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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"Glaces"...a history of ice climbing and technique

Just one of the many historical photos in "Glaces",  Beyond Good and Evil., Mt. Blanc Range. 

I like to read.  I like to collect mountaineering books or at least have in the past.   Obviously one of my passions is ice climbing.  I come by that honestly having been lucky enough to have started waterfall climbing at the "golden" era of Canadian waterfall activity in the Rockies.

So I have autographed copies of Bill March's book, Chouinard's, Jeff Lowe's,  Twight's, Will Gadd's and most recently Steve House's.  All great books in their own way. I've talked about most of them here on the blog.  But always special to me to have autographed copies even from guys like Chouinard or House who I have never met.

Some I think are more important historically than others.  And some stand out for their influence on the English climbing community.

As a student of ice climbing history living in North America I have long known that Chouinard didn't invent the curved axe.  And that the curved axe didn't really make the huge leap in climbing difficulty that some have implied.  The climbers did generally and not all of them were from NA.

That was left to others living in the Mt. Blanc Massif and in Scotland and the gear they used or designed.

But that story, their story, has never been seen in one place that I know of, until recently...very recently in fact from what I have seen.

Leave it to my friends at Blue Ice to publish the most recent European tome on ice climbing, "Glaces: arts, experiences et techniques" by Jerome Banc-Gras and Manu Ibarra     

There is a lot here.  I could tell you more but my French is limited.  No English version yet but I know they are working on it.  It will be well received.

Short ummary of contents?

From Antiquity to 1908: Ice as an adversary
1908-1968 : La glace des faces nord 1908-1968: Ice faces north
1968-1998 : La glace des cascades 1968-1998: The ice cascades
1998 a nos jours: La glace sportive 1998 to Present: The ice sports
The gear
The gear progression
Safety equipment
Choosing the route
Choice of technical equipment
Selection of protection
Organization of gearaterial
Moving on the ice
Which route?
Analysis of the possibility of collapse

The historial accounts which I found most interesting by:
Walter Cecchinel
Ludger Simond
Bruno Sourzac
Will Gadd
Pavel Shabalin
Christophe Moulin
Ueli Steck
Fred Degoulet
Philippe Pellet
Jerome Blanc-Gras


"Glaces: arts, expériences et techniques" by Jerome Banc-Gras and Manu Ibarra  is available from Blue Ice France now.  Send them an email encouraging them to do a English version!

Some more shots from the book that should give you an idea of how much a treat this one really is.

From ancient history to the most modern techniques, tools and climbers,  it is all here.


Bruno Schull said...

Looks like a great book--I'll be sure to pick up a copy next time I'm in Chamonix. Climbing history...OK, I'll bite: If Chouinard did not "invent" the steeply-curved, short axe, what person, or people, did? I certainly do not doubt the alternative origin, I'm just curious about the history. Do any examples of early axes remain? Was it simply the case that Chouinard adapted the axes and applied them to new realm and a larger audience? Great to have you back posting! Bruno

Dane said...

Thanks Bruno...nice to back!

Dane said...

Sorry, Chouinard? A few curved axes early on..including Heckmair's on the Eiger. But enough of them around. Chouinard just was at the right time, knew wat he was seeing and knew how to market well. He obviously deserves some credit but not all.

More to the story but too much to write here may be a blog at some point.

Runar said...

I'm with Bruno: great to have you back :)

It took your advice and sent them a mail, asking for an english version:

"Hi Runar,

Thank you for your inquiry. Yes, we are planning to have our book "Glaces" translated in English in 2012. Stay tuned for more information and a release date.

Best regards,

that's a great answer if you ask me :)