Testing the Beal Escaper


One of the big pain-in-the-ass when doing long alpine routes that involve long abseils and you’re going light is the weight and space that take ropes, specially if you need to do double rope long abseils. Until now the other options at carrying a second rope were mostly scary, abseiling from a fifi or a sailing fifi were tense and it was not possible to do the smallest mistake. Last year it came into the market the Beal escaper a good solution for abseiling with a single rope and recover-it from the bottom with a ok security. The mechanism is simple, a built in prusik that releases with some pullings:

I have been using the escaper for a few month in different terrains. In a steep sports climb cliff it works perfectly, but probably there is where the use is not the most interesting, compared to mountain climbing or skiing where the weight can make a difference.

Summer climbing

The device makes perfect sense for long alpine routes with no great technical dificulties but abseiling mandatory, routes like Peuterey integral where is possible to free solo most of it but is necessary to do 800m of abseiling, or routes where is uncertain if an abseil will be needed. During my climbs and scrambles in Romsdal area, I often used my escaper with a edelrid radline 5mm of 30 or 60m, and most of the time the escaper has been working perfectly. At the begining my biggest concern was that with weight changing when the abseil was not a steep and regular slope the escaper will lose up and fall during the abseiling, but that seemed great all the time, the bigest problem is to take the rope down in iregular abseils. We need to take in account some precautions if we want to bring the rope down, the abseil should be mostly straight. When is a lot of corners, direction changes, etc. the friction on the rope makes that when we pull the rope down this one moves very little on the top and the escaper doesn’t looses up much. In mountain terrain, many times I had to pull for 20-25 times the rope before this one fell. Second precaution is to fix the escaper on a singke point, fixing-it on a multiple anchors will make the friction much bigger and much harder, or impossible, to take-it down.

Winter climbing

The escaper is also interesting in winter when steep skiing or ice climbing, I have not had any other issues than the same as in dry conditions. Not any particular problems with snow or ice.

Crampons Overboots


In 2012 I climbed Innominata from Courmayeur and down to Chamonix in a single push. Since I belive that to do an activity we need to carry all the gear needed from the begining to the end and to be light one of the biggest concerns was the shoes. If I want the comfort and technical features for climbing boots will be the best, but then it will be a pain in the ass to run all the lower parts, and running shoes may be to cold and lack of rigidity for the climbing. That time I used my running shoes with a light gaiter to protect from snow and a pair of automatic aluminium crampons. It worked well but it was very painful on my toes and it wasn’t really possible to use the crampons very well on ice.

With that idea of cramponable running shoes I started to think about how to make it more technical and less painful. Looking to different running shoes and crampons. That year I did some more tests, and on some trainings with Jordi Tossas we comented what would be the next steeps to improve the system.

Climbing “Pepite” at Petite Verte.
Jordi Tosas traversing a steep nevé in the Alps
Tosas dry tooling with running shoes

Basically the crampons were working fine on mixt climbing and on ice using the ice shapes but lacked rigidity on the crampon – boot connection to “hit” the ice. Another problem was the comfort, it was basically bery painfull on the hill and toes where the crampon slings were compressing the shoe – and bones-. Last problem was the temperature. Running shoes are normally thin and not impermeable, so in long cold climbs the feet became frozen.

In 2015 Simon Elias and I climbed Colton Mcintyre at Grandes Jorases, since we wanted to start from Chamonix and do in a push to Courmayeur I tought it would be a good way to test this system in a more alpine terrain. I used my x-alp shoes with a pair of dartwin crampons and a cross country ski overboot to protect from the cold. It worked well but on steep ice I wasn’t able to hit strongly the ice and the crampons had some mouvement.

One week after Jorasses I travel to Denali with Seb Montaz, Vivian Bruchez and Jordi Tosas. During the long hours in the tent I started to draw what it could be an improvement to this system.

Later this year I meet with dessigners at Salomon, with Patrick Leick and François Girard, and they make those ideas a reality:

I used this boots in my 15-16-17 expeditions in Himalaya and after some small improvements I think we got the right footwear to be able to run from low altitudes to everywere.

But this crampon overboot was too warm and too big for climbs in lower ranges. So symplifying the same idea, Patrick, François and Philippe Margolliet made a lighter overboot perfect for activities like the Peuterey, Grandes Murailles, Bruoillard ridge or 6000 m summits in Himalaya.

light vs 8000m version

Last activities


2019/05/16 Finlay Wild run Welsh 3000ers in 4hrs 10mins 48secs more info

2019/05/14 Finlay Wild run Snowdon Horseshoe record in 1h20m16s more info

2019/03/21 Jim Reynolds free solo up and down Fitz Roy, Aguja Saint Exupery and Rafael Suarez more info

2019/02/19 Léo Billon, Sébastien Ratel and Benjamin Védrines did the first one-day winter ascent of the Cassin on the North Face of the Grandes Jorasses. A few hours later, Caro North and Carlos Molina did the same more info

2019/02/18 François Cazanelli and Francesco Ratti link Fuggen at Matterhorn – Dent d’Herens – Grandes and Petites Murailles in 3 days (10h20 + 14h44) more info

2019/02/17 Karl Egloff and Nicolas Miranda climb Aconcagua south face in 24h50′ more info

2018/11/12 Jason Hardrath run car to car Cosmic Wall, Mt Hubris (CA) in 2h 13’52” more info

2018/10/18 Simon Gietl free solo Via Lacedelli SW Face of Cima Scotoni in 1h 32′ more info

2018/09/30 Filip Babicz climbs Integrale du Brouillard in 8h22′ more info

2018/09/16 Andy Steindl and François Cazzanelli climb up and down 4 riedges of Matterhorn in 16h04′ more info

2018/09/15 Sonia Regueiro run Anillo de Picos d’Europa in 26h 18′ more info

2018/09/05 Manu Merillas run up&down Espigüete in 1h21’20” more info

2018/09/03 Andras Steindl run Zermatt-Matterhorn-Zermatt in 3h59’52” more info

2018/09/01 Anton Krupicka run Tour de Traverses in Colorado more info

2018/08/20 Kilian Jornet climbs Integrale du Brouillard in 7h30′ more info

2018/08/16 François Cazanelli and Kilian Jornet link Cervinia-Grandes Murailles traverse- Cervinia in 10h59‘ more info

2018/08/12 Andrés Marin solo Trango Tower in less than 12h more info

2018/08/04 Finlay Wild run Cairngrom 4000ers in 3h52’59” more info

2018/08/03 Cody Lind run Idaho 14ers in 2h26′ more info

2018/08/01 Kyle Richardson runs LA Freeway in 16h28′ more info

2018/07/27 Dani Arnold Climb Walker spur in Grandes Jorasses in 2h04′ more info


Trail runners who run roads / Road runners who run trails

People & History

A few days ago, the american runner Jim Walmsley beat the long standing 50 miles World Record in 4:50:07 (he averaged 5:48 per mile and 3:36 per kilometer- here his impressive Strava). The previous 50-mile world best of 4:50:21 was set by South African legend Bruce Fordyce in 1983. Earlier this year he tap the trial’s qualifier time of 64:00 at Houston Half Marathon. During last summer Jim break the record of 100 mile race Western States Endurance Run in 14h30′. Jim has been focusing in Ultratrail distance for the last years, obtaining great results, after a track & field past where he run 13:52 the 5000m and 29:08 the 10.000m back in 2012 before his ultrarunning career.

Walmsley is part of the athletes who are performing well in the trails as in the road. Since the begining of the trail running some athletes have been very competitive in both fields. The polyvalence of those athletes who are able to run any distance, any surface is rare and extremely difficult to achieve, because is not only a lineal curve of adding distance but in some cases also the technicality, is important to understand the differences between the different disciplines in Trail Running, as qualities required are not the same for a race like WS100, a Mountain Running race or a Skyrace.

The pioneer’s

Jeff norman, born in 1945, is a british fell runner who won 6 times the three Peaks fell race from 1970, he was fell running champion in 1974. This year he also won the 2nd edition of Sierre Zinal in 2h48′. During this years he was running also road marathons in 2:15. In 1978 he run the marathon in Montreal’s Olympic Games finishing in 26th position. His PB is 2:12:50 in 1978. In the 80’s he broke (and still have) the 50km british record (both track and in route) in 2:48:06.

Jeff Norman

In the following years, John wild, was dominating the fell running scene. He was the 81 and 82 fell running champion. He had also good track times as 8:36 in the 3000m steeplechase and also won important races as the cross de San Sebastian in 1978.

David Cannon was a succesful fell runner. 1972 british champion and 6 times winner of Ben Nevis race during the 70’s. He turned his career towards marathon in 1980. In his first marathon, in Fukuoka, he run 2:11:35, and that same yer he won Montreal marathon in 2:11:21. The year after he won Paris marathon in 2:11:44. After he introduced the same transition path to Kenny Stuart.

One of the best fell runners of the history, Kenny stuart, won several times fell races as Ben Nevis (with a record standing today), Snowdon, Skiddaw, Fell running Championships (those are off-trail steep races) during the first half of the 80’s and was the first mountain running world champion in 1985 in Italy. After that he started running road and in his debut he won Glasgow marathon in 2:14:03. In 1989 he run Houston marathon in 2:11:36 before his career was curtailed by increasing allergy and virus problems.

Keith Anderson (13:49, 29:06, 1:04:53, 2:17) is a british fell runner who won in the early 90’s many fell races as Ben Nevis (1989), Edale Skyline, Sedbergh Hills, Three Shires… and the world mountain running trophy in 1992 and 1993.

Anderson’s focus later shifted to cross country and road running.In one of his 5k road races in 1994, Anderson placed second to the future 3000m world record holder Daniel Komen. Anderson ran the 1998 Boston Marathon in 2:17:08.

Martin Jones (14:00, 28:24, 1:03:05) won in 1992 and 1993 the World Mountain Running trophy. During the same time he was racing in cross country ( 1994 world championships) and half marathon (1:03:10 in the 199 world championships)

Chuck Smead, (14:37, 29:40, 1:05:47, 2:13:47) from USA, was born in 1951. He won Pikes Peak Marathon in 1972 and Sierre Zinal in 1977 (2:41:18). At same time he participated in road races, taking second in the Marathon at the 1975 Pan American Games in Mexico City. In 1981 he run his PB in Eugene.

Fellow american Pablo Vigil, (29:13, 2:15:19) run track and cross country young, and his 2:15 in Cleverland in 1980. He came to Europe to race the Cross Country world championships in 1978 and then to race theWorld Mountain Running trophy and in mountain running and some classical mountain races, where he won 4 consecutive times Sierre Zinal, from 1979 to 1982, with a best time of 2:33:49.

Jim Howard won in 1981 Avenue of gians marathon with a time of 2:18:04, that was not his PB of 2:15:25, but it was only 2 weeks after he won a 41 mile race and 6 days after his victory in 100 miles Western States in 16:02. To recover from all that, 13 days after he placed 2nd at San Francisco marathon in 2:19:24. He won WS100 2 times and Leadville 100 one time among numerous victories in 50 miles and 100k races.

Jim Howard at 1983 WS100

East African’s in mountain running

I remember in my first Climbathon in Mount Kinabalu back in 2007. JULIUS MBUGUA- 1:03:14 – 28:33 – 2:11. I really think

Earlier this year, Joel Ayeko from Uganda was leading the steep uphill of the World cross-country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. He is an excelent uphill runner. 6 month ago he crossed the finish line of the Mountain Running Championships in Canillo, Andorra in 2nd position. He finished the race in Denmark in 10th position.

Ayeko’s case is not unique, Mountain Running races, with non technical circuits and moderate elevations (uphill years is about 12km with 1000m+ and up&down is about 12km with 800m+-) are atractive for runners with great athletic capacities. Uganda has been present in those events since the begining of the 2000’s. Martin Toroitich (13:34, 27:57, 1:01:06), Phillip kiplimo (14:01, 28:34, 1:02:20, 2:11:30), Fred Musubo (13:43, 28,57, 1:01:08, 2:06:56), Robert Chemonges (14:01, 28:57, 1:02:55, 2:09:05), Isaac Kiprop (13:41, 28:27, 1:03:20), Martin Toroitich (13:34, 27:57, 1:02:19) who has been placing top 10 in both wmra and cross country world championships, or Victor Kiplangat (28:37, 1:01:26, WMRA 2017 champion) are also mountain runners participating in the WMRA championships.

