“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.
“now and then, the mountain reminds us that she is stronger … and everyday teach us lot of lessons!”.
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.
Kilian Jornet has released a post on his website HERE
“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.
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.