Monday, 27 February 2012

Athol Whimp a true legend lost

The sad news of Athol Whimp death is hart breaking. For me the team Lindblade- Whimp was pure inspiration. I have to admit I not only have huge respect for them. I admire them. To me they are all I think alpinism is about. The book Expeditions is one of the best climbing books I have ever read. The number of stunning lines they climbed and the visionary style in witch they approach there objectives in remains a benchmark for every aspiring alpinist to follow.

The attempt on the North Face of Janu was one of the coolest failures of modern alpinism. Sadly the line was later exploited in a national project to climb all imposing big walls in the Himalayas.

But for me I think the route they established on Thalaysagar is one of the climbing stories that has captured my attention the most. That and the Norwegian route on Trango established in 1984 is what have largely driven me to be so captivated by the mountains. Its a sad month for cutting edge alpinism.



Sunday, 26 February 2012

The ice season is finito!

From the looks of things the ice climbing season is over. The warm weather is fast destroying the good ice. This season was good but not great in terms of routes done. I have had 15 days of ice climbing in January and February and covered about 4000 meters of ice.

Not too bad. Still Iwanted to do two routes that was in condition but I did not manage to climb them... Well that's life I guess. There is a new winter next year. Now it looks like the sport climbing season is really kicking off and the last two days on rock have been super fun.Motivation is on top, skin needs to adjust to the new reality of sharp holds and now gloves.

The last ice route of the season was the fantastic Cascade des Viollins a 150 meters WI5. It was great fun to finish off the season bringing along Camilla on the route given that this winter was her first real winter ice climbing. So for her it was a big route and some thing she really wanted to do. Not hard to understand when you look at the route.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Life snippet of today

Life snippet of today, My friend Simon is attending a reception at 10 Downing Street, my friend Roland is pissed with Top Model Sweden, fellow alpinists are suffering through a storm on a winter attempt on the Gasheberums in Pakistan, I'm having tee and a cookie... Life sure is unreal.

In vain I carried a hual bag up the hill but its too hot, to late. Next winter!

Friday, 17 February 2012

More Ice but not nearly enough!

This week was much less productive than I had originally hopped but I did manage to climb the 300 meter, Direct de l'arc de cercle in Fressinieres, a nice WI5. It was bitter cold at the parking with minus 17 degrees Celsius.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

New E9 Editor

Dear all

In order to improve the blog and its quality I have now added an professional editor to the blog. I hope this will improve language, text quality and over all impression. Not only is Helen a great editor she is also one hell of a climber and we have some plans for this summer. She will not only be editing my bad spelling and lack of proper grammar, she will also be contributing with stories and pictures from our outings.

To celebrate this we add a nice video from the Ice Festival "l'Ice climbing Ecrins" held earlier in January.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Bjorn-Eivind Aartuns FA on Torre Egger is nominate for the Piolets d’Or

This years edition like last years edition will carry some sadness with it as yet again one of the nominated climbers have been lost before the event. The event celebrating Alpine Style climbing will be held in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (France) and Courmayeur (Italy) from the 21st - 24th March 2012. The event will pay a spacial tribute the the recently lost Norwegian super alpinist Bjorn-Eivind Aartun who is nominated for the Torre Egger FA with Ole Lied. A really worthy winner I think. So simplistic yet so remote and wild, what a stunning line Bjorn-Eivind left behind.

For the 20th edition of the Piolets d’Or, it took a month of reflection and debate for the jury - presided over by Michael Kennedy - to select the 6 routes that they have decided best illustrate explorative alpinism at a high technical level in minimal style undertaken with consideration for the environment.

Chosen from a list of 88 ascents completed in 2011 on the mountains across the globe, these 6 routes are testament to the skill and determination of the 15alpinists who endured often hostile climates in these little known mountain ranges in isolated regions.

The Indian Karakoram, Xuelian Feng, Kirghizistan, Patagonia, Gangotra-Gharwal and Charakusa. Autonomy and a strong team spirit are paramount in these rarely visited high altitude areas.

The nominated alpinists will be with us in Courmayeur and Chamonix from 21st - 24th March to present their routes, meet the public and perhaps be awarded with a Piolet d’Or - honouring the most notable alpine style ascents of 2011.

