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:

And more info about the project:

California 14er speed record (62h3m)

News & Infos, Travel


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).

Traversée du Belldonne


Traversée du Belldonne par Pierre Gignoux:


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:


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,


Traversée des Aravis

Ce mardi 8 mai, Kilian Jornet Burgada, Mathéo Jacquemoud et Stéphane Brosse ont choisi de traverser intégralement le massif du sud au nord (du Charvin à la pointe Percée) en empruntant un itinéraire technique foulant la plupart des sommets et des couloirs

La chaîne des Aravis est un massif préalpin idéal pour le ski de randonnée. Bon nombre d’itinéraires de toutes difficultés sont proposés. La traversée de cette « cordillère » est un voyage magnifique entre arêtes, petits couloirs et belles descentes.

Ce mardi 8 mai, Kilian Jornet Burgada, Mathéo Jacquemoud et Stéphane Brosse ont choisi de traverser intégralement le massif du sud au nord (du Charvin à la pointe Percée) en empruntant un itinéraire technique foulant la plupart des sommets et des couloirs. C’est 6500 m de dénivelés (16 montées et descentes successives) et 35 Kms qu’ont parcouru les 3 montagnards en 10h30. Partis à 5h15 du restaurant des Fontanettes (commune du Bouchet Mt Charvin), ils sont arrivés à 15h45 aux Troncs (Commune du Grand Bornand – Vallée du Bouchet)

Leur itinéraire :

Movescount track:

M Mt Charvin
D couloir nord
M La Goenne
D face nord puis petit couloir nord
M La tête de l’aulp
D face nord est
M la Mandallaz
D face nord
M l’étale sommet sud – traversée des arêtes jusqu’au sommet nord (principale)
D couloir combaz
M Col de la combe a Marion
D Combe a Marion – col des Aravis
M Porte des Aravis
D Combe de la creuse
M antécime de Parrossaz
D combe de Balme
M col de la rouale
D combe de Bellacha
M Tête Pelouse
D combe de grand Cret
M trou de la mouche
D combe de Paccaly
M antécime tête de Paccaly
D combe de tardevant
M Ambrevettaz
D couloir sud puis fenetre des aravis puis combe de la grande forclaz
M couloir sud ouest de la Mamule
D descente couloir nord de la Mamulle
M Mt Charvet
D Face ouest du Charvet
M Pointe Percée
D voie normale de la Pte Percée puis les Troncs

Cette traversée s’est réalisée sans assistance, dans un esprit de randonnée sans aucune ambition de record. C’est avant tout un moment de partage entre 2 générations de skieurs alpinistes passionnés de montagne. De l’avis de Stéphane Brosse qui parcourt chaque hiver ce massif, cet itinéraire est certainement le plus logique et esthétique avec des passages d’arêtes (Etale), des couloirs (Charvin, Combaz, …) de belles descentes (Charvet) et un sommet alpin pour finir (Pointe Percée) il peut tout à fait être repris par les randonneurs, découpé en 2 ou 3 étapes plus facilement accessible à tous.

Le récit de Stéphane Brosse :

“Nous voulions avec Kilian mieux nous connaitre et partager un moment de montagne. Nos ambitions dans le massif du Mt Blanc n’aboutissant pas à cause d’une météo très capricieuse, je lui propose de nous rabattre sur un itinéraire de moyenne montagne qui traverse intégralement la chaîne des Aravis du Charvin à la Pointe Percée en empruntant les plus beaux couloirs, les plus jolies descentes et les principaux sommets. Malgré cette météo changeante il me paraît possible de boucler cette traversée qui est pour moi un vieux rêve vainement tenté l’an dernier en solitaire !
Lundi après-midi, Kilian et Mathéo me retrouvent chez moi au col de plan bois dans les Aravis. Nous préparons rapidement notre matériel qui est très limité (skis, bâtons, chaussures, peaux, arva, pelle, sonde, une veste, une gourde d’eau, et quelques barres de céréales). Nous profitons de la fin de l’après-midi pour faire un peu de slake line puis de la soirée pour discuter autour du repas. Réveil à 4h, petit déj silencieux et départ pour le Bouchet Mont Charvin. Nous partons tranquillement pour 5 minutes de marche à pieds avant de pouvoir chausser les skis : la neige est dure, le regel nocturne a été bon. Nous gravissons le Charvin par son arête ouest et arrivons au sommet au moment exact du lever du soleil. Magnifique moment d’une lumière et d’une aventure naissante.

