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Sylvain Thiabaud

Rab® sponsored alpine climber Sylvain Thiabaud has had a busy start to the year. Living and working year-round in Chamonix certainly has its advantages, and an abundance of the highest quality ice routes on your doorstep is never a bad thing… Over to Sylvain to tell you more about his eventful start to 2016.

Sylvain is one of those fortunate to live and work in and around Chamonix all year round, with unlimited access to some of Europe’s best ice routes. Sylvain is one of those fortunate to live and work in and around Chamonix all year round, with unlimited access to some of Europe’s best ice routes.

Sylvain writes…

“I’m in full guiding-mode for the whole of the month. Based in Chamonix this means sun, beautiful landscapes and ‘pow-pow’. The temperatures haven’t been great for for ice climbing so far this winter, but I’ve been keeping a keen eye on the upcoming forecasts just in case. It only takes one week of properly cold weather in the Maurienne Valley to get me excited and planning my next trip to the ice. Even if the window is small, I’ll never pass on the opportunity to climb Glacenost-6, I will take it.

Glacenost, Maurienne Valley. Chamonix. Glacenost, Maurienne Valley. Chamonix.

Glacenost is certainly the most famous icefall in the valley. It was the valley where I climbed my first icefall routes – which feels like a long time ago now! On my first trip I climbed second with my brother and a friend. Of course, throughout the entire climb I was thinking that one day I’d love to return and lead my friends on the route. Now, thanks to a brief weather window in which the conditions appeared on the face of it ‘manageable’.


After an enjoyable ski-approach we got our first look at the condition of the icefall. Despite a challenging looking section which would get us across to the second belay spot, we decided that although it would be a hard fight, we would give it a go.

Charles started on the first pitch. Despite having to cross a lot to the right to avoid areas with little ice the pitch as a whole was great. I kept on climbing despite a big shower of ice – we are the first to tackle these routes this season so there’s lots of cleaning to be done before we can put in good protections. I decided to stop before the classic second belay to make sure we were secure at the bottom of a hard overhang section. Normally there is more ice in this section and it’s a lot easier – however the challenging conditions certainly made it more interesting!

Charles climbed this hard section perfectly, which brought back great memories of the climbs I had with my brother in this area. I lead out the final pitch – 50m of vertical ice on a pillar which was basking in the warm sun – a great experience, I was pumped! What an amazing day of climbing, and to finish the day in the bar with good friends is never a bad thing!

Sylvain on the last pitch of the day. Sylvain on the last pitch of the day.

Until next time! Until next time!
Sylvain Thiabaud is a French climber whose endless passion for climbing keeps him busy all year round.

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