yann

BIOGRAPHY

Born in Chamonix, I discovered the mountains in my teens thanks to Chamonix climbing club and, most of all, the guides who supervised us.I’m a high-mountain guide, and I also trained as an engineer. Since 2010 I’ve been the director of La Société Chamoniarde de Prévention et de Secours en Montagne [a non-profit body for mountain rescue and accident prevention] in Chamonix. So I divide my time between guiding, organising prevention operations (in particular those targeting younger children), and my family.


I started climbing, rock climbing when I was 14 years old. Although I grew up in the Chamonix Valley in the French alps, at the bottom of the Mont-Blanc (the highest summit of Europe), I discovered the activity by “accident”. My family was not at all in the mountain business and when I signed up for the rock climbing association in Chamonix I couldn’t imagine it would change my life. For the best of course!

We were a bench of friends climbing together and learning from professional mountain guides. It was a relief for my parents who didn’t know much about alpinism except that it was dangerous.

At age 17, I reached a national team in the CAF (French Alpine Club). This team (I was the youngest) was built to train some young alpinists. At 19 years old I reached this other national team form FFME (French Mountaineering and climbing Federation). Those 2 experiences in national teams allowed me to meet other young and talented climbers and gave us the basis to climb hard, long and high….

I become a mountain guide at 21. At first I didn’t like it. I was too young and not ready to become a professional mountain guide. I went back to my studies and became a material engineer. I’ve always liked to think how to improve my gear, how t4 make things easier, safer while climbing.

While studying, I guided during my free time and it gave me the opportunity to understand better the job, its obligations and its joys.

At the end of my studies, I worked 1 year as an engineer for Petzl, testing gear. After one year, I went back to my first passion, the mountains, to live as a full time mountain guide. I started to have regular clients, now friends that I took on some very challenging alpine routes. For me it is a great honour and a big challenge to manage to take them to their physical and mental limits to reach their dreams; dreams that sometimes I put myself in their mind because they wouldn’t think by themselves they could be able to do it on day. Climbing Cho Oyu (8201m) without oxygen and altitude Sherpa is the best example. I love the “mental aspect” of climbing mountains. You can be the best runner in the valley and never manage to climb a peak, and the opposite is true too! When I went to Denali with clients in 2009, I managed to reach the top with the slowest because I knew how to take the best from him and put him in great confidence with himself that we passed the quickest at the end. Climbing mountains in the Alps, in expeditions is a balance between so many different factors that when everything goes well it’s so good! Very hard to explain. Many people wonder why we go to the mountains and most of the time there are no answers. I like to believe that you go back to the essential. On a glacier, climbing a rock, trying to put your ice axe in the right stop, nothing else matter that the next step. Because your life and the one of your partner depends on your next move. Life becomes so simple up there… Relationships are true because there are no more doctors, no more bosses, no more employees, just people together taking care of their own and their friend to live a great experience. Quite simple and true from beginners to experts.

For me it’s now the main reason why mountaineering is so popular! So if you haven’t tried it, please go head, you won’t regret it!

In 2010, I became the director of a very important association in Chamonix, La Chamoniarde whose main goal is to prevent mountain accident. How? Well first by informing people with on the only tourism office dedicated to the high mountains activities: the Office de Haute Montagne created in 1972. And then by organizing free awareness days for kids first (from primary school to teenagers) and for adults.

I learnt a lot from this experience because I discovered the rescue world (I worked a lot with mountains rescuers) and I understood better why people are sometimes scraed of going to the mountains. It’s a scary world up there and even if its beauty attracts a lot, you need to explain what’s going on up there.

2015 Director of the board of the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix

From september 2000 to now: UIAGM Mountain Guide based in Chamonix, French Alps ; Member of the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix, www.chamonix-guides.com

  • 2008 & 2009 : director of the «Fête des Guides »
  • 2006 à 2012 : member of the board of the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix
  • Independant Mountain Guide with my own clients in the Alps and abroad. Leader of many expeditions : Cho oyu (Népal), Denali (Alaska), Mongolia, Kirgystan, Pakistan …

From september 2012 to now: Sports Marketing Director for BIGPACK,

  • Sports marketting strategy (sponsoring, events, communication)
  • Product developpment & testing
  • Ambassador for BIGPACK

From March 2010 to September 2012: Director of « La Chamoniarde, Société de Prévention et de Secours en Montagne », www.chamoniarde.com

