Ueli Steck, « The Swiss Machine »
Since last fall, the himalayan mountaineering community is in turmoil: Uelie Steck , soon followed by Stéphane Benoist and Yannick Graziani have joined the very tight circle of ascensionists who can claim to have succeeded in climbing the South face of Annapurna.
In Ulie's opinion, he simply exceeded his personal motto:" My imagination can make anything possible".
Had he imagined a solo climb of the South face of the Annapurna in only 28 hours! Perhaps not.
From now on, there will be Ulie, and the rest of them...
On October 9th 2013, his remarkable achievement marked the history of Himalayism in a significant way.
Rightfully called" The Swiss Machine", Ulie has succeeded in other incredible mountaineering endeavours like: the North Face of the Eiger in 2h47, the North Face of the Grandes Jorasses en 2h21 and the North face of the Matterhorn in 1h50, the North Face of the Tengkampoche in Népal ( 2009 "Piolet d'or" award) , or on Makalu in 2010 and Mount Everest without oxygen, not to mention his multiple solo ascents all over the "climbing globe".
The climbing party Benoist-Graziani.
Only a few days later, On the 24th of October, Stéphane and Yannick reached the summit of Annapurna, after spending 8 days together on the gigantic face.
Yannick and Stéphane have known each other since teenagehood, they started climbing at St Jeannet (Alpes-Maritimes) and later discovered the various faces of the Alps.
It is only a short step from the Verdon gorge to the Grandes Jorasses, even if the step is quite high!
Yannick is averything but a Stakhanovist. He is a tourmented soul, even more, a sleeping beast hides behind his nonchalant walking pace. Mountains are his kingdom.
He associated with the TGW (Tromsdorff, Graziani, Wagnon) party, who he began his very high altitude carreer with; Chomolonzo (nominated at the "piolet d'or" awards), solo ascent of the South face of the Aconcagua and Makalu, the Nemjung, Chaukhamba II and Pumari Chisch.
He has been dedicating his professional life to mountain guiding for the last 10 years.
Today active as a guide at the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix , you will probably meet him on a classic route, or coming back from a great climb with one of his personal clients.
Since the late 80ies, Stéphane has dedicated himself to mountaineering, big wall and ice climbing.
His vivid passion for the alpine has lead him to climb exposed and technical faces all over the world, and at all altitudes.
Often making references to his "lack of technique and physical ability" ( so he says!), he has been successful in spite of his weaknesses, a great proof that he is a born champion.
An expert expedition planner, meticulous and showing an unfailing courage, he works as a mountain guide and trainer at the French National Ski and Mountaineering School (ENSA) in Chamonix.
Often called "the Master" inside the ENSA building, his list of climbs is as long as all of the Vallot guidebooks put together! In addition, he has opened great climbing routes in the Himalayas, such as Thalay Sagar (India)in 2003 (Nominated at the " piolet d’or" awards) Chomolonzo in 2005, Kwande Lho in 2006, and Nuptse (Nominated at the " piolet d’or" awards) in 2008.
During the 80ies, few French climbers met at the ”NASH” (short for the famous Chamonix" Bar National") . Every morning, British climbers met, ready for climbing the greatest faces of the Mont Blanc range, despite the numerous liters of beer ingested the night before…
Georges Bettembourg and René Ghilini, both members of the Chamonix Guides' Company were there too… They shared 2 passions: crystal seeking and the mountain. René Ghilini travelled across the massif with Georges et Jean- Franck Charlet… He later discovered the Himalayas and very high altitude accompanied by Alex MacIntyre!
In 1977, during an expedition to the Peruvian Andes, he successfully linked together a series of first ascents, and ended his trip with the first hanglider flight off the summit of Huascaran. Then in 1980 he headed out to Nepal and the East face of Daulaghiri with Alex McIntyre.
Peru, Bolivia, Colombia , Patagonia, the USA, Chamonix… Any mountain became a reason for climbing!
At the time, Alex spent most of his summers and winters in Chamonix. Great and first ascents were compatible with lively and boozy evenings, during which the "Annapurna South face project" was probably settled on !
During fall 1982, 3 climbers set camp at the foot of the giagantic himalayan peak.
On October 15th, after scaling up the surrounding summits in order to get used to high altitude, René and Alex set off for a new route on the South face ...Around 7200 m they ended up turning around due to a lack of equipment, and stuck in front of a vertical rocky section.
On October 17th, during the descent, Alex's life was taken away by rockfalls.
During the following winter, René headed out to Nepal again, with the intention of making an audacious attempt on Mount Everest… The expedition ended with the" resurection" of Jean Bourgeois!
After this adventure, René decided to dedicate himself to crystal seeking and photography...
A few years later, he paid one last visit to an 8000 m peak, and took part in an expedition to Shishapangma with Dédé Rhem... After the loss of numerous friends, he definitely decided to spend most of his time searching for his favorite type of crystal, smoked quartz in the Mont Blanc range, his home playground.
Needless to introduce Christophe Profit, a major personality in the French mountaineering community.
In 1981, the mountain community was under shock: a 21 year-old kid had managed a solo climb of the American Direct on the West face of the Drus!
From that day back in 1981 and until the early 90ies, Christophe remained in the foreground of mountaineering: he successfully climbed the three legendary North faces of the Alps (Jorasses, Matterhorn, Eiger) one after the other in the same day. He soloed up Intégrale de Peuterey, and repeated the solo ascents of the same three North faces in winter….
In 1991, with Pierre Béghin, he climbed a new route on the West face of K2. It remained one of the greatest mountaineering achievements in the history of the Himalayas!
A mountain guide and a member of the Compagnie des guides de Chamonix for many years, Christophe dedicates most of his time to his clients, who he enjoys guiding up classic or major routes.
For this occasion, on the 14th next February, Christophe will commemorate the achievements of Pierre Béghin who died in 1992 while climbing the route Steck, Benoist and Graziani succeeded on last fall.
Enric is one of the two mountaneers from Catalunya who in 1984 who made a successful first ascent of the South face of Annapurna in alpine style. The route they chose, which is also the route Ghilini and McIntyre had attempted two years earlier, is amongst the hardest routes ever successfully climbed on a 8 000meter peak in alpine style.
Today, this ascent still represents an incredible sports achievement!
Andy Parkin by François Marsigny
I first met Andy, through his paintings. At first, I felt a great deal of suffering, a representation of the man I would sometimes see on the road to col des Montets, coming home after painting one of nature's landscapes. Then I discovered an amazing mountaineer, who he remained in spite of a terrible mountain accident that had left him injured deep down in his body and mind. After repeating some of his many first ascents, I finally got a chance to climb with him and I discovered his incredible talent as a climber and human being. Our mutual experience lead us to Patagonia, where we lived a unique and gigantic adventure, perpetuating the very special partniership mountaineers encounter on expedition trails.
Make no mistake, Andy is a rare and exceptional man, who I sincerely respect as a friend.
Le présentateur : Gilles Chappaz