Eritrea has been present also since 2004 in those championships with great results, 2010 WMRA world champion Samson kiflemariam (13:21, 28:08, 1:00:52, 2:11:56 and Petro Mamu, (1:03:40, 2:14:50) who was the 2017 World Champion before been tested positive for doping. Petro has been also running longer distances, winning Sierre Zinal (2h33) and Limone Skyrace.

Etiopian Eticha Tesfaye (28:59, 1:03:24, 2:10:05) won Sierre Zinal in 1996 (2:41:05) and 4 times Jungfrau Marathon between 2002 and 2006. 2 years before his Sierre Zinal victory he won his first marathon in Amsterdam in 2:15, he won 15 more marathons during his career.

Semetru Alemayehu (2:07:45) from Kenya make the podium in 1999’s Sierre Zinal (2:38) Jungfrau Marathon and Tyon-Dixence, 2 month later he run in 2 consecutive weeks Lausane and Frankfurt marathon (2:14 and 2:12) before he run his bests in Torin (2:08 and 2:07 the following year). He also participated in the 2000 Olympics, finishing 22 and the next year 10th at the IAAF marathon world championships.

Also from Kenya, Panin robert Surum (28:54, 1:14.37) placed 3rd at 2018 Sierre Zinal. Isaac Toroitich Kosgei (1:03:56, 2:12:59) has been placing top 10’s in both wmra championships and Sierre Zinal.

Geoffrei Ndungu (13:57, 1:01:12, 2:08:33) has been winning half and marathons in europe and national cross country championships in Kenya he has been racing at the same time in mountain running, winning races as Jungfrau marathon or Tyon-Dixence and placing top 10 at Sierre Zinal.

John Somopol Mnangat (14:01, 29:05, 1:03:25) won skaala opp in 2009 (1h 09:55)

But not only east africans has been performing in mountain running at the same time as in the track.

Jonathan Wyatt

Probably the most talented mountain runner of all the times is the kiwi Jonhatan Wyatt ( 3:46, 13:27, 27:56, 1:02:37, 2:13:00) He dominated mountain running from 1998 when he won his first of 6 world titles (alternating the victories with italian Marco de Gasperi). Wyatt also performed in longer distance mountain running winning and breaking records of many races among Jungfrau Marathon (2003 – 2:49:01) and Sierre Zinal (2003 – 2:29:12). Wyatt competed in Atlanta’96 Olympics in the 5000m reaching the semifinals and finishing 16th and in Athens’04 martahon finishing 21th in 2h17′.

before Jono, austrian Helmut Schmuck (13:58, 28:55, 2:13:17) won the 1994 wmra championships after participating at the 92 marathon olimpics in Barcelona.

During the Wyatt-De Gasperi dominance a colombian Orlando Ortiz, took 2016 WMRA title. Ortiz was running the same years his bests track and field times (1:51,3:48, 13:56, 28:23). Comombian’s are great mountain runners. The altitude and elevation on their country has make of them good climbers (also in cycling!) before Ortiz, Jairo Correa (14:03, 28:57) won 2 times the wmra championships and 3 times Sierre Zinal during the 90’s with a best time of 2:32:44. He still has the record on Thyon-Dixence on 1:08:28 from 1990.

Jairo Correa

Following Correa, Jacinto Lopez (14:08, 1:03:29, 1:16:54) won Sierre Zinal in 1994 with 2:35 and lately Juan Carlos Cardona has been placing podium in several ocasions. Cardona has competed in 3 olympic’s marathon, Athens, Bejing and London and achieved 2:12:17 in Boston 2011.

Probably the moto any distance, any surface doesn’t fits anybody better than Max King (13:56, 29:01, 1:03:08, 2:14:36). Olympic Trials in marathon and Steeplechase in 2012, X terra world champion 4 times, WMRA world champion in 2011, 100km world champion 2014 (6h27, american record), Podiums at Sierre Zinal,  NACAC Cross Country Championships and Western States 100 or Comrades marathon (5h37) … you name-it!

Italy has been on the roots of mountain running and following the stele of athlets like Lucio Fregona or Marco de Gasperi, many have follow the path. Xavier Chevrier (1:03:43), Martin Dematteis (14:37, 1:04:54) and his twin Bernard (14:31, 1:06) or Francesco Puppi have been racing ocasionally on road while doing mountain running.

Spanish Vicente Capitan (13:53, 29:09) combined cross country with mountain running and vertical kilometers. And recently, American’s Jo Gray (28:18, 1:03:42) won mountain running world titles and did podium in races as Sierre Zinal at the same time as winning XC american and Panamerican championships. Sage Canaday (14:29,1:04:32, 2:16) focused in ultrarunning doing numerous podiums, Patrick Smyth (3:47, 13:39, 28:25, 1:02:01, 2:15:00) and Andy Wacker (14:36, 28:52, 1:03:25, 2:17) follow that way on combnining flat and mountain races.

Scotish Robbie Simpson, (14:25, 1:04:39, 2:14:56) 3rd at the marathon in the 2018 Commonwealth Games combines spring marathon period with summer doing mountain races as winning Jungfrau marathon or podium Sierre Zinal.

Among the women’s

Chantal Langlacé was the winner of the 1st Sierre Zinal in 1974. 2 month after that she set a marathon world record in 2:46:24. In 1977 she set a new world mark in 2:35:16. She won Sierre Zinal again in 1979 with 3h 32 minutes, and contiunued her marathon career wining Paris Marathon among others and seting a PB of 2:33:58 in 1986.

Marijke Moser, won 2 times Sierre Zinal between Langlacé victories, at the same period she ran in the 1500m at the 1972 Olympics.

Veronique Marot broke twice the British record for the marathon, with 2:28:04 at the 1985 Chicago Marathon and 2:25:56 when winning the 1989 London Marathon. The latter time stood as the UK record for 13 years until the run of Paula Radcliffe. She is also a three-time winner of the Houston Marathon and represented Great Britain at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She was also a 3 time winner of Sierre Zinal, with victories at the same period (84-85-87) and a PB of 3:01.

Lynn Bjorklund set the U.S. high school record in the 3000 metres in 1975. A record which stood until 2013. In 1981, she also set the female course record for the Pikes Peak Marathon.

Isabelle Crettenand-Moretti is probably the most all round endurance athlete. She has won Jungfrau marathon, Sierre Zinal 3 times, participated in IAAF cross country, distance and marathon world championships (PB: 15:48, 1:13 and 2:42), won ski mountaineering world championships, Pierra Menta and Patrouille des Glaciers with her twin sister Cristina Favre-Moretti, won the mountain bike race Grand Raid and numerous multisport adventure races.

Ann Trason, has been the best ultrarunner in the history. She have won Comrades marathon and 12 days after Western States 100. 2 times, in 1996 and 1997. In 1994 she placed 2nd overal in Leadville 100 setting a course record that stands today. The year after she won the IAU 100k world championships with a record time of 7h and 47 seconds.

Ann Trason

Tsige Worku, From Ethiopia won 2003 Sierre Zinal, she participated (and won) many half and marathons with a PB of 2:33.

Anna Pichrtova (1:12, 2:32) was the best runner in the 2000’s. She has won 5 times Sierre Zinal, Mont Washington road race, 5 times the Mont Kinabalu race, WMRA championships several times and she participated at the IAAF marathon world championships and the Athens Olympics in 2004.

Magda Boulet, (15:14, 31:48, 1:11:46, 2:26) finished second at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. In the IAAF World Cross Country championships, she has earned two bronze medals representing the USA in the team competition, 2010 and 2011. She won the 2002 San Francisco Marathon and finished sixth and first American women at the 2009 New York City Marathon.She finished second at the 2010 Rotterdam Marathon, in a personal best time of 2:26:22.

After her road career she turned into ultras, winning 2015 Western states, placing 5th at 2016 UTMB and winning Marathon des Sables in 2018.

Ida Nilsson

Ida Nilsson (4:18, 15:33, 33:50) followed a similar path, She finished seventh in the 3000m steeplechase at the 2006 European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg, where she set the Swedish national record at 9:39.24. She also participated in the 2005 World Championships. In the summer of 2006 Nilsson ran 3000 m in 9:01.01. After 2009 she had a serie of injuries and retired of athletics until 2013 when she start running again on the trails. In 2016 she won Transvulcania and in the following years San Francisco 50 miles, Zegama Aizkorri, The Rut…

Andrea Mayr

Austria’n Andrea Mayr has been WMRA world champion 6 times since 2010. She represented Austria in the 3000 metres steeplechase at both the 2005 and 2007 World Championships in Athletics, Mayr competed in the 2012 London Olympics and has been also ski mountaineering world champion in vertical race. In 2009 she won Viena marathon with 2:30 and in 2011 she did her half marathon PB in 1:11.

Lucy Wambui Murigi, is a Kenyan mountain runner who has won the world mountain running championship as well as 3 times Sierre Zinal in the last years. She has run 32:48, 1:10 and 2:37.

Maude Mathis, is a swiss mountain runner, winner of European championships and podiums in world’s WMRA and records in races like Jungfrau marathon, Maud is also a ski mountaineering podium in world championships and in the last years she has started training for road achieving 33:03, 1:13 and 2:31.

Kiwi Ruth Croft won Golden Trail Series in 2018 and win some long races as Templiers. In 2019 she run 2:34 marathon. American Clare Gallagher had a trck & field career before going to the trails.

Athletes who has been taking the trails after a track career:

Spaniard Pablo Villalobos (1:49, 3:40, 13:23, 28:22, 1:03:15, 1:12:21) did a classical track & field carreer and after PB his marathon in 2011 he started to do some mountain races.

Fellow spanish runner Chema Martinez, (13:11, 27:30, 1:02:36, 2:08:09) was european champion in 10000m in 2002, and 2nd in the marathon European Championship in 2010, after retiring from the athletics he did some trail and stage races as Marathon des Sables where he finish 4th in 2016.

Fun Facts

Fabian Roncero (13:22, 27:14, 59:52, 2:07) was at it’s best during the begining of the 2000’s, achieving European records. In 2008 he run Zegama Aizkorri and other mountain races, but without good results.

Stoltzekleiven opp is a popular uphill race in Bergen, with only 900 meters of distance and 300m of elevation. Ingebrigtsen brothers has been participating in some editions, with a best time of 9:32 for Henrik and 9:14 for Jakob and 9:55 for Filip (record brom Thorbjørn Ludvigsen is 7:54)

Jakob Ingebrigtsen

Technique for Downhill Running

Techniques, Training

Running down is fun. Technical downhills are the funniest if you have a good technique, is like a dance with the elements. There’s no big secret, if you want to be a good downhill runner you need to train in the mountains, because is not about the strenght but about the feet and the vision.

Well, easy downhills where is not any technical element (dirt roads, good trails, grassy fields) are more about legs strenght so for that it can be good to work speed and quadriceps strenght. Running flat or gentle downhill will be the best training for those easy downhills.

For technical downhills, when steepness or obstacles on the path make us slow down it is another game, it becames about coordination and feet position. The first important thing to realize is the terrain under our feet. It seems obious but can take time to get the knowledge of how we need to put the feet in any surface and to feel that under our feet when we are running.

The terrain can be hard ( rock, ice) soft (mud, soft snow, deep moss) or anything in between, or a layering (rock with mud on top, rock with gravel, ice with snow… or the oposite crosty snow or frozen mud). In any of those terrains we will put our feet and apply the weight of our body on different ways. To have that is not to read in an article but to go and run on different surfaces and see by ourselves what it works the better, and practice until we can feel with our feet if we’re doing on the best way.

In general, in slippery hard surfaces (ice, wet rock) we will try to apply a vertical force (push down, not in front or to the back) to not glide and short steeps without much weight. On the opposite, on a slippery soft terrain (mud, snow) we can use the glissade to move faster, and then the steeps can be long and with a progressive low to stronger pressure. On hard terrain we will go with the middle or frontfood, in soft terrain (grass, mud, gravel…) we can go with the rearfoot. On crosty terrain, we will go light applying a soft pressure (bending the knees when the contact) but short steep to not let the time to the hard layer to break… Go out and play in different surfaces to see how your body needs to be.

The lenght of the steeps will be also depending the terrain and surface, normally more is technical, shorter are the steeps, with a better vision-feet coordination, to put the feet where and how we exactly want.

Fot that is important the visualisation. Where we put the focus with our eyes. The general rule is to look as far as possible. More we anticipate, faster we can go, but for that we need to memorize the steeps to do until where we have our vision, so more is technical shorter this focus will be. On that technical terrain, the focus should be like changing the car lights. Close-far-close-far rather fast, so we visualize far and we got reminders on what is close to us.