  • Managment of the association and the team
  • Project managment with « PrevRiskMontBlanc » a european project with « la
  • Fondation Montagne Sure » from Courmayeur with some european funds
  • Creation of the « PôleMontagneRisk » at the « maison de la montagne » in Chamonix
  • Awarness workshop programms for people using new technology : videos clips « Yétis », flyers, conferences…
  • Member of the security commission from the french goverment to prepare national awarness programs for young climbers
  • Advisor of Champonix City regarding all mountains issues (opening/closing ski areas, roads …)
  • In charge of the modernisation of the rescue radio network in Chamonix

From Mai 1999 to september 2012: Technical advisor for Millet (74) – www.millet.fr

  • Ambassador for Millet Millet
  • Fiels test on all the products

2005 : Engineer for Petzl, Crolles (38) – www.petzl.com

  • In charge of the creation & development of field test program for all their products

2004 : Internship at ENSA laboratory

  • Study on a normalization project on belaying device 

I started climbing at age 14 with some friends. Since then, my passion for the mountains has been driving my life. Listing all or some of my best climbs is very difficult because for me the most important thing is what you share in the mountains. Sometimes you will feel some incredible stuff just skinning up a glacier or doing some easy rock climbing with kids. The happiness, the strength of what we feel in the mountains is not up to the difficulty! That’s why you’ll find here a short list of what are my best souvenirs/ my best climbs for me according to what I felt at the moment.

Rock climbing:

I love sport climbing. I do it all the time, as soon as I can. When I manage to climb for myself a little, I usually do 8a red pointed and 7B+ / 7c on sight (French grade). I don’t like to “work” a route again and again; I’m more a one shoot climber!

Multi pitches:

I like it do but when I manage to climb at least a little before to be able to push myself. I did some aid climbing too in the Verdon or in Yosemite but definitely I prefer free climbing!

In the Verdon Gorge’s

  • “A tout coeur” (6c)
  • “Rideau Gwendal” (7b)
  • “Trou sec” (6c)
  • “Pourquoi j’ai mangé mon père”
  • “Nagasaki” (A3)
  • « Le voyage de la mandarine » A4 in 4 days in November. We were climbing by night with headlamps to be able to move on because days in December & now are super short !!!
  • « Au voleur méfiez – vous » A4 in 3 days in December We were absolutely lost with no people around during 4 days !!!

Maladière: a cliff next to Chamonix 300m high, very steep! I’ve climb a lot of routes on this big rock cliff and opened a new one:

  • “La guerre de l’an 3 n’aura pas lieu” A3 & 7b. We opened it in 3 days. The 2nd day, going back home late a big rock rolled on my finger and i had 5 stitches. I was working as a cashier in a supermarket… and i couldn’t bend my longer finger anymore to give the change !!! Fun !!
  • Xenon 7b
  • Indiana jaune 6c
  • Vade Retros satanas: 7a
  • Vox populi 7b
  • L’arche perdue 7a
  • Noli me tangere 7a+
  • Le temple du soleil 7c

Les Vuardes: another big cliff right on the opposite side of the valley, in front of la Maladiere. We can not access this 350/400m high rock cliff from the base. You access from the top abseiling down and then clilmbing up again. Let me tell you that as soon as you start you have no choice: you have to climb the route or sleep and wait for rescue if you can not reach the top again!!

  • Plenitude 6c
  • Vertige 6c
  • Quand on tue le cochon…. 7b+
  • L’air du temps 7a

Dolomites Italy:

I went to the Dolomites 3 times. The first time in winter. We ice climbed and opened a new mixed route in the Tofana di Roses. I still remember how cold it was!!!! Then I came back in summer with a friend and we climbed some of the most famous mountains of the Dolomites:

  • Marmolada by the Vinatzer – Messner route 800m; 6c
  • Cima grande di Lavaredo by the Comici route 400m, 6b
  • Cima piccola by the Cassin route
  • Campanile Basso
  • Crozzon di Brenta: we wanted to climb the “guide route” and we were so wrong that we basicly opened a new route, completely lost in the face. We were so ashamed that we couldn’t find the right way that we never told the hut keeper back at the hut…

In Chamonix, in the mountains I’ve also climbed lots of rocky peaks with glacier approach such as:

Grand Capucin 3831m:

  • Voyage selon Gulliver 7a, 400m
  • L’echo des alpage 7a+, 400m
  • Bonatti route 7a, 400m

Trident du tacul, 3639m

  • Eclipse 7a+, 300m

Pinacle du Moine, 3460m

  • Salathé 400m, 7c

Les Drus, 3754m

  • Pilier Bonatti, 600m, 7a (I was 16 and we climbed it up & down to Chamonix in 25h!!!)
Ice Climbing:

