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L'Affaire Freney L'Affaire Freney  by ericvola

August 29 1961: the ‘Last Great Problem of the Alps’, The Central Pillar of Frêney, is solved by Chris Bonington, Ian Clough, Jan Djuglosz and Don Whillans. But in French eyes the honours go also to René Desmaison, Pierre Julien, Yves Pollet-Villard and Ignacio Piussi. Desmaison seemed unable to accept the facts of the respective Pillar ascents and set about denigrating the British achievement while inflating his own – a fiction in which he was supported by the all-powerful Lucien Devies, the veritable godfather of post-war French mountaineering. Only now, half a century after the landmark climb, has the record been put straight in the French mountaineering press.

I became aware of Desmaison’s claim to have at least shared the first ascent on reading a recent biography of him by Antoine Chandellier, a journalist on Le Dauphiné Libéré, a regional newspaper in the French Alps. Entitled La Montagne en direct – La vie de René Desmaison (Guerin 2010), the book gives René’s version of the celebrated climb. In it Chandellier refers to Chris and Don as ‘an employee of a tinned food manufacturer and a plumber and zinc worker’, implying that no integrity could be expected of such characters. Being a friend of Chris, I saw red and started a quest for the facts.

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Patrick Edlinger Patrick Edlinger  by ericvola

Patrick Edlinger died Friday the 16th of November from a bad fall in his home in La Palud-sur-Verdon (Alpes de Hautes Provence), he was 52.

Patrick was at the start of a phenomenom which occurred late in 1982 with Jean-Paul Janssen's film 'Life by the fingertips' which had the greatest impact ever in the French public by putting an incredible strong light on the beauty and pleasure that rock climbing could bring. The craze he created resulted in large numbers of youngsters adopting rock climbing and most of the schools building climbing walls in the schools vicinities.

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Years on Holy Cross Years on Holy Cross  by Kiefer

At 14,005ft, Mt. of the Holy Cross is the third lowest of the Colorado Fourteeners. This religious and antiquated icon was officially named a Fourteener in 1964 and is the northernmost Fourteener in the massive Sawatch Mountain Range. It is Eagle County’s highest peak, located just outside the small railroad town of Minturn. The peak carries an impressive 2,100ft of prominence yet cannot be seen from I-70, Hwy 24 or even from Tigiwon Road (which means, ‘friend’ in the Ute language). Mt. of the Holy Cross lays well hidden deep within the confines of the Holy Cross Wilderness and is further protected from sight by neighboring Notch Mountain. Although Shrine Pass, so named for its views of the cross, does offer good vistas of the mountain.

The first reported and official sighting of the cross occurred on August 29th, 1869 when a Mr. William Brewer reported seeing a cross of snow from atop the summit of another Fourteener, Gray’s Peak. Undoubtedly, there have been sightings previous to this and one popular legend (since discredited) goes that two Spanish monks, close to death and hopelessly lost in a massive blizzard were ready to just give up and die, freezing to death. Suddenly, the clouds momentarily opened up revealing a cross of snow thus saving the priests from death. Due to the renewed sense of direction, the two priests were able to continue on their way to the New Mexico territory (early 1700’s).

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The 1961
drama of the Central Pillar of Freney The 1961 drama of the Central Pillar of Freney  by ericvola

11th July 1961:


seven climbers are caught in a huge storm on the Frêney Central Pillar, very near the top of Mont-Blanc. Five days later, a helicopter brought three survivors to Courmayeur

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More Poetic
Than Arbitrary – Destination, Return, and Achievement in Mountaineering [Part
2] More Poetic Than Arbitrary – Destination, Return, and Achievement in Mountaineering [Part 2]  by jacobsmith

Most American mountaineers will be familiar with Ed Viesturs’ catchphrase, “summiting is optional, coming home is mandatory.” There are two general interpretations of this statement, and of the entire concept of return. The first, most simple, and probably closest to what Viesturs meant, is to calculate risk so that one lives to fight another day, meaning that even if one must, at one point, give up a summit attempt, one may return, and continue to climb elsewhere, so that the total amount of climbing accomplished is increased in the long term. The other interpretation is best summarized by Willi Unsoeld,

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Determination - Amputee
Climbers Determination - Amputee Climbers  by PAROFES

When we reach a base camp carrying all our junk weighing dozens of pounds, several camps up the mountain assembling and disassembling our tent night after night, we think, and we are right about that, that our life in altitude mountaineering is difficult. Choosing the altitude mountaineering as a sport is not for everyone. Now imagine all these difficulties for a amputee climber, worse!