To practice this memorisation of the terrain we can do some exercises. Starting on easyier trails and stop look on the 4-5 steeps in front and memorize the obstacles (rocks, turns…) and then think where we want to put our feet and the lenght and pressure of the steeps: “a short one to the first rock, then a big jump a bit to the right to avoid that other rock, then turning left and short steeps because is slippery… “ And do-it without looking under our feet. Then we can do-it without stoping to think and to look but trying to do the process on our run, and finally a great exercise is to close the eyes for some seconds during our downhills, visualizing what is under our feets on our memory.

To run down we will use all our body, not only the legs but also the arms and head to keep the balance, sometimes opening the arms will make us more stable, on a turn, puting the weight of the body and arms towards where we turn will help us…

Another important skill is the path finding. Train to see from some distance where is easy to go down, more on the right or the left, on a side or other. As a skier is looking to the color of the snow and the shape of the terrain to see where is the easiest snow to ski, we need to do the same while running down. Trying not to look only on our feet but far to anticipate where we are going and the best path. Practicing speed downhill sports as offpist skiing or mountain bike are great training for that.

Last, it is important to get to know our feet. We can put the feet in many different possitions, on the frontfoot, middlefoot on the hill but also on the laterals, external and internal, we can do some steeps without weight just to keep or change the direction. For that it is important to have strong ankles. Propioception work on gym, slackline, walk barefoot and run on unstable terrain are good tools for that.

To finish here some exercises I like to do to improve my downhill running:

  • Close eyes: as explained before. Close the eyes for 3-5 steeps to work the visualisation and memorisation of the terrain.
  • Dancing: while running down, do some 360 turns (doing one steep on our back) clap the hands on our back, move the upper body as dancing or even the legs doing some jumping “Heidi” steeps… To work on our body position, on relaxing the upper body.
  • Follow someone: to run on the steeps of another runner is a good exercise of having fast reflex. be as close as you can run, just a few centimeters apart from the feet of the one in front, to have very little time to react and cut the visualisation and anticipation.
  • Challenge yourself on the terrain, on safe terrains, run as fast as you can until falling, to test different steeps and surfaces.

Here some videos of downhill running in races:

The History Of Going Fast In The Mountains

People & History

Going fast to the mountains is not a contemporary activity. If we think that the innovations or tendencies of the lightweight practices in the mountains are recent we are very erroneous, because since the begining of climbing mountains or walking in the valleys, there was someone who wanted it do it quickly.

For some time I has been searching and writing down singnificant events happening in speed mountaineering / climbing / skiing and also competitions who take part in a mountain environement. If you have some more references please tell me and I will add there.

The history of people going fast into mountains is old, almost as the history of people going into mountains. Here an article where I tried to put some context on that, from the old days of En No Ozunu to John Muir. The Golden Age of Henri Bulle, Lionel Terray and Louis Lachenal, Herman Bhuhl or Claudio Barbier. From Messner to the “Enchainements” generation of Proffit & Co and the slovenian and polish climbers. The competiotions in the USSR and the Himalayan locomotives as Loretan, Batard or Chamoux. The Alaskan and Patagonian climbers from Mark Twight and Steve House to Colin Haley or Ueli Steck:

History of Fast Alpinism

Also I have been trying to draw a picture of the competitions disputed in the mountains. In Trail running from the origin to the boom of Fell Running in the 19th century, or the first up & down races in Vignemale, Fuji or Mount Matathon. The begining of Ultra running and the start of Skyrunning. In ski mountaineering from the first militar races as Troffeo Mezzalama or the civil races in the Pyrenees and Germany to the world cups. In climbing from the USSR and bouldering challenges to Bardoneccia and the ICF, and the iceclimbing world, from the speed competitions in Rusia to Ouray and La Grave:

History of Competitions in the Mountains

Ueli Steck’s Training


.Ueli Steck was one of the most polyvalent alpinists ever.  Steck is a true all-arounder and has put up M11 mixed routes, free soloed 5.13/8a and WI6, and sport climbed 5.14/8c, done first ascents in 8000m peaks, speed solo ED routes and he has also participated in Ultra Trails.

Among his achievements he has open rock climb routes as Paciencia (8a/5.13b) in solitaire, La vida es silbar (Eigernordwand 900 m 7c) with Stephan Siegrist, both in Eiger North face, he has redpointed Golden Gate (8a/5.13b) at El Capitan. In alpinism he realized some first ascents as West Face of Pumori with Ueli Bühler  (1400 m M4/80), The Young Spider (1800 m M7/Wi6; 7a/A2) in Eiger North face again with Stephan Siegrist. He has done some of the most impressive fast and solo climbs as Excalibur (6b), Eiger North Face in 2h22min, Grandes Jorases Colton-McIntyre in 2h21min, Matterhorn’s Schmid in 1h56min and in 8000ers SishaPangma South face in 10h30, Annapurna South face finalising Lafaille-Béghin route in 28h, Climbed Everest without Ox, linked all 84 4000ers of the alps in 62 days, linked Eiger-Jungfrau and Mönch in 25h…

He started at a young age to perform in alpinism and sport climbing mostly, He started rock climbing at 12, never top-roping, then start indoor climbing, and joining the junior national climbing team, At 17, climbed the east pillar of the Scheideggwetterhorn (30 pitch 5.10ish). At 18 he did his first Eiger North Face and Bonatti Pilar. And soon started with solo climbings as Haston Colouir (TD+, 1,000m) on the Mönch, Walker Spur in Winter, and start first ascents in far ranges as West face of Pumori (7,164m) and The Young Spiders (5.11d A2 M7 WI6, 1,800m) in 2001, and the new route Blood From the Stone (5.9 A1 M7 AI6+, 1,600m) on Mt. Dickey, with Sean Easton in 2002.


For most alpinists, training is just climbing. Ueli Steck believed that to reach higher goals he needed to plan and train specifically for it. He had a staff of people working with him for training (coach, mental coach, nutrition…). He was training around 1200h/year. Planning his training in blocks to keep his polyvalence (Climbing-strength / Generl Endurance / Alpine Endurance / Himalaya Training / Big wall Training). Depending on the goal he was scheduling his year program to focus more on strength if it was a drytooling or free climbing goal, in Endurance if Alpinism…


For climbing, he did gym or rock training a couple of four-hour sessions per week. He was quite serious about the mental aspect, logging about three hours per week of autogenic training, including both relaxation and concentration exercises. For endurance, he was running, cycling and doing ski mountaineering.

He shared with climbing.com some of his week’s plans:


  • MONDAY 1 hour running–Intensity 2 / 1 hour stretching / 1 hour stabilization (core) training / slideshow
  • TUESDAY 2 hours running–Intensity 2 / 1 hour stretching / 1 hour mental training / slideshow
  • WEDNESDAY 4 hours climbing in the gym / 2 hours running–Intensity 1 / 1/2 hour stretching / slideshow
  • THURSDAY 4 hours climbing in the gym / 1 hour stretching / 1 hour mental training / slideshow
  • FRIDAY 1.5 hours running–Intensity 1 / 1 hour stretching / 1 hour mental training / slideshow
  • SATURDAY 3.5 hours running–Intensity 4 / 1 hour stretching / slideshow
  • SUNDAY (REST DAY) Climbing with my wife 4 hours / 1 hour stretching


  • MONDAY Run: 12 kilometers/1,000 meters gain–Intensity 2
  • TUESDAY Climbing outdoors: 3 pitches of 5.13d, 2 of 5.13a, 1 of 5.11d / 1 hour weight training / 1 hour stretching
  • WEDNESDAY Climbing outdoors: 4 pitches of 5.14a, 2 of 5.13a / Run: easy 12 kilometers/800 meters gain–Intensity 1
  • THURSDAY Run: Eiger Lauper Route, running and climbing from Grindelwald, 20 kilometers/3,075 meters gain–Intensity 3
  • SATURDAY Climbing in the gym: 4 pitches of 5.13b, 3 of 5.12d, 5 of 5.12b, 6 of 5.11d / 1 hour weight training / 1 hour stretching
  • SUNDAY Run: 18 kilometers/1,700 meters gain–Intensity 2


  • TUESDAY 3-run series, total 27 kilometers/ 5,100 meters gain–Intensity 3 / 1 hour stretching
  • WEDNESDAY Climbing gym: 3 pitches of 5.13b, 4 of 5.13a, 6 of 5.12c, 4 of 5.11d / 1 hour stretching
  • THURSDAY Climbing gym: 3 pitches 5.13b, 5 of 5.13a, 6 of 5.12b, 6 of 5.11d / 1 hour stretching
  • FRIDAY 3-run series, total 27 kilometers/ 5,100 meters gain–Intensity 3 / 1 hour stretching / 1 hour mental training
  • SATURDAY Climbing outdoors: 2 pitches 5.13d, 1 of 5.12c, 3 of 5.11d
  • SUNDAY (REST DAY) Drive to Dolomites


  • MONDAY 1 hour running–Intensity 2 / 1 hour stretching / 1 hour stabilization training / slideshow
  • TUESDAY 2 hours running—Intensity 2 / 1 hour stretching / 1 hour mental training / slideshow
  • WEDNESDAY 4 hours climbing in the gym / 2 hours running–Intensity 1 / 1/2 hour stretching / slideshow
  • THURSDAY 4 hours climbing in the gym / 1 hour stretching / 1 hour mental training / slideshow
  • FRIDAY (REST DAY) 1.5 hours running–Intensity 1 / 1 hour stretching / 1 hour mental training / slideshow
  • SATURDAY 3.5 hours running–Intensity 4 / 1 hour stretching / slideshow
  • SUNDAY (REST DAY) Climbing with my wife 4 hours / 1 hour stretching


ski & Climb boot by Arcteryx


The beginning was to find a solution to a problem of a niche group, the climbers who do approach with skis. but the new Procline boot seems to be a larger user’s boot. Federico Sbrissa, who is the Product Line Manager for Arcteryx, and his team create a cuff cut in half which offers a disengaged lateral movement (in addition to an impressive front- back movement of 50 ° / -25 °). with this it gains in comfort and ease to the skin up, especially on lateral slopes, very valuable thing for a large audience of skiers as well as for the “technical skier mountaineer”.

This is the bigger but not the only one innovation. full gaiter to be dry, a power strap to have better performances in skiing.

Captura de pantalla 2015-12-09 a les 8.31.06



Procline Carbon Lite 1190 gr, size 27.5

Procline Carbon Support 1260 gr, size 27.5 (Exact same shell, liner with more ski performance.)

Procline Men’s Lite 1190 gr, size 27.5 (Carbon infused cuff plastic, no fiber.)

Procline Men’s Support 1260 gr, size 27.5 (Infused cuff, liner with more ski performance.)

Procline Women Lite 1060 gr, size 25.5 (Carbon infused cuff plastic, no fiber, sizes from 23 to 27.5, exact same shell as “men’s” with a liner shaped for differences in women’s leg shapes.)

Procline Women Support, 1120 gr size 25.5 (Same as above with ski support liner.)

Els 2900 Alpinrunning

News & Infos


At midnight on October 31st, the 37 participants of the inaugural edition of the SCOTT Els2900 Alpine Run started from the Refugi Estanys de la Pera. Their goal, link all 7 peaks over 2900m high in Andorra, in less than 24h.

Unlike other ultra running events, participants were required for sole mandatory equipment a phone, a harness, two 60cm runners and a minimum of two carabiners. The rest was up to the athletes, leaving everyone’s personal experience dictate what to bring to move as fast and light as possible without putting one’s life at risk. So is the true essence of the sport, initiated 25 years ago by a handful of pioneers who did run up and down Mount Blanc and Monte Rosa. Such legends, Pep Ollé and Matteo Pellin, were actually involved into setting up the ropes to secure the Cresta dels Malhiverns section.

Even though the risk factor is never down to zero being out in the mountains, the race organizers lowered it considerably by carefully selecting each participant based on their experience in such terrain. This is how elite athlete were denied entry, while much less popular yet highly skilled mountain people made the cut to create a crowd of humble and like minded peers.

The 70km route took the most direct line between each peaks, amounting a gruelling 6800m of elevation gain, through rocky cols, over exposed ridges, steep couloirs and even a via ferrata section that was performed at night.

At this game, Jokin LIZEAGA (ESP) was the best on the day, taking the win in14h48, followed by Nicolas DARMAILLACQ (FRA) in 15h37 and Andy SYMONDS (UK) in 16h11 wrapping up the mens podium. The woman’s fields made of two at the start line will only see Sonia REGUEIRO RODRIGUEZ (ESP) cross the finish line at the Refugi de Coma Pedrosa in 21h51, crowning her 2015 winner of the SCOTT Els2900 Alpine Run.

