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Eiger Speed Riding

14 June 2006

François’s naration.
I didn’t want the winter ending… While I was climbing the Mont Blanc, Antoine rided by 3 times the north face of the “Aiguille du Midi”. In the refuge, I was speaking about summits with Aurélien. He told me some friends skied the west face of the Eiger in good conditions.
Eiger… The Ogre.. My alpinist child dreams are bumping my brain again.
Ok, I prepare this.
Gin encourages me, I take informations about climbing conditions. Unfortunatly, the roc falls and snow conditions are not good, the guides don’t want. It will be Helidrop. Less adventure? Easier to organise! I call Antoine, electric, it will be big!! It will be on wednesday. Tuesday night, we meet in the hearty Montant family’s house. Damien Dufresne and Tristan Lebeschu, from Acro-Base, are happy of this new shooting session. We talk hours all together, deep and simples things…time is running.. we didn’t really sleep. Wedensday on the Heli base, Lauterbrunnen. Everybody is preparing mechanically his stuff.
This region of Switzerland is wonderfull. We enjoy the flight time in the heli, I want to look everywhere in the same time. Every second we say with Antoine: There, and there!! So much slopes to ride, tracks to draw… The Eiger is in front of us. Big!! A last itinary check in live, the west face, the place where we’ll plunge in the north face, snow conditions…Summit is here. Here we are, in the “High” world. The ambiant changed. Seconds seem eternal and printing in my mind. Small people on a small edge, high.. Ok let’s do it. The place is just perfect to prepare the 2 small gliders.Wind is from the back, but the tube is protecting.The slope is deep, the edge is thin, we must not fail.. No stress, my little Nano is docile… I trim the glider on the slope angle… wow, it will be fast!! We’ll put fire on the snow!!
The heli is back with Damien and Tristan on it’s side, they’re ready. A last panoramic, to print…

Let’s go.
My toy inflate quickly, perfect. But hey, that’s steep!! The speed never stop to increase, the west face is aspiring us like a toboggan. Amazing!! We’re certainly above 100kph.. My glide angle is good, I stay in contact with the ground. Big curves full speed, it’s the big war under my skis.. I jump rocs, touch, resist, attack, touch again..So strong!! Antoine, is heavier, flying more and faster. I see some rest of smog faraway… Still few curves on the west face. The heli is too far, can’t follow…Still roc jumps, curves, and we dive into the north face…
Oulalah…Spectacular!! Huge! I’m Snapped by mineral, “the” cliff.. So high above, so far below… small people again..
Here comes the first terrasse. I aim…Wow , with this speed, not possible to make something else than touches… Turn, attack, the next one is coming, I rebound, next one… Now they are connecting, I swoop, ski more. I’m going down like this until the bottom of the face. I land at the extreme snow limit.
Calm. Big contrast. I’m boosted, full of speed and adrenalin, puffed. I can’t believe it.. I look back at this face, so impressive.
I’m looking for Antoine. I didn’t see him anymore since we went in the north face. I can see his smog, he’s up there on the side.
The heli is arriving around, he didn’t follow… We have now to fly again to reach the valley. Antoine will not come here, I have to climb up to him, better place to take off. So I pack the Nano, reverse my harness in “walk” position.. and my legs too. Finaly, I climb, the effort participates to the adventure.. Antoine is waiting few hundred meters above, he’s sitting on an overhanging roc, legs in the space, imperial, as an eagle. Val is around there, sure..
The snow is weak, I swim, it’s hard, long.. This time to recenter… We stay a moment on the roc, tranquillous, not in the hurry to go back down in the valley, to the civilised world.
Then we fly, Tristan and Damien are on the landing place.

Later I grumble because the heli didn’t make it well, bad shoots…
Anyway, images are printed in the mind…
That was huge, strong, amazing… It’s always so special to be up there, in the “High”world..
Thanks to Antoine, Damien, Tristan to share that moments.
Thanks to Gin Gliders, ZAG Skis, Les Arcs for their help.
Now, where next?..
Video and photos on www.acro-base.com

Les Arcs