Valandre Blog

Maurice Herzog passes away


Today Friday December 14, the news broke out that Maurice Herzog has passed away at the age of 93.

Maurice Herzog - Paris

Maurice may not be as well known to the public as Reinhold Messner, however in the climbing community he was and remains a remarkable pioneer, by climbing the first 8000 peak 03.06.1950 accompanied by Louis Lachenal: The 8091m (26.545ft) high Annapurna 1 located in Nepal.

Maurice Herzog au sommet de l'Annapurna 1950
The Annapurna 1 is considered the most dangerous of the 14 8000m peaks. The north and its original route is not that technical but EXTREMELY avalanche prone.

Annapurna North-West-Face - (c)

Maurice and Louis organized a full expedition, leaving France to attempt the first 8000m peak and in one season. Up untill then, all attempts to summit a 8000 was using a tactics of expeditions longer than one season. Maurice and Louis introduced the first “short and fast” 8000m peak, and summited to become the first humans on a summit over 8000m.

Conquistadors of the Useless - Louis Lachenal and Lionel Terray After Annapurna North Face Descent 1950
But even more remarkable, Maurice and Louis climbed Annapurna 1 “Non Ox” – a point that has to be underlined.
Alpinism is often learning the lesson the hard way: With no experience with non-ox high altitude climbing, both Maurice and Louis underestimated the combination of extreme cold combined with only little oxygen available to “fuel the fire”. Using too light equipment (booths and gloves) both of the climbers had fingers and toes amputated  urgently in the field, at their return to BC.

True Summit - Lionel Terray carrying Louis Lachenal from airplane on return from Annapurna 1950

In less than a month, the French climbing community have lost to historical icons: Maurice Herzog and Patrick Edlinger (November 16th).


Maurice Herzog Patrick Edlinger

Rest in peace!

Patrick Edlinger (F) lets loose the grip at 52


Patrick Edlinger

It’s with great sadness that we heard the news of the death of French icon rock climber Patrick Edlinger at the age of 52 in his home in Savoy this morning (16.11.12). Please allow us to present our deepest condolences to his family, loved ones and to all of us who witnessed his amazing performance free climbing in the Verdon gorge.

Back in 1982, we had a gamble going on: “If Patrick is not alive by the end of the year, I will buy a round of beer, and chew my hat”. I never bought that round of beer, and never chewed my hat – because I knew that he was (like others in the early eighties) a top professional breaking the limits.

“Freedom is just another word for nothing left to loose”, so Patrick took this to the edge of the real world, and free climbed some of the most challenging routes in the Verdon gorge.

It was the years of “Think Pink” and Patrick was the inspiratory in France. He infused climbing in France with spirituality, philosophy with an ecological approach……yet still his gymnastic performances was – as his mind of steel – of extremely high performance.

Patrick let his grip loose last night, but this is fine with me. None of us expected an everlasting life, as the thrill was on the edge.

In one of his last statements to a hungry press Patrick stated: “I am a free man and do not regret anything I have done”. Yes life on the edge – with nothing left to loose – is true in its momentary essence, no future in front, no past behind. Just the eternal NOW

Does it really matter, we used to ask? – Your question is now Patrick: Did it really matter?

We at Valandré would like to thank Patrick Edlinger for the fundamentally true impulses he infused into the climbing community in the early 80’ties.

Rest in peace Patrick…..the job was well done!

Patrick Edlinger lache prise à 52 ans


Patrick Edlinger

C’est avec une immense tristesse que nous apprenons la mort du grimpeur français Patrick Edlinger âgé de 52 ans à son domicile en Savoie le matin du 16 Novembre 2012. Nous présentons nos plus sincères condoléances à sa famille et à tous ceux qui l’ont aimé et ont été témoins de ses prouesses en grimpe libre dans les gorges du Verdon.

En 1982, nous avions lancé un pari : « Si Patrick n’est plus vivant à la fin de l’année, j’achèterai une tournée de bières pour tout le monde et je mangerai mon chapeau ». Je n’ai jamais acheté cette tournée de bières et jamais mangé mon chapeau – je savais qu’il était (comme tant d’autres à cette période) en train de dépasser et de transcender les limites de cette profession.

« La Liberté, c’est juste un mot lorsqu’on a plus rien à perdre », Patrick a donc emprunté cette phrase à la frontière du monde réel et a grimpé en totale liberté les voies les plus difficiles des gorges du Verdon.

C’était l’année du “ThinkPink” et Patrick en était l’inspiration en France. Il a initié et diffusé en France la grimpe accompagnée de spiritualité et de philosophie, avec une approche écologique… mais ses performances physiques étaient – à l’image de son mental d’acier – d’une exceptionnelle puissance.

Patrick est parti la nuit dernière. Personne d’entre nous n’attend la vie éternelle mais le frisson était proche.

Dans l’une de ses dernières déclarations à la presse, Patrick disait : « Je suis un homme libre et ne regrette rien de ce que j’ai fait ». Oui la vie sur un fil – sans rien à perdre – est la vérité dans son essence momentanée, pas de futur devant, pas de passé derrière. Juste l’éternel MAINTENANT.

Cela importe-t-il, nous lui demandions souvent? – Cette question est maintenant Patrick, cela importait-il ?

Chez Valandré nous voulons remercier Patrick Edlinger pour sa véritable implication et son apport à la communauté depuis le début des années 80.

Repose en paix Patrick … tu as bien travaillé !