How drones revolutionized mountain films

Lying on the right of his skis, a swerve to the left, stepping over some fir trees, before paragliding towards the rocks of the Morzines canyon then flying over a block of chalets… Filmed with a drone, the sequence no longer only offers to be seen the descent of speed rider French Valentin Delluc but turns into a substitute for thrills. The clip, promoted by the RedBull brand two years ago, left its mark on the world of film and mountain sports documentaries, gathered this week at the Chamonix festival, which ends on Saturday June 18.

For its second edition, the majority of the 38 films screened again relied on this technology. It has become ” an addiction “, confirms Thomas Guerrin, 34-year-old drone pilot and director, who this year presented a film on the history of the high mountain guides of Chamonix, a city-temple of French mountaineering. Because if the traditional helicopter has long made it possible to capture the best aerial shots, racing drones – or so-called FPV drones (First Person View) – have revolutionized the discipline.

contact and distance

“It brought something that we were incapable of: an immersion closer to performance and the ability, at the same time, to move away from the athlete very quickly to return to the landscape”, notes Maxime Moulin, documentary filmmaker for ten years, the arrival of the first drones on the market. With a camera on board the athlete and an aerial drone “which, on the other hand, gives the outside point of view, to also allow yourself long poetic shots, you can tell everything there is to tell without being present on the stage of the performance”, complete Thomas Guerrin.

The drones had however arrived in the mountains with a bad reputation: too intrusive, even risky, as when a machine had crashed on the slope in full descent of the alpine skier Marcel Hirscher, landing a few decimeters from the Austrian, in 2015. The specter of the accident forced the legislation to thicken, in particular for the overflight of dwellings, imposing an authorization from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation on the teams which pilot them up to 4 km away . “Depending on what we want to do, we cannot film certain parts of the mountain, the helicopter cannot be replaced, even if it also represents a greater environmental cost”explains Maxime Moulin.

Technology versus creativity?

In addition to a reduced cost, accessible to novices in mountain film, drones have reduced the risk-taking on set, for directors and for the athletes themselves – mountaineers in mind – by allowing more precise identification of less accessible climbing areas.

With the fear, however, of a standardization of films, tempted to overexploit these aerial images to the point of caricature. “We have in fact been witnessing for 10 years a standardization in the ways of filming. With drones, filming times are also reducednotes Steve Scott, director of the Kendal mountain film festival in the United Kingdom and member of the jury this year in Chamonix. To regain creativity, directors must learn to use them sparingly. »



These resorts that rely on ski touring

It’s the winter hit that Christian Dejax replays without getting tired. The president of the ski touring commission at the French Ski Federation (FFS) counts and recounts the number of routes laid out in the resorts for a few years. “It represents 70 stations and 150 routes in all the massifs, it’s a real ground swell”, rejoices the Isérois, he who knew the time not so long ago when ski touring was reserved for an elite of mountaineers able to venture on unmarked off-piste routes, at their own risk and peril.

→ ANALYSIS. French tourism in the reconquest of winter sports

The figures he puts forward are impressive. At least 200,000 licensees, not counting the very large number of occasional skiers who are not enlisted, around 6 to 7% of the equipment sales market and, above all, an exponential multiplication of the number of routes marked out by ski resorts, which have been able to seize the perch. Paradox of the mountain environment, this adventure began in Courchevel, in one of the resorts most affected by industrialization. “We wanted to fight against our too artificial image”, explains the former mayor and still instructor Philippe Mugnier, who carried out the installation of the first marked routes in 2012.

Spirit of conviviality

“At the start, many people didn’t believe in the resort, they swore only by alpine skiing, but we had formed an alliance with two more mountain village resorts, and the idea of ​​linking these family sites in the forest with our tracks worked very well,” explains the elected official, who never agreed to hold a municipal meeting on Wednesday evening in winter because of the ski touring gathering. “We each climb at our own pace, sometimes there are more than 100 of us, we wait at the top for mulled wine, it’s the conviviality of the mountain”, he says.

Beyond the increasingly prohibitive cost of passes to use the ski lifts, it is this mountain spirit and this taste for nature that motivate the growing numbers of troops. “With the Covid and the closure of the ski lifts in the resort last season, ski touring has been a real success. It’s fallen a bit with the reopening of the slopes this season, but the trend is there, we won’t go back. All alpine skiing is over, the future of resorts is the multiplication of activities »continues Philippe Mugnier.