True camaraderie was shown until the end where race winner Jokin welcomed the last out of the 22 runners who completed the course (Paul Marie, FRA) and popped a bottle of Cava with the whole crew who had joined to witness the scene.
Find out more about the race here : http://www.els2900.com/  and about SCOTT Running here : https://www.scott-sports.com/global/en/sports/running

F-Rally, alpinrunning back to Rally’s source in Catalonia

News & Infos


The Catalan Mountain Federation (FEEC) has decided to recover mountain rallies a decade after the last one was celebrated and introducing important innovations. Valls d’Àneu will be the location for the F-Rally, the name given to the pilot test that has been prepared for 10th and 11th October.


Mountain rallies are developed in medium and high mountain terrain, with checkpoints but not a defined track, with the aim of going through it whether walking or climbing in the shortest time possible. The F-Rally will be disputed by teams of two or three people, and it will be taken into account the strategy, the orientation, the technique and the companionship.

Brief description of F-Rally

The teams of the F-Rally will have a list with all the minimum obligatory equipment and the participants will must be self-sufficient. It will be also given a map with some obligatory checkpoints and some other optional checkpoints for extra punctuation. Each evening, after finishing the stage of the day, it will be given the information related with the next day’s stage.

This pilot edition, that will be alpine, is addressed to invited teams with proven experience, and the registration, absolutely free, is also open to the teams of FEEC’s clubs. The future editions of 2016 will be opened to mountain and trekking categories.

Everyone interested on representing its club can already make the registration as a team in: http://inscripcions.feec.cat/index.php?arxiu=fitxa_esdeveniment&id_esdeveniment=201

An strategic move of individuals, companies and institutions

The Catalan Mountain Federation has entrusted the direction of the F-Rally to the expert adventurer and competitions organizer Néstor Bohigas. The competition has also the sponsorship of ASUS and the support of the Espot Esquí Club and the town councils of Esterri d’Àneu and Alt Àneu. The F-Rally counts also on the collaboration of Trail magazine, the historical clubs of mountain rallies, and Baqueira-Beret.

The regulations are available on http://www.feec.cat/competicio/reglaments-de-les-competicions/ (Catalan). You can solve any doubt or ask for further information writing to frally@feec.cat.

abseiling technique on sugar snow


Some times when we are on mountains we have not the possibility to find a good place for a sure abseiling anchorage. When we have not rocks to place a belay or we have not many equipment we can recourse to other techniques for abseiling or roping down a mate. When is compact snow we can use a ejectable iceaxe VIDEO or a death body VIDEO. but when is soft snow or sugar snow and we can not trust for a belay, we can abseil down a person with only a ice axe following this technique:

– nail the ice axe into the snow vertically.

– put 2 carabiners on the ice axe top hole

– place our foots on the top of the ice axe (with crampons) Attention to put each foot on the iceaxe if we don’t want to lost our procreation capacity! a foot will be on the top of the sheet, the other on the hammer or shovel.

– put the rope from the climber who will go down into the ice axe carabiner, to the harness of climber standing and to the ice axe carabiner again, and holding with the hands, giving rope to take the other climber down.

Captura de pantalla 2015-03-05 a les 12.01.13 Captura de pantalla 2015-03-05 a les 12.02.21

Julien Irilli Speed solo paragliding

News & Infos, Others

Julien Irilli, born in Annecy (France) realized a proliferated summer in tha alps. In two months time he leave his marks on the North wall of the Jorasses and Matterhorn and the Supercouloir in Mont Blanc de Tacul, climbing (really fast) in solo and paragliding the descents.

Julien is a polyvalent athlete, climbing and paragliding guide, He climbs 8a with a preference for the long alpine routes, in ice climbing with a M11 grade he has been soloing some 5 and 6 ice routes as Polar Circus in Canada, Fil a Plomb, Carli-Chassagne in Chamonix… In Paragliding he has been France Champion and many times on top 10 on World Cup. He has been also racing on Speed ski world and european championships and racing on ski mountaineering and trail running races.

Captura de pantalla 2014-11-05 a les 17.58.50

4 september, Julien arrives in Zermatt early morning, at 11h30 he is in the foot of the North face. 4h30 after he is in the summit after climbing Schmid route (1100m – TD) Climbing down Hornli ridges he paraglides from Solvay to Zermatt.

here his narrative: http://www.voyages-escalade-parapente.fr/solo-en-face-nord-du-cervin-une-aventure-interieure/

14 september, 9h30 Julien paraglides from Aiguille de Midi, 10h he poses on Leschaux hut, 11h30 he starts climbing on Jorasses North face Colton / MacIntyre. 15H05 he is in Pointe Walker after 3h35 of climbing. at 15h30 he paraglides from the summit, landing on Chamonix at 16h.

here his narrative: http://www.voyages-escalade-parapente.fr/speed-solo-aux-jorasses-en-parapente-recit/

5 october, Julien climbs Supercouloir in Mont Blanc du Tacul (ED,5,5c,800m) in just 4h. 9h30: Aiguille du midi 10h15: starts Supercouloir 11h30: Attack Gervasutti 12h15: begining goulotte 15h: Summit of the route 15h30: summit du Mont Blanc du Tacul 16h30: back in Chamonix.

here his narrative: http://www.voyages-escalade-parapente.fr/speed-solo-parapente-au-supercouloir-du-mont-blanc-du-tacul-ed55c800m-4h/

Salomon X-Alp shoes


Salomon on mountaineering?

As you remember, some years ago salomon was doing some ice-climbing shoes, some hight mountaineering boots…until they start focused on trail running. This year they launched the X-Alp products, as an first approach to mountaineering on light products.

X-alp shoes:



– Running: Is not a good running shoe but you can really run approaches and fast downhills with good confort.

– Climbing: Is not a pure climbing shoe, but has a climbing part, grip on rocks is well.

– Protection / cold: is a completely waterproof shoe, it keeps warm on south faces and up to 4000m on the alps on some faces, but a bit colder in north faces on autumn or winter.

– Crampons: Is not a automatic crampons shoe but is possible to fix with automatic crampons and sure great with manual crampons.

A good compromise to do fast mountaineering.

more info: http://xalp.salomon.com

Arnau Julia run all 3000 summits of Catalonia

News & Infos

Arnau Julia, Catalan ultra runner join all the 3000m summits of Catalonian Pyrenees on 29h: Mulleres, Comaliforno, Bessiberri Sud,  Bessiberri Nord, Punta Alta, Sotllo, Montcalm, Verdaguer, Pica d’Estats, Gabarro and Pic Rodo.

120km, 12.000m elevation,

Here the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9EPcZ3AGVc&feature=youtu.be

And more info about the project: http://www.reto3000.es

California 14er speed record (62h3m)

News & Infos, Travel

Font: http://drdirtbag.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/california-14er-speed-record-62h3m/

The route has four legs: South Lake to Red Lake, Cottonwood Lakes to Shepherd Pass, White Mountain, and Mount Shasta. The first Sierra leg covers the northern peaks, from Thunderbolt to Split, while the second covers the southern ones, from Langley to Tyndall. I believe my route is close to optimal for all but the fastest trail runners. The two Sierra legs are by far the longest, and doing them back-to-back is the route’s greatest challenge.

The Thunderbolt-to-Split leg starts at South Lake, taking Thunderbolt Pass to Southwest Chute #1 on Thunderbolt. From there, it traverses to Sill, then drops down the southwest side, where it continues south over Cirque Pass to the west side of Middle Palisade. After climbing and descending the notorious Farquhar route, it crosses Mather Pass on the JMT, leaves to climb Split, then descends the standard route to Red Lake.

After an opportunity to nap on the car shuttle, the Langley-to-Tyndall leg starts at Cottonwood Lakes, taking Old Army Pass to Langley. From there, it drops into Rock Creek, climbs Crabtree Pass, and joins the Mount Whitney Trail at Trail Crest. Tagging Muir on the way to Whitney, it then drops down to Whitney-Russell Col and up Russell’s south chute. From Russell, it descends the north ridge, passes Wallace Lake, and climbs Vacation Pass to “Barnard East” and the Barnard-Trojan talus plain. It then drops to Lake Helen of Troy, climbs the standard route on Williamson and the northeast rib on Tyndall, and descends via Shepherd Pass.

After another possible nap, it climbs White Mountain from the Barcroft gate. The long drive up to Shasta allows a full “night’s” sleep before the final 7,000′ climb from Bunny Flat.

Here are the mileage, elevation, and time by leg:

Leg Dist (mi) Elev+ (ft) Elev- (ft) Time
Thunderbolt – Split 22 12,300 15,600 15:27
Langley – Tyndall 36.9 16,700 19,600 22:02
White 15 3,700 3,700 4:41
Shasta 11.2 7,500 7,500 5:19
Total 85.1 40,200 46,400 47:29
South Lake to Red Lake
Some days everything comes together; this was one of them.

After dinner in Bishop, I drove to South Lake, set my alarm for 2:40 AM, and (amazingly) managed to get to sleep around 9:00. I woke up before 2:00, too wired to get back to sleep, and used the extra prep time to eat my normal granola and coffee, pound a half-liter of beet juice, and brush my teeth in preparation for three days of sugary abuse. After a laugh at the Soviet Realist how-to-poop-in-the-woods sign, I took the photo that started the clock, and got to business.

I made good time up Bishop Pass, jogging some of the flat sections, nailed the traverse to Thunderbolt Pass, and reached the summit block at sunrise. I was prepared to aid it with my 20m rope, but decided to try free-climbing it first, so I strapped the rope on my back and put my camera in my pocket. I felt solid boosting onto the first ledge and, after psyching myself up, mantled onto the upper slope and found purchase to scramble to the summit. Go me! After taking a couple of pictures, I threaded my rope through a ‘biner and lowered myself hand-over-hand.

Psyched up by having reached Thunderbolt quickly and free-climbed the block, I continued to Starlight, easily climbing up and down its “milk bottle” summit block. At the gap between Starlight and North Palisade, the long sling I found several years ago was gone. I chimneyed down into the crack, tossing my pack across the gap, but chickened out at making the jump, afraid I would catch some part of myself in the crack. Climbing back up, I made my way down the north side of the ridge, into the gap, and up the big flake to the platform on the other side, retrieving my pack.

After tagging North Palisade, I made a quarter-hearted attempt to find the Clyde Variation into the U-notch, then just downclimbed the 5.4 chimney. Crossing Polemonium, I found the knife-edge much less impressive and intimidating than I had when doing the traverse in 2008. Four years and three dirtbag summers have improved my confidence. They have also given me speed: having reached Sill in 9 hours in 2008, I took just 6 in 2012. Along the way, I passed two young women heading up from the Palisade Glacier toward Polemonium.

Dropping straight down to the valley, I headed south over mostly good talus (I only fell once) along the western edge of the Palisades, past Potluck Lake and over Cirque Pass. After crossing pleasantly slabby terrain south of the pass, I studied the confusing west side of Middle Palisade, and chose what I thought was the Farquhar Death Chute. Partway up, I realized I was one chute too far south, but by making an ascending leftward traverse, I reached the ridge north of the difficulties between Disappointment and Middle Palisade. Actually, my path was more pleasant than the Farquhar route, and probably no harder than 4th class.

From the summit, I saw a helicopter searching both sides of the ridge; from one of the two men I met there, I learned that it was searching for the body of Gary Dankworth, who fell on Norman Clyde. After dropping down too early and having to backtrack a bit, I found the actual Farquhar route on the way down, and it absolutely lived up to its lousy reputation. There’s no reason to use this route unless you’re trying for the record.

I made my way more-or-less straight down to the JMT, and was glad for a return to the company and mindlessness of trail-hiking. I met a large group stopped on Mather Pass, one with a ukulele, and experienced the culture clash as I explained what I was doing and learned how many days they planned to spend on the way to Whitney Portal.

I ran the south side of the pass, then took off east from the base, skirted a lake, and scrambled up the long talus slope to Split. My climbing performance was slower but acceptable. I called Mike from the summit, then face-planted going down the talus, cutting my chin and nearly losing my phone (disaster!). Fortunately, I was ahead of schedule and descending during the day, so I quickly corrected my mistake after blowing by the non-obvious turn into the Red Lake drainage, and had no trouble following the terrible trail. I barely resisted the urge to booty an ice axe hanging in the bush maze.

Mike and I reached the trailhead at the same time, and I refueled on salty food, Gatorade, and beet juice on the rough drive back to the Glacier Lodge road, then climbed in back for some horizontal non-sleep.

Cottonwood Lakes to Shepherd Pass
Some days you simply endure; this was one of those.

