Kilian Jornet & Emelie Forsberg rescued fromAiguille du Midi

image ©emelieforsberg

image
©emelieforsberg

“Once again I got
a lesson, the weather and the conditions set the rules, we play and
the mountain decides. I’m nothing out there! Scary Saturday. Thank
you thank you thank you PGHM Chamonix Mont-Blanc.
” Emelie Forsberg

This is a translation from an article in La Dauphine (original HERE

copyright ©ledauphine and ©Philippe CORTAY

This article is for information only
and is not a representation of my personal thoughts or opinions on
the situation that occured.

 

On the evening of Saturday 7th September, PGHM had to land from a caravan to recover
two “climbers”, a man and a woman on the North Face of the
Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix on the Frendo Spur. Called in the late afternoon, rescuers were unable to take off with the helicopter service due to bad weather announced for nearly a week.

But what the team of the Gendarmerie mountaineering Chamonix does not say (as is the rule in Gendarmerie) is the identity of one of the rescued: the icon of the trail and ski mountaineering Kilian Jornet. The woman who accompanied him (Emelie Forsberg) was dressed lightly. The issue in the world of mountaineering is: when are tights and sneakers appropriate on the North Face of Mont Blanc?

They have been warned repeatedly. Jean-Louis Verdier (guide and assistant in charge of security in the mountains, Chamonix) stated that, “mountain practice must be undertaken with adequate equipment so that you can face bad weather. I’m very angry when I see the continued rise of sneakers despite our requests”. Guides are repeatedly angry as the meet more and more trailers in sneakers as they follow Kilian Jornet in the examples he gives on the route of Mont Blanc. They all run a great risk as they follow the Catalan hero. Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg both issued a message of thanks to PGHM Chamonix via Facebook.
Kilian said,
“now and then, the mountain reminds us that she is stronger … and everyday teach us lot of lessons!”.

Emelie Forsberg,
also via social media said, “Once again I got a lesson, the weather and the conditions set the rules, we play and the mountain decides. I’m nothing out there! Scary Saturday. Thank you thank you thank you PGHM Chamonix Mont-Blanc .

Kilian Jornet, a winner of many of the brutal ultra-trails has set numerous records such as Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn and so on, but where is the security in that? In Kilian’s defense, Christophe Profit in his time also made the first solo Bonatti Pillar of the Dru in climbing shoes and light canvas pants.

Article taken from Le Dauphine and translated 8th Septmber 2013.