This new offer targets a clientele that is a little older than the average and also more feminine. “Let’s not forget the fitness side, which is very important, ski touring is the taste of effort in a wonderful setting”, enthuses Christian Dejax, the hiking man at the federation. These new marked and secure itineraries allow access to the mountain for non-seasoned practitioners who are no longer at all afraid of the prospect of descending off-piste, in ungroomed snow. And for good reason: a good part of these routes cross easy alpine ski slopes, even equipment (chairlifts or gondolas) allowing you to overcome a hazardous descent.

A pioneer station

Arêches, a resort-village in Savoie, is the best vantage point for wave hikers. This is where the famous Pierra Menta has been held since 1986, one of the biggest ski mountaineering races, the competitive version of ski touring. (read below). It is here again that the first marked trails were installed at about the same time as those in Courchevel. “Ski touring is the DNA of the resort, we have many groups of seasoned hikers who come to ski in the massif, but we have seen these new practitioners arrive, sometimes beginners, who come to try”, explains Florent Signifredi, event manager for the station.

The village has launched courses for children, rental companies play the game by offering equipment for children and families. And it works ! The four routes take a route that is both close to the slopes, to facilitate the intervention of the emergency services, and far from the groomed boulevards to respect the spirit of adventure. A whole art of balance developed in order to give beginners the desire to return to the almost virgin circus of the massif. At high altitude, this time, and independently, or with a guide.


Ski touring or ski mountaineering?

It’s been twenty years since a competitive version of ski touring was born under the name “ski-mountaineering”, official name since 2008. Unlike ski touring, which is a leisure activity, ski-mountaineering mountaineering is part of the competition, with various timed events. Alongside the major long-distance events through the mountains such as the Pierra Menta organized in Arêches (Savoie), which will be held this year from March 9 to 12 for the senior race and from March 11 to 12 for the youth race, ski mountaineering offers short and spectacular events, such as the sprint (a three- to four-minute climb in sealskin), the vertical (500 to 700 m drop) or the relay. These short races will enter the Olympic program of the next Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, in 2026.



Chloé Trespeuch, two medals and convictions

Chloé Trespeuch would have preferred to go “in a land of snow that respects the environment”, as she said recently to Parisian. Despite everything, the native of Bourg-Saint-Maurice (Savoie) made the trip to the 2022 Beijing Olympics and left with silver in snowboardcross. She had already won bronze in 2014 and thus continues the fine series of French athletes in the discipline: silver in 2010 and 2018 for women, bronze in 2006 and 2010 and gold in 2014 and 2018 for men. .

→ THE FACTS. Beijing Olympics: French Chloé Trespeuch wins silver in snowboarding

Chloé Trespeuch started snowboarding at the age of 6, in Val Thorens, the highest resort in Europe. As a child, she also went horseback riding in the Vendée, in Saint-Jean-de-Monts. This childhood between sea and mountains may have contributed to bringing out in her the ecological fiber that she evokes in the media. With her relatives, she founded an association and organized maritime cleaning operations, in paddle and canoe. She also intends to create a shared garden in La Rochelle, and why not clean up the forests while running.

Communications Officer at SNCF

By going to Beijing, where the snow is 100% artificial, she had to bend her convictions. The 27-year-old snowboarder loves her ” job “ that it takes precedence over everything else, even if you often have to take the plane. Changing jobs is a no-no. The important thing above all is to be fulfilled in what you do. There are so many ways to take action! », she explains in The Parisian. This does not prevent him from hoping that Paris 2024 will truly put the environment at the heart of its project.

Chloé Trespeuch joined the French women’s snowboard team in 2009, became European champion in 2011 at just 16 years old and won a silver medal at the world championships in 2017. A student at the University of Savoie, she works in parallel as communication officer at the SNCF, within the framework of the SNCF Athletes program.

→ PORTRAIT. Beijing Olympics: Quentin Fillon Maillet, a perfectionist at the top of Olympus

At the Olympics, after her medal in 2014, she finished 5th in Korea. His brother is also a skilled snowboarder. Although a little less titled than his sister, he was still vice-champion of Europe. Holder of a doctorate in management sciences, he now teaches in Quebec.



Clément Jacquelin, this “brother of” who designs rifles for biathlon champions

Biathlon is often a family affair. Brothers Martin and Simon Fourcade have already skied against each other on snowy slopes. This is still the case this season for the Norwegian champion Johannes Boe and his elder Tarjei.

