Benjamin Védrines and Léo Billon sign a record ascent on the north face of the Grandes Jorasses in 15 hours

After the remarkable ascent of Charles Dubouloz, Symon Welfringer and Clovis Paulin, another French team bluffed the middle on the north face of the Grandes Jorasses, in the Mont Blanc massif. Mountaineers Benjamin Védrines and Léo Billon (both 30 years old) climbed the Gousseault-Desmaison route in 15 hours, a winter day climb from Chamonix.

A first in this legendary route. 52 years to the day after its opening and its tragic outcome, Serge Gousseault having lost his life there, René Desmaison being saved in extremis by the emergency services.

“This mythical route had never been climbed in winter in the daytime, says Védrines. Usually, we sleep at the foot of the face but after talking to Léo Billon about it, he suggested that I leave Chamonix on skis and continue to the summit! I was immediately more than seduced, despite the surprise of seeing Léo offer me such a physical challenge. »

Leaving the Chamonix valley on skis at 1:10 a.m. this Wednesday, the rope companions, who met in high school, reached the summit of Pointe Walker at 4:30 p.m. (a route swallowed in only 9:10 a.m.) before descending to the Val Ferret, Italian side, around 8:30 p.m. An approach on foot and on skis with a 2,000 m drop then 1,200 m of mixed climbing (rock and ice), combining icy ramps, rocky slopes or delicate broken rock.

Benjamin Védrines and Leo Billon. (DR)

“You have to be fast in the pitches, efficient in the relays, rustic and enduring over the long term, while mastering mixed climbing perfectly. It takes a lot of experience, and therefore time. This kind of adventure on the north face of the Jorasses makes us realize that we are capable of doing even more ambitious things. We can’t wait to think about the next challenge! »


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