[Photo] Giulio Malfer

Patrick "Gab" Gabarrou

Posted on: November 27, 2006

When I was fifteen, I came across Gaston Rebuffat's books in my school library for the first time. His magical photos made me long for vast spaces, for adventure and mystery. Much later I entered that world myself as an alpinist and a guide; but even more than the actual climbing and skiing, I felt a powerful draw—left over from childhood fantasies—for quiet contemplation before the mountains' beauty: a universe of dreams. Sometimes I've felt immersed in the very substance of the altitude, suspended for an eternal moment in the perfection of a place, a radiance, an atemporal harmony.

Under the stars and in the wholesome welling forth of silence, it's still possible to rediscover our true, deep and original relationship with the earth. In order to preserve and share this fundamental experience I've committed myself resolutely to supporting Mountain Wilderness France, an organization whose goal is "to safeguard the mountain in all its aspects," as well as to continuing my excursions with close friends and disabled people. Because, finally, there is no real joy except in friendship—and in our thoughts and prayers for those who remain down below, that the stars may guide them, too.

—Translated from the French by Katie Ives

Patrick Gabarrou: curriculum vitae

1969: South Ridge (AD, 850m), Dent Blanche (4356m), Valais Alps, Switzerland, first climb.

1972: Bonatti Pillar (TD+), Petit Dru (3730m), Mont Blanc Massif, Alps, France, ascent.

1973: BA in Philosophy from the Sorbonne University, Paris, France. Becomes high-mountain guide.

1974: Gabarrou-Albinoni Gully (III 4+, 500m), Mont Blanc du Tacul (4248m), Mont Blanc Massif, first ascent, with Jean-Pierre Albinoni.

1975: Supercouloir (IV 5c A1, 800m), Mont Blanc du Tacul, first ascent, with Jean-Marc Boivin.

1978: Gabarrou-Silvy (VI WI6 6b A1, 1000m), Aiguille Sans Nom (3982m), Mont Blanc Massif, first ascent, with Philippe Silvy.

1980: Grand Couloir (IV 5, 700m), Petites Jorasses (3650m), Mont Blanc Massif, first ascent, with Alexis Long.

1982: Hypercouloir (D, 1000m), Mont Blanc (4807m), first ascent, with Pierre-Alain Steiner.

1983: Pilier Rouge du Brouillard (ED sup: 6b, 350m), Mont Blanc Massif, first ascent, with Long.

1984: Freneysie Pascale (VI 6 R, 700m), Divine Providence (ED3: VII+ A3, 900m), and Cascade Notre-Dame (V 6, 700m), Mont Blanc, first ascents, with Francois Marsigny.

1985: Hypercouloir (IV 5+, 500m, Comino-Grassi, 1978), Grandes Jorasses (4208m), Alps, France, first winter ascent, with Francois Marsigny.

1986: Directissime (7a A2, 1200m), Grandes Jorasses, first ascent, with Herve Bouvard. Birth of daughter, Heidi.

1988: Ballade pour Heidi: four routes on the Mont Blanc Massif, solo in one day. Le Voyage du Gab: seven routes on the Mont Blanc Massif, solo in three days. Super-Integrale de Peuterey: West Face (TD, 650m), Aiguille Noire de Peuterey (3772m); Gervasutti Route (TD+, 600m), Pointe Gugliermina (3893m); Pilier Central du Freney (TD+, 500m), Mont Blanc, enchainment in two days, with Pierre Gourdin.

1989: Ski-mountaineering, French Champion. Tryptikon (ED2: 80 degrees, 1050m), Mont Collon (3637m), Valais Alps, Italy/Switzerland, first ascent, with Gourdin. Deo Gratias (ED1/2: VII A2/3), Dent Blanche (4356m), Alps, France, first ascent, with Gourdin.

1992: Aux Amis Disparus (ED2: 5.10d A3, 1100m), Matterhorn (4478m), Valais Alps, with Lionel Daudet, first ascent. Appertet-Gabarrou (ED, 850m), Pointe Marguerite, Grandes Jorasses, first ascent. Everest, Himalaya, Nepal, attempted ski descent (without oxygen), to 8600m. Death of climbing partner and mountain brother, Alexis Long.

1993: Alexis (VI 6b A2, 1100m), Grandes Jorasses, first ascent, with Benoit Robert.

1994: Omega (IV 6a A2/3, 650m), Petites Jorasses, first ascent, with Ferran Latorre.

1995: Cascade de la Genta, Cascade de La Citerne I + II, Pointe des Cavales (WI5 M6, 1400m), Cirque du Fer a Cheval, Haute-Savoie, France, first complete ascent, with Philippe Batoux.

2000: Free Tibet (VI 5.10d A2+, 1200m), Matterhorn, first ascent, with Cesare Ravaschietto.

2002: Padre Pio Pray for Us (V 6c+, 900m), Matterhorn, first ascent, with Ravaschietto.

2003: Patagonic (VI M6 5+ WI6 A1, 700m), Mont Blanc, first ascent, with Christophe Dumarest. A Lei (V 6b A2+ M5+, 850m), Grandes Jorasses, first ascent, with Batoux and Robert.

2004: Michelangelo (V 6c, 700m), Monte Stella (3262m), Maritime Alps, Italy, first ascent, with Stephane Berrat, Ilario Tealdi and Ezio Marlier.

2005: Heidi (VI A3 M5+ 5c R, 850m), Grandes Jorasses, first ascent, with Batoux and Dumarest.

2006: Grande Diedre (ED+: VI 6c A2, 750m), Grandes Jorasses, first ascent, with Dumarest.

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