Jornet rescued from the Frendo Spur

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rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 8, 2013 - 09:54pm PT
From http://www.ledauphine.com/haute-savoie/2013/09/09/chamonix-kilian-jornet-secouru-en-pleine-nuit-et-en-basket-dans-la-face-nord-de-l-aiguille-du-midi

I've tried to translate the article into reasonable English, with a little help and a lot of hindrance from Google Translate. I've taken a few liberties with literal meanings and tried for equivalent English phrasing. It is clear that journalistic objectivity is not a feature of Le Dauphine's reporting. Neither are facts for that matter, as the comment about Profit making the first solo ascent of the Bonatti Pillar makes clear. Anyway here we go:



On Saturday evening, PGHM had to use a caravane terrestre to rescue two "alpinists", a man and a woman, from the the Frendo Spur of the North face of the Aiguille du Midi. Called in the late afternoon, the rescuers were unable to use the helicopter service from DZ Chamonix this week, due to bad weather predicted for nearly a week.

But what PGHM Chamonix did not reveal (as is the rule in gendarmerie) is the identity of one of the rescued: the icon of trail and ski mountaineering, Kilian Jornet. [The woman is Emelie Forsberg --RG]

Like the woman who accompanied him (and as has been his habit), he was very lightly equipped. The only question posed by the the world of mountaineering is: what was this guy doing in tights and sneakers on a north face?

There are more and more trail runners in running shoes in the Couloir de Goûter and on the Mont Blanc route

And it's not because they have not been warned by many, with Jean-Louis Verdier (guide and adjunct in charge of mountain safety in Chamonix) at the top of the list, saying, after Jornet's Mount Blanc speed record, that "Mountaineering is done with adequate equipment and with whatever is needed in your pack to deal with bad weather. I'm enraged when I see he continues to climb at altitude in running shoes, despite our warnings."

Already guides are witnessing, with dismay, more and more trail runners in running shoes in the Couloir de Goûter and on the Mont Blanc route. How dearly will these runners pay for their naive belief that they can do as well as their Catalan idol...

Note that although Kilian Jornet has not mentioned the incident on his twitter account, merely saying hello to his followers this morning as usual, he did post a message of thanks to PGHM Chamonix yesterday evening on his Facebook page.

Before Jornet, there was Profit

Jornet, the conqueror of most of the ultra-trails, has set numerous records, but where is the security in that? Far, far away. In his defense, one might note that Christophe Profit, in his time, made the first solo ascent of the Bonatti Pillar of the Dru in rock-climbing shoes, thin pants, a tank-top, and a pack, "putting in his four hours of work."

The user formerly known as stzzo

climber
Sneaking up behind you
Sep 8, 2013 - 10:25pm PT
What if SAR teams used only tights and sneakers?
Degaine

climber
Sep 8, 2013 - 11:32pm PT
Profit was the first to free-solo the route. I can understand that even a newspaper based in the Alps would not necessarily provide that detail.

FYI - à caravane terrestre means that the PGHM rescued Kilian and partner on foot and not by helicopter. Given they were only 50m or so from the top, it was much easier to descend on foot from the top station of the Aiguille du Midi tram. The top of the Frendo Spur is about 10 minutes on foot from there.
Matt's

climber
Sep 8, 2013 - 11:36pm PT
looking on facebook, killian and his partner thank their rescuers... also from the pictures it looks like they were doing the frendo spur in rock climbing shoes...
mcreel

climber
Barcelona
Sep 9, 2013 - 05:38am PT
Reach for the stars, if you fail, you still might touch the moon.
stevep

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Sep 9, 2013 - 06:48am PT
Sounds like he was very lightly equipped, perhaps even dangerously so. But it's not as if he is some sort of Noob, or only a trail runner. He's got a lot of alpine experience, so I'd assume it was a pretty well-calculated risk.
stich

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Sep 9, 2013 - 06:54am PT
What business is it of yours, Frendo Spur?
Gary

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Sep 9, 2013 - 07:32am PT
so I'd assume it was a pretty well-calculated risk.

Risk for who? Him or the folks that have to rescue him in bad weather?
Port

Trad climber
San Diego
Sep 9, 2013 - 07:38am PT
What business is it of yours, Frendo Spur?