Pik Pobeda (7,439m), Kyrgyzstan

Pik Pobeda is the most northerly 7,000-metre peak in the world. A high altitude symbol for mountaineers on the Asian continent, its steep and exposed north face is 2,500 metres high. Kazakhs Gennadiy Durov and Denis Urubko added a fourth route to the central and highest part of this face, below the summit. Dollar Rod is a committing and technical route undertaken in alpine style, a modern feat. Last November it was awarded the sixth Asian Piolets d’Or.

Saser Kangri II (7,518m), India

Americans Mark Richey, Steve Swenson and Freddie Wilkinson’s expedition to the Indian Karakoram is another example from 2011 of exploration and committed alpine style at high altitude. During a two month expedition, the three alpinists summited the second highest, previously unclimbed mountain in the world, Saser Kangri II. The team reached the summit on 24th August via the steep 1,700 metre south-west face, after four days of ascent and three bivouacs. The route’s technical difficulties are concentrated in the higher part of the climb.

K7 West (6,615m), Pakistan

Young Slovenians Nejc Marcic and Luka Strazar, 26 and 23 years old respectively, reached the west summit of K7 in a three-day alpine style ascent of the previously unclimbed north-west face via a 1,600m sustained mixed route, completing the third ascent of this famous summit in the Charakusa valley. Exploration, technical difficulty, minimalist style and commitment are the characteristics of their ascent. It was their first Himalayan expedition.

Xuelian North-East (6,249m), China

Xuelian North-East was the last remaining unclimbed 6,000m peak in the Xuelian Feng, in the Chinese Tien Shan. Slovenians Ales Holc, Peter Juvan and Igor Kremser climbed it in pure alpine style, taking the long and aesthetic north-west ridge over four days, and then descending on the south-east side in a day and a half. The technical difficulty and length of this route, climbed in minimalist style, caught the attention of the jury.

Meru Central (6,310m), India

Attempted by many expeditions since 1986, this incredible route on the east pillar of Meru Central – the Shark’s Fin – was climbed in its entirety for the first time by Americans Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk. This particularly aesthetic route has all the difficulties of modern alpinism; rocky terrain involving difficult free climbing and committing aid climbing, and delicate mixed terrain in the upper section.

Torre Egger (2,850m), Argentina

The Patagonian spires have always lured the best technical climbers on the planet. A distant land ravaged by the southern winds, its granite peaks covered in the strangest of glacial formations. Rime and ice can cover the walls of these polished rocks, and sometimes coat them completely, depending on the wind direction. At the end of December the entire wall of Torre Egger’s south face was covered in ice. Norwegians Bjorn-Eivind Aartun and Ole Lied climbed this vertical tower taking the alpine community by surprise with their opportunism.

Further information available on

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Cascades Des Viollines WI5+

Last week was great with a few hundred meters of fantastic Ice climbing with an old friend. But the tick of the week was scored in Freissinieres, on Cascades des Viollines, WI WI5+, 150 meters. Some Pictures below.

Monday, 6 February 2012

My lats two cents on Cerro Torre and the bolt chopping

We need to look at the big picture

In resent weeks Cerro Torre, a spectacular rock spire in Patagonia has once aging stirred up emotions. This “new” conflict can best be described as a storm in a fish bowl. If we look at the climbers as an enterprise acting on a global scale its would be easy to argue that chopping the bolts on the Compressor Route is equaling following a number of principles guiding corporations who follows International Environmental laws or are taking Corporate and Social Responsibility.

All actions in the mountains must boil down to sustainability. These principles justify all action that preserves the environment for future generations even if we in this case are talking about pseudo advances in coming to some kind of world wide rules on what can and cannot be done to our planet.

The mountains are a part of our planet. So the debate lies outside of the mountaineering circles. The dolomites are now a UNESCO protected site, so something such as the Compressor Route would not be possible to put up there. Why should it be any where? And why get angry with a partial clean up effort?

The history of climbing is littered with examples of controversy. However when it comes to action, most climbers shy away from controversy. I feel that as climbers, we should embrace controversy.