I do not ice climb a lot even though I really like it. The problem is that in the winter skiing keeps you quite busy! But I’ve climb all the most famous ice fall around Chamonix. One day I would like to go to Canada because I think it is the place to ice climb! Soon…

  • Argentière: “Shiva Lingam” (6)
  • Argentière: “Desesperado” (5+)
  • Argentiere : « Nuit Blanche » (5+)
  • Gramuzat: “Gramuzat direct” (6+)
  • Val d’Aoste / Cogne : Repentence Super (6)
  • Morillion : Dame du Lac (6)
Alpinism:

Since I’m 14 years old, I’m spending almost all my free time in the mountains so making a list of what I’ve done will be a long exercise… here is a summary of what is maybe my best memories.

Grandes Jorasses, 4208m

  • Walker Spur (6b, 1200m) in a day

Les droites, 4000m

  • The Ginat, 1000m, 5 in a day (I was 17)
  • Lagarde Couloir, 1200m, 5

Aiguille Verte, 4210m

  • Directe à la Croux, 1000m, 5+ in a day
  • Grands Montets ridge in a day (I was 16)

Mont-Blanc, 4810m

  • Winter ascent by the Grand Pilier d’angle (the Bouchard route); 1600m, 5

Les drus, 3754m

  • ierre Alain route in winter in 1 day (17 years old)

I started guiding in 2000 and since then I guide more than I climb mountains for myself. But I always wanted to keep my passion at a very high level always looking for new mountains, new routes; That’s why I also do many challenging climbs with clients. Of course the commitment is different and it is a huge challenge to take people to their highest level!!

the list below is not exhaustive and represents the most representative climbs I’ve done as a guide.

Grandes Jorasses, 4208m

  • Grandes Jorasses traverse, 3 days, 4 M3
  • The shraw, 1000m, 4+ in a day in winter

Les droites, 4000m

  • The Ginat, 1000m, 5 in a day
  • Lagarde Couloir, 1200m, 5 (twice)

Aiguille Verte, 4210m

  • Couturier couloir, 1000m
  • Grands Montets ridge in 2 days (twice)
  • Vivagel gully, 1000m, 5+ in a day in winter
  • Jardin ridge, 4+, 1200m
  • Sans nom ridge, 6b, 1200m

Mont-Blanc, 4810m

  • Innominatta ridge, 1000m, 4+ (3 times)
  • Piler rouge du Brouillard, 6a, 1000m
  • Intergrale de Peuterey, 6b, 2500m, 3 days

Les drus, 3754m

  • The north couloir in winter, 800m, M10, 4+
  • Drus Traverse, 1000m 4 (twice)

Aiguilles de Chamonix

  • Traverse, 2 days, 6b 7km long…

Aiguille noire de Peuterey (Twice)

  • South ridge (2 days) 6a, 1200m

Les courtes, 3866m

  • The Swiss route (twice) 800m, 4
  • NNE couloir, 800m

Grand Capucin, 3830m

  • Bonatti route, in 1day round trip from chamonix

La Meije, 3983m

  • The Traverse (twice) 1 day, very long, 5, 900m
  • North face via the “Z” 800m, ice up to garde 4/5

Pilier de Barre Noire

  • 6b, 800m

Ailefroide, 3954m

  • Coste Rouge ridge, 2 days, 1200m, 5

Bietschhorn, 3934m, Switzerland

  • Est Spur, 1000m, 4

Zinalrothorn, 4221m

  • Rotgrat, descent by the north ridge; 1600m, 4

Dent Blanche, 4357m Switzerland

  • Ferpecle ridge, 4, 1000m

Dent d’Herens, 4171m Switzerland

  • Tiefmatten ridge, 1500m, 3

Matterhorn, 4478m Switzerland

  • Lion ridge, descent by Hornli ridge , 1500m, 3 (3 times)

Eiger, 3970m Switzerland

  • The north face, Heckmair route in 1 day!!! 1700m, 5

Schreckhorn, 4078m

  • SW ridge, 1400m, 5

But the most important for me is all the mountains I haven’t climb yet!! All the valley that I want to discover!! And let me tell you that I still have a lot to do…

Extreme skiing /Snowboarding

Tour Ronde, 3792m
We snowboarded the north face with my friend Karine. She was 17, I was 16… It is 300m high and about 50°…
Cosmiques Couloir: a long couloir from the cosmiques hut 3654m , 2500m when you can ski to Chamonix, about 40/45°
Glacier rond, another famous couloir next to the Cosmiques couloir…

