Mammut Pro Team Athlete Dani Arnold has set a new record time on the north face of the Grandes Jorasses. At the end of July, the 34-year old climbed the Walker Spur (4,208 meters) in the Mont Blanc massif on the Cassin route in 2 hours and 4 minutes. He now holds speed records on two out of the three legendary north faces in the Alps.
For the third summer in a row, Dani has been focusing on the Grand Jorasses north face project. In 2016 and 2017, weather conditions made any attempt impossible. Then, on July 27, 2018, it all finally came together: Dani caught a good weather window and good conditions to set a new record. The world-class alpinist conquered the north face with a height of over 1200m on the Cassin route in a sensational 2 hours and 4 minutes and was overwhelmed:
“I am feeling unbelievably happy and very proud of my achievement. Looking back, waiting such a long time for the right moment really paid off. Despite the fact that this was quite a struggle for me – as patience certainly isn’t my strongest skill. However, everything needs to be right: little details, such as whether I should climb two meters more to the right or to the left, sound ridiculous when you’re talking about a 1,200 meter face, but in the end, these details make the difference.”
Dani prepared meticulously for his attempt. He climbed the vertiginously steep north face to the Walker Spur (Cassin-Route) three times with different partners - the last time, two weeks before the actual record attempt. However, to claim the speed ascent, the Swiss athlete needed to wait until the weather and conditions on the granite ridge between Haute-Savoie in France and the Aosta Valley in Italy were just right - a combination that occurs only a few days a year. For a successful free solo climb, the rock has to be free from ice, but if it is too dry, there is a risk of rockfalls. “Around 80 percent of the Cassin route on the Walker Spur consists of rock, which is more difficult terrain than ice for a speed ascent. The most demanding section was the steep and technically complex Rébuffat corner, since this part was very wet due to meltwater.” With the speed record on the north face of the Grandes Jorasses and the fastest time on the north face of the Matterhorn, Dani now holds records on two out of the three great north faces in the Alps.