09th September,
Kilian Jornet has released a post on his website HERE
Translation
“On September 8, I was making a run to the north face of the Aiguille de Midi, the Frendo spur track, one that I had previously done very light. It was a good time to leave well
before the bad weather and we had climbing equipment (ice and rock) necessary. I was short-sighted to think that there would be warmer temperatures and not to take more jackets. In the last rocky ledge we lost a lot of time taking the wrong route. At 50 meters from the summit of the Aiguille de Midi, the weather degenerated quickly and continued to do so, it could haven endangered myself and company. I decided to call the PGHM. It is the PGHM who got us to the top of the Needle, no more worries, we were a little cold. I want to take this opportunity to thank the work as always of the very professional and efficient mountain rescue.”
“This is a warning that the mountain is hard and even if you are careful it is dangerous, and we must be humble in the face of it because this was our fault, especially when one is lighter. We must accept and be aware of the risks we want to take individually and those that join us, depending on our personal ability, technical ability as well as our experience.” Kilian Jornet.
Emelie Forsberg has also posted a heartfelt and honest post at emelieforsberg.com
Iam I not humble enough? Have I the wrong picture of what I actually can do in the mountains? Have I overestimated my abilities?
Kilian and I went out climbing on Frendo Saturday morning. We had checked the weather, checked the route and we had in our mind that we could do the epron pretty fast. We estimated the time with the experience we had before. We know that we can move pretty fast in that kind of terrain.
We went climbing in a good pace. And when we reached the icy ridge we had only been out for a few hours. I thought to myself that woooha this must go really wrong if we don´t make it up there before 5 pm.
After the icepart we decided to go more in the rocks instead of the most common way up that was on the steep ice. That was in our plan the whole way, because we didn´t bring the proper gear for the ice. And that we knew before we started.
On the rock, I started to became a bit stressed. I was finding a way up that was a bit loose and I also didn´t have the best feelings after the icepart where I hurted my foot.
We took time climbing up, rappelling down, trying to find another way and so on we did for a while.
I became so cold and I couldn´t focus my thought very well. I was stressed and felt captured. We started to talk about possibilities. Rappelling down or try to do the last part even if we didn´t know if we could reach the summit that way or the last way out; call the rescue.
That was a hard decision it´s hard to know if we (I) could have manage go on without danger. I think that I could have manage all my power to go on, but with the cold and stress I had I really wasn´t sure about the risk Tahat t meant.
At 4.30 we called the rescue. They couldn´t make it with the helicopter so it took some time. When they came they was professional and everything went smooth.
One thing I wished is that they could have given us an estimated time of arrival. 5 hours of staying in the cold or power up for making a safe rappelling. I don´t know what was the best.
Afterwards I have thought a lot about this and I have came up with some answers to my first questions.
We underestimated the conditions and we didn´t make up a plan B if we would take longer time than normal.
And to the question why are you out on Frendo with only running shoes? I guess everyone needs to find his own way to approach things. And for me as a runner and a “hobby” climber I love the light way to approach mountains. This is how I want to do it. And this is how I feel comfortable. What is important is that we need to find our own comfortzon.
I thought Frendo was inside my zone, but with the conditions it was and the stupid mistake I did to not take a lot of extra warm clothes. It went wrong. I can also blame myself for being the weakest in the ropeteam. Without me I think Kilian would have been able to rappelling down or find a way up. And now people who don´t like this way of approaching mountains are very happy to say- look what we told you- this is wrong.
We are people. We make mistakes and learn from them. But this is still the way I love to be in the mountains. Light and fast.

Notes:

Ultimately, I think many people have been waiting for this to happen. They have been waiting for Kilian to need help and now that he has they have jumped on it and are using this against him…

Everyday, people are rescued in the mountains. Some people just shouldn’t be there and they get caught out, others are experienced and situations change and create hazard and danger. It is the nature of the beast. Kilian in particular is experienced and knowledgeable. For sure, he made an error on clothing, he has admitted that, but he was prepared for climbing. He had all the necessary equipment (ropes, ice axe etc etc). Like so many others before him, situations changed and he made the correct decision to seek outside help. His ‘experience’ kicked in. He assessed the situation, looked at the options, evaluated the pros and cons and his conclusion was to sit tight and make a call. He isn’t the first and he for sure won’t be the last.

We can all learn!

I have been very open with Kilian and Emelie on the adventures that they pursue in the mountains when talking and interviewing them. On several occasions I have been keen to clarify that what they do is dangerous and demands respect. Both Kilian and Emelie are experienced in the mountains and understand the risks that they take. They are trying to find a personal summit and for them, the summit becomes increasingly more dramatic. Is this right or wrong? I am inspired, I look on in awe and I know MY ability. I know that I could not do what they do and therefore I know my place. The question comes for those who don’t know individual abilities and the ones who think they are much better than they actually are. Ultimately, acknowledge your limits and be safe one and all. The mountains are a dangerous place, be prepared for the worst and respect the environment in which you play and seek adventure. Thank goodness both Kilian and Emelie are safe and acknowledge the role that PGHM Chamonix Mont-Blanc played.

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31 thoughts on “Kilian Jornet & Emelie Forsberg rescued fromAiguille du Midi

  1. Glad they are OK. They run within THEIR capabilities. It’s not unreasonable to do what they did, their logic would have been sound. However, they made a mistake…same as I might with a simpler climb within MY capabilities. If they were being reckless then it’s a different story.

  2. so Killian is a running hero but they can’t mention anything more about Emelie than that she was wearing tights?!? Yeah, I read the rest of the article and have thoughts about going into the wilderness under-prepared (buy rescue and life insurance and make peace with your loved ones and don’t have kids). Yeah, I know Killian is a little more famous but they could have at least bothered to mention Emelie is a famous and extremely good ultra runner as well, but no, she’s a woman so all we get to hear about is the tights. The first paragraph makes it sound like the whole thing is here fault for wearing tights. The writer is a jerk.