Let's think a little bit about these humans that without many options, decided not to give up, to face the terrible problems imposed by the intertwining of their lives. A moment so horrific that almost put a definitive end to the body, and the only solution was to amputate, cut off the dead piece to continue living as a disabled person. Now let's imagine that in the life of a climber, someone who can not stay at home, which is super active by the very nature of his psychological profile, practicing the sport that is more a lifestyle than sport, should in fact be devastating. Well, they do exist, we do not need to imagine.

I selected some interesting cases. Climbers, mountaineers who lost almost everything, they lost pieces of themselves, and a case in which the climber lost both legs even with five years of age by genetic defect, and another case in which really challenges the meaning of the word "possible": A boy who was born without arms below the elbow and no legs below the knee. Unbelievable? Prepare to change your mind, let’s see these super humans...

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More Poetic
Than Arbitrary – Destination, Return, and Achievement in Mountaineering [Part
1] More Poetic Than Arbitrary – Destination, Return, and Achievement in Mountaineering [Part 1]  by jacobsmith

As fans of the webcomic xkcd may have noticed, Randall Munroe made a subtle jab at mountaineers in his recent comic, Click and Drag: perched on a mountainside, one stick figure says to another “‘Because its there’ is more poetic than ‘I’m rich enough that my goals are arbitrary.’” His point seems to be that Mallory (originator of the phrase, “because it’s there”) and men like him do what they do because the fight for survival leaves them with an excess of time and energy, prompting them to invent arbitrary goals for personal entertainment. Personally, I take this as a challenge – to make mountaineering goals arbitrary is to trivialize them and make climbing one of many pastimes of the leisure class, of which I do not, categorically, consider myself a part. Mountaineering is not golf or yacht ownership, it is a serious thing, somewhere between an art and a religion, and therefore it cannot have all the meaninglessness that the designation of “arbitrary” assigns. Yet at times it certainly seems arbitrary, and so a more thorough investigations is needed.

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Why the
Orco Trad Meet? Alternatives to the full equipped climbing-style Why the Orco Trad Meet? Alternatives to the full equipped climbing-style  by AlbertoRampini

Since a few years, except for hard and enterprising high mountain alpinism, really less and less played, in many European countries (Latin Countries mainly, but also Switzerland and Germany) a climbing practice more and more supported by artificial means had been becoming the winning practice. Such a climbing style, born into indoor climbing stadiums, was transferred to natural climbing walls, in medium mountain, but also in the high mountain ranges.

Our modern society shows a prevailing propensity of “securisying” all, even the climb, as well as every other social expression; in such a manner, freedom, fantasy, autonomy and personal responsibility are no longer basic rules. Starting from the family imprinting, then the school standard education and job rules, people are on the way to lose their autonomy to think, to project, to create and so, with a unique word, also to dream.

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What is a
Rock Glacier? What is a Rock Glacier?  by Alex Wood

What is a rock glacier? This term rock glacier is often thrown around loosely with little implication of the origin. This article is about rock glaciers, as you probably guessed. I wrote this as a report for one of my geology classes and have attempted to turn it into a readable article. By no means am I an expert in this topic, but I did spend a lot of time doing research on the topic meaning I should be somewhat knowledgeable in the topic. This article on rock glaciers is targeted towards the Southwestern United States, specifically the San Juan Mountains.

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Muztagh Tower 2012. Muztagh Tower 2012.  by lange

"It was as difficult as never before".

Twelve days of bad weather and six sunny days. Steep (60-65 degrees) snow-ice slope, then ridge sharp as a knife, from the height of 6500 m – the tower itself: steep ice-covered, snow-covered rocks vertical and overhanging sections, with loose snow on vertical rocks.

The summit is a wind-packed snowdrift without any traces of visits by humans.

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