I expected to finish the first leg late at night, and start this one shortly after midnight. However, we pulled into Cottonwood Lakes at dusk, and I got a full 9-hour dose of headlamp time. This cost me some time between Langley and Whitney, as I had not planned to do this section at night. However, the full moon helped, and finishing during the day reduced the effects of sleep deprivation.

Langley via Old Army Pass was straightforward, and I even managed to jog some flat parts of the trail, but I started eying sleeping rocks around 10:45. I downed a few caffeinated gels, and felt much better for awhile. I missed the trail in Rock Creek, found it again near Sky Blue Lake, and somehow managed to take a less-direct line to Crabtree Pass, passing a small lake to its southwest.

Scouting this section in 2009, I had managed to traverse the loose talus and ribs below McAdie during the day. However, I decided it would be easier by moonlight to take the standard route down the other side of the pass and up the “dreaded sand hill” below Discovery Pinnacle. After dropping down, I found a trail east and north around the lake, then headed up west of the cliff band.

The sand hill was long and nasty, and I started feeling nauseous, making it feel longer. I ate what I could — a bagel and some non-caffeinated gels — took a 10-minute nap, and doggedly made my way to Trail Crest. Forgetting which insignificant point was Mount Muir, I took another 10-minute break along the trail, watching a surprising number of hikers make their way to the summit to watch the sunrise. I eventually continued up the trail, found the obvious turnoff to Muir, and made it to Whitney’s summit with the sun.

I have never taken the same route twice on Whitney’s north side, and have always ended up well west of the path up Russell, so I decided to drop down the Mountaineer’s Route and up Whitney-Russell Col, possibly costing me a few minutes. The Mountaineer’s Route was fast enough on the way down, but was surprisingly loose and lousy for a popular and well-traveled route. I finally began feeling better and eating more, and kept a decent pace up Russell.

From Russell’s summit, things look grim. Williamson looks distant, with serious obstacles in the way. The route I chose as least-bad drops below 12,000′, then climbs above 13,000′ before dropping into the Williamson Bowl at 12,500′. I made my way toward Wallace Lake near the ridge south of Carl Heller, then managed to find a traverse across to Vacation Pass, saving myself a few hundred feet of climbing. Like Barnard, “Barnard East” is cut in a way that you almost have to go over its summit to avoid cliffs. I doggedly made my way just east of the top, then crossed the high plateau to the Barnard-Trojan saddle, contoured around north, and descended to Lake Helen of Troy.

Though it is a nice-looking lake, Helen of Troy is a bad place for humans. The route to its west is blocked by cliffs, and most of the shore is loose talus extending down to (and, as I found once, below) the waterline. It is also home to swarming talus gnats, who attacked me every time the loose rocks shifted and swarmed me as I refilled my water bladder. I made my way around the east shore as fast as I could, then sat well away from the lake to have a sandwich and check out the route up Williamson.

Williamson was still the same loose scree-chute I remembered, and I was climbing slowly, unable to get my heart rate above about 150. This was probably the psychological crux of the day, but despite being miserable, I never thought seriously of giving up as I slowly ground toward the summit plateau. I finally reached the top 5 hours from Russell, and felt that, in some absurd sense, I was “almost there.”

Reaching the flat part of the Williamson Bowl, I found it much more pleasant than I remembered, with its talus more stable and the climb out to the north shorter. I was anxious about the clouds forming over Tyndall and nowhere else — what a pathetic way to end my record attempt! — but there was no lightning yet. I started up Tyndall’s northeast ridge, stopping occasionally to eye the clouds or double over in a coughing fit. Following a well-worn trail, I reached the ridge north of the summit, then boulder-hopped south, reaching the summit with much relief and more coughing. The clouds had moved west to rain on the JMT.

After calling Mike from the pass, I descended as quickly as I could. My feet had swollen so that my toes bumped the front of my shoes with every step, but jogging was no more painful than walking. Going up the monotonous, sandy climb to the Symmes Creek saddle, I finally began to feel the effects of sleep deprivation: with nothing to focus on, I experienced several microsleeps. The final descent held an unpleasant surprise: someone thought Shepherd Pass had too few switchbacks, and added more long, sunny, nearly-horizontal ones. Hikers rarely shortcut the old trail, but the new one is too absurd, and I was able to find numerous use trails. I mentioned my strange quest to a couple of backpackers, one of whom seemed to appreciate it, even taking a short video to document my attempt on the FKT site.

The industrious trail workers hadn’t gotten around to adding footbridges over the creek, but it was low enough to make the crossings trivial. Mike met me at the trailhead with more Gatorade, half a pizza, and some M&Ms.

White Mountain
Few things are more absurd than walking up a road through a desert wasteland in the dark. Fortunately, Mike was willing to hike the White Mountain road with me, past the horrible-smelling sheep pens and over the scree to the building at the summit. While this leg was much easier than the last one, it made me less motivated, and I was glad to have some company. Though I did not feel tired on the hike, I began falling asleep mid-sentence on the drive down to Bishop.

Mount Shasta
My dad took over the driving around 3:00 AM, and I finally managed to sleep. I woke up somewhere between Reno and Susanville, and stayed mostly awake from from there to the town of Mount Shasta, eating random food and rehydrating. When I hit the trail at Bunny Flat, I felt surprisingly energetic, my knees and legs were only moderately sore, and my appetite was almost back to normal.

Cruising up the trail and then the snowfield below the Red Banks, I saw the usual variation in gear on a popular peak, from some guys walking down low-angle scree with helmets on and ice axes in hand, to a man carefully glissading in shorts with a water bottle in either hand. The latter apparently summited in under 4 hours, despite having to climb the scree on the way up.

The standard route was as painful as usual, and much drier than last year, but my body was producing all sorts of endogenous drugs. I hit the summit in 3h30 from Bunny Flat, then glissaded and ran back down to hit the trailhead in 5h20, faster than I climbed it fresh last year by 5 minutes up and 40 down.

This would not have been possible without others’ support. My longtime friend Mike provided encouragement and nutritional advice, and came out to California to drive the night-time car shuttles and hike with me on White Mountain. My dad drove the long shuttle from Bishop to Mount Shasta.

8/1/12, 2:48 AM — South Lake TH
6:16 — Thunderbolt
7:03 — Starlight
7:45 — North Palisade
8:16 — Polemonium
8:44 — Sill
12:00 PM — Middle Palisade
3:50 — Split
6:15 — Red Lake TH
8:48 — Cottonwood Lakes TH
8/2/12, 12:11 AM — Langley
5:16 — Muir
5:57 — Whitney
7:31 — Russell
12:34 PM — Williamson
2:54 — Tyndall
~6:50 — Shepherd Pass TH
9:04 — Barcroft Gate
11:32 — White Mountain
8/3/12, 1:45 AM — Barcroft Gate
11:32 — Bunny Flat TH
3:09 PM — Shasta
4:51 — Bunny Flat TH
I originally planned to pack 250 calories per hour on the trail, mostly carbohydrates in the form of generic pop-tarts (1710 cal/lb, 1600 cal/$) and energy bars (1540 cal/lb, 250 cal/$). After consulting with a friend, I increased this to 300 cal/hr: one pack of pop-tarts and two energy bars for every three hours, plus an assortment of gels (100 cal/$).

My actual eating did not follow this plan. I felt best eating a bit more than 350 cal/hr on the first leg. Nausea and dehydration on the second leg limited my food intake, as I could not stomach pop-tarts. I also brought Payday bars and turkey-and-cheese bagels on some legs for variety.

I brought salt pills and ibuprofen on all legs, which I used as needed. For the sleep-deprived second and third legs, I brought the caffeinated versions of energy bars and gels. I drank beet juice before each leg, since its nitrates are supposed to increase performance by about 2%.

I ate salty, greasy, high-energy “real food” between legs, including half a pizza, several turkey-and-cheese bagels, and some leftover noodles, cabbage, and cottage cheese.

I was mostly equipped with standard hiking gear. For footwear, I wore a pair of light trail runners (La Sportiva Quantums, which I once again destroyed) for all but White Mountain, when my feet were too swollen. I brought a 20-meter rope for Thunderbolt’s summit block, and a mountaineering axe and Kahtoola KTS aluminum crampons for Shasta.

Josh Swartz
Josh Swartz climbed all 15 14ers completely self-supported in 5d23h31m. Being self-supported, he could not use point-to-point routes, and could not sleep during drives.

Jack McBroom
Jack McBroom climbed all 15 14ers in 4d11h19m with support. Although he could use point-to-point routes and sleep in the car, he divided the route into more sections than necessary, requiring more approach mileage.

Hans Florine
While McBroom has the actual record, Hans Florine’s time of 3d12h11m for 14 of the 15 14ers is the best model of what is possible. Florine combined the peaks in the fewest possible legs, and his southern Sierra leg can easily be extended to cover the last 14er (Williamson).

Climbing alone: auto-belay


Is never 100% safe when you speed climb alone but here some techniques to be “safer” when you climb alone and want to have some protection in some meters:

1) 2 daisy or slings. Climb with a harmess with 2 daisy or long slings with one carabinner / cam on each one. On the hard or exposed steeps clip one dasy on the bolts or piton or cam: climb and clip the other higger before unclip the one down.

2) 1 long sling. Take one long sling on the hand, you can envolve the sling around the hand to make shorter. When you arrive to a expose or dificult steep, you can clip the carabinner and when you’re over on a confident place unclip.climb alone 1 climb alone 2 climb alone 3
3) With a rope. Rope fixed to a belay, pass to you harness with a belay plate (Jul, Reverso…) modified Grigri or similar, a specific device (Soloaid, Soloist, Silent Partner…) or knots system (clove hitch, eight loops).
Captura de pantalla 2018-09-22 a les 17.32.15
Captura de pantalla 2018-09-22 a les 17.32.31
Captura de pantalla 2018-09-22 a les 17.32.42

Dry Ski


What to do if you’re skiing down and you have not a rope or you want to save time or to full ski a route? Vivian Bruchez is a master on Dry ski, he develop techniques to down ski (climb) in rocky sections. 1. Back on the rock: when is narrow between rocks, put the back on the rock, searching the maximum friction with the but and the back (backpack) and with the hands climb down. The skis will be with the front part up and the back part down.

dryski 5   dryski 1

If it’s to narrow to have the skis on the snow, it’s ice or it’s to steep to don’t fall with only the back friction we can put the skis on the rock on the front, like climbing a cheminée, trying to find the maximum adherence with the skis (pushing to the rock on front with the skis as flat as possible.

dryski 2

2. Front on the rock: sometimes we will need to enter to the narrow part with the front, in this case we will go with the front part of the body (chest) to find friction and use the hands to climb down. The skis will be with the front part on the down and the back up.

dryski 7

3. Other techniques: when is not a narrow couloir but a rocky section, we will try to down climb using both skis like separate climbing foots (trying to put always on snow sections or flat on the rocks. Have the body as close to the ground possible to have the maximum friction and the hands as down as possible to hold as on down climbing.

dryski 6 dryski 3


a video showing Vivian using the skis and hands (hands and ice axe) to climb down a rocky steep :

Running shoes with crampons


running crampons

@Jordi Tosas Iceclimbing with running shoes

Is never a good solution to do some ice part with running shoes. Crampons are or to soft or adapt for alpinism shoes. Soft crampons are adaptable to running shoes but they can not break the hard ice. Automatic crampons are to heavy and painful when we put on running shoes, so here my solution how to have a rigid crampon, light and that keeps on running shoes:

So here how to have a rigid crampon, light and that keeps on running shoes:

– We take a steel front and a aluminum back and bar:

Crampon 1

the toe of the shoe enters on the bar. Is important to put the strips to keep the crampon on place when we flex of the shoe, if not, the front part can fall on steep ice


crampo 2 crampo 3


The back can be on a automatic crampon or on a manual crampon, as comfortable as for the shoe, the automatic clips well on the end of the EVA part of the sole.

crampo 5 crampo 4

And to be more comfortable on the front (yes, the bar directly to the shoe makes a lot of pain on the toes after some hours) we can put a thin (2-3mm) part of neoprene or eva (inner soles of a shoe)

crampo 6 crampo 7

Now time to climb!!!

Couloirs Lyngen

Others, Travel

Here some great couloirs in Lyngen Alps:



1000m (1440) 40-45°



600m (1440) 45-50° really narrow, some parts less than 160cm, with 1 rappel or down climb to enter and another rappel 5m almost at the end. I skied in 2014


 Stortinden N

500m (1512) narrow couloir, some parts 160cm. 50°

Also nice the traverse couloir from the summit, 40-45° for 600m. I skied in 2013.