The situation of the Jacquelin siblings is slightly different, but still closely linked to this winter sport which combines ski racing and rifle shooting. While the younger, Émilien (26), double world pursuit champion, shines in the World Cup, Clément, the eldest (31), provides him with ever more efficient rifles. The younger of the two will once again rely on the equipment designed by his brother to try to win at the next stage of the world circuit, which takes place from December 16 to 19 in Grand-Bornand (Haute-Savoie).

Former junior world champion in 2009, Clément Jacquelin drew from his personal experience the desire to go from the slopes to the workshop. “As a biathlete, I was never really satisfied with the comfort and ergonomics of my rifle”, he remembers. Attracted by the new technologies sector, he joined the Grenoble Institute of Engineering and Management (INP) in 2010 to follow a training course in 3D design and modeling. Seven years and many prototypes later, the Isérois launched his ultra-sophisticated rifle design company: Athletics 3D was born.

In search of performance

“Before, the biathlete had to adapt to his equipment. With our rifles, it’s the opposite ”, exhibits Clément Jacquelin. Thanks to 3D modeling techniques, the company based in Villard-de-Lans (Isère) produces rifle parts that perfectly match the hand and shooting position of biathletes. Each rifle is unique: “We work closely with the athletes to provide them with personalized equipment that allows them to improve their performance. “

→ REPORT. Alpine skiing: in Val d’Isère, the fervor of the first snow

This personalization is all the more important as the shooting level is extremely high in the World Cup. “Today, the shot is not the same as ten years ago”, observes the former world junior champion. Lying down or standing, it is faster and faster, without losing precision. “We are talking about two seconds per bullet whereas the shooting is done after the high intensity effort of the ski. A medal is played within ten seconds. “

At the service of the little brother …

Émilien Jacquelin is undoubtedly the first to benefit from his brother’s expertise. Last summer, the one who is aiming for Olympic gold in Beijing broke his wrist in a fall from his bicycle. Even once resolved, the injury causes difficulty, especially on the prone shot. “We had to manufacture a part that takes into account its new firing position”, explains Clément Jacquelin.

Second in the general classification and first in the pursuit classification before the Grand-Bornand stage, Émilien performed well thanks to this adapted rifle. His big brother does not fail to underline the two-way relationship that has been created since his retraining: “Emilien thanks me for the rifle, but I also thank him because his feedback allows us to improve our equipment. “

… and other champions

Emilien Jacquelin is not the only athlete on the circuit to benefit from the equipment designed by his brother. From its launch, Athletics 3D collaborates with Martin Fourcade, five-time Olympic champion, and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Norwegian biathlon legend. Today, the Isère-based company equips around twenty biathletes on the World Cup circuit, including Johannes Boe, worthy heir to the French champion at the top of world biathlon.

Equipping the competition is not a problem for him. “When Johannes wanted to call on Athletics 3D, he first went to talk to Emilien. My brother was very proud that a biathlete like him called on my services ”, says Clément Jacquelin.

“We always have to adapt our material”

The latter appreciates working with foreign athletes: “There are different shooting schools. In France, we use long rifles. The Germans use shorter rifles while the Norwegians adopt very personal shooting approaches. We always have to adapt our material. “

This does not prevent the eldest from experiencing his brother’s races very intensely. “My heart goes up in the towers as soon as it starts shooting”, he admits. Like his younger brother, he looks forward to the Beijing Olympics in February 2022. “His rifle is ready”, he assures.


Athletics 3D rifles appeal to other disciplines

If the design of rifles for top-level biathletes represents the heart of Athletics 3D’s activity, the three-dimensional modeling and printing techniques used by Clément Jacquelin’s company have already attracted other disciplines. .

The French Sports Shooting Federation is particularly interested in these new technologies. “We are working with four athletes from the French modern pentathlon team”, indicates besides the entrepreneur isérois. Florian Jouanny, cyclist and Paralympic champion of the road race in Tokyo, last summer, also calls on the services of Clément Jacquelin.



The Ultra-trail du Mont-Blanc, a family story

Lightened from the weight of the UTMB organization, Michel Poletti, a 66-year-old retiree, will put on his trainers to align himself with the start of the TDS “In the footsteps of the Dukes of Savoy”, a 145 km course and more than 9,000 vertical meters, which is one of the seven events of this legendary race straddling three countries (France, Italy and Switzerland).

