4hours 38 mins to traverse the Meije, solo, starting and finishing in La Grave, that is, 3,100 metres of climbing. It can’t be possible, or so you might think. But that’s just what Benjamin Védrines did in 2020. An impressive record that will be difficult to beat, as the guide from the Hautes-Alpes knew the route by heart.
Védrines climbs fast, that much is clear. And he hasn’t stopped. Still in the Écrins, he and Léo Billon traversed the La Grave skyline in a day (17 hours 40 minutes) in the summer of 2021. Then, as he seemed to be going well (and fast), he took his approach to Italy, where he smashed the record for the Spaghetti Tour (a link-up of Monte Rosa’s eighteen 4,000-m peaks) by more than 4 hours, bringing it down from 13 hours 39 minutes to 9 hours 18 minutes.
The year finished on a true high, when he climbed a new route on the north face of Chamlang with Charles Dubouloz. And we almost forgot to mention that, as part of his training earlier in the year, he had done 14,000 metres of ascent on skis in just two days and a 3-day traverse of the Écrins linking some of its steepest descents.
Védrines’ most recent exploits include linking three of the Alps’ great north face routes — Harlin on the Eiger, Directe de l’amitié on the Grandes Jorasses and Gogna-Cerrutti on the Matterhorn — with Léo Billon and Seb Ratel. Does he never hit the brakes?