23 minutes, Switzerland, 2017
Marcel Remy, father of the iconic Swiss climbers Claude and Yves Remy, who is approaching his 95th year, climbs the 450 meter tall north-west face of the legendary Miroir de l'Argentine in Western Switzerland.
Marcel Remy came into the world on February 6, 1923, and began mountaineering from a tender age. He still climbs regularly, including at climbing gyms such as those in St-Légier sur Vevey and Rocspot in Echandens-Lausanne. As member of the renowned Swiss Alpine Club, Diablerets section (Lausanne), he is now its oldest climber.
In May 2017, Marcel asked me and my brother Yves to take him to climb the Miroir, the only large limestone slab in the Alps. It was hard to explain our reservations about this route to him. He had already climbed it more than 200 times and it was where he took us in 1968 when we first started climbing. We were thinking that now, at his age, he barely had a 10% chance of making it ... but how could we get that across to him?
Finally, he agreed that he would have to do special training before even thinking about the Miroir including: multiple routes in level-5 climbing gyms, various tough hikes for cardio and some hiking routes such as the Gais Alpins, which though easy still requires lots of vigilance and precaution. Training that we thought was now beyond him. But we were wrong because he nailed it.
To save Marcel's energy, we made a gentle approach on Monday, August 21, 2017, leaving Solalex just above Bex, 1,469 m, by the steep path of the Miroir, and set up a bivouac near the foot of the Miroir. The next day, Tuesday, August 22, it was sunny but in the shade here it is almost always cool. We started climbing at 8:30 a.m., at around 1,850 m. First, we went up the first three pitches of the "Normale" route that we then left to follow the Vire Inférieure (lower ledge) on the right to reach the "Directe" route, which leads to the summit.
This combination is the best way to properly belay the second climber on this wall, which requires 12 pitches at grades up to 5b+. The classic routes of the Miroir d'Argentine are equipped with bolts at the belay and 3 or 4 bolts per pitch, additional nuts are needed.
On August 22, Marcel was in good shape, his progress was slow but sure. He knew that he was climbing with a reliable and efficient team ready to step in at any time. Marcel arrived at the summit at 3:15 p.m. Everyone was delighted and immensely relieved because we weren't sure if he would succeed, even until the last minute. From there Marcel still had to do the trickiest part, follow the aerial ridge (tricky despite its 2c grade) and then climb a steep scree marked by a short climbing passage to reach the "Haute Corde", 2,325 m, and the descent path. After stopping a few times and progressing more and more slowly, he finally arrived below the "Haute Corde", where Jérémy Péclard (top paragliding pilot) was ready and waiting for a tandem flight at 6:30 p.m. All ended well soon after when they landed in Solalex.
Director(s): Nicolas Falquet