    • Lee, please remember this is a translation and I am not a linguist. I may very well have lost some balance from the original. It may very well be that the journalist did not know who the lady was (Emelie). I added Emilie’s name for reasons of clarity. This information will almost certainly will have been relayed back to the journalist via a third party… ? This is unknown, it does not change the context of the article. In many respects, the people are irrelevant. The article is about being ‘light’ in the mountains and the danger it brings, even for probably the ‘expert’ such as Kilian. It’s a warning to us all and maybe a warning for those involved. I am not pointing fingers or saying what is right or wrong. It is merely a ‘heads up’ to all of us.

  3. Why do experienced climbers that do know the consequences take this risk? The records that these most experienced mountaineers achieve surely are admirable and impressive. During an individual tour or training one should be selfsufficient though. Nevertheless, it should be respected that every climber makes his own judgement based on his capabilities and the risk he is willing to take.

    • Gilles, absolutely. It is about individual ability, self assessment and understanding what you can and can’t achieve. However, when a rescue service is called it not only costs a considerable amount of money but it also brings other lives into the balance.

      • Ability and responsability are equally important, particularly, when you find yourself a situation that was not planned or foreseen.

  4. I think that if an average climber had an outings to number of rescues ratio as Killian has so far, the rescue team would have far less work as they do have now.
    And what’s with the ‘anger’ thing, they didn’t put anyone in danger, everyone needs to understand the risk he’s taking and take appropriate measures to protect himself. And Killian has always been careful with what he says, just as he is now.
    Some people like telling others what to do and giving them their grumpy I-told-you-so’s, but if we weren’t seeking challenge and freedom, we wouldn’t be spending any time in the mountains. I believe the same applies for guides in the Mt Blanc area.
    In the end, it seems nothing big really happened. Except for the tone in those statements.

    • Martin, I think anytime the rescue service is called it is serious. Anyone can get in danger and if the rescue services find someone in danger because of bad conditions etc, then they have sympathy, particularly when they are adequately prepared for the conditions. However, questions are asked when they find two people on a tough climb such as the Frendo Spur and they have minimal eqpt. I am not judging, I am trying to give balance. Kilian himself acknowledges that they made a mistake and that they should have had additional warm clothing.
      Also, you have to consider safety. When a rescue service is called more lives are risked. I am aware of multiple situations when rescue staff have died in rescuing others.

      • Okay, you’re right. I think it is a good reminder for everyone. No one got hurt thankfully.

    • When people had to come and rescue you in a difficult situation you have put them in danger as far as I know. And guides at least in Switzerland where I am from have a duty to help rescue anyone in trouble in the mountains, not a choice. In my opinion this event is being used by the Chamonix guides to try and deter people from behaving carelessly.
      I find it curious that so much is said about the rescued climbers intentions, actions, attitude to risk and so on, but that the rescue was entirely taken for granted and rescuers mostly only mentionned as “help” or “rescue”.

  5. Well done to them for having the sense and mountain knowledge to call for help, and not to say ‘we are kilian and emelie we know better’. Thats when things turn ugly.

  6. I think something really important is getting lost. These two, who could have pressed on — especially because they have reputations to protect — DIDN’T let ego dictate. In fact, based on what they’ve said — they, and Emelie in particular, chose to err on the side of safety and call for help. They keep saying ‘Kilian rescued’ when Emelie makes it clear that he would likely have been fine if she weren’t there. This isn’t to take anything away from Emelie or Kilian. Quite the opposite, I have tremendous respect for Emelie deciding “this is too much now” and for Kilian accepting and supporting that choice (note: I know I’m reading into their statements a bit).

    Of course, in hindsight, they wouldn’t put themselves in this situation. And perhaps there was a different comfort level between the two of them…

    But the bottom line is — they weren’t afraid to say, “today, the mountain is bigger than me. I’m going to call for help instead of risk any more”. And anyone who has ever climbed and pushed themselves knows that is NOT AN EASY THING TO DO when your ego says otherwise.

