Grandes Jorasses Commentary Alessandro Gogna 1973

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 18, 2008 - 04:59pm PT
Classic survey with luscious photos of this amazing area from Mountain 26, March 1973.



















'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Dec 18, 2008 - 08:06pm PT
A great read! All the heros of alpinism. Thanks, Steve.

P.S. Can you make your scans a bit bigger please? It's hard to read such small letters. Cheers.
Phil_B

Social climber
Hercules, CA
Dec 19, 2008 - 08:10am PT
Steve,

Way cool! Thanks for posting.

Pete, I found that I could change the size of the image onscreen by holding my Ctrl key down and rolling the mouse button up or down.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 20, 2008 - 11:45am PT
A mood shot from Between Heaven and Earth by Gaston Rebuffat and Pierre Tairraz, photographer, 1965.


On the Midi- Plan Arete; In the distance: the Periades and the Grandes Jorasses.


The backside of the massif. Foreground: Auguille du Plan, behind from right to left: Auguille de Leschaux, the Grandes Jorasses, The Dome de Rochefort and Mont Mallet.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 23, 2008 - 08:47am PT
Just a little bump in the Alps!
Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California now Ireland
Dec 23, 2008 - 10:19am PT
I have that issue of Mountain in a box somewhere.
mongrel

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Dec 23, 2008 - 11:09am PT
Great article. Thanks for posting. Sort of like the progenitor of the feature articles in Alpinist. It's unsurprising but mind-blowing that just about every notable attempt and successful ascent he describes experienced at least one hellacious storm, and yet they carried on whether up or down, with the crappiest imaginable boots and other gear, little hope of surviving any significant fall given the crummy ropes and pro and many things to hit. Plus, there's practically no sun that hits the Walker or Croz even in mid summer, even less on some other lines, so even under ideal conditions you're jamming your hands into cracks full of ice and snow, and they're not easy cracks either! Pretty damn tough buggers. Also highlights that there were some very burly women climbers already in those early days (Loulou Boulaz being only one of a bunch of them). All this puts the ascents on this side of the pond, at the same era, in a bit of perspective.
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Dec 23, 2008 - 11:45am PT
That article, like so many others in Mountain, sparked many dreams that unfortunately never became reality when confronted with the true reality of my incompetence in the alpine!!!! Mountain, along with Ascent, was in many ways the direct ancestor of Alpinist, and most other modern climbing magazines. I didn't/don't agree with Ken Wilson (founder and original editor of Mountain)on certain topics but he sure produced a great mag. As for the comparison of the climbs in the Alps in the '20s and '30s with those on this continent, it is surely true that in general terms of difficulty and commitment the most difficult in the Alps were significantly advanced compared to most over here, but there were some notable exceptions. In particular, the first (and second, for that matter) ascent of Mt. Waddington was roughly comparable in terms of technical difficulty to the top climbs of the era in the Alps, and because of remoteness, even more committing, though it was a European-trained climber who led the ascent. And the big climbs in Alaska and the Yukon of that era, while not necessarily technically difficult, were extremely committing and serious. Even climbs like the North and West Faces of the Grand Teton, while by no means the equivalent of the routes on the Jorasses or other similar alpine faces, were still pretty significant clims--even if they'd been in the Alps, and particularly deserve respect given the very small North American climbing community of the day and the distance of the main mountain areas from the principal population centers(except for Colorado!!!!).
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 1, 2009 - 07:49pm PT
I started climbing young and had lots of time to read and dream of big alpine adventures. I relished articles like this one that allow you to gain a broad, historical sense of achievement. Excellent photo accompaniment further enhances appreciation of the stage and actors.

Setting marks for your own climbing is made more sensible by understanding history and the efforts of others. When just starting out, climbing is limitless and delightfully, for me, it has always stayed that way. My love of grand alpinism has certainly demanded the best of my own efforts when the going gets tough or dangerous.
BASE104

climber
An Oil Field
Jan 2, 2009 - 06:28am PT
Steve,

I also had a lot of time when I was young, and a lot of it was in the town library. They had a copy of The White Spider, which I devoured when I was 14, and my climbing life was born. All of those guys getting whacked made sense to me somehow. The constant dream of adventure, which I continue to do in different ways now. Totally changed my life. Going to Mexico and missing an economics mid-term made perfect sense to me. It was worth making an F.