The voice of wisdom led him to take a step back, passing the torch of the family business to his 42-year-old daughter Isabelle. “I am happy to pass on. It was the right moment, like a top athlete who stops at the peak of his career ”, he compares.

→ READ. The ultra-trail, a funny walk in the park

Volunteer since 2003, this former top-level athlete – in biathlon – does not manage the race as a novice: ” vsThe handover takes place gradually, she argues. TOWith David, my brother, and Mickael, my husband, who is a computer scientist, we have followed all the major stages of the UTMB for 18 years, when we created the first website. It’s part of my life. “

Because the UTMB is in a way “The third child” of his parents, Catherine and Michel Poletti, he was “Inconceivable” not to seize this outstretched hand, this opportunity to make a contribution to the building of the development of trail running, which is booming in France and around the world. Her father remains present with her, however, “More in a consultant role”, he assures. His wife Catherine, who presides over the destinies of the UTMB group, will not be far either. And the UTMB will thus remain a family affair.

20 years of a family saga

In less than 20 years, this race has established itself as an international event, in the tradition of the New York Marathon in the category of urban races. At first, it was just a crazy gamble. “It was the right idea at the right time and in the right place”, sums up Isabelle.

His parents in fact filled the void left by the disappearance of a race which, until 1999, circled Mont-Blanc, in relay of seven runners. “I was then very active in the Chamonix running club, whose president René Bachelard, one of the founders of the UTMB, was very upset against this cancellation”remembers Michel. The idea of ​​taking over quickly materialized, “Even if we were taken for fools”. The co-founders have changed the competition, with the desire “To make this tour of Mont-Blanc an individual race”.

→ READ. Chamonix, Guingamp, Auxerre… These small towns that focus on sport

At the beginning, “Catherine and I were the linchpins, accompanied by René Bachelard, 89 years old today, and Jean-Claude Marmier, a former colonel, founder of the high mountain military group, our mentors”, remembers the father. Then it was natural that they turned to their loved ones.

Michel Poletti’s sister, doctor, took care of the rescue part, while her mother made racing beacons. Isabelle Poletti is already measuring her happiness in working with her family: “Few people are lucky enough to be able to share so many topics of conversation with their parents! “, she smiles.

From volunteering to professionalization

Together, the family still has to face the many challenges that parents have set for themselves. “We carried out this transmission and the international development of the UTMB in parallel”, continues Michel Poletti. A circuit of around forty races across the world will thus see the light of day in January 2022.

→ READ. Ultra-trail: Xavier Thévenard, the new king of Mont-Blanc

Committed to his territory, this former manager of a computer software company would not have imagined that the UTMB would experience such a fortune, making Chamonix the capital of trail running: “When we started, we were more driven by a sporting than an entrepreneurial ambition, he exposes. The dimension of territorial symbol also counted. When we live around Mont-Blanc, we are cousins ​​with the inhabitants of Valle d’Aosta in Italy and Valais in Switzerland. “

Today, the UTMB represents a showcase for all this territory, participating “Very largely to the local economy”. In summer, the ultra-trail breathed new life into the valley, faced with the decline of mountaineering, “Due to global warming, which makes this activity more and more complicated to practice”.

→ THE FACTS. In Chamonix, ultra-trail unleashes passions

This race has especially become one of the most legendary, for the hundreds of runners who come to measure it, driven by an unfailing mental strength: “The UTMB is a moment of great introspection, of accomplishing something that one thinks impossible to achieve”, underlines Michel Poletti. He knows what he is talking about.


An almost normal 2021 edition

For Isabelle Poletti, taking office was not the easiest because of the epidemic. Despite these uncertainties, the race director made sure that “This edition be as normal as possible”.

Around 10,000 runners will be on the starting line of one of the seven events: from the UTMB, the flagship race which extends over a course of 170 km (10,000 meters of vertical drop), up to the MCC, from Martigny-Combe to Chamonix (40 km, 2300 meters of vertical drop).

The geographical origin of the participants will be a little different. Until 2019, there were 40% French runners and 60% foreigners, against a 50-50 split this year. Nearly 90 nations – mostly European – will be represented, against 110 in 2019. A thousand registered runners preferred to postpone their arrival.



Tokyo Olympics: climbing acrobatics to enter the competition

Since Tuesday, August 3, twenty climbers and twenty climbers have been engaged in the climbing qualification event, a sport which, like others, is entering the Tokyo Olympics program. But if surfing or skateboarding, other entrants, have roughly retained their values, climbing had to bend over backwards to be admitted to the party.