I think he's more concerend with the trend he's seeing, not just Jornet.
steve shea

climber
Sep 9, 2013 - 07:59am PT
Maybe they were light approach/climbing shoes and not just sneakers. I'm sure that as these speed hikes become more en vogue, especially as they get publicized, the gens du pays will be all over it. Then the PGHM will have their hands so full that they cannot possibly attend to all in trouble. There will be lightweight running teams all over the Massif in addition to alpinists who have already bought their rescue insurance from the Club Alpin Francais. Who gets hauled off first? As I remember the storms in the Mt Blanc were not selective. Get your popcorn.
The light and fast thing has been taken to extremes long ago. It just wasn't popular because most recognized you could get snuffed in an alpine storm very quickly. Success breeds contempt or at the least more risk taking. Larry Bruce and I rescued two Austrian 'alpinists' off the Eiger Nordwand way back in the dark ages in 78. They made it to the traverse of the gods in track suits, no stove, one ice axe each, one pr of crampons between them, one rope and the food was gone. All this in the face of a huge storm being forecast by the Meteo at Geneva Airport and it was November. Turns out that they were very experienced rock climbers but had little alpine time and wanted to do it in a day.What a mistake. The storm arrived as we summited the next day then the fun really began. but that is another story.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Sep 9, 2013 - 08:33am PT
Going for it and stretching it thin has always been a beloved tradition in some circles, while others prefer to take the things necessary to take care of themselves if things go bad quickly.

This dude was playing sport climbing on a North face.

I don't care what his name is, screw him, and thank god for rescuers.
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
Sep 9, 2013 - 08:55am PT
Kids these days!

Like the man said, it's a fine line between 'badass' and 'dumbass'. Mostly depending on whether you pull it off or not.
stevep

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Sep 9, 2013 - 09:04am PT
He's not just a "sport climber" or a runner. Shouldn't take much work on Google to find him doing this same thing just over the hill on the other side of Mt. Blanc. Or on the Matterhorn. He's pretty comfortable and experienced moving very fast in alpine environments.This might have been another step, but it's hardly unprecedented for him.
I'm not sure I see this as much different than Honnold or Croft, or any number of other Alpine or Himalayan climbers. Or Harding and Rowell on the south face of Half Dome (who did have to get rescued). If you push boundaries, you increase the chance that things go wrong.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 9, 2013 - 09:11am PT
There should be no legislation on how people approach the mountains. On the other hand, there should be no guarantee of rescue.
People like Jornet go equipped as they do with the full knowledge that rescue is just a helicopter away. They are using a critical resource to add safety, and therefore help expedite, their speed ascents and traverses. So be it.....but if their rescue was necessitated because they weren't properly equipped they should be made to PAY for it. That would give likeminded souls pause.
Deekaid

climber
Sep 9, 2013 - 09:33am PT
yep! Mr Donini
Deekaid

climber
Sep 9, 2013 - 09:35am PT
and sometimes they will have to pay the ultimate price
The user formerly known as stzzo

climber
Sneaking up behind you
Sep 9, 2013 - 09:40am PT
My comment about SAR was a reflection of Donini's sentiment.

What if the SAR to which they are entitled was equipped similarly :-)... Perhaps in ultralight vehicles (bicycles?), with ultralight gear... Maybe just 40 GU packets.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Sep 9, 2013 - 09:42am PT
if their rescue was necessitated because they weren't properly equipped they should be made to PAY for it.


sorry, but this is a terrible idea.

who gets to decide what constitutes "proper equipment"? most of the clusters i see at the crags and in the mountains involving actual "climbers" are by gumbies loaded down with stacks of shiny gear.

"proper equipment" is going to be determined/regulated by the relevant legal authority (remember the rangers at rainer jumping up and down on ice axes?), and thus subject to the predictable idiocy. and the existence of that kind of regulation would just reinforce the bad american n00b habit of thinking that the answer to every problem is a piece of gear.

in places like the valley and cham, folks push boundaries precisely because they know that there's a possibility for rescue. i don't see much way of changing that short of allowing everyone to die (which may sound cool until it generates the likely outcome, namely complete closure of access).
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
Sep 9, 2013 - 10:14am PT
The snow/ice rib just below the top is a very prominent part of the route, and while not long, it does steepen near its top, at the base of a short widish crack...

... they probably didn't have a ladder of kicked steps that they could follow, or...

... maybe they feared the wide!
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Sep 9, 2013 - 11:03am PT
i don't see much way of changing that short of allowing everyone to die (which may sound cool until it generates the likely outcome, namely complete closure of access).
This is indeed a possible outcome. When the "taxpayers" have had enough of rescuing people who ignore common sense.
Bad weather had been forecast for the coming week yet they proceeded un prepared.
Sure, they almost made it to the top. But they didn't.
Going out prepared for forecasted bad weather is one thing. Going out clearly unprepared is another.