For me it is crystal clear that controversy always has been and always will be one of the decisive factors behind quantum leaps taken in the history and in the future of climbing. I recognize that technology, diet, knowledge about the human body’s adaptability to the elements along with a number of other factors have played a huge role in the development of climbing. But that alone cannot explain the progress we are witnessing. Feuds, bolt wars, outspoken criticism against climbing styles where the mountain has been brought down to mans abilities and not climbed by fair means, have played an equally crucial part in where we are today, a fact that is often overlooked when we consider where we are and where we want to go in terms of developing climbing.

As climbers we are not born with any right to stand on a summit or to top out a route or a problem. We have to earn that moment of completeness by hard training and by gaining the skills necessary to scale the desired object, (and even then, only if we are lucky!).

In the early days of mountaineering it was not so much about the physical aspect of climbing; it was not an athletic sport but rather a geographical exploration. Climbing is a fairly new phenomenon as a sport. Upon receiving the Piolet d’Or in Chamonix, Messner recounted that on his first trips to the Himalayas he was traveling in uncharted terrain both literally speaking and in terms of what we then knew about the human body's abilities to endure the strains of high altitude during prolonged efforts. So we don't even need to go back to the days of Hillary's exploits to understand how much modern climbing is still just scraping on the surface of what is going to be possible in the future.

Behind some of the most significant climbing controversies in history we will find ego-driven and some times narcissistic climbers. A common characteristic of such climbers is that they are obsessed or rather consumed by the desire to forge their way up a mountain no matter what price they must pay and no matter what the cost for future generations. Today we sometimes try and explain or excuse these actions with references to nationalistic pride and the accepted style of that era. That might be true to some extent and it cannot be ignored that nationalism has played a significant role in climbing history, however, that does not excuse the fact that actions are performed by individuals, not nations. Some of these feats have pushed climbing forward at no significant cost to the generations that follow, but quite a few have left irreparable scars on the mountains, depriving future mountaineers the opportunity to explore and climb unknown ground.

I think most climbers who really care about their climbing are suffering from a healthy dose of obsession and it couldn’t be otherwise, but we can never confuse our own obsession with a problem, route or mountain with the fact that the climbing objective we are devoting our energy towards its not our private property. Problems, routes and mountains were around way before us and we merely pass by them for a nanosecond in the bigger perspective of the history of the universe.

Style and ethics matter. Grades, numbers and summits do not. There is never an acceptable justification for exploiting a problem, route or mountain for personal satisfaction. Climbing is about fulfilling personal ambitions, but we can never let that come to us at the expense of another climber’s opportunity to experience the route in its natural state. Today we are fairly well informed about the environmental impact our climbing has so we cannot blame lack of insight when boundaries are over stepped today. We can only blame our blinded ego for not assuming responsibility for how we treat the objects we so dearly love to climb.

The most recent climbing controversy revolves around one of the world’s most iconic mountains, Cerro Torre. Having no stake in the game, I would just like to express my gratitude to the two climbers, Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk, who decided to give controversy a face and take responsibility for their actions by chopping some of the bolts on the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre. Since, it seems that the climbing world has been divide into two fractions. Those who think the bolts on the Compressor route should have been preserved as a tribute to the history of alpinism, ignoring the obvious narcissistic act performed by a single climber back in the day.

The other camp supports the chopping of some 102 of the plus 350 bolts on the Compressor Route, celebrating the fact that skill has won a huge victory over obsession and that style is not defined today but rather in the future. Proof: just days after the bolts were chopped David Lama climbed the first free ascent of the same aspect of Cerro Torre. Rest assured, the future will surprise us all in terms of what is possible to achieve in terms of climbing.

What can we learn from history and the current state of affairs? I think its simple. Always approach all your climbing objectives with passion but never let your own aspirations create an obstacle for future generations. There is not an endless supply of great natural lines available in the world. If you cannot get up your dream line rest assured, some one else can and will, without leaving so much as a trace of their feat. A universal climbing ambition should be that the next one who shows up under a problem, route or mountain can enjoy the same feeling of novelty and virgin ground you do when carrying out the first ascent. What defines you as a climber is not the numbers you achieve or the number of summits you bag but the style you do it in.

Nothing said her is new or original, yet I think it can’t be repeated enough times.

Have fun out there exploring the mountains of the planet and be safe.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Great words from Colin Haley on Cerro Torre and the bolts1

Well this is well written and really worth reading!