    It is clear from their accounts that — they weren’t in immediate danger — they hadn’t been reckless… They erred on the side of CAUTION. If you want to fault them for that, so be it.

    • Just want to add — I’m in no way trying to downplay the seriousness of the call. And I think Kilian will have learned something being the ‘leader’ of a climb and perhaps realizing that means he needs to take more precautions than he would alone. I was just saying – I’m happy to hear that rather than take more risks and try to prevent the world from knowing the screwed up – they made the call that they did.

      • Well said, sir! Lessons learned. All are safe. Kilian and Emilie are professionals, and will learn from this.

  7. I am actually surprised this is getting the attention it is. If it were not for the fame of the two athletes and the ‘running shoes’ reference in the article it’s unlikely that we’d even hear about this. There have been rescues of Japanese tourists on Ben Nevis wearing high heels and helicopters having been sent to parties in the Grand Canyon because they were hungry and asked the rescuers to deliver food, that have gotten far less attention.

    The discussion about putting a rescuer’s life in danger is a difficult one. If we lived in a world where no mountain rescue existed, I wonder how much it would change the approach of those in the mountains. I doubt it would have significantly affected Kilian’s and Emelie’s plan for that day. Fortunately mountain rescue was able to ensure that we see them again to pursue their dreams in the mountains. We shouldn’t forget that these rescue teams are comprised of members that accept the risk of what their job entails, just as any mountain traveler accepts the risk of their own journey.

    I’m glad everyone is safe!!

    • Like all things Dave, ‘celebrity’ attracts attention. It is just like Armstrong, cycling and drugs. It is easier to make people aware when a ‘name’ is caught out, rightly or wrongly and this is exactly the case here. It is correct to cover the story but also correct to have balance. Kilian and Emelie made a mistake, they have acknowledged it and in doing so they not only learnt something themselves but passed on that learning to all of us. Gladly nobody was hurt and we are all wiser.

  8. In reading Emilie’s explanation, it is a mistake and it can happen to anyone. They are very wise to call help when they absolutely needed it and that they are both SAFE! Glad they have a way to contact help! It could have been worse.

    Unfortunately, they are well regarded as mountain climbers in the public eyes and hold a bit of responsibility to those who follow them specially the younger fans – definitely not me, I’m and older fan :-)) They did the right thing of explaining their mistakes and that everyone have to respect the mountains. A reminder. That’s all, no biggie!

    Honestly, my reaction at first glance of the article is that they should know better but later on, you know what…I made a lot of mistakes in my early twenties and learned from it then moved on. Maybe not repeat the same thing! They are young, they like challenges, free spirited, love the mountains and good runners. It’s their passion. Wise comes with age and I am sure they won’t forget this learning experience.

  9. Glad to hear they are okay! I disagree with the tone of the first article. Of all the people, Kilian and Emilie KNOW mountains, probably as well as any technical climber. They simply made a mistake. Has no mountaineer ever made a mistake?

    Also, how does Emilie only rate as “the woman that accompanied him”? I think she deserves a little more accolades than that! She’s a stud in her own rite!

    • Dan, please refer to other posts and answers. We are not sure that at the time of writing the original article that the journalist was aware who Emelie Forsberg is. He may have not known her name even! Also, this is a translation and I am not a linguist. Something may have been lost.
      As to the point of the article, you are correct, Kilian and Emelie do KNOW the mountains and that is why this is so important. It proves that NOBODY is stronger than the mountain.
      Kilian and Emelie both admit they got things wrong. I applaud the honesty and humility.
      Ultimately, this may well prove to be a good thing. Nobody has been hurt and we have all had a warning shot!

  10. Salomon should pay the cost of the rescue to PGHM. The company is profiting by encouraging Kilian (others who follow him) to pursue increasingly dangerous ventures. You can say “Oh Kilian is choosing to take these risks as a free individual” — but PGHM didn’t choose to undertake the cost and risk of rescuing him when things go wrong.