Such disregard for the cost of a likely outcome puts the sport as a whole at risk of regulation. Regulation which the "taxpayers" would rationally argue is necessary and fair.

Put another way: Kilian Jornet and partner should have known better. They were irresponsible.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Sep 9, 2013 - 11:24am PT
Put another way: Kilian Jornet and partner should have known better. They were irresponsible.


+1 for HT.


As my buddy Keith used to say: "Oooops, pants DOWN!!"
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Sep 9, 2013 - 11:27am PT
Your insurance should be invalidated if you pull some prank like that and get caught.
femaleexpat

Mountain climber
Sactown, CA
Sep 9, 2013 - 12:11pm PT
I am not defending Kilian and Emelie by posting a reply.

As an alpine climber/mountaineer/trail-runner, I've done all sorts of risks. I once almost called for rescue but just got lucky that there were volunteers training to be rescuers that day, that I was brought to safety.

Doing adventure in the mountains, we all took risks. There are unknown matters that we just couldn't control such as change of weather in a matter of few hours, or lost control of our footing.

So stop the bashing, I know in our lifetime we had all kinds of good and bad experiences in the mountains, that's why this sports is very fascinating. Otherwise it'll become boring yes.

I do admire Kilian and Emelie's taking risks then calling for rescue and humbling response. They did not let their ego get to them and come back alive to tell their tale.



survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Sep 9, 2013 - 12:15pm PT
So stop the bashing

Umm, ok, not.
johngenx

climber
Sep 9, 2013 - 12:15pm PT
I wonder what the cost of mountain rescues is when examined in terms of all the emergency response that is performed? We respond to car crashes even though 99% are probably avoidable. Should have slowed down on that ice, etc. Firefighters respond to a house fire regardless of the reason the fire started. Again, I'm sure most fires could have been avoided.

We have decided, as a society, to band together and afford people rescue services as part of our infrastructure.

Why? It saves money. Suppose you own a house. Sorry dirtbag climbers, I know you won't identify with this analogy, but bear with me. ;-)

Suppose I want to have the fire department respond in case of a fire. I call up the local fire fighters and arrange to pay for response. But, it's really, really expensive. They have to have all these trucks and people at the ready and on and on. So, I get together with my neighbour to share the cost. Along the way, we finally decide it just makes the most sense for everyone in the town to automatically chip in a few bucks and we can all have fire response. This way we all pay, but the cost is kept very low on a per home basis.

We do this "cost sharing" with all kinds of things. Police, military, roads, water and sewage, and on and on. It makes perfect sense. Yeah, I know it's also called "socialism" and some of you might think it's evil and whatever, but in reality the best nations to live in have a TON of it, and it's what separates those amazing countries from shitholes like Somalia.

"But, he CHOSE to climb that mountain!" Sure. And all those millions of people chose to drive. They chose to live in a house made of wood with electrical wiring. They chose all those things.

When I go out, I really, really, really try to ensure that I won't need a rescue. I plan and carry gear and train and whatever else in order to be self sufficient. It's a big part of the experience to me that we have to solve our own problems. I don't count on SARS. We think "no one will come get us."

I don't like it when guys go out and cut corners and place the ability of SARS to get them as part of their plan. But, that's not enough for me to initiate a plan where rescues are user pay. In the grand scheme of our society, it's still an inconsequential amount of money and I want those services to be there in case, and I plan on it being the absolute last resort, I need them.
Deekaid

climber
Sep 9, 2013 - 12:23pm PT
as per KLK post above a good one by the way, isn't there already a criteria of sorts in place? don't they fine you in Yosemite if you have to be rescued in a storm without the proper gear ?
Dr.Sprock

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Sep 9, 2013 - 12:26pm PT
if you wear spandex, then you should be well equipped, jus sayin...
Deekaid

climber
Sep 9, 2013 - 12:28pm PT
you gave me a good chuckle sprock
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Sep 9, 2013 - 12:29pm PT
It's good to know that if I slipped and twisted an ankle running up middle pal ill have Supertopo around to sh#t all over me.

If you really think he goes into the mountains thinking "oh ill just hit 911 when it goes south" you need to get off the couch.

