/ female ascent of all the alpine 4000ers

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Anna_wells - on 28 Dec 2012
Hi,
Does anyone know if all the alpine 4000ers have been done by a female? i was thinking about trying it this summer but not as a single traverse - would be using a car - and hopefuly do it in 40-60 days or so. (the list of 82.)
Would this be a 'newsworthy' event? (in terms of being able to get a little bit of funding or gear support - need a warm sleeping bag and bivvy bag!) i know it has been done a few times, and that driving between makes it less spectacular, but i wondered if it might be more notable since we would be a male-female pair, and both quite young (20 and 23).
cheers
Anna
Trangia - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Anna_wells:

To be honest I dpoubt that a male/female partnership would be newsworthy. An all female team might attract a bit of interest from the press, whereas if you did it solo then you might get interest.

Good luck anyway!
cagm - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Anna_wells:
I believe Kate Ross completed all the 4000m in August 2009. I am not sure which list she was using. Barbara Swindin completed "All But One", (the title of her book published Nov. 2012,) 22 years ago. She used the Collomb list of 52.
muppetfilter - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Anna_wells: A quick google produced the below info from october 2010

" With today's climb to Lauteraarhorn, Daniela Formica, current President of Club 4000, has reached all the 82 4000's of the Alps. According to our knowledge, Daniela is the first italian woman to have gained this enviable record. Before her, only two other women could succeed in this exploit, Jocelyne Gay and Margareth Voide Bumann, both Swiss."


Anna_wells - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to cagm: thanks for the info. do you know if kate ross did the 52 or 82 list, or if it was as a continuous traverse? thanks
Anna_wells - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to muppetfilter: thanks!
jon on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Anna_wells:

I think you mean in one summer, from your first post, no? I doubt any woman has achieved that - that's not supposed to sound as sexist as it does, by the way! There is also the 61 list, the Blodigs, which can be found in this book, The High Mountains of the Alps: http://www.bmcshop.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=5424 - despite this link saying it contains 58! Goedeke's book http://books.google.fr/books/about/Alpine_4000m_Peaks.html?id=OECqcPwQ6-gC&redir_esc=y - also has 61, though with one different summit.

There are a few stoppers, of which the Aiguille Blanche is probably the most notorious.

Good luck.
jcw on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Anna_wells: Do you seriously think you are going to do them in that time? Suggest you get a bit more experience and mountaineer for the sake of mountaineering, not to try and make a name for yourself! Good to be ambitious but be so for the right reason.Enjoy your climbing!
Anna_wells - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to jon: thanks for the info jon! yes i did mean in one summer. i just had a look at aiguille blanche, it sounds adventurous, i guess the luck of the weather plays a massive part in all these things! thanks again,
Anna
Anna_wells - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to jcw: im not sure about the timescale i havent tried to peice it together yet, we would have 85 days if needed. the main motivation was in realising that it is my last big summer holiday at uni and i can imagine that later in life it becomes very difficult to fit such projects in! it seemed like an awesome challenge to fill the summer with. i think by choosing valleys in a sensible order it will be possible to build experience as we go. i am certainly keen to try it anyway:)
alasdair19 on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Anna_wells: I would strongly recommend raising the dough so bivying is not necessary, bed only in alpine huts costs a bit less than a UK youth hostel.

It would be a significant achievement for any team and would make a terrific blog as you go project handy for selling to sponcers. A all female team would be a whole lot more newsworthy.

Doing the hardest last would I believe depend on the state of the glaciers s side MB glaciers in Sept. But by that point of course the aiguille noire before the blanche won't be too big a deal!

Martin moran book about his continual traverse should be useful.

Have a blast
Al
Anna_wells - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to alasdair19: thank you for the advice and enthusiasm! :D Anna
cat88 - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to Anna_wells: let us know if you do set up an all female team
Luca Signorelli - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to Anna_wells:

Only a "constructive" warning. Doing all the 82 official 4000's in 40 to 60 days requires not "just" a big technical, physical and logistical effort, but most of all, a massive amount of luck with conditions, which may happen or not depending on the season and the year. This is valid mostly for the 4000 on the Italian side of MB, and to some extent with the Aiguille Verte. The "Big Three" (the Brouillard 4000's, the Aiguille Blanche and the Rochefort-Jorasses sequence) may become impossible if the conditions are too dry, or too snowy, the Blanche in particular having a very narrow window in this respect.
Simon4 - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to Anna_wells: Not wishing to be negative Anna, but the sort of people who can manage (or even realistically attempt), this are those with a fantastic level of fitness, vast, almost instinctive understanding of Alpine climbing and a huge familiarity with the mountains. They need to be slick, efficient, fit and lucky.

