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First Winter Solo of Famous Alpine Climb

The Voie Rébuffat on the northwest face of Grand Pic de Belledonne has long been a popular line first climbed in the 1940s

Grand Pic de Belledonne

Thibault Sibille, 32, has made the first winter solo of the Voie Rébuffat on the northwest face of Grand Pic de Belledonne (2,977 m), which is the highest peak in the Belledonne range of the Dauphiné Alps.

The French mountain guide spent three days and two nights repeating the famous route first climbed in 1944 by Gaston Rébuffat and Michel Chevalier. The first ascent of the mountain was in 1859 by Etienne Favier.

Sibille said that he’d wanted to solo the peak for the past few winters, and after not being able to find a partner decided to go alone up the 410-metre alpine line. He had to deal with harsh conditions at night, but the weather improved during the days. About the grade, Sibille said the snow was 70˚ and the upper rock pitches were M5+.

While soloing in winter comes with its own risks, legendary Canadian alpinist Barry Blanchard once said, “Some big alpine faces are safer in winter because everything is frozen together!” Rébuffat was on the first expedition to summit Annapurna (8,091 m) in 1950 and the first to climb all six of the great north faces of the Alps.

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