I bet that I walked by the Grandes Jorasses ten times. I was there in a very dry year. I hitched alone over to Grindelwald and spent a week in a little shephard's hut at the base of the Eiger, and never even saw anything above the second icefield. The damn thing was storming the whole time, although it was nice and pretty at the base.

I kick myself in the ass for not doing the Walker Spur. I had a couple of strong partners, it had a lot of rock climbing on it, etc. I was in Chamonix most of the summer doing stuff. The chance never came again. I am sure I would have done it if I had seen that article. One of our biggest problems was good english descriptions of routes and the whacko french alpine ratings at the time, which were all over the map.

Walt wanted to do the Croz, which was little climbed at the time, and almost as hard. We had many periods of good weather to do it in, but always did something else. I have some sweet pictures of it, often in the background of some summit snapshot.

Ahhh. Dreams of youth....I dreamed of climbing the Eiger. I was 22 when I was there. Strongest of my life. Not that smart, though.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 3, 2009 - 11:09am PT
Another view of the GJ from Mountains by John Cleare, 1975.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 24, 2009 - 08:08pm PT
Frosty bump!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 16, 2009 - 11:11am PT
In remembrance of the great Ricardo Cassin.
lucasignorelli

climber
Torino, Italy
Aug 25, 2009 - 03:17pm PT
Alessandro's article was based on the material he used for his fantastic (but little know) 1975 book on the history of the NF of the Jorasses. It's a pity it was never translated in English (as far as I know), because is a much better example than "White Spider" on how is possible to write entertaining, inspirational and autoritative climbing history.

Of course some of the material is now dated, but given the informations available in the 70's, it was a wonderful work.
Nohea

Trad climber
Sunny Aiea,Hi
Aug 26, 2009 - 02:04am PT
Fantastic! Today there has been some great bumps. I was teased by this one cuz of the great pics but could not read the small print, so this was my first read once I got home.
As I sat in the ER and a Drs office for a ridiculous amount of time I this on my tiny BB screen. This is fantastic stuff and the reason I am part of this campfire. Thank You! Another great thread!

Aloha,
will
Wee Jock

climber
Aug 26, 2009 - 04:43am PT
Hi Steve
Caption on one of the photos posted is a wee bit confusing to me. Looks like Charmoz-Grepon-Blaitiere-Plan NF...rather than GJ to Mont Mallet....there again senility may have set in and the confusion is just endogenous.
Wee Jock

climber
Aug 26, 2009 - 04:51am PT
Hi Luca, you erudite old beast!! That article by Gogna was probably the main thing that inspired me to go alpine climbing back when I was a sprog ... particularly the fantastic side view phtoto of the Croz and Walker Spurs. It was because of that article that I got 'hung up' on the Jorasses and did several routes there and not one on Mt Blanc. My favourite mountain, the GJ - even more so than Ben Nevis!!
Jonny D

Social climber
Lost Angelez, Kalifornia
Aug 26, 2009 - 08:05am PT
i concur, that photo above is of grand charmoz, aiguille de blaitiere and aiguille du plan, not quite in the same area as grandes jorasses but great alpine features in their own.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 26, 2009 - 08:12am PT
I have some recollection of a correction in the next issue on that caption but I don't have it on hand.

Luca-How common is AG's book on the Jorasses?
lucasignorelli

climber
Torino, Italy
Aug 29, 2009 - 04:08pm PT
Hi Luca, you erudite old beast!! That article by Gogna was probably the main thing that inspired me to go alpine climbing back when I was a sprog ... particularly the fantastic side view phtoto of the Croz and Walker Spurs. It was because of that article that I got 'hung up' on the Jorasses and did several routes there and not one on Mt Blanc. My favourite mountain, the GJ - even more so than Ben Nevis

Hello Gordon,

thanks for the "erudite"! Nice to know you've been inspired by Alex article, I know it was truly a labour of love for him (of course he too has a "thing" for the GJ). Next time I see Gogna I'll tell him, I think he'll be very pleased.



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