The addition of opposites

The three events comprising the Olympic Combined involve different athleticism and are held with separate athletes during the regular season. Speed ​​consists of swallowing a facade in six seconds; the boulder is a five-minute obstacle course 4.5 meters high; the difficulty, the best known to the general public, takes place on one of these 15 m climbing walls which are popular in all gymnasiums.

The addition of opposites in a way. On the one hand you have pure power, on the other you need strategy, endurance, etc. A bit like asking Usain Bolt to line up in the 400m hurdles and the 5,000m.

Thus, the two French selected who will compete in qualifying on Wednesday August 4 do not usually practice the same climbing: the powerful and fast sprinter of the airs from Saint-Etienne Anouck Jaubert has hardly ever dabbled in the rock, when her partner, raised in Haute-Savoie, Julia Chanourdie, bouldering and difficulty specialist, regularly escapes into nature.

The fruit of a compromise

Jérôme Meyer, a former high-level French climber, who brought the project to introduce the Olympic Games to the international federation, is well aware of the imperfect nature of the decision. “It’s a compromise, it can’t satisfy everyone, but it was the way to get a foot in the Olympics,he said.The IOC accepted us on two conditions: not to field more than forty athletes in a single event(one for boys, one for girls, editor’s note). We wondered if we were not going to present only one specialty, but which should we eliminate? “

→ READ. Tokyo Olympics: open water swimmers, ambassadors of outdoor sport

Good question. The IOC only retains sports practiced all over the world under the universality of Olympism. And climbing practices are different from continent to continent. Asian countries are fans of speed, while the Europeans prefer bouldering and the Americans the difficulty.

Athletes have adapted

After complaining, the athletes chose to… adapt. “We didn’t really have a choice, we had to deal with it”, say in chorus the brothers Bassa and Mickaël Mawem, the two French representatives who entered the running on Tuesday August 3 (1), one of whom is a cador in speed and the other en bloc. For them, as for a lot of climbers, the Olympic showcase is at this price and they know that the history of climbing is a succession of concessions. “We are a natural sport that has developed indoors in an urban environment, it is in itself a huge evolution”, analysis Alain Carrière president of the FFME, the French Mountain and Climbing Federation.

Same analysis with Liv Sansoz, 44, renowned mountaineer (she has just completed all 4,000 m in Europe), former world climbing champion. “In my time already, those who made ” the art ” were frowned upon in the mountains. It is a sport that evolves step by step and that of the Olympics is a very important one. It is true that we did not all understand the choice of the IOC, but the important thing is that we are at the Games ”, she says.

Its (moderate) reserves have apparently won people’s minds since the Olympic Committee has decided to enter two separate events for the next Games in Paris. On the one hand, speed. On the other, a combination of bouldering and difficulty.



Tour de France 2021: for Chris Froome, the mountain may be too high

To find your name, you have to go down in the general classification, skip lines, look even lower, search in waters frequented by sprinters. At the start of the 6e stage of the Tour de France 2021, Thursday 1er July in Tours, Christopher Froome was at 165e place, with 32 minutes and 49 seconds behind the first, the Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel. They were only 13 behind him.

→ THE ROUTE. Find the map of the 2021 Tour de France stages

It is not only the consequences of the enormous collective fall of the first day in Brittany, of which the Briton was also a victim. Others have fallen. They got up and rolled far ahead. The Laval time trial did not allow him to catch up, just to gain a place. He finished it in 121e position, like a no-rank, more than four minutes behind the winner of the day, the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar.

“Happy to help someone else”

At 36, the man who has won the Tour de France four times (in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017) is simply not what he used to be. He is no longer the climber who flew in the passes, the roller who rushed into the plain and the leader of the Sky team, now Ineos Grenadiers, who did not extend his contract in 2020. The former yellow jersey with a skinny silhouette is a simple team member of the Israel Start-Up Nation training, working for a Canadian leader named Michael Woods.

Whenever a microphone reaches out to him, Christopher Froome says it politely, without bragging about questions about his ambitions: he is ” happy “ to participate in the biggest race in the world after two years of absence and he pedals to help one of his comrades to win a stage. This luxury road captain repeated it again after the Laval time trial: “It’s nothing new to me, anytime I’m in a race that I can’t win I’m happy to help someone else. For years people have helped me, it’s good to be able to reciprocate a bit. “

Three years after his last appearance in the Tour de France, concluded with a third place, this is his victory as a cyclist with a career dented by his fall in 2019 during a reconnaissance of the Critérium du Dauphiné route. Fractures of the femur, elbow, hip, vertebra, sternum, broken ribs, he was no longer a runner, he was a broken athlete whose future depended on the skill of surgeons. Others would have stopped there, the expenses and the career. Not him.