Do you have this level of deep experience needed for this sort of undertaking and can you improvise the required fall-back positions if something goes wrong?
Simon4 - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to Luca Signorelli: In addition to those, the Schreckhorn, the Lauteraarhorn and the Aiguille Verte can be very effective at throwing off aspirants, the last can be especially tricky as there is no straightforward descent off it.
Dave Williams - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to Anna_wells:

Margareth Voide Bumann was the first ever woman to complete all 82 peaks, and she only climbed her last one about 4 years or so ago. So this achievement by a woman is fairly recent, hence the fact that apparently only three have achieved all 82 to date. Clearly there's scope for a first by a British woman here, so I agree about the possibilities re. sponsorship etc.

As others have said, to do them all in one season would be an incredible achievement, irrespective of whether by a male or a female.

I get the impression that you view some of the above comments as negative but I wouldn't do this; all the comments are constructive and the questions being asked of you are ones you really do need to consider and find answers for. Needless to say both members of the team would need to be extremely fit and have loads of stamina (physical and mental) - as you'd be >4000m for long lengths of time on many of the peaks/ traverses. Both would need to be technically proficient and have enough experience to identify and seek ways to overcome issues before they become problems. While I believe that to try and fail is better than to not try at all, you still need to be in a position of great strength to even begin to try this at all.

As Jon has said, there are some real stoppers in the list - to which (from bitter experience) I'd add the Aiguilles du Diable traverse. I believe that it had been Margareth Voide Bumann's nemesis too and was, as I understand, the final peak of the 82 for her due to previous unsuccessful attempts when she'd been thwarted by too much snow and poor conditions. Moreover, as has already been said, not only would you need good weather/ conditions to complete some of these difficult 'stoppers', you'd also need a lot of luck with the weather generally over the whole season. You could produce a logical hit-list of groups of summits, but bad weather could make a mockery of all your planning and you could then end up in the invidious position of chasing your tail from one part of the alps to the other, trying to find a weather windows for that last remaining elusive summit in a particular group.

As you well realise, you've not chosen an easy challenge, but the best of luck if you decide to go for it. I, for one, would be glued to your blog if you did.

Dave
HardenClimber - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to Dave Williams:
I think Kate Ross, who is British, has completed one of the 'lists', finishing on the Taschorn in 2009. She is quite modest.
Even with a car, completing in one season would be impressive (and you'll have freed yourself of the need to complete the 4000's and able to chase other things). (I have friends who have spent inordinate amounts of time visiting the Eccles 'Hut'...)
jcw on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to Anna_wells:
Well to be constructive you could set about things in an orderly way and see how many you can do. You can start with the easy ones around Sass Fee Weissmies, Lagginhorn Alphubel Rimpfischhorn which will get you fit. Then if you want to start building the numbers go to La Palud and up to the Torino where you could go for the Traverse of the Jorasses with n/s at the Canzio and not forgetting the Dent de Geant en route. If you feel exhausted you can probably reverse back from the Canzio and certainly from the Geant. Then after descending to the Gervassuti hut having done the rest, hopefully without a bivvy, you can make your way back to the car and down to Cogne and have an easy day doing the Gran Paradiso. After which if you are still feeling energetic back to the Torino and the Diables Arete descending via Mt Blanc de Tacul (don't miss out the summit). After which you can congratulate yourself on a pretty good season and take stock for the rest! You'll probably need to change partner en route if he ain't able to keep up with you. Then after that the world is your oyster, and suggest start knocking off the Zermatt lot.
Good luck
Simon4 - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to Dave Williams:

> As you well realise, you've not chosen an easy challenge, but the best of luck if you decide to go for it. I, for one, would be glued to your blog if you did.

If you do still decide that you are capable of trying it, you can get a great deal of detailed advice beforehand, as long as people are convinced you understand the magnitude of what you are considering.

It will need a great deal of 'mountain cunning' to achieve.

alasdair19 on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Simon4: there has been lots of good advice. I'd emphasise the mental strain being a big risk. Start e and work west. Seems like most of the stoppers are accessible from the rhone valley. Start off, consider back up partners and bear in mind that u can guarantee climbing as you will have no problems climbing as a 3 if you've allready being going a month!
alasdair19 on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to alasdair19: Also try and find some people that want to spend a bit of there summer driving round the alps looking after you. your parents might be desperate to spend time with you after you've been living it up at uni for a few years right?!

