Artists On Jorasses

Artists on Jorasses
 

AN IMPRESSIVE FIRST

Autumn 2014. North face of Grandes Jorasses. Julien Désécures and Sébastien Bohin set off to repeat the Couzy-Desmaison route. The two climbers were revisiting this mythical line in an aesthetically pleasing and technically advanced style: mixed climbing on ice sheets… A beautiful and impressive first!

GRANDES JORASSES : A NORTH FACE NAMED DESIRE

It’s a mythical wall in the Mont Blanc Massif, and one of the three legendary walls in the Alps, alongside the Eiger and Matterhorn. With its six peaks, on first-name terms with the sky at 4,000m altitude, this imposing barrier has kindled the dreams of generations of mountaineers since the late 19th century. And especially its famous north face, the object of fierce international competition. But this fortress – 2,000 meters wide by 1,000 meters tall – played hard to get. For years it ignored its many pretenders, who battled in vain to conquer it! In 1935, Germans Maier and Peters finally vanquished this stonehearted adversary, reaching the Croz Spur.
Three years later, three Italians led by Riccardo Cassin, FA’d the Walker Spur. Then the shutters came down again until August 1958, when French duo Couzy and Desmaison breached its defenses again, scaling the Margarita Spur… A beautiful line, tough and committing, completed after two days of intense exertion. From then on, successful ascents became a more regular occurrence. The intimate nature of the routes attracted growing numbers of bold suitors, whose climbing style and equipment logically grew more technical over the years.
“The wall became absolutely vertical. It was hard driving in pitons, and they were best not relied upon.” René Desmaison

La trilogie mythique des faces Nord

The Trilogy of North Faces in the Alps

Mars 1987

Christophe Profit and Eric Escoffier, French mountaineers and Millet technical advisers, were both at the height of their powers when they raced to accomplish the major exploit of the late 20th century: the winter enchainment, in free-solo style, of the three mythical north faces: Eiger, Matterhorn and Les Grandes Jorasses.
This trilogy, finally achieved by Christophe Profit in 40 hours, totally revolutionized mountaineering. It marked the birth of the Modern Alpine Style, which is still the benchmark today.

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FEATS FOR EACH GENERATION

But the face continued to be a stiff proposition, and only the greatest talents succeeded. In the pioneers’ wake, each generation sought to make its mark in this awe-inspiring yet utterly magnificent playground, which towers over the Leschaux glacier. In the ‘80s, Eric Escoffier scaled the Croz and Walker Spurs in one day, with deltaplane transfer! Eyeing a fantastic feat, Escoffier and Christophe Profit completed the winter enchainment of three north faces – Eiger, Matterhorn and Grandes Jorasses – thus notching up the memorable Winter Trilogy with disarming audacity. Nowadays, young climbers are revisiting the old routes in their own way, with ever more advanced techniques.
In September 2014, mountaineers Sébastien Bohin and Julien Désécures repeated the Couzy-Desmaison route, with ice/mixed climbing on sheets. Truly vertical tightrope-walkers, they progressed fluidly up the wall, anchored by their axes in under an inch of ephemeral ice. Like a painter beholding his canvas, they precision-tailored each gesture, checked their hold was solid, then hauled themselves rapidly upward, describing one of those lines that climbing knows the secret of. In a picture-postcard setting, in the space of 20 hours, they thus completed a tremendous first in the athletic, exacting and elegant style of climbing that is the new generation’s hallmark.

“Don’t hesitate to shake up habits.” Eric Escoffier

 

PERFECT CONDITIONS FOR AN OUTSTANDING FIRST

“We were lucky to have exceptionally good conditions, which is very unusual. The gullies, which rarely form, were well covered with snow and ice, making the routes slightly more accessible. In the chimney, the ice line was perfect,” recalls Sébastien Bohin, Millet technical advisor. “Julien and I have a few routes under our belts on this north face, but this repeat in our own style was a first… and a great collective achievement.”
Bearing testimony to this is the footage shot by Bertrand Delapierre, who was also clinging to the wall. The alpinist-filmmaker wielded his Canon Reflex with a great feel for the right picture. He captures the technical quality of each move up this slender ice line, which is wedged amid a shield of dizzying rock. When the mountaineer is thinking about axe placement, he lets the shot breathe. He plunges our gaze into an aerial void, and lingers on the majestic scenery all around, as the Aiguille Verte, Les Courtes and Les Droites look on! “Jorasses is a mythical mountain. Filming there was a privilege, and emerging into sunshine at the top of the Couzy-Desmaison route was a moment of pure happiness.” The result is Artists on Jorasses, an intense 10-minute film that deftly melds past and present, with stunning footage that takes us up… Right up...

“This face has a special aura, a flavor you don’t find elsewhere. And Desmaison had a knack for opening up perfect lines.” Sébastien Bohin

 

AN ARTISTIC ROPE TEAM

Bertrand Delapierre’s short film features an animated sequence that agreeably enhances the end product. Maxime Paccalet’s pen ranges over the paper to create drawings that wonderfully accompany the mountaineers’ exploits through time. This original, playful initiative highlights the mountains and calls to mind Taniguchi’s The Summit of the Gods, which won best illustration award at the 2005 Angoulême International Comics Festival…

Julien Désécures
Julien Désécures
High mountain guide
Has been exploring Grandes Jorasses for 18 years, and truly adores this mountain
Author of a route book: Les Grandes Jorasses. Face nord"
Sébastien Bohin
Sébastien Bohin
High mountain guide
Warrant officer in France’s High Mountain Military Unit (GMHM)
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In their own way, Sébastien Bohin and Julien Désécures are continuing to shake up habits. On Les Grandes Jorasses they have revisited, in a one-day climb, a mythical and super-tough route that Couzy and Desmaison first ascended in 1958 after several nights bivying on the face. Their achievement lies in the modern, committed technique of mixed glacier climbing, but above all in their creative conception of mountaineering, which enables them to envision these new lines.

 

Face Nord des Grandes Jorrasses

3am, north face, Les Grandes Jorasses: climbing teams (with headlamps) on the Colton Macintyre route, Le Croz and the Voie Polonaise... Not something you see every day. @Jon Griffith

 

A Creative vision

The Millet TRILOGY™ collection is the quintessence of modern Alpine performance: a unique response to committed mountaineering. The collection is freely inspired by the gear and mindset of Eric Escoffier, who encouraged the mountaineering community to “shake up habits”.

With the same energy and the same innovative drive as Eric Escoffier, Millet confirms its expertise through an exceptional, uncompromising range that lets every single practitioner BE BOLD.

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THE GAME

Thank you all for your participation ! The Grandes Jorasses and the North Face Trilogy don't have any secret for you, 90% of you had the good answers.

 

Congratulations to the winners:

 

Sylvere Maillol

A mountaineering weekend for two in Chamonix

 

Anthony Leoni - Allison Halma - Claudine Bailly

Prolighter Trilogy 22 backpack