UKC

NEWS: Ueli Steck...Colton-Macintyre (VI,6) Speed Record: 2.20

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 Michael Ryan 07 Jan 2009
On the 28th Dec 2008 Ueli Steck blasted his was up the north face of the Grandes Jorasses in another record time: 2 hrs 20 minutes.

Moving on from his 2.47hrs ascent of the Eiger north face in February 2008 he arrived in Chamonix on the 27th December with his eyes on the north face classic: the Col...

Jon Griffith reports at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/older.html?month=01&year=2009#n45544
 m1ke_smith 07 Jan 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Just amazing! I have sweaty palms just looking at those pictures!

 Morgan Woods 07 Jan 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

excellent write up of a fantastic achievement Luca. Any ideahow Jon got in place for the photos?
 Mr Lopez 07 Jan 2009
In reply to Morgan Woods: I was wondering how he took the photos from Scotch on the Rocks till i read the full article. I recommend you do the same...
Great job Jon!
 Michael Ryan 07 Jan 2009
In reply to Morgan Woods:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com)
>
> excellent write up of a fantastic achievement Luca. Any ideahow Jon got in place for the photos?

Try thanking Jon for the write up with some additional reportage by Luca.

 Will Sim 07 Jan 2009
In reply to Morgan Woods: I'm pretty sure Jon out-climbed Ueli and was munching on his pain du chocolat when he noticed a small german following him.
 mrsmesh 07 Jan 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

is anyone making movies with this guy? if not why not?! is there any footage on the net of him in action?
flatiron 07 Jan 2009
amf37 07 Jan 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
But he has go faster stripes on his helmet. Cheating shirely?
 Morgan Woods 07 Jan 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

err that clears things up....ta.
 creag 07 Jan 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Utterly amazing...
 CurlyStevo 07 Jan 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
Wowzers! onsite also!
 Henry Iddon 07 Jan 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Ueli is a great speaker - he was at Kendal in 2007.
 Jon Griffith 08 Jan 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: Might be worth pointing out that the shots were not taken on the actual record climb. Ueli is very 'fussy' about his ethics and when he does a speed ascent he doesn't want any camera crew on ropes on the climb or in a helicopter watching over him. It has to be a genuine solo mission, which is commendable. In addition he also waits until there are not tracks on the route to give it the real onsight feel.
We rapped down the whole face from the summit and set up key shots such as the ones that you see. Yes, technically, it is 'cheating' but since the man did actually solo the face I see no harm in re-enacting some of the shots.

 john howard 1 08 Jan 2009
In reply to Jon Griffith: Amazing stuff, and I personally see absolutely no problem with people repeating stuff for photos, you gotta pay the bills!In fact in some ways I find it even more commendable that he does such self reliant solo ascents and seeks a truly personal experience, keep up the good work Ueli (and Jon of course), inspirational.
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: Amazing photos Jon. Amazing climbing too - what a route.

Superb stuff. Truly inspirational.

Jack
In reply to Jon Griffith:

> We rapped down the whole face from the summit

That sounds terrifying enough!

I was quite horrified reading his clearly well thought out conception of risk on speed soloing - how you simply don't have time to change a placement you don't trust. I solo on little icefalls from time to time - ones that you would small enough to stand some chance of not hurting yourself too much on if you did fall - and even when say just 10 or 15 mtrs up I'm aware of how much more I demand out of tool placement than when, say, I'm a metre away from a good screw. It's very interesting how his mental state works - it must make him quite a unique personality I expect.
 Morgan Woods 08 Jan 2009
In reply to Jon Griffith:

cheers for explaining Jon....anyway i guess with Ueli's speed it meant you weren't hanging about for too long.....how cold is it up there by the way?
 Jon Griffith 08 Jan 2009
In reply to Morgan Woods: I think we rapped the face in 4.30 hours. It was just a case of being really quick and efficient on the rap stations as well as taking the shots. Wasnt too cold to be honest, its now alot colder though. Think it must have been in the -15 range on the face I guess? No wind though until the bottom so that was nice
jon

 TonyM 08 Jan 2009
In reply to TobyA:
> That sounds terrifying enough!

Not half! Rapping the Colton-Mac on a piece of dental floss sounds like a right trouser filler. Had assumed, Jon, you'd reclimbed the top section for the retro-photos, rather than carried on down.

I'd always throught retreating from high up the N face of the GJ was a serious affair that added to the commitment of the climbs. How did you find it? You'll have needed to have found lots of secure anchors, particularly if you used his 50m 5mm line. Why not hike up with a pair of chunky 8mm 60s?

Personally, I think Ueli should be banned from such antics immediately, as he's making the rest of us alpinists looks foolish. What he's achieved is just so impressive.
 Morgan Woods 08 Jan 2009
In reply to TonyM:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> [...]
>
> Not half! Rapping the Colton-Mac on a piece of dental floss sounds like a right trouser filler. Had assumed, Jon, you'd reclimbed the top section for the retro-photos, rather than carried on down.
>
> I'd always throught retreating from high up the N face of the GJ was a serious affair that added to the commitment of the climbs. How did you find it? You'll have needed to have found lots of secure anchors, particularly if you used his 50m 5mm line. Why not hike up with a pair of chunky 8mm 60s?

yeah sounds like a story in its own right.
 Yanchik 08 Jan 2009
In reply to Jon Griffith:

Who was it who said there are no routes in the Alps long enough to justify carrying food ?