You'll need the best possible rest/recovery between each hit. Driving in Italy is unlikely to qualify.
Anna_wells - on 06 Jan 2013
thanks to everyone who has given advice.
we sat down with maps and guidebooks and decided that we will go for it.
Any further advice would be appreciated, we will let you know how we get on.
Anna
Simon4 - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to Anna_wells: Anna, if he thought it was a realistic bid, I imagine Martin Moran would be happy to provide guidance and advice. Otherwise on specific peaks or groups of peaks, quite a lot of people can give hints, but it is best to be specific about what you want to know.
MG - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to Anna_wells: Lots of good advice above. Speaking as someone whose chances of completing the 4000ers are rapidly decreasing due to age, work commitments and an increasing sense of mortality, I would definitely encourage you to try. You will need perfect conditons to fully succeed but you will have a great time regardless.
MG - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to Anna_wells:
> (In reply to cagm) thanks for the info. do you know if kate ross did the 52 or 82 list, or if it was as a continuous traverse? thanks

I am not sure what the list was but it wasn't 82.
jon on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Anna_wells) Speaking as someone whose chances of completing the 4000ers are rapidly decreasing due to age...

Martin, you're 36. Pull yourself together!
MG - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to jon: No its more than that!
LakesWinter on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to Anna_wells: Well, it does appear to be snowing lots this winter in the Alps, which is the first pre-requisite as it gives things like Les Droites a chance of not being too dry to climb in August.
jon on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to MG:

Ah, you just changed it. 38. Yep, time to stop, cardigan, slippers...
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TonyM - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply:

Good luck on this quest Anna. To do all the peaks in one season not only will require a good slice of luck, but I'd guess very good judgement too, since you're highly unlikely to get sufficient blue-sky days in one summer to complete them all, and would need to be ticking peaks on some iffy weather days. That carries a fair amount of cumulative risk exposure, so you should register that in your plans. And of course if you pick up any failures and 'wasted' days, that ups the pressure further to push it and get back on track.

Anyway, I'm just jealous of the amount of time you've got! But do note that although jcw says above, that "you can probably reverse back [to the Torino] from the Canzio", in practice you probably couldn't, since this is difficult even in perfect conditions. Your g/bk research will confirm this, and Luca's previous posts here on the Grandes Jorasses will explain more and give you lots more tips.

Tony
Damo on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to Anna_wells:

Anna, you've received some atypically positive feedback on here for such an ambitious plan. Good luck with it. If in the planning you start to have doubts, you could always change (before approaching sponsors) to some thing like The Five Highest Peaks in the Alps (Alpine HiFive etc) in one season as this is a saleable goal that is much more achievable than the whole lot. You could go between them on foot, thus reducing the mechanisation and amplifying the journey.

Lots of sponsors, who are looking at what you can do for them, not what they can give you, are tired of yet more conditional 'firsts' and more are looking for the story behind the 'feat'. By paring back the physical objectives you can spend more time experiencing and relating the story behind the journey you and your friend are on.

This story starts now, actually it's already started, and threads such as this are now part of these kinds of stories. The travellers that engage, and keep, sponsors and followers are those that have an interesting story, well told, and involve those followers and sponsors along the way, from genesis to RGS. With Facebook, Twitter, iPhones this is all so much easier than outdoor communication just five years ago.

Concentrating effort on contrived 'firsts', besides being all a bit 1990s, distracts both participants and followers from the journey behind the effort. Ideally you could do both, but you only have so much time and energy in one day, and you will find that one is more rewarding than the other, in the long run.

You can still aim high, just in a different direction.
Robert Durran - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to jon:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> Martin, you're 36. Pull yourself together!

Absolutely. I'm sort of saving the 4000rs as a backup retirement project, just in case I get too old for serious stuff.

Solaris - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to MG:

Aye, but you've still got a bit of time in hand to catch up with Kate...

If you're quick!
altirando - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Anna_wells: But above all don't be like the woman who was going to do a double traverse of the alps a few years ago - got publicity and sponsors - but got lost on the first day! Do wonder how many of the peaks you have already climbed?
Solaris - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Anna_wells:

Like many who've commented on your proposal, I don't want to be discouraging but I have a mixture of admiration and concern about it.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned - though Damo's excellent post hints at it: have you thought about how you'd reply to some of the questions a prospective sponsor is likely to ask. For example:
(1) "What evidence can you provide that my money is following a project that has a reasonable chance of success?"
(2) "What is your track record, and how does that bear on the likelihood of your being successful?"
(3) "OK, so Martin Moran has done it, but he's a guide, and he had getting on for 15 years more experience than you: are you sure you aren't taking on more than you can chew at this stage in your alpine careers?"
alasdair19 on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Anna_wells: its great that your going for it. Solaris makes sense market it right and you get sponsorship for a sequel. 5 hardest peaks in the alps next summer when u only have 3 weeks! Take and ask for all the support you can get. Kits good but people who can feed, advise, drive and offer somewhere to doss could and may well want to help.

