Most of them are very aware of the luck with have to live in the mountains and be able to play in such a great and varied terrain. Hovewer, that doesn't mean that a pro freeskier will start climbing or paragliding. Our worlds are close but the doors between them aren't always open, all the time.
Whatever barriers there may be, Julien Regnier jumped over them and got into climbing. Julien is an awesome and charismatic freeskier. After putting an end to his freestyle skiing career following the Nagano Olympics, he was at the forefront of the rebellion against freestyle skiing’s growing conformity. He actively participated in the emergence of the New School movement. Check out his videos and you'll understand what I'm talking about.
Just as there are two worlds between a 5.10 climber and a 5.14 climber, there are two worlds between people like Julien and someone who thinks they are an "ok" skier (like me). It's impressive how those guys play with the elements: rocks, cliffs, trees. It's amazing to see all their tricks in the air and on steep faces! This is without mentionning the physical aspects...
But... back to climbing, please. More than just getting into climbing as a consumer, Julien also bolts new routes. For me that was a great surprise and it made me happy to see his enthousiasm for climbing, bolting routes and learning rope techniques. Obviously he wanted to learn to be more comfortable in alpine terrain alpine so he could reach new faces or couloirs.
After exchanging a few emails, we finally met up at the beginning of the year for some ice climbing. Julien showed up with his happy crew at the artificial tower located in the pretty village of Champagny en Vanoise. Julien swaped his fat Black Crows skis for Petzl Nomics and other fun tools. Elina, a talented photographer, also had to switch from shooting freestyle to ice climbing. And she adapted very well to the vertical - jumaring as if she had done it tons of time before and dealing with the cold temperatures. She ended up with some great shots, filled with her own personal and feminine touch.
It was freezing that day but we had a very fun and interesting time all together! As usual, sharing experiences together, talking about techniques, gear and ethics is very rewarding. Being fit for skiing obviously helps for any sport and I was impressed by Julien's ability to climb the vertical and steep sections. From now, the next person who tells me that he can't climb because he has big legs will not be credible in my eyes. Just sayin'...
A big thanks to the "Bon Appétit" dream team (Fab, Nico, Victor), Damien Souvy for helping us at the Tower, and Elina and Arnaud for being patient on the static ropes in the negative temps ;)
Photos par Elina Sirparanta - elinaphoto.com
Safety First !
Julien and his pink suit on the ice
That was actually steeper than it looks like
Ice screws stories
Cold but so good !Arnaud. Watch is great video !