Ice climbing: the birth of the 7

Sixt Fer a Cheval 30 years 1/2

If you like iceclimbing in France, then go to La Grave and the Diable valley in Oisans, Freissinières and Fournel in the Hautes-Alpes, Gavarnie in the Pyrenees. These valleys with major lines are the places where the ice climbing activity was born at the dawn of the 80s. And then in Haute-Savoie there is Sixt, and its Fer à Cheval cirque. Hidden, but gigantic, the highest, hardest and most challenging waterfalls are formed there in winter. First part of the frosty history of the temple of Sixt, cradle of the 7th degree, in 1992.

There are some strange mountains behind us. You can discover them from the Aravis and the Bornes, as soon as you go up a little. Or simply from the Arve valley motorway, on the way to Chamonix. Although a little distant, they assert, above the Prealps, a supremacy: they are the mountains of the Haut Giffre.

Seen more closely, they confirm their strangeness. The geology is like science fiction, the steepness of the green slopes impresses. And up there, above the walls of mixed marl and limestone, you can make out suspended valleys, extreme mountain pastures…

In summer, the dark cliffs are streaked with silver streams of water, 500 m high volutes that disappear in majestic aerosols at the bottom of the valley. In the silence of winter the clatter is silent. The water, frozen by the frost, forms