Worth joining the alpine club id have thought as there is a fair number resident in the alps some retired with maybe some spare time.

Beware psychological burn out, its what's usually ended My alpine trips.
Simon4 - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Solaris: Sponsors will ask some pretty tough questions, of which the most tricky is likely to be "what is my ROI (return on investment) for this?".

The marketing departments of most companies can be very shrewd and very sceptical about extravagant claims of the benefit to them of sponsorship, certainly the proposed exploit needs to be very unusual, and as you say, to have a pretty substantial chance of success, based on track record.

Getting sponsorship is hard, needs to present a professional and polished image, and even when it does produce some money or kit, YOUR return on investment can be very poor, i.e. how much money will you be effectively paid per hour, compared with say working behind a bar. It may be less than you think.

There is another downside to sponsorship that is far from trivial. If you are paying your own way on a project and it all goes mammaries to the sky, or you just lose enthusiasm or drive, you can just slink home with your tail between your legs. If you have an obligation to meet your sponsors expectations, there can be considerable pressures to keep going, in the teeth of good mountain judgement, or just simply running out of steam and/or courage.
Solaris - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Simon4:

Very interesting. Salutary and useful, too. I've never tried to raise a penny from anyone for my climbing - except borrowing from my parents and I'm not sure what they made of the investment!
davidoldfart - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Anna_wells: I hate to sound discouraging, but as a national newspaper journalist of many years standing I have to say that I think the chances of getting serious media interest in this project are minimal. If you were to succeed, you might get the odd article written about you, but I would strongly doubt there would be much prospect in advance. The climbing press would be a better bet, but there wouldn't be any money in it. If you were a service person who had lost both legs to a roadside bomb, you would maybe attract more attention. Otherwise I can only reiterate what others have said here. Climbing all 4,000-ers in a season (whatever list you choose) is a massive undertaking, and means doing some of the routes in less than ideal conditions and weather. Be careful.
Jim Hamilton - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to alasdair19:
>
> Martin moran book about his continual traverse should be useful.
>
Alps 4000 - 75 peaks in 52 days

also 'In search of Limits' by Mark Bles. I think he climbed 48 peaks in the same season, and that was with the considerable help of the Army.
Luca Signorelli - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Anna_wells:

Just to give you an idea of the terrain. Here's the traverse of Pointe Helene/Elena of the Grandes Jorasses, taken from Patrick Berhault "Au Fils des 4000". Berahault was himself attempting a traverse of all 4000m peaks in one single push (he had already climbed all of them separately).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OO30Kj82nU

Berhault died few days later in an accidental fall.
MG - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Luca Signorelli: Stunning!
Solaris - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Jim Hamilton:

And while we're thinking of books: Will McLewin's "In Monte Viso's Horizon" would be very useful.
Luca Signorelli - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Solaris:
> (In reply to Jim Hamilton)
>
> And while we're thinking of books: Will McLewin's "In Monte Viso's Horizon" would be very useful.

Great, great book (only do not take his safety tips too seriously :) )
davy_boy - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Luca Signorelli: wow thats amazing
Luca Signorelli - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to davy_boy:
> (In reply to Luca Signorelli) wow thats amazing

Yes, it is. It always brings me to the verge of tears. One of the most insanely exposed places of the Alps
Robert Durran - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to davy_boy:
> (In reply to Luca Signorelli) wow thats amazing

Yes, but really annoying. I wanted the helicopter to stop going round and round in circles and pan out to give a proper perspective. It never did!

Luca Signorelli - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to davy_boy)
> [...]
>
> Yes, but really annoying. I wanted the helicopter to stop going round and round in circles and pan out to give a proper perspective. It never did!

Well...that's the proper perspective I'm afraid. It really gives an idea how exposed and aerial that place is. If the helicopter had stopped, it wouldn't have been so effective (the music helps a lot, however).

The only "issue" with this sequence is that in summer there's not that much snow.