I know. Asking a lot.
steve shea

climber
Sep 9, 2013 - 12:30pm PT
Maybe they did have rescue insurance. The CAF has been selling it since the 70's. I do not see any bashing. If you are in doubt about your own skills join the new AAC and purchase the rescue insurance. Todd is right. That's one very steep snow ridge and probably pretty hard by this time of the season. A deep six there would put you at the Plan de l'Aiguilles lickedy split.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Sep 9, 2013 - 12:31pm PT
There is a simple solution. When you decide to go ultra light and start ruthlessly trimming away all that annoying safety equipment, the first thing you leave behind is your cell phone or radio. Those things weight more than a tooth brush so WTF?

Or is the weight to safety benefit ratio of a insta helicopter and a long line just a little too hard to ignore?

Maybe thomas Humar would know
steve shea

climber
Sep 9, 2013 - 12:33pm PT
Good one heh heh.
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Sep 9, 2013 - 12:36pm PT
There is a simple solution. When you decide to go ultra light and start ruthlessly trimming away all that annoying safety equipment, the first thing you leave behind is your cell phone or radio. Those things weight more than a tooth brush so WTF?

Could you post this on the Matthew Greene thread? Thanks.
Burch3y

Mountain climber
San Diego
Sep 9, 2013 - 12:36pm PT
If you really think he goes into the mountains thinking "oh ill just hit 911 when it goes south" you need to get off the couch.

Hell, I think "I'll hit 911 when it goes south" when I'm sitting on the couch.
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Sep 9, 2013 - 12:37pm PT
You know damn well it's your own fault that your dick got caught in the toaster.
Burch3y

Mountain climber
San Diego
Sep 9, 2013 - 12:40pm PT
Toaster was wearing short-shorts. I'll take half the blame.

EDIT: I wonder if Kilian took any selfies during the rescue and made a TR?
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Sep 9, 2013 - 12:46pm PT
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Sep 9, 2013 - 01:00pm PT
That must be sketchy greasing around up on the Frendo Spur in sneakers eh? Did the guy at least have some sort of crampons?

there are people running around in sneakers up in the mountains all the time. It all depends on judgement of the individual and cutting your options slim can bite anyone on the ass. I'm not dissing radios and cell phones really, just the logic that goes into the planning. I know a guy who turns his avy transciever off when guiding in high hazard. This guarantees he'll avoid entering avy terrain at such times - but at least he's still got his transciever on him for searching.

It sort of sounds like the real problem is the trail runner fans wanting to emulate their hero and making the rather large leap into the alpine. The same general thing happens with climbers like your track suit friends on the eiger. Some friends have a similar tale of some stock brokers who landed by helicopter high on Mt Waddington to either die or live by their wits - thats all they had, other than a basic rock climbing course!

There's only one recourse with those guys.... mock them ruthlessly
steve shea

climber
Sep 9, 2013 - 01:12pm PT
bingo! once again, natural selection at work
FortMentäl

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Sep 9, 2013 - 02:01pm PT
yeah... like none of you dickholes ever took a chance.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Sep 9, 2013 - 02:14pm PT
http://iancorless.org/2013/09/08/kilian-jornet-emelie-forsberg-rescued-from-mont-blanc/

A pretty good analysis of the actual events including by Jornet and Forsberg.
Basically Forsberg nearly froze to death, precipitating the call for rescue.
We estimated the conditions and we didn´t make up a plan B if we would take longer time than normal.
Useful reminder for us all.
Degaine

climber
Sep 9, 2013 - 02:22pm PT
France and the US do things differently with regard to rescue. Rescues of this type are free of charge. That's the way it is, best to stop trying to look at the cost aspect through American glasses. Comments that he should pay for it really don't have their place in this discussion since that's just not how it is there.On a side note, in Chamonix (or in the rest of the French Alps for that matter), just like in Yosemite, most rescues in the summer are of hikers (often ill-equipped). Although spectacular due to the location, this type of rescue represents a relatively low percentage of rescues. Given they did not use a helicopter, probably did not cost much as well.

As to the equipment used, they clearly went too light, especially to move fast and easy on the ice section up high this time of year. That written, Kilian does have crampon-compatible running(ish) shoes:
http://www.tvmountain.com/video/alpinisme/9821-la-pepite-goulotte-aiguille-de-la-petite-verte-chamonix-mont-blanc-massif.html
Degaine

climber
Sep 9, 2013 - 02:28pm PT
HT's post of EF's account does indeed get to the heart of the matter.

