to melting permafrost unless you’re America’s next President, Rick Perry, in which case God did it to punish rock climbers, who are gay.

Computer genius's rendition of ChamonixInsider's proposal to super glue an artificial Bonatti Pillar back onto the west face.

Source of some, but not all, of the above: LeDauphine.com

65m 8b Trad at Céüse by Arnaud Petit

climbingArnaud Petit is getting bored with all the easy climbing out his back door so he decided to step up and send Céüse testpiece Black Bean … on his own gear.

“Climbing the Biographie wall and reaching the plateau of Céüse using my own protection has become an obsession for me this spring. I prepared for a whole month: first looking for gear placements and hoping there were enough, then testing them and finally choosing a minimal rack that wouldn’t be too heavy.

Then came the physical and mental training for the sections where I absolutely could not fall because not all of the gear was 100% and there were times when I was 15 meters above my last piece. And also because Black Bean  is not an easy route for me. To feel ready for the try and then going for it. Taking the first step, as always, is definitely the hardest part.”

I have to say that I’m relieved to hear Arnaud say this because I’ve been having the same problem with that first step on 8b routes. Go figure.

Before you get stuck into the video be sure to hit 720p, go for full screen, and be prepared to get schooled in what it takes to climb 65 meters of 8b max as well as the nuances of protecting a 30-meter whipper.

11 placements in 65 meters.