47e place in the Critérium du Dauphiné

Christopher Froome got back in the saddle in 2020, with the hope of winning a fifth Tour and joining Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain in the charts. He affirmed it again in an interview with Bicycle Magazine made last February. These spring results showed him that the step would be really too high, unless he thought that a 47e place in the Critérium du Dauphiné, about forty minutes from the winner, is an encouraging performance.

→ FIND the general classification of the Tour de France 2021

In Brest, for the presentation ceremony of the 184 competitors, the declining champion was still entitled to the protocol reserved for the “big names” of the entry list. His seven Israel-Start-up nation teammates were invited to step onto the podium without him and he joined them with a delay to be put more in the spotlight, before saying a few words in French.

“The circle is closed for me”

The public was there. But, at the applause, Christopher Froome was already far from Julian Alaphilippe, Mathieu van der Poel or Tadej Pogaçar, the heroes of the moment. It was in this same Breton town that he discovered the Tour, in 2008, as an unknown neo-professional. “The circle is closed for me”, he blurted out, like an artist on a farewell tour.

The loop will now pass through these alpine mountains which were so often the backdrop for these past exploits, when he stood on his pedals to respond to the slightest attack. Saturday July 3, between Oyonnax and Le Grand-Bornand, the 1,618 meters of the col de la Colombière await him. Sunday July 4, it will be a summit finish in Tignes, even higher, at 2,107 meters above sea level. We wonder where it will come out.



China: 21 dead in ultra-long distance race hit by extreme weather

Twenty-one people died among the participants of a 100 km race Saturday, May 22 in the mountains in northwestern China, under the sudden effect of severe weather conditions.

All the other competitors are safe and sound, since “At 3 o’clock in the morning Sunday [23 mai], 151 participants [étaient] safe “, according to the official China news agency. A total of 172 people took part in the race taking place in the Stone Forest of the Yellow River, near the town of Baiyin, in the province of Gansu (northwest of the country).

A runner who was reported missing was found at 9:30 a.m. local time, but “Had already lost his life”, noted the CCTV television channel, citing the local first aid center. “This implies that this incident killed 21 people in total”, CCTV added.

Two dead national figures

Among these victims are two national figures of the marathon, Liang Jing and Huang Guanjun, said the local press, relying on the testimonies of the trainer of the first, Wei Pulong, and a friend of the second, who has said he had confirmation of Huang’s death from the organizers of the event.

Liang Jing had won several multi-marathons in China in recent years. Huang Guanjun, who was deaf and mute, won the men’s marathon for the hearing impaired at the 2019 National Paralympic Games in Tianjin.

Eight participants were treated in hospital for minor injuries, said the mayor of Baiyin, Zhang Xuchen. New China reported that some competitors were suffering from hypothermia.

“Disastrous” weather conditions

“Around noon, the high altitude stretch of the 20 to 31 kilometer race was suddenly affected by dire weather conditions. In no time, hailstones and freezing rain suddenly fell in this area, and there were strong winds. The temperature has dropped sharply ”, Zhang Xuchen said.

Shortly after receiving calls for help from some participants, the marathon organizers dispatched a rescue team that managed to save 18 participants, according to the city councilor. At around 2 p.m., weather conditions worsened and the race was canceled, as local authorities sent more aid to the scene.

→ IN FRANCE. In Chamonix, ultra-trail unleashes passions

700 rescuers mobilized

In total, more than 700 rescuers were mobilized to search for the missing. Local media footage showed rescue workers in fatigues with headlamps scaling the rocky terrain at night. Ultra-long runners were filmed wrapped in emergency blankets.

“My whole body was soaked, including my shoes and socks. I couldn’t stand up straight because of the wind, I was very afraid of being blown away. The cold has become more and more unbearable ”, said a survivor. “Coming down the mountain, I was already experiencing symptoms of hypothermia. “

Temperatures fell further overnight, making rescue and research even more difficult, according to New China.



