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Antoine Bletton

French nationality
32 years old
Height: 1.63m. Weight: 58kg. A bit too chunky to be a good climber, but not chunky enough to be a good skier – that’s why I do mixed alpine sports.
« The average level of alpine-sports practitioners has risen strongly in recent years. »
 
career highlights
 
Long rocky routes, sheer-slope skiing, technical mountaineering... The bottle isn’t important, so long as the drink’s intoxicating.
 
interview
+ What are your three finest achievements in the mountains ?

August 2009: free-climbing “Divine Providence” on the Grand Pilier d’Angle, with mates from the Mountaineering Excellence squad at the CAF [French Alpine Club]. It’s one of the best rocky routes in the Mont Blanc Massif, with up to 7c difficulty. We set off with Dimitri Messina, with no serious free-climb ambitions, but did all the pitches flash or on-sight!

 

May 2010: First ski descent of the west couloir of Kahiltna Queen (3,720m) in Alaska, after winning Millet Expedition Project funding with Sylvain Rechu and Thomas Gautheron. A major summit, a gorgeous route, and it’s visible from the Denali base camp. Six hundred metres of 50° slopes with 20cm of fresh snow on the ice… Coming back down, we focused hard!

 

June 2011: the Hypercouloir du Brouillard on the south face of Mont Blanc, with Seb Ratel and Didier Jourdain of the GMHM [French high-mountain military unit]. We made perfect use of the weather window and conditions: we climbed much of the route by night with Ultra headlamps. A few days later, the gully was no longer negotiable. A pleasant “rest” weekend during the guide training course!

+ Who do you prefer doing alpine sports with ?
With buddies who have the same vision and desire as I do: having an enjoyable time in the mountains, whatever the activity or season, without taking ourselves too seriously.
+ Your best experience, high up ?
At the bivouac at the top of the Grand Pilier d’Angle, after climbing “Divine Providence”, sheltered by a big gendarme. I’ve never slept so well in the mountains.
+ And the worst ?
At the bivy on Les Droites summit ridge, ascending the Tournier Spur. During the storm, we had a front-row view of the sound and light show. I’ve never slept so badly in the mountains.
+ What do you like doing when you’re not in the mountains ?
Hang out with my boy and girl buddies. Party. Watch good movies and listen to rock ‘n’ roll.
What’s your involvement with the Millet Design Centre and in product development generally ?
I try to develop products related to my discipline, particularly backpacks for steep-slope skiing.
How do you see your discipline evolving in the next few years ?

The average level of alpine-sports practitioners has risen strongly in recent years. Is it due to evolving kit or mentalities? In the Mont Blanc Massif, the routes that used to have a tough reputation are now turning into little motorways.

I aim to roll back the boundaries of elite alpinism, and focus on speed of ascent and operating at high altitude.