An ice-axe in the pocket

It isn’t every day that a crow wins the ‘piolet d’or’, which is the highest distinction awarded for mountain ascents. Frédéric Degoulet, in his guise of guide and fan of vertical ice, won, along with his rope companions Benjamin Guigonnet and Hélias Millerioux, the prestigious trophy this September. The object of their mischief, quite simply the southern face of Nuptse in Nepal, which is 2 200 metres with a difficulty of ED+ ending at 7 742 metres. This route, now named the « voie des Français » (French route), necessitated 5 bivouacs during the ascent and one on the descent, has all that is necessary to become immersed in the view of the Himalayan range. Fred has given us a short text about his fabulous adventure and some, let us say, extraordinary photos.

South face « voie des Français », 2 200 m, ED+, WI6 M5+.
14th – 21st October 2017

An unforgettable adventure.

Climbing the summit of Nuptse by its south face requires a certain boldness and a high commitment, as much physical as mental. This summit which is 1 000 metres lower than its neighbour, Mount Everest, which all the same overshadows it, this mountain is so magnificent.
A wall of a width of 4 kilometres, 2 200 metres high, steep and which comes out at an altitude 8 000 metres. We are maybe completely mad, but these challenges are generative of immense happiness. For sure, it was hard and uncomfortable, but finally, up there, timeless, it is incredible.

What I will remember from this ascension, will be this adventure shared, roped together with my friends for so many years before arriving at the top of this summit yearned for for so long (the accomplices had already made an attempt along with Robin Revest last year, while Hélias and Benjamin had attempted in 2016, Ed). The path was long before envisaging this mountain, this myth, which is Nuptse. Because, one doesn’t chose this type of face by chance. It necessitates accumulating a lot of expedition experience. The intensity of the ascents are going to crescendo, the friendship between roped companions as well.

How lucky I was,10 years ago, when I met my expedition partner Benjamin Guigonnet. With him, I grew, I became myself and I shared the most extraordinary moments. I don’t think that we can function any other way, but life is full of surprises and finally other companions increased the roped party.

To have received this ‘Piolet d’Or’ is an honour because it was awarded to us by our mentors, idols and peers. This reward isn’t about glory or fortune, but it adds a touch of happiness to that which we experienced up there.

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