The PGHM would rather rescue live bodies instead of recovering dead ones, so they probably considered this call a good one (although they likely scolded Kilian for not having more gear).
steve shea

climber
Sep 9, 2013 - 02:50pm PT
Rescues of what type? On foot? Maybe. I spent a long time in the Massif in the 70's. Very early on we were advised by locals to buy rescue insurance. The CAF office was the first stop in Cham for those in the know. I remember it went from about fifty to eighty USD over my time there. We were absolutely aware of French rescue costs. Things must have changed significantly. They did not say heli rescue just rescue. Also seeing helo rescues of climbers was an almost daily event not isolated at all. As a matter of fact the obit notices were posted on the Place de l'Eglise wall outside the meteo after every big weather event and the helos operated nonstop at times. The PGHM also did body evacs with the body bagged outside the bird in plain sight. Hard to miss. Then at Snells or the Biolet or the Midi pherique camping the PGHM or Gendarmerie would come in and pack up the deceased's gear. We saw this a lot. Things really must have changed. It took me awhile to ignore the helos or I never would have climbed there. They were a constant reminder of the seriousness of the sport we were involved in.

In '77 I think, not sure, there was a very tragic accident on the NF Tour Rond. The top party fell off and swept several parties below into the schrund. All were killed. It was a landmark case in France because for the first time ever a suit was brought by the families to recoup rescue costs and get money from to top group's family. Liability. It was thrown out if I remember correctly.
Degaine

climber
Sep 9, 2013 - 03:09pm PT
The article (in French) says Kilian and partner were rescued on foot (PGHM walked down from the Aiguille du Midi tram's top station).

Mountaineering-related rescues represent about 20% of all rescues in the summer and 10% of non ski area related rescues in the winter. My "relatively low" statement was certainly unclear. I should have written "far from the majority of all rescues".

A lot of the helicopters/planes buzzing around both sides of Chamonix these days are sightseeing and not rescue related.

Cheers.
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Sep 9, 2013 - 03:53pm PT
Otherwise it'll become boring yes

This speaks volumes. If taking a risk makes it non-boring, then rescue yourself.
Brian

climber
California
Sep 9, 2013 - 03:55pm PT
The pitches just below the top of the spur are steeper ice than the famous fin of snow leading up to the Rognon. Wouldn't have wanted approach shoes in the conditions I saw (which, I take it, were pretty typical). I mean, it's low angle ice for ice climbing; but, on the other hand, it's pretty freaking steep ice for "approach-shoeing"!

Glad they are safe. Agree with Donini that people can go for it however they wish, and also that they should not expect or depend on rescues. Also agree that people should try to be "responsible" when their actions might put others at risk (e.g., SAR, though in this case that's not really an issue).
aguacaliente

climber
Sep 9, 2013 - 03:57pm PT
It's very likely (certain?) that Jornet and Forsberg are members of one of the alpine clubs and have rescue insurance.

If you're all het up about the costs why not make it like car insurance? If you get rescued once, your premium goes up.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 9, 2013 - 10:01pm PT
As for the cost of rescue in France, it seems to depend on whether or not the PGHM judges your situation to have been life-threatening. If not, then you pay. See, for example, http://www.chamonet.com/events/news/3-400-rescue-bill-for-mont-blanc-mountaineers.html .

It sounds as if the charged and rescued team should have sat tight until they were dying, at which point the same rescue would have been free.
nah000

climber
canuckistan
Sep 9, 2013 - 10:20pm PT
jesus.

a few questions that come to mind:

who gets to decide how much is too little?

or is it too little only if you require a rescue?

or is something like house/anderson on the rupal face equally as "irresponsible"?

or is it only okay because in that case after a certain point, there was no chance of rescue?

what i'm taking away from this enlightening discussion: only go light and string yourself out if you can't get rescued.

got it.

thanks supertopo denizens!
Degaine

climber
Sep 9, 2013 - 11:05pm PT
rgold,

The rescue from your link happened in Italy (Aosta Valley). The Valdotain SAR function as the article states, charging for a rescue if in a non life threatening situation (does not mean the rescued party has to be injured just that injury or death is a real possibility if not rescued).

There is indeed a current debate in France and in the French Alps especially as to whether or not to charge for "unnecessary rescues," but as of now people who are rescued are not billed.

French Alpine Club (CAF) is not expensive, roughly 25 € per year, but only available to members at this price.

This insurance covers rescues in other European countries as well as any treatment or care related to an accident.
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