Captura de pantalla 2013-04-16 a la(s) 18.34.43

Trolltinden SW couloir

800m (1426m) 800m of the couloir, 1st 60 m from the summit really steep, 55°, then constant 40° with some narrow part in the middle. I skied in 2013 but I believe had been skied before.

Captura de pantalla 2013-04-16 a la(s) 18.34.21

 Felix Couloir – Store Lenangstinden

900m (1625) 50° Andreas Franson skied in 2012 and says TD 5.3:  a really impressive couloir from the summit in the middle of the wall to a big icefall (2 50m rappels) and ski the exposed slabs to the left to enter in the last couloir.




Rodbergtinden N face:  Godmother couloir

From Lyngseidet walk along the fjord to this evident couloir who finish on the pass. Nice ski for 1300m direct to the sea (35-40°)

On the right of Rodbergtinden, Andreas Franson skied in 2012 a evident line of 1000m of 50° with a small 30m rappel to pass a ice fall on the middle. A classic couloir.


carretera lyngen sud

Rornestinden N face:

800m (1041m) 55° ski from the summit with some rocky parts to an evident pass, great steep ski with 2 small jumps to a small rappel of 10m and another great steep couloir to a steep part end with a jump to the last great couloir 40°

On the left side of the wall, another great line, with some steep parts 50° and some crossing in rock parts.

I skied in 2014


carretera lyngen sud 2


Balggesvarri N face

600m (1627) 45 – 50° From between the 2 summits ski down in an avalanche exposed part, traversing some seracs and crossing right under some seracs crevasses to find the small and steep couloir who gives us to the plateau.

I skied in 2014, maybe some before.



Jiehkkevarri East couloir:

1000m (1834) 40-45° from the south summit go to the pass (attention to overhangs) and ski a great line to the plateau. A classic couloir.


Kveita N couloir:

500m 45° in Furuflaten glacier. I skied in 2014 probably done before.


Gaskajiehkohkka N couloir

600m of great thin couloir 40° in furuflaten glacier. I skied in 2014, maybe skied before.



600m 50° in the middle of the two summits ski on the left side a large part to the last rock part, who is possible to rock ski on the very right side (downhill sense) or down climb.


Guhkesgaisi N face

1000m (1580) 55° really constant and exposed. Ski a steep part following the rock spurs to enter in a down climbing traverse to a steep couloir who go down to the left (ski sense) and ends in a short ice fall (down climb 10m) and a traverse to the left under the ice and rock wall. I skied in 2014

22-15052011_langdalstinden foto


ski to crampons to ski


You are skiing down on a couloir and is a too steep part, or completely ice, and you can not ski for some meters? You don’t have the equipment (or time) to make a rappel, here a solution to change ski to climb mode (also can be good if you climb up a couloir and you need to start skiing from a uncomfortable place).

  • Important to hold the ice axe all the time when you’re doing the transition, when you have only one crampon or one ski on the floor.
  • This technique requires experience in extreme skiing and the use of the equipment in uncomfortable situations. Try this technique on some non exposed terrain before using it on more difficult terrain.

Traversée du Belldonne


Traversée du Belldonne par Pierre Gignoux:

font: http://s296355242.onlinehome.fr/News/tu-vas-jusquou-ou-le-recit-dune-traversee-de-belledonne-improvisee/

5h30 Chamrousse : pas d’idée précise du circuit du jour juste l’envie d’aller faire une bambée dans Belledonne. J’oriente mes spatules vers la croix de Chamrousse. La piste est dure, m’obligeant à sortir les crampons, qui peut m’expliquer pourquoi les dameuses font ces vaguelettes au lieu d’une surface lisse ?

croix de chamrousse

6h06 Croix de Chamrousse : c’est le crépuscule ; j’aurais juste un peu de luminosité pour la descente sur les Lac Roberts. Des lacs je poursuis vers le col de la Grand Vaudaine puis vers le sommet de la Grande Lauzière. La montée est en neige dure, je fais de nouveau une partie en crampons.

grande lauzière belledonne

7h15 Grande Lauzière : enfin les premiers rayons de soleil. J’attaque la descente de la face nord prudemment, j’ai lu la veille quelques compte-rendus sur Skitour qui parlent de neige vitrifiée en versant nord. La neige est effectivement dure mais pas vitrifiée dans la partie raide. En revanche, en bas, il y a de grandes zones vitrifiées.

Logiquement une fois rejoint les lacs des Doménons, je remet les peaux pour la Croix de Belledonne.

croix de belledonne

7h55 Croix de Belledonne : c’est magnifique, pas un pet de vent. Conditions parfaites. Je poursuis par le couloir des Rochers Rouges qui n’est pas très bon aujourd’hui.

rochers rougesEntrée du couloir des rochers rouges, mais qui a réalisé cette plantation ?

Et qu’est-ce que je fais maintenant ? Le circuit habituel, Grande Lance, Grand Colon ? Tout ça n’est pas très excitant. Je préfère voyager un peu vers le Nord, au pire je ferais du stop pour rentrer.

Je descends vers le lac Blanc puis je monte au rocher de l’Homme tout le long en crampons.

8h45 Sommet du rocher de l’homme : Je chausse les skis un peu en contrebas puis je me dirige vers l’entrée du couloir Nord. La pointe du bâton m’indique que la neige est dure. Je renonce à m’y engager et je redescends l’étroiture côté sud pour contourner par l’épaule. Il y a trois semaines nous étions passés par là avec Thomas Warnier.

col de la mine de fer

Au Col de la mine de Fer, mon téléphone vibre. Un sms s’affiche : « ça va ? » me demande Estelle, ma femme, qui n’aime pas me savoir seul en montagne. Moi : « Oui ».

brèche de roche fendue

9h10 Brèche de Roche Fendue : Je traverse sur le pas de la Coche sur une moquette haut de gamme. C’est top. Deux petites montées à pied puis de nouveau une traversée descendante et je retrouve la montée de la Belle Etoile côté sud. Parti avec 750 ml de boisson, je suis maintenant à sec. Heureusement le petit ruisseau des Combes me permet de refaire le plein.

10h30 sommet de la Belle Etoile : premières rencontre de la journée avec deux autres solitaires. L’un venant du versant sud, l’autre du Pleynet. J’en profite pour me faire tirer le portrait.

belle étoile

Je ne m’attarde pas trop et descends sur les Lacs des 7 Laux où je refais de nouveau le plein dans le ruisseau. Je file en direction du Rocher Blanc par le col de l’Amiante. Mauvaise option, le couloir est croûté, je m’enfonce péniblement à chaque pas. J’aurais du monter par le couloir sud-ouest.

11h45 sommet du Rocher Blanc : et qu’est ce que je fais maintenant ?

rocher blanc

L’idée de tenter la traversée jusqu’aux Grands Moulins me titille. Ce matin j’ai déjà parcouru 4500 m de D+ rapidement. La neige est dure et compacte. Le bulletin indiquait hier un risque 1-2.  Je me dis que j’ai largement le temps de poursuivre dans des conditions pas loin d’être optimales. Go !

J’envoie un sms à Estelle : « Je suis au Rocher Blanc, ne m’attendez pas pour manger, je continue un peu et je rentrerais en stop ».  Hum !

Je descends dans la combe Madame jusque un peu au dessus du refuge. Je croise 7 personnes en train de monter. Ce sont les dernières que je verrais ce jour.

La montée suivante au col du Tepey est éprouvante. Le soleil tape fort et la neige ramollie en surface glisse sur la couche dure.

12h45 Col du Tepey

col du tepey

De là il faut descendre main gauche et remonter sur une petite épaule depuis laquelle on descend pour regagner la montée à la Selle du Puy Gris côté Maurienne.

Toujours aucune trace, une combe plein sud, un vrai four, la neige qui colle sous les peaux et une trace à faire dans une neige ramollie sur 10 cm en surface. Dessous la neige est compacte, je ne suis pas inquiet des conditions nivo mais la fatigue se fait sentir. Dans ma tête j’essaye de visualiser ce qu’il reste à faire et je doute. Serais-je capable d’arriver au bout ?

Un nouveau sms d’Estelle : « tu vas jusqu’où ? »

Moi : « On verra, la neige est stable, pas de risque » Hum !!

13h20 Selle du Puy gris

J’entame la descente direction le refuge de l’Oule. Un peu en amont je remets les peaux pour remonter au Col du Moretan. Une barre énergétique m’échappe et glisse 50m plus bas. Merde, je ne peux pas la laisser, c’est « mal ». Pourtant je n’ai aucune envie de redescendre, je suis un peu entamé. Quelques secondes plus tard j’y vais quand même  c’est « bien ».

Le soleil est de plomb. Je me traîne. Aucune trace récente de ski pour m’aider un peu. Dommage, je fais le travail.

14h Col du Morétan :

col du morétanau fond la pointe de Comberousse et la selle du Puy Gris à gauche.

Une pensée pour Olivier Pilon dit « La pile » tellement il avait d’énergie. Nous avions fait ensemble des sorties mémorables dans ce secteur.

Je plonge sur le vallon du Merlet.  A partir d’ ici je suis sûr de ne voir plus personne (déjà que). C’est le coin le plus sauvage de Belledonne, le domaine des Chamois.

Je refait le plein dans le vallon  soit 1 litre 1/4. Je sais que je ne trouverais plus d’eau jusqu’à la fin. Est-ce que ça suffira ?

La traversée et la montée au dessus du refuge du Merlet sont fatigantes : ça enfonce, ça colle et ça chasse par endroit. Je rejoins une croupe déneigée, plus efficace.

Arrivée sur la crête puis petite descente et montée au Col du Crozet,  Toujours cette couche ramollie qui glisse sur la couche dure, c’est pénible et épuisant, il faut essayer de taper latéralement pour ancrer dans la couche inférieure. Je me traîne, je suis cuit !!! Il reste 200 m pour le col mais j’ai peur de ne pas y arriver. Je m’arrête à chaque conversion pour souffler, j’évite de regarder trop souvent vers le haut, ça me déprime, d’habitude les cols s’approchent plus vite.

Pour me motiver je me promet de faire une grosse pause juste après le Col, au refuge des Férices.

15h30 Col du Crozet

col du crozet

Enfin le col, au fond à gauche les Grands Moulins, dernier sommet de la traversée. Je plonge tout de suite vers le refuge des Férices et vers la pause promise. Je réfléchirais après pour savoir si j’ai le courage de continuer.

Refuge des Férices

Je refais les accus à l’énergie solaire et essaie de manger ces infâmes barres énergétiques goût Pizza. Beurk… Je repense à Stéphane lors de notre traversée en 2011. Nous étions resté bloqués ici à cause des cumulus qui bourgeonnaient. Cétait la purée de pois et en plus on ne savait pas où passer pour atteindre les Grands Moulins. C’est là qu’il avait sorti les sandwichs et le coca, trop bien. Il me racontait encore l’histoire des deux alpinistes qui arrivent au sommet de l’aiguille Verte : l’un deux s’assoit et sort deux pommes de son sac, l’une d’elle lui échappe et tombe, il dit « Merde… TA pomme … ». J’en rigole encore.

Sms d’Estelle : « T’es où ? »

Moi : « Au refuge des Férices, je fais une pause ».

Estelle : « Tu fais quoi après ? ».

Moi : « A priori je finis ».

Estelle : « Tu finis quoi ? » (je n’ai pas capté le message tout de suite, je n’ai pas répondu).

Après cette pause je remets les skis pour tester la machine. Si je n’avance pas plus vite qu’avant c’est pas la peine de continuer. Mais ça va mieux, le rythme est correct même si cette neige est fatigante, je progresse.

traversée de belledonne 16

Maintenant il faut jouer à saute mouton le long de la crête qui mène aux Grands Moulins, vers la tête de la Perrière. Je vais chercher des zones déneigées pour éviter cette mélasse et monter plus vite. Les descentes sont bonnes, dans une neige molle mais pas pourrie.

traversée de belledonne 17

18h10 Grands Moulins : enfin j’y suis. D’ici il y a encore pas mal de distance (10km à vol d’oiseau) mais pratiquement que des descentes entrecoupées de toutes petites montées.

A ma gauche on devine l’itinéraire qui reste a suivre sur la croupe a moitié dégarnie.

Avec un peu de chance il y aura suffisamment de neige pour poursuivre à skis le plus loin possible.

