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Lafaille and the Drus West Face, Mont Blanc
photos Philippe Poulet
Introduction
Interview
Curriculum
The route
Winter 2001

In a nine-day stretch from 12 to 21 February the Frenchman Jean-Christophe Lafaille opened a new aid route on the West Face of the Drus. This line represents the culmination of a project which the eclectic alpinist had initiated together with his companion Jérôme Arpin in 2000, transferring the difficulties of the hardest Californian big walls to the Alps.

Jean-Christophe believes the resulting A4/A5 to be the hardest (and most beautiful) line he has ever climbed in the Alps. Ten times harder than "Divine Providence" on Mont Blanc’s Grand Pilier d'Angle (of which he made the first solo ascent in 1990). With experience like his - 20 years climbing in the Alps, on El Capitan and the 8000m Himalayan peaks – this grade can should certainly not be taken lightly.
So : solo, in winter, via a new and difficult line, up one of the most beautiful and mythical faces and walls on Mont Blanc and in the Alps… these are all ‘classic’ ingredients, which together form a fascinating and explosive mix, for cutting edge alpinism, for re-search of the absolute limit.

But if alpinism isn’t the only way to feel and live the mountains, if alpinism can be viewed as a complex ‘game’ in which projects and ‘visions’ mix – according to innumerable recipes – with sentiments, fears and risks, then this is reason enough to try to understand what there is other than raw ‘achievement’.
It is with this in mind that in the interview with Jean-Christophe we would like to draw attention above all to his intense love for the mountains. A passion for alpinism that expresses itself in his desire to immerse himself in the ‘totality’, physical and (above all) mental and interior, that the ascents demand of him.


mont Blanc, Drus west face

  The magnificent West Face of the Drus, Mont Blanc

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