Awesome achievement. Good ethical thinking too - don't cheat on the climb, doesn't matter how you get the photos. Well, it matters to the poor photogs in this case, mebbe...

Y
James Jackson 08 Jan 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Mad!
 Mr Lopez 08 Jan 2009
In reply to Yanchik:

> Awesome achievement. Good ethical thinking too - don't cheat on the climb, doesn't matter how you get the photos. Well, it matters to the poor photogs in this case, mebbe...

The only way in which it matters is that the 'photo session' is another great achievement in it's own right!
Didn't i read somewhere that the actual face had never been fully retreated? I recall reading somewhere that the only people who tried, some crazy japanese as usual, who for some strange reason decided to descend via the Croz, perished trying.
Luca?

 mark reeves Global Crag Moderator  UKC Supporter 08 Jan 2009
In reply to Jon Griffith: Hi Jon

I guessed as much, I'd also like to say that your alpine photography is inspirational. I hope you make a good living out of it because you deserve to.

Keep up the good work.

Mark
 Yanchik 08 Jan 2009
In reply to Mr Lopez:

I'd love to see the media storm of attention.

"First Descent !" - exclusive photos ! Sponsors thrilled ! Classic books written ! Films made !

Y
In reply to Mr Lopez: Mental- and great photos.

As for retreat- didn't a russian lad base jump the croz (or most of it) a few years back? Does that count as retreat i wonder... Plenty of people have retreated from high on the face. In good weather with good ice rapping the colton would probably be OK (though tedious) as aside from the top section it's a straight line and mostly on abalokovs, whereas the croz (and probably other routes?) would require traversing or guesswork from higher up to stay on/regain the line. Retreating under conditions likely to trigger retreat however- dark, snow, high-winds, rockfall etc. would be unpleasant to say the least- and the top of the leschaux basin is a long slog from shelter once down.

As an aside, this presumably means that the colton is now nicely rigged with in-situ belays? Form an orderly queue...
In reply to Mr Lopez:
> (In reply to Yanchik)
>
> [...]
>
> The only way in which it matters is that the 'photo session' is another great achievement in it's own right!
> Didn't i read somewhere that the actual face had never been fully retreated? I recall reading somewhere that the only people who tried, some crazy japanese as usual, who for some strange reason decided to descend via the Croz, perished trying.
> Luca?

They were Koreans. Alison Heargraves, few days before he solo of the Croz/Slovenian route, went to the Leschaux hut, and found signs people having departed toward the mountain few hours before (oddily, they had left a walkie talkie on the hut table). Later, when on the route itself, he saw to her left a line of abseil anchor, at 100 m intervals, and then, off the descent axis, two axes embedded on the ice, with sling/krabs etc hanging from it.

Two days later it was reported that three Koreans had literally disappeared on the face after climbing the MacIntyr- Colton in horrendous weather conditions. Apparently they had decided that escaping from the mountain down the Italian side was too dicey, and rescue not an option because of the weather, and had decided to abseil the Croz. Halfway down the descent, "something" happened and they all fell to their deaths (only one body was recovered below the Croz much later).

There's another theory about this accident that states they weren't climbing the MacIntyre, but much of the accident mechanics doesn't change. The other two bodies were never found.

It's worth to say that in general, the descent down the Italian side may be astonishingly tense (and slow!), but it's almost always an option. The most straightforward escape from the summit ridge is down the South (Italian) side of the Croz spur, there's a line of short abseils (and some downclimbing) that starts few meter to the R (looking toward Italy) of the small summit gendarme. It lands directly on the top of the Reposoir, and may involve abseiling down a serac to the top R of the Reposoir itself. It's not pretty, but it's better than abseiling the NF!

The other escape route from the Jorasses summit ridge it's the Hirondelles. Again, it's not anything easy or relaxing, but can be done. From he top of the "triangle" beyond the V breach there's now a line of abseil stances courtesy of the French guides.

Ueli and Jon descent is not the first time the face it's abseiled, but it's a very rare (and, in my view, quite remarkable) feat, even in a somehow "programmed" situation like the one Ueli and Jon experienced (doing that in an emergency becomes even more difficult). The Central Couloir is one of the few sections where it's relatively straightforward - descending the Walker spur may be nearly impossible given the need to reverse the pendulum above the 90m dihedral. Anything to the R of the Croz spur is dangerous because of rockfall and very, very rotten rock in the first half. Reversing the Gousseault or Rolling Stones above halfway may be suicidal.

So it's quite an achievement in the achievement! And I must remark - kids, don't do that yourself it can be done safely only if you're climbing at Ueli (or Jon) level...
 JR 27 Jan 2009
In reply to Luca Signorelli:

Somebody I know abbed from a few pitches from the top of the colton mac to the bottom about 3 years ago when they got caught out in some bad weather in winter. Took them 24 hours to get down IIRC. I think they found it quite alarming...

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