Mais avant de continuer j’essaye d’organiser mon rapatriement depuis mon point de chute : le Col du Grand Cucheron. Ce col se trouve au fond de la vallée des Huiles. Moins d’une dizaine de voitures passent par là tous les jours donc il ne faut pas compter faire du stop. J’appelle Estelle qui va passer quelques coups de fil  avant de trouver un taxi prêt à venir me chercher dans ce « trou ».

Dernière montée au Col de la Perche, d’ici il faudra longer la croupe jusqu’au col du Grand Cucheron à 7,5 km à vol d’oiseau.

il est 19h30 quand j’arrive à 1450 m sur la route forestière. Je mets les skis sur le sac pour finir à pied, me perds un peu dans la forêt puis je finis par trouver la route et mon taxi.

Je suis heureux, j’ai fait un beau voyage.

Il y a trois semaines avec Thomas Warnier nous avions du stopper aux Férices à cause des risques de coulée, c’était très chouette aussi.

L’idée de cette traversée, c’est de tracer un itinéraire logique qui traverse le massif de manière élégante, en se tenant le plus près de la dorsale et en passant par quelques sommets. J’aime aussi l’idée de le faire sans assistance.

Avec Stéphane en 2011 nous étions passés par la Grande Lauzière, le Rocher Blanc et les Grands Moulins. C’est un super souvenir car c’était l’aventure, nous ne savions pas si c’était possible. Cette fois j’ai ajouté la Croix de Belledonne, le sommet du Rocher de l’Homme et le Pic de la Belle Etoile. Ainsi c’est à peine plus long et encore plus chouette.

Mes amis « Steph » et «  La Pile » même si vous étiez avec moi aujourd’hui, vous me manquez cruellement.


Chamrousse Recoin – Col du Moretan= 7800 m de dénivelé positif / 8300 m de dénivelé négatif.

Distance en lignes brisées de point haut à point bas =57 km

Matériel utilisé :

  • Skis Dynastar Pierra Menta pro rocker Carbon
  • Chaussures = Morpho Black
  • Fixations= Ultimate 2
  • Crampons aluminium
  • Peaux Pomoca Race

– See more at: http://s296355242.onlinehome.fr/News/tu-vas-jusquou-ou-le-recit-dune-traversee-de-belledonne-improvisee/#sthash.4f7wAJzd.dpuf

A great race!! the 2900 Alpine Run in Andorra

take this date: October 17-19, 2014, 

The seven highest peaks of Andorra. In a row.70K & 6,700m of vertical for an alpine run like no other.

70K & 6,700m of vertical for an alpine run like no other.

Inspired by our FKT on Els 2900 route, we customized our track to add more ridge running and off track segments. Be ready to tackle one of the most incredible alpine route ever made for a runner. It’s hard and steep. Think averaging 1,000m of vertical variation every 5K. Yup, you read it right…

more infos here: http://www.els2900.com

How to Climb and Belay Alone a Multipitch Route


FONT: http://fcorpet.free.fr/Denis/Solo-En.html

Mountain is hazardous.

Rock climbing is dangerous.
Climbing alone is even more dangerous (e.g., Serious Accident.
I use to climb integral solo without belaying, with two gold rules : being able to climb-down every step, and no objective hazard (no stones falling, solid rock).
2008 I decided to test auto-belaying. To climb harder than 5b (my climbing-down limit). And to be able to escape from a high and long route, if my partner was wounded, and if a short section was too difficult for me to climb it alone
The method explained below is not recommended by device makers, and has no safety garanty: if you use it, it is your responsibility. According to a device manufacturer, auto-blocking funtion is made to block the second climber: rope over blocks rope under. However, when a first climber falls, the huge energy will force rope over side-by-side with rope under. The rope-to-rope friction will make rope to melt, and breal..
The ONLY device I think is correct and safe is the Silent Parner, Wren Industries. But it is expensive ($250) and heavy (450g). I do not use auto-belaying frequently enough to buy it, but I think you should.
Grigri is less expensive and lighter, but less safe I guess (see the Grigri solo belay: C2C 2010 in French). See also a tested system with a Grigri plus a Shunt Système Grigri + Shunt Grigri ouvert vu de près + noeud

Well, after this necessary preliminary,let’s explain: To belay I use ATC-guide or Reverso (used as the auto-blocking X, click climber on the left). They are very similar, but for solo belaying, ACT is better. “My” method, explained below, comes from Epicurie, forum C2C 2004 (in French).

1- Clip small loop of ATC or Reverso to the harness with a carabiner
2- Clip a second carabiner to a neck collar (it’s better to make an-8 harness on shoulders, carabiner hanging on the sternum. Leave 3-4 fingers space between carabiners).
3- Clip the second carabiner to the rope loop (out of ACT/Reverso) and the ACT black wire or the large Reverso loop

ACT-solo system (see Reverso system down)
ATC-guide – ATC-guide – ATC-guide

– One rope end is free (the “hand” side on Réverso or ACT). It will flew while you climb (secure the end with a knot)
– The other rope end (the “climber” side on Réverso or ACT) is attached to an anchor at the belay down. If the first steps from the belay are hard, insert a shock absorber or add some rope length for elasticity (tree, anchor below first peg…). Check the autoblocking properties by clipping your rope in a first anchor over your head: when you sit down, rope blocks you.
Reverso system (ACT-guide above)
Reverso – Reverso – Reverso

– When arriving to a new anchor during the climb, pull several times on the rope attached to the belay down there, to free enough length to clip the anchor above. It’s tedious, and much easier to clip the point when you are above it.
– If you fall heads up, it blocks nicely the rope (see pictures above). I did not test it with great falls already. If you fall head down the system does not block the rope (French stroy of an accident on C2C website). To block a head-first fall, make a knot on the main rope below the ACT-guide, and shift it when possible
– This system can use a single large rope, or two thin ropes (more dynamic, but heavier).

ACT-solo system blocking after falling – / – Blocage par le Reverso après une chute
ATC-guide – Reverso solo

Other Autobelaying Solo Systems
– The ONLY device I think is correct and safe is the Silent Parner, Wren Industries. But it is expensive ($250) and heavy (450g).
– With Grigi and rope-man: Solo : Grigi+ropeman /Avranches
– Barnet System (Machard knot + pulley): Solo: Machard+poulie /Olivier Humbert


News & Infos

Wednesday, January 23, 2014
Black Diamond athlete Dodo Kopolod traverses 72 km Tatras ridgeline and summits 130 peaks in a non-stop 72-hour solo effort.

“Tatra mountains. Western, High and Belianske. They are connected by 72 km long ridge. 134 peaks and spires create bold and logical line. Traversing the ridge is a serious undertaking. If it´s climbed pure alpine style, climb all the peaks, don´t descend to the valleys and don´t use support team of supplies carried up in advance. No one has ever done it this way in summer. In winter, Tatras mountains are much more difficult. They can be unpredictable and dangerous but yet harshly beautiful.“
– P.Barabáš

Short history of the winter traverse:
• Polish climbers make the first attempts in the 1950’s.
• Slovaks made the first winter traverse of the ridge in 1952 (Kluvánek, Kele, Lehotský, Mereš, Psotka).
• In 1979, Pavol Pochyly made the only solo traverse of the ridge without support and in winter. Hi did it in 14 days.
• In 1997 Plulík managed a winter solo of High Tatras traverse (didn´t climbed Western and Belianky) in 50 hours.
• In 2013, the Western, High and Belianske Tatras were climbed in alpine style by Michal Sabovčík and Adam Kadlečík in 15 days.

A speed solo of Tatras’ main ridge was my multi-year project—traversing Western Tatras 42 km snow ridge, then the High Tatras with 26 km of technical rock ridge in grade around V and Belianske Tatras, which is mostly easy walking. My idea was for a speed solo nonstop traverse without any support. Climb and run light using only minimum of the climbing gear though terrain that I climbed before only in parts.

Conditions in Tatras during the early winter season in December and January 2013/14 were very dry, had no avalanche risk, perfect weather and warm. Temperatures were around 0°C and up to 3°C during the day with light wind. I had been waiting for these conditions for many, many years.

My first attempt at crossing Tatras was ten years ago, but that time I wanted to connect ten North faces in the logical line from east to west. We failed because of the weather. Then several more attempts failed again because I was too slow or the avalanche risk was high. This kind of project normally takes ten days, which is too long. Ten days of good weather and conditions can be had only in dreams. That’s why I wanted to be faster and tried to manage this project in minimum time. To be faster means not just being a faster climber or faster runner. To save the time, you cannot sleep during the nights. You have to have a good luck and perfect conditions.

The idea to climb non-stop has been around a long time. One problem was sleeping and resting. That´s why I started to learn more from ultra-marathons and sailors who did trans Atlantic solo sailing. I learned what to eat during the endurance sports, how to rest and many, many things. To know your body as well you can was a main key for this project’s last years—and lot of climbing, running, climbing and running.

On 5th January I was ready to go for my biggest challenge ever. To traverse Tatras ridge from east to west connected by 72 km long ridge non-stop. For me it´s a challenge like never before in my life. I was ready to climb and run 80 hours. I was ready to push my limits to maximum.

In my 30-liter pack I carried only two 5 mm x 30 m and 60 m long cords, 2 HMS carabiners, 3 pitons, 2 ice axe, crampons, 2 headlamps, a stove, light sticks, maps, sunglass, a helmet, one pair of socks and gloves, a light down jacket, light waterproof jacket and pants, climbing shoes, mobile phone and emergency bivy sack. My food – 5x MG Fast gel, 9x energy bar, energy drops 20 tabs, 5x K4 power, 4x Multipower Mg liquid, 10x Cytomax energy drink, 3x soups, 3x small bread with butter and ham, 2x 120g dry meat. Less then 10kg!

At 4.20 p.m. I started with easy running through Belianske Tatras with 11 peaks. It was a good warm up before the hardest part 26 km into the technical High Tatras. At 10.20 p.m. I climbed easily up to Jahňací štít thanks to good snow conditions. But then, the traverse gets harder and harder with climbing over spires and peaks at grade III-V UIAA, with much down climbing and rappelling from fixed gear. My main plan was to climb all peaks on ridge. To climb all small spires was not so important.

After all-night climbing without any rest I was feeling good. Sunny weather the next day gave me a new energy and I enjoyed one of the most beautiful parts of Tatras. I met some people on summits descending down to challets. I think the hardest part of Tatras was to leave the beer and continue another two days with only with energy drinks 🙂

At 2 a.m. I was climbing a very difficult ridge on Kačací štít. It´s very technical, and I started to feel tired. From this place you cannot descend. You have to climb it all or retreat, which is essentially the same. I wanted to sleep, my body was shaking and my mind was empty. It was my first personal crisis during this ultra-marathon. I was not able to think clearly, and time to time I was sleeping during the climbing which was very dangerous. I didn´t know how but somehow I finished this part. I drank a little but I was not able to sleep. My plan was to sleep 15 minutes during the all my rests but this plan was not real. Most of the time I was sweating and when I stopped I would start to shake from the cold after a few minutes. It was easier to move and stay warm.

I had started on Sunday evening. On Tuesday morning after a horrible night I decided not to climb a few peaks on the ridge. Rumanov štít, Ganek and Ťažký štít. Not because of the difficulty, but they weren’t in good conditions and I decided that it was too dangerous. Anyway, I continued with climbing the last long part of High Tatras which took me another full day until the late night.

At 11.45 p.m. on Kasprov vrch, after more then 50 hours of nonstop climbing and running, I finally finished Belianske and High Tatras mountains. I was exhausted and I wanted to descend down to the hotel, which was easy to manage from this place with around six hours of easy, but long, walking.

In Tatras there are several places where you can go down to the valley. There are chalets you can get to in one-to-six hours, and from any place you can call rescue from a mobile phone. I can clearly say that this is a hard fact of these mountains. Don’t listen the voices from the safe chalets, and ignore the smells of good food and drinks. After 3 nights without sleep it´s very difficult to stay and continue.

Western Tatras is long, and I knew this. We can say that it´s like a mountain marathon. It’s about 40-km long! Last year my friends crossed Western Tatras in 3 days, but I wanted to do it like a runner in around 12 hours, which was not realistic this time even though conditions were perfect. I was exhausted, so I decided to leave my climbing gear on the ridge and go as light as possible to start the night running.

At 6.26 a.m. I sent a massage to my friends: “I’m on Volovec, I feel totally exhausted.” And then I just moved my body to the summits of more peaks in the Western Tatras. Some of the peaks I just crossed 5-10 meters below the summit because I was unable to think clearly.

I met some climbers on ridge but I do not remember if I was talking with them or not. In the afternoon I saw some guys from mountain rescue. I was happy. They gave me some drink, new energy and motivation. We climbed the last few easy peaks together.