A l’autre bout du massif très loin nous voyons notre objectif : la Pointe Percée. Cela semble loin mais pas impossible ! Nous descendons la première difficulté technique de la journée : la face Nord-Est du Charvin sur une neige dure mais avec un bon grip. Pas de soucis, mes deux compagnons sont de très bon skieurs. Puis petite remontée à la Goenne pour une descente sympa dans le petit couloir nord. Nous remontons à la tête de l’Aulp par son arête tout en herbe et descendons sa face nord, entre les purges de neige des jours précédents. Remontée à la Mandallaz pour un autre petit couloir en face nord. Arrive enfin la belle et longue arête de l’Etale, un pur moment de bonheur avec un rayon de soleil qui vient nous frapper durant ce passage aérien et magique. Je me rends compte que Kilian et Mathéo ne sont pas seulement des sportifs de haut niveau, ce sont avant tout de véritables montagnards très à l’aise techniquement et avec le sens de la montagne en eux. Ils sont capables de marcher et courir sur cette arête très effilée par endroits. Sommet de l’Etale : c’est une descente technique qui est à suivre avec le couloir Combaz en neige dure. Le passage central nécessite une manœuvre technique et exposée ; chacun à notre tour nous négocions ce passage avec précaution. Encore une fois je me rends compte que mes deux compères restent à l’aise même dans des situations plus exposées. Petite remontée en haut de la combe à Marion et nous nous laissons glisser jusqu’au Col des Aravis. Nous effectuons une longue remontée vers la porte des Aravis au milieu des hordes de chamois. Nous nous arrêtons un instant pour les voir descendre à une vitesse vertigineuse.
Le temps se couvre mais c’est finalement pas mal car cela nous préserve de la chaleur et surtout la neige reste bonne.
Nous arrivons dans la combe de la Creuse puis dans celle de Balme où nous croisons bon nombre de randonneurs. Les combes des Aravis s’enchaînent facilement jusqu’à l’Ambrevettaz et son couloir sud barré par une assez grosse corniche, nous ne tentons pas le saut, la neige est dure et ce n’est pas le moment de casser du matériel ! Petite désescalade puis nous poursuivons la descente dans la Combe de la grande Forclaz avant de remonter le couloir sud-ouest de la Mamulle. La descente du couloir nord est excellente il faut maintenant remonter au sommet du Charvet, ça commence à tirer un peu pour moi. Du Charvet, nous pouvons enfin voir notre dernière ascension et notre objectif : la Pointe Percée. Super descente de la face ouest du Charvet (comme souvent) avant une longue remontée vers la Pointe Percée. Le ciel commence à lâcher quelques flocons et le brouillard est de plus en plus présent, nous décidons alors de ne pas emprunter les cheminées de Sallanches mais de faire l’aller-retour par la voie normale. Je commence à être vraiment « sec » pour cette ultime remontée à ski jusqu’au refuge puis sur la partie inférieure du socle de la pointe Percée, mais mes deux compagnons sont juste devant moi et m’encouragent. Enfin nous déchaussons pour gravir la dernière partie à pieds, Kilian fait une bonne trace et cela me permet de récupérer un peu. Le sommet est en vue là tout proche, ça y est nous y sommes il fait froid, il neige, il y a du vent mais nous sommes heureux…La météo ne nous permet pas de prolonger ce moment et nous chaussons les skis pour une ultime descente technique au départ puis débonnaire en partie basse pour atteindre la vallée du Bouchet. Environ 10h et 30 minutes pour réaliser cette belle traversée, mais l’objectif n’était pas de faire un record, simplement de partager un moment de montagne entre amis.
C’est une journée fluide, facile où tout se passe bien où tout le monde a le même objectif : celui de réussir ensemble. J’ai compris aussi pourquoi je n’avais jamais fait ou réussi cette traversée auparavant. C’est certainement parce que ce genre de projet ne vaut que s’il est partagé.”

Stéphane Brosse

Kilian Jornet Burgada in Innominata


On 18 September Spanish ski mountaineer and sky runner Kilian Jornet Burgada ascended from Courmayeur to the summit of Mont Blanc via the famous Innominata Ridge (1000m, D+, V+, 60º) in 6 hours and 17 minutes. The Spaniard then raced down to Chamonix in a total time of 8 hours 42 minutes.


Setting off at 3:53am from the church at Courmayeur, the Catalan champion ascended alone up the beautiful Val Veny to reach the Monzino hut (2590m) at 5:25am from where the real difficulties begin, i.e. the glacier which leads to the Eccles bivy at 4041m. Much to his surprise the glacier was in excellent condition and Jornet managed to ascend quickly using crampons up to the bivy, from where a short abseil led him to the Innominata Ridge which he had climbed a few days earlier.

“Innominata Ridge with Dakota Jones”

“Once I had completed the rappel and the tough long stretch, where I did not find any snow, I could breathe more easily.” said Jornet, adding “I knew I could manage the Innominata, as I had done it a few days before. It is a very technical route with slopes of 60 °, and climbing passes of difficulty V+, so I had to use all my senses. Luckily I didn’t find a lot of snow or ice on it.” Jornet summited Mont Blanc at 10:15am, 6 hours and 17 minutes after departing Courmayeur, and after a short 5 minutes break he headed straight down to the church at Chamonix which he reached in a mere 2 hours and 19 minutes. In total, 8 hours 42 minutes for this round-trip Courmayeur – Mont Blanc – Chamonix.

It is worth remembering that this rapid ascent is part of the second chapter of the Summits of My Life project and that the first stage – the Mont Blanc traverse – was overshadowed by the tragic death of his companion and ski mountaineering champion Stephane Brosse.

Details: Start: Courmayeur (Valle de Aosta, Italy) Finish: Chamonix (France) Distance: 42 km Height gain: 3,810m via the Innominata Ridge Split times: Courmayeur – Val Veny: 40′; Val Veny – Rifugio Monzino: 1h30-50′; Monzino – Eccles: 3h30-2h; Eccles – Mont Blanc: 6h17-2h47 (5’ stop at the summit); Monte Blanc – Gouter: 6h50 -27′; Gouter – Houches: 8h15 -1h25; Houches – Chamonix: 8h42’57’’


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