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Tom Ballard Nearly Finished Starlight and Storm Objective

Tom Ballard is a British alpinist who is attempting to solo, in one winter, the six great north faces.

His most recent ascent was of the Allain – Leininger 1935 route up the Petit Dru North Face. The solo only took eight hours, no bad considering he’d never climbed the mountain before.

Tom Ballard  Photo courtesey Scarpa
Tom Ballard Photo courtesy Scarpa

Last week, he soloed the Colton – Macintyre on Grandes Jorasses in a fast time. Now he has only the North Face of the Eiger to solo and a week before winter is over to do it, no pressure.

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The first route Ballard climbed was the Via Comici-Dimai on the Cima Grande di Lavaredo on Dec. 21 and 22, the route was first climbed in 1933. The second route was the classic Cassin Route on Piz Badile on Jan.6 and 7, which was first climbed in 1937. The next route was the Schmidt Route on the Matterhorn on Feb. 10 in under three hours, the classic route was first climbed on 1931. Last week was his sub-four-hour climb of Grandes Jorasses’ Colton-Macintyre, first climbed in 1976.

Planet Mountain has a collection of interviews with Ballard from his five ascents. Start reading them here.

The first to climb all six faces was Gaston Rébuffat and he documented his accomplishment in his 1954 work, Etoiles et Tempêtes (Starlight and Storm).

The three hardest faces north faces are on the Eiger, Matterhorn and Grandes Jorasses. The are known as the trilogy. The first to climb them in one year was the Austrian Leo Schlömmer, from 1961 to 1962. The first to solo them all in winter was Ivano Ghirardini. The first woman to climb them was Catherine Destivelle in 1992-93-94. Then Christophe Profit climbed all three in 24 hours on March 11 and 12, 1987.

Petit Dru  Photo Tom Ballard
Petit Dru Photo Tom Ballard