Mountaineering: the day when “I climbed my first 8000”

It’s a story of 8,000 meters that begins with a 4,000. Moreover, during our meeting, Sophie Lavaud weighs the two dates. 2004 and his first 4000? Or 2012 and its first 8,000? Her life really changed in 2004, when this financial event pro climbed on a whim to the top of… Mont Blanc.

“It was then that my future path to great heights took shape. Until then, I had been hiking, much like everyone else when you live in Geneva, after having studied in Lyon. Up there, at the age of 36, I felt a kind of click, love at first sight for the mountain which led to everything else. “ After the 4,800 meters of the roof of Europe swallowed without difficulty, here is the time of 5,000, 6,000, 7,000, but always within the framework of organized holidays. A sort of risky and expensive hobby, nothing more.

→ REPORT. In the heart of the Himalayas, artificial glaciers against drought

Until the financial crisis of 2008, which put the company that she had set up with her brother on the flank. A blow that leaves her stunned and allows her to wake up… different. “ I had time, no obligations, so I wanted to give myself the gift of going to see higher. “

A lady all-the-world of the heights

Towards these famous fourteen summits of more than 8,000 meters which dominate the world and haunt the dreams of professional mountaineers, a species in which the fallow top executive finds himself a little, but in the place that she gives herself, that of a madam everyone of the heights. “I fully assume my status as a mountain follower, I am not a guide, nor technically very strong, I surround myself with trustworthy people, I climb, I think. We don’t say it enough, but it’s by following that we get to the top. “

→ DEBATE. Olivier Thévenet: “The mountain is a territory that can be shared”

So here she is in May 2012, a few days before her 44th birthday and… Hagia Sophia, at the foot of Shishapangma, the smallest of the 8,000 and one of the easiest too, even if the matter remains relative. “To those who speak of Himalayan tourism with contempt, because of the multiplication of expeditions, I propose to get down to it, they will see that even within a powerful expedition, with oxygen, it remains very difficult. “

The path begins in Kathmandu, with the procedures to obtain the necessary permit for the ascents, in the base camp where nationalities and ambitions come together, faced with a reality of patience and modesty. “I have seen seasoned mountaineers consume themselves with anguish at the idea of ​​not succeeding, I have always put forward the notion of pleasure, of adventure, privileging the present moment to stay within the perimeter. accessible. “

Passionate about the Himalayas

The first days at the foot of Shishapangma were not, moreover, very glorious, occupied in fighting against a little heroic diarrhea of ​​the mountains. The winter was dry, the crevasses are dangerous, the days of waiting for endless weather clearing. And then comes the “Go” long awaited, towards camps 1, 2 and 3, then the summit.

“I don’t know if it’s the happiest day of my life, in any case, this May 11, 2012 is a culmination”she said, searching for the exact word to describe how she felt at the time. Ecstasy? Euphoria? “Uh … it’s a bit like that”, she says. Before sending an email the day after our interview, just before flying to Nepal, to correct: “I would say wonder. “

Which does not stop there, since she decides to link up a few days later with another 8,000 neighbor, a little higher up, the Cho Oyu. This time, the virus is caught, the Himalayas will not let go. As the guide and filmmaker François Damilano, who has dedicated two films to him (1): “There are three categories of Himalayas; those who return home happy to have made an 8000, those who want to push to Everest and those who want to do them all. Sophie now belongs to the third category. “

New heights in the sights

“We often talk about the ego of mountaineers. It takes some, that’s for sure, but it’s not my main engine, she says. I’m not a collector, I don’t care about stacking tops, I just want to empower myself to make my own dreams come true. ” Now that she is a licensed Himalayan, making a living from conferences in companies when she returns to the cow land, her latest dream is to become the first among the French (one of her three nationalities, with Switzerland and Canada) to pose the challenge. foot on the 14 peaks over 8,000.

→ PODCAST. Nadir Dendoune: “After having climbed Everest, I have never felt so free”

He’s missing three. In reality four: his May 2012 ascent on the Shishapangma was not approved, because it was not carried out on the summit ridge but a few meters below. She will therefore have to go back there one day. A perspective that does not destabilize her more than that, on the contrary. “If I didn’t find pleasure in all this, I would have stopped a long time ago, it’s too hard to force yourself if the desire is no longer there. “


Three more summits to become unique

Starting off as a solid hiker, nothing more, Sophie Lavaud is on the way to becoming the first French Himalayan, men and women alike, to have climbed the 14 peaks over 8,000 m. Nicknamed the 88,000 Lady (eleven times 8,000), she is currently approaching the twelfth, the Dhaulagiri, and will try during the season, weather permitting, the Lhotse and the Nanga Parbat. Thus ending the loop started in 2012 by climbing the Shishapangma, where she had earned a nice nickname in the Sherpa language: Didi Sophie (big sister Sophie).