Expeditions :
2014Le bout et la corde: Antarctica
2013Altai Mountain, Mongolia
2011Kalymnos, Greece
2010Bisutun rock climbing international festival, IranDenali with 5 clients, 6200m, Alaska
2009AlaskaJordan again (rescue operation because a friend fell…)
2008Jordan
2006Everest cleaning expedition with Koreans; cleaned up south col at 8000mCho Oyu 8208m with clients, no oxygen & no Sherpa
2005Annapurna base camp cleaning expedition
2004Utah, Colorado, Yosemite, USA
2003Yosemite, Joshua tree…USA
2002Ben Devis & Cairngorns in winter, Scotland
2001AconcaguaDolomites
2000Slovakia winter trip in the tatras mountainsDenali with my father and 3 friends AlaskaFirstDuli chhish (6800m), Pakistan
1999Kirgystan. Part of the Russian national mountaineering championshipYosemite, Red Rock, USA
Why did you choose outdoor activities to be your career?

Why? I just felt so good up there.I think the main reason we, alpinist and mountaineers, love being in the mountains is that up there everything becomes simple. You cannot think about anything else than your next step. Otherwise you may miss it!! For me, being in the mountains is just freedom. Freedom from every little worries you can have in your mind. And being in this kind of state of mind allows you to know yourself better. I’m a little philosophic but the power of the mountains is so strong, where you have to experience it to be able to understand.


What’s your most fruitful outdoor experience?

I have lots of very fruitful moments in my mountain life which helped me learn more about both myself and my friends. It’s very difficult to pick one most fruitful outdoor experience because they are all different and very intense. The funny thing is that most of the people expect your best memories goes with your hardest routes or experiences but after 20 years of experience I would say it’s not true. I have great memory during my first ascents with friends, the first time that we had to decide, to pick the right way. It was a super easy mountain to climb at this point of my life!

Let me give you a couple of my best, most fruitful experience:

– My first ascent at Aiguille Verte (4200m) at the age of 16. We completed it in one day and got lost on the way down. We arrived at the hut very late and my parents were so worried that they called the hut keeper several times to get some news. Everything was fine, just being slow due to learning.

-First snowboard descent at Tour Ronde’s north face with my friend Karine. What a remarkable memory!! We were supposed to ski down another couloir but on this ascent the conditions were so good that we decided to ski the steeper north face.

-First expedition to Kirgystan in 1999. We lost a bag during the flight, got sick for 3-4 days, climb some great routes and during our last achievement of first ascent my friend fell down and dislocated his shoulder about 400m above the horizon… I was 19 years old. I managed to bring him down safely and found a doctor. During our trip back home we had to wait in the woods for several days because of some kind of civil war between etnies. What an experience- The summit challenge of Cho Oyu (8200m) in nepal with some clients.

I could keep on going for hours! All these moments are fruitful experiences, all of them are of different kinds. And that’s why outdoor activities are so important: No matter where, when, how fast you go, how hard you climb, you will live some fruitful moments. Last week i went for a hike above Chamonix. It was fun and I walked longer than I planned and saw the sunset on the Mont-Blanc range. It was so wonderful and peaceful. I went back home feeling refreshed and energetic.


What about the most terrible outdoor experience?

Mountains are so powerful yet dangerous too, in a good way! But as any other thing in the world it’s never black or white, and the mountains are dangerous too! You will live probably some of the best moments of your life but also the most terrible ones too.

I lost my best friend Karine in 2009. Karine was my best friend since I was 14. We learned how to climb together. We did our first mountain experience together when we were teenagers. We climbed Eperon Frendo at the north face of Aiguille du Midi when I was 16 she was 17! Mountains give you the best for sure but can take the best one too!


Any mountain or places that you want to go? And how special it is?

I definitely have some places where I would like to go. Climbing a virgin mountain, for example, is something I looking forward to do one day. I love discovering, exploring. I want to go to Antarctica where probably the most remain mountains in the world. Not only to climb, but to experience the life there too!

Today my life is having a new direction with my partnership with BIGPACK. For me it’s exactly the same thing as in the mountains. I’m going somewhere with people whom I like, that I trust to live a new experience. We want to reach the highest point of course. It is our goal. And the way to do it is also very important. Lots of projects, lots of new places I want to discover. China is one of them!


If you are not an outdoor expert, what would you be?

I don’t know! But I’m so thankful that I had the chance to become an outdoor expert as you say. Mountains, outdoor activities have been driving my life for the best.