At 4.20 p.m., after 72 hours of nonstop climbing and running, I finally finished this ultra-marathon that had never been done before. I was happy. My multi-years project was finally finished. You can safety close your eyes, go sleep and eat how much you can. It’s over.

Next morning:
I woke up in a strange state. My body was destroyed but still moving. I don’t understand why I could see so clearly, why I can see my body’s energy, why I crying and shaking. My mind is empty. I don´t clearly remember what happened last few days. I have something like hang over. I can´t stay on one place and I still have to move somewhere. I fell better in the car. I want to sleep but I cannot.

Next days:
I contacted my doctor but I still fell strange. During the day I have a hung-over feeling and my body burns. After seven days I feel normal for the first time. But still I don’t understand what happened to me during the last days.

Now I know that during this mountain ultra-marathon in Tatras I reached my limits. Maybe I was past my personal limits, too. There are still many things which I don´t understand. Why didn´t call rescue earlier? Why didn’t I descend from Kasprov vrch when I was totally exhausted? Why didn’t I sleep in when I was exhausted? Where was all the energy inside me to keep my faith to finish this project?

In 72 hours I slept less then 30 minutes, climbed around 130 peaks and traversed three ridges at around 2000 meters. I was in contact with my family, a cameraman and a friend. I sent four massages about my state and position but I didn´t call to anyone. Only on the last part of the ridge was I with anyone else.

I would like to thank all who helped me and joined in on the way down from the ridge as well as my friends who believed in me and to all who gave me all the support during the last years. Because this project is now finished I can continue with other big projects and new experiences. I think that knowing your body and your mind is the secret to the next level of adventure. So now I know, real adventure has no limits.

Thanks again,

FONT: http://eu.blackdiamondequipment.com/en/experience-story?cid=dodo-tatras-traverse

Nil Cardona y Gerard Vila encadenan los corredores de Cambres d’Aze en 1h51


Los esquiadores del Team Millet de esquí de montaña, residentes en la localidad francesa de Font-Romeu, tienen el circo de Cambre d’Aze como lugar frecuente de entrenamiento. La mayoría de sus sesiones se desarrollan en esta zona, por lo que su conocimiento del terreno ha facilitado la rápida progresión de la actividad. “Llevamos meses estudiando los corredores, visualizando qué recorrido sería el más rápido a seguir, la logística y esperando que las condiciones tanto meteorológicas como nivológicas fueran las adecuadas”, cuentan los esquiadores.

En estos momentos Gerard y Nil se encuentran en la parte final de la temporada de esquí de montaña, después de correr el Campeonato de España individual. “Después del Campeonato de España y con muchas carreras en las piernas, la fatiga ya se nota, la recuperación post-competición es más lenta y realizar esta actividad solo tres días después del Campeonato podía ser justo. En la montaña, las condiciones no esperan y las teníamos que aprovechar”.

El recorrido enlaza todos los corredores esquiables del circo con el menor tiempo y material posible. La salida se hizo desde el aparcamiento de la estación de esquí en Saint Pierre des Forcats, donde se puso en marcha el crono. La primera parte del recorrido transcurrió sobre las pistas de esquí hasta la cota 2.092 metros. Después siguió por el bosque hasta los pies del circo. Una vez allí, empezó la parte más técnica de la actividad, el ascenso y descenso, con esquís, de los siguientes corredores (por orden):

  • Corredor Vermiceille (270 m, 45°).
  • Corredor Eclair (240 m, 50°, IV mixto).
  • Corredor Bougnagas (250 m, 50°, IV mixto).
  • Corredor Gigoló (240 m, 50°, III mixto).
  • Variante Grandée Chimenée (240 m, 40°, III).

El orden de los corredores responde a la búsqueda del itinerario más directo para el encadenamiento y evitar perder tiempo en el desplazamiento entre los itinerarios, siguiendo el circo de oeste a este.

“Quisimos coger un ritmo fuerte en la primera subida para asegurar un buen tiempo, ya que es la parte del recorrido donde se podía ir más rápido. Llegamos arriba del Vermiceille en una hora justa, rebajando en 20 minutos los tiempos de entreno. Esto nos dio un margen para los tramos más técnicos”.

“Nuestras previsiones se movían en torno a las cuatro horas; bajar en tres horas no entraba dentro de los planes”

“Nuestras previsiones se movían en torno a las cuatro horas, bajar en tres horas no entraba dentro de los planes”

Por el contrario, en los tramos más técnicos se tuvieron que montar dos rápeles y utilizar crampones y piolet. “Sabíamos que en los tramos técnicos la gestión del tiempo era importante, las maniobras ya las llevamos entrenadas, con lo cual cada uno ya sabía lo que tenía que hacer para agilizar y complementarnos en las maniobras”.

Las bajadas también son una parte importante de la actividad, ya que estos corredores se suelen hacer solamente de subida y con la utilización de cuerda y material de alpinismo.

“Era necesario no forzar demasiado en la subida, reservar un punto pues las bajadas, que son técnicas y requieren concentración; no se puede fallar”

Material técnico.

  • Esquís y bastones de competición
  • Cuerda de 7 mm y 30 metros
  • Material para reunión (baga, mosquetones y empotradores)
  • Piolet técnico y crampones.

Font: http://desnivel.com/esqui/nil-cardona-y-gerard-vila-encadenan-los-corredores-del-circo-de-cambre-draze-en-2-horas-y-51-minutos

Peuterey Integral by Ueli Steck

News & Infos

This is a description for the “Intégrale de Peuterey,” the longest ridge traverse in the Alps. With 4500 meters vertical gain and an average time of 2 to 3 days to complete the climb, this adventure piqued my interest…
Narrative by Ueli Steck

After having studied the route more closely, I wanted to give it a try. I thought of starting the ascent from the valley – adding another 1000 meters of vertical – and then descending to Les Houches. A simple, easy, and straightforward plan, just how I like it.

But the ridge itself is far from easy. There is a lot of rock climbing, route finding can be challenging, and there are plenty of technical rappelling maneuvers.

– TD/ED1…..quite long
– + 4500m vertical gain
– an average of 2 to 3 days to complete


Facts and figures:
– 1000 vertical meter approach
– 4500 vertical meters of climbing
– 3800 vertical meter descent
– Horizontal distance: No idea!


Preparing for the challenge
After having done some research a couple of climbs caught my attention:

Matteo Pellin and Arnaud Clavel:
“28 hours total, which is the record time for the route we took: starting from Notre Dame de la Guerison in Val Veny, summitting Mont Blanc via the Peuterey Integral, and then descending back down to Courmayer via the Gonnella hut.”

Luka Lindic:
The young Slovenian Luka Lindic recently climbed the ridge in 15 hours.

Jonathan Griffith and Jeff Mercier:
These two alpinists climbed the route in 2012 from the Borelli hut to the summit of Mont Blanc in 29 hours and 30 minutes.


 "Peuterey Integral" by Ueli Steck - Team Petzl

Inspired by their performances I thought about the project. As usual I take matters very seriously and I looked carefully over the entire route. I had never spent time on the south side of the Mont Blanc. Caroline George and I decided to take a trip.

The route is not easy to find, but the climbing is doable without a rope. I was convinced that it was possible. Now all I needed – as usual – was good weather. My schedule was tight since it was already Monday, August 12, 2013, and my wife and I had plans to leave for Canada on Saturday, August 17, 2013!

The “weather gods” seemed to be on my side and the good weather did last. Motivated, I drove to Chamonix and set up camp in the Les Bossons campground. I then drove to Courmayeur, and the up the Val Veny valley. On Tuesday, August 13, 2013, Matteo Pellin offered to let me stay overnight in his campground.

I went on a quick recon outing to place my backpack at the base of Aiguille Noire’s south ridge. I wouldn’t need very much gear, so I only brought the minimum: a 60 meter 6mm Dyneema rope, a harness for rappelling, a few slings, crampons, an ice axe, a helmet, and climbing shoes. I also brought gloves, a beanie, sunglasses, a thin down jacket, and both hardshell pants and jacket – you never know. For water I could fill up just about anywhere on the route, and for food I thought 5 Powergels and 4 Powerbars would be enough.
The night before leaving I was once again spoiled at the campground, relaxing and enjoying Italian hospitality at its best.

A fun day begins

At 04:00 on the mordning of August 14, 2013, Matteo sent me off with a friendly goodbye and a good “caffè doppio.” I started to run. At 05:10 I was already at the point where I left my backpack. The first 1000 meters were over. I had completed the approach much faster than expected so it was still dark. I nevertheless started climbing. I had been in the exact same spot just one week before, also in the dark, so I figured that I would be able to find my way.

As the day slowly began, I really enjoyed the climbing. After the descent from Point Welzenbach I took a short break and changed into my climbing shoes. With little difficulty I reached the top of the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey at 08:30 am. From here I had to rappel pretty far, but took the time to enjoy the beautiful morning setting.

During the night there had been quite a bit of sheet lightning to the south, but by now the sky was cloudless. The air seemed too dry. I figured that the cold bise winds would create cloud buildup at some point during the day. I would just have to wait and see.

From here the rappels began, one after the other. It took 16 rappels to reach the base of “Les Dames Anglais.” A cracked-strewn couloir brought me to a traverse that brought me to the start of the Schneider couloir. From the Schneider couloir I climbed to the Casati shelter. There was a lot of brittle rock, typical alpine terrain.

Solo, solitude, …

It was really nice to climb alone. When roped up it is often difficult to find good running belays and you always have to pay attention so as not to knock any rocks down on your partner.
Being totally alone I could go my own pace – my rhythm, my day – it was great. For me these days are the most beautiful, just the mountains and me.

Under Point Gugliermina I heard voices. A roped party was climbing just above me. I made sure to keep my distance from the two climbers to avoid triggering any rockfall that could potentially hit them. This is the second roped party I ended up passing. To each their own pace.

I filled my water bottle for the second time. The sun shined brightly and the melting snow and ice provided me with plenty of water to drink, so dehydration was not an issue.
In the end some clouds formed, temperatures dropped, and I found myself underneath a layer of clouds.

On the southeast summit of the Aiguille Blanche de Peuteurey I put on my crampons. The climb continued on snow. The knife-edge ridgeline led to the Pte Central, from where I had to rappel once again. After three rappels and some downclimbing I reached the Col de Peuterey. I was now in a thick fog bank with not more than two meters of visibility. Challenging to say the least, especially since I had to find the passage to the Grand Pillier d’Angle.

I traversed back and forth three times until I decided just to try something. I took at least 30 minutes until I felt like I finally knew where was and where I had to go. In any case I didn’t have the choice, I had to keep moving. In the end I found the right way to go and reached the Grand Pilier d’Angle without any trouble. I was now above the clouds. The summit was not too far away. From here I found some old tracks. I wish they had been at the Col de Peuterey…

Fatigue slowly started to set in. I had been climbing fast for quite some time. My gloves were wet – but up here, at 4000 meters, they froze. I decided to wait to put on my spare pair of gloves only once on the summit. That way I would have dry gloves for the descent.

… summit!

Just before 15:00 I reached the summit of Mont Blanc du Courmayeur. There was no wind and I was well above the clouds, incredible. It was a wonderful moment. I took time to enjoy it since I was now sure that I would make it back down to the valley.

I felt a tired but good and enjoyed the late afternoon on Mont Blanc. It was 15:35 when I started descending Mont Blanc and then the Dome du Gouter. A wide track wound down the regular route.

While descending I started to run again. Far below me I could see the entire Chamonix Valley. It was still a ways away, with almost 3800 meters of vertical drop and I don’t know how many kilometers in distance to cover. I didn’t really care although I did start to feel my thighs.

The valley was now getting closer. Below the Tête Rousse hut I passed a sign. I had no desire to know how much of the descent was left. Fortunately the sign indicated no time or distance. Once at Bellevue I came upon another sign, only 2 hours and 20 minutes to Les Houches. Just after 20:00, 16 hours and 9 minutes after I saying goodbye to Matteo at his campground in Val Veny, I was standing in front of the church in Les Houches. I thought about eating something, but decided to continue. I wanted to get to my campsite in Les Bossons. Although I briefly thought about calling someone to come pick me up, it was such a nice evening that I decided to leisurely walk to Les Bossons. A good hour later I was sitting next to my tent.

After enjoying a great shower and a recovery drink, I slipped comfortably into my sleeping bag. With a smile on my lips I fell asleep.
What a fantastic day!

Ueli Steck

Font: http://www.petzl.com/en/outdoor/news/in-field/2013/08/27/peuterey-integral-ueli-steck