Martine Rolland, a climber at the head of the roped party

She almost missed the first test of the guide’s diploma because of the flash of a photographer ambushed in the mountain. In 1979, the idea of ​​giving this precious sesame to a woman aroused the curiosity of the media. Martine Rolland is then climbing a route of the Aiguilles Rouges, above Chamonix (Haute-Savoie). Destabilized in full swing, she falls a few meters before recovering. The first female guide in Europe, today she recounts this episode and her astonishing journey in a book, First of the roped party, in bookstores this Wednesday, April 28 (1).

→ READ. Mountaineering soon under the protection of Unesco

At 72 years old, Martine Rolland has not forgotten anything about her media debut. Nor the wrath of some old mountain people, including the commentary of an old teacher from Ensa, the National School of Skiing and Mountaineering. “Even if technically she has her chances, during my lifetime, I will not let any woman pass the exam”, he had thrown at her in the face, before attempting to trap her illegally – and without success – a few years later in the final series of tests that would make her a pioneer.

“Paris-Match” multiplies the coverage on these feats

Thus graduated, she aroused all the more attention as the time was passionate about the exploits of French mountaineers. In the press, Paris Match multiplies the covers on these feats. But Martine Rolland, already mother of a little Yann – who would later become a famous climber – does not want this notoriety, which she considers superficial and time-consuming.

She chose to register with the Briançon guides office, for convenience since she already lived in the region, but also to escape the pressure of Chamonix. “There, they would not have left me alone, not sure that I was given shopping. The southern guides were more open, and then the Alps are wilder there. Chamonix remains an incomparable place for climbers, but my husband and I preferred to come there and then leave. “

The young woman then thwarts the predictions of the elders. They promised him tomorrow without a client – who would be foolish enough to entrust his life to a woman ?, they squeaked. Martine Rolland, on the contrary, sees her ballot book filling up. First with clients, who made it a point of honor to hire a female guide, but not only. Because men also sought the indulgence and empathy that she put into her practice.

“Women Guides are arguably more able to give up when the conditions are bad, and it’s easier to admit your weaknesses to them when you can’t. And then, they told me that I had to be really competent to have imposed myself in this world of men! “, she smiles.

“Feminism was not an approach”

At present, high mountain guides only have about thirty women in France, practicing in its wake. Few of them risk long and dangerous races. “It remains a difficult job when you want to reconcile it with a family life”, explains Martine Rolland, specifying the heart of her motivation. “Of course, the time was when women were liberated, but it was not my approach, I wanted to be a guide because I wanted to and I had ten years of experience behind me”, today tells a Martine that her parents intended for the profession of… secretary. Profession which she exercised some time before taking the height.

The Rolland couple have for years skimmed the summits. “For a long time, we managed to reconcile the life of adventure with our role as parents, we would go away in the summer for a few weeks leaving Yann and we would come back home to lead a quiet life”, she says. Until that bad experience on K2, the second highest peak in the world, which almost ended badly. “I was almost 40 years old, I wanted a second child, we had to choose, and we chose the family. “

Jonathan, their second son, was born, and Martine and her husband embarked on more reasonable activities: day trips in ski mountaineering, climbing lessons, practices which she accompanied the outbreak. “I think I was born at the right time, she confides. Beyond having become the first woman guide in Europe, I was able to attend and accompany the great evolutions of the mountain, the arrival of paragliding, canyoning, climbing competitions. “ The guide was thus able to reconcile, for fifty years, her love and parental life with a devouring passion for the mountains. “I had and still have a good life, I think. “

→ PODCAST. Stéphanie Bodet: “Climbing is a way of being one with the moment”


The bicentenary of the company of guides

From the end of May 2021, the city of Chamonix is ​​launching a series of events to celebrate the founding, in 1821, of the famous Compagnie des Guides. On the program, in particular: a major exhibition, the issue of a postage stamp and the release of an anniversary album, Company of Chamonix guides. 200 years of history, by Joëlle Dartigue-Paccalet and David Ravanel, at Glénat. In June, a thematic booklet devoted to the profession and its adaptation to the challenges of climate change will also be published, written both by the Company and the National Union of Mountain Guides.