Simon4 - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Luca Signorelli: I don't remember the Pointe Helene being so extreme, but I suppose I must have crossed it to go along the ridge to the Pointe Whymper. It doesn't look like the sort situation that would slip your mind.
Luca Signorelli - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Simon4:
> (In reply to Luca Signorelli) I don't remember the Pointe Helene being so extreme, but I suppose I must have crossed it to go along the ridge to the Pointe Whymper. It doesn't look like the sort situation that would slip your mind.

Normally the crossing of Helene is not right on the ridge but a slightly below, on the N face. If it's not icy or snowy like in this video is not difficult, just a bit exposed. The TRULY exposed bit is descending/ascending the ridge linking Pt. Helene to Pt. Marguerite. If you don't abseil it, you've to climb it with your hands on the ridge and your body hanging on the North Face, all the 800 mts of it.
Wanderer100 - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Luca Signorelli: Fabulous footage, wild and extreme. Good luck to Anna if you go ahead with your plan.
altirando - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Anna_wells: Having worked all my adult life in marketing and advertising, I would agree with David. The chances of getting sponsorship from a well known brand for someone very inexperienced are minimal. And it would put you under pressure.
Robert Durran - on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to Luca Signorelli:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> Well...that's the proper perspective I'm afraid. It really gives an idea how exposed and aerial that place is.

But my head is still spinning this morning!

> If the helicopter had stopped, it wouldn't have been so effective.

Not sure about that....
jcw on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Luca Signorelli: I have been away and the last thing I expected was to find this unrealistic thread still running. While I find your extract from the film fully justified in this context I take issue with you over what in fact should really be another thread: your statement that it is the proper perspective. It is not. It is a bird's eye view, it is the view of a film maker bent on producing the wow factor, but it is not the alpinist's view. Like Simon4 I have no memory of great exposure either on the Elena or elsewhere on the traverse, just steady climbing and a bitterly cold start on Point Young. Perhaps this is because earlier in the season we'd done the Traverse of the Aiguilles and had an exciting time at one point by abseiling down the wrong side. But my point is that exposure is part of the game and for me a major pleasure in climbing notably in the Dolomiites. Dramatizing it can be counter productive to the inexperienced. It was years before I would look at the Capucin because of the fearful perspectives and frightening music in the Etoiles du Midi. I am a great admirer of Rene Vernadet's filming but I wish I'd never seen that as a beginner! Whether you are on a face or a ridge the important thing to remember is not to fall off and to enjoy the views.
Simon4 - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to jcw: Luca seemed to suggest that it is normal to bypass the actual Pointe Helene on the Italian flank, and we certainly did a detour crossing a gully at some point shortly after the start. I remember because 4 Italian lads who we were with in the bivi hut dropped some rocks from above and they learnt some English swear words as a result.

I hope this doesn't mean I have to go back just to do the Pointe Helene for my 4000s list, what do the jury think? (And no, I have NO intention to do the Pic Luigi Amedo at this point - that's a spot height, not a peak!)
jon on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Simon4:

> I hope this doesn't mean I have to go back just to do the Pointe Helene for my 4000s list

Yes yes yes, you do! How could you live with yourself now we know?
MG - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Simon4:

> I hope this doesn't mean I have to go back just to do the Pointe Helene for my 4000s list,

jon's right. Back you go. There is a clue in the word "top" :-)
Simon4 - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to jon, MG : With all due respect, and paying your distinguished opinions all the respect they deserve .... sod off you bastards - my list, my rules!
MG - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Simon4:
(And no, I have NO intention to do the Pic Luigi Amedo at this point - that's a spot height, not a peak!)


The Authorities may allow that providing of course you do Mont Brouillard
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jon on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Simon4:

We'll tell everyone...
Robert Durran - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Simon4)
> (And no, I have NO intention to do the Pic Luigi Amedo at this point - that's a spot height, not a peak!)

It's a very fine peak. I can personally highly recommend it. Definitely on any true list.
Simon4 - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to jon: Tell them what, no idea what you are talking about.
jcw on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Simon4: Oh dear! Did we do it? It was 1980 and my diary simply comments "all very much steeper and more difficult than we expected" and as a result only made the Croz. . So much for my memory about steady climbing! So not only no Whymper but now doubts about copping out of the Elena.
jon on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to jcw:

Commendably honest, John!
alasdair19 on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to jcw: shhhhh this isn't an unrealistic thread at all.

What could be better this summer than 84 days of "advice", reminising and vicarious excitement. Remeber how much fun the "hard rock challenge" was...

I tripped over my crampons walking along from the whymper to the next one along, fortunatly i had the presence of mind to simply fall forward.

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