    If Salomon wants to profit off the publicity, then they should also accept and pay the cost. Otherwise they are no better than Goldman-Sachs and the like: profiting when things go well, but socializing the costs of the rescues to others who had no desire to be involved in any of this.

    • Jesse, that is a tough call. I don’t have an answer for that… what I can say is that Salomon do not sponsor Kilian for the ‘Summits of my life’ project. Kilian finances this himself I believe. Secondly, everybody and I mean everybody can get in a situation and need help. That is what rescue services are for (and other services). The question is, did Emelie and Kilian go out with the intention to be reckless? The answer is no, for sure!
      Did they travel light, make a mistake, asses the situation and understand the danger they may put themselves in and call for help? Yes!
      I applaud the decision they made, it was the correct one.
      Should they have been better prepared? Ultimately, yes! Both Kilian and Emelie have acknowledged this.
      This incident has been a learning curve for all us. Many wish to emulate Kilian and Emelie and they do so with half the ability and talent, they can now look on and ask questions about themselves and I hope when going to the mountains, they may well travel light, but travel light with the appropriate back-up and equipment.
      For sure, Kilian and Emelie will return to the mountains ‘light’ but I think I can guarantee that future trips will have a contingency plan and a what if scenario in place. We all make mistakes and our mistakes don’t get publicity.
      Here we have two ‘stars’ of the mountain world who have been caught short, they have held their hands up and acknowledged the mistakes made so that we can all benefit and gladly, nobody was hurt in the process.

    • I did a quick search of “climbing rescue insurance alps” and found this:

      “You may want to purchase a rescue policy to help cover rescue or evacuation costs if necessary. In France, national rescue insurance (Carte Neige) is available to all climbers for a reasonable fee. It can be purchased in Chamonix at the tourist office, and covers helicopter rescue in the Alps. All participants will be required to purchase this insurance prior to the start of the program. Cost for 8 days in 2006 is 42.50 Euros.”

      http://www.mountainguides.com/chamonix-faq.shtml

      Thus this is not the same situation as in the US, where people often complain about the cost and risk of rescue that is born by the government/military (National Guard or state helicopters and such) and volunteer rescue groups.

  11. Sorry, but with their experience they should have never got into that situation. Glad they are safe but do not idolise it as I read some comments and their decisions of calling in help. But they I am sure have learned and I would hope we all learn from this.
    Just my opinion.
    But those who don’t take risks won’t learn and grow.

    • Michiel, I am not sure anyone is idolising ‘this’ situation. For sure, they idolise Kilian and his achievements. In retrospect, Kilian has looked back and acknowledged he and Emelie should have carried additional warmer clothing. It is important to clarify that they did have all the required equipment for rock climbing. They are pushing boundaries and when you push boundaries you take risks… this happened to Scott and Antarctica, it has happened numerous times in space travel, it has happened in F1 and it happens daily in the mountains.
      Experience does not mean ‘situations’ cannot happen, on the contrary, in actual fact, I think the combined experience they had may well have saved them! They were aware of the situation, they assessed the risks and ultimately made a call that saved them. Experience may well have shone through!

  12. I think that if there is a positive to come out of this it is that it has lead to widespread discussion and hopefully this will highlight the fact that anyone can get into trouble and that we all need to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances.

    However, given the amount of ciriticism that can be generated by incidents like this, I just hope it doesn’t discourage people from calling for assistance if they get into trouble for fear of a backlash.

    • Andrew, good point. I think many, particularly in French climbing have been waiting for this opportunity to pounce on Kilian and his ‘light’ approach. What must be clarified is that he was prepared for climbing, he had all the necessary equipment. An error was made on layers. Having said all this, I keep saying that experience kicked in. Kilian assessed the situation and understood a call for help was required. I applaud that! He must have been thinking while he waited, the media are going to love this…. he is taking some criticism for sure, he will have expected it. But as you say, we all can get caught out at anytime no matter how prepared we are. thanks for the input.

  13. Pingback: Libertarianism in the mountains, or, Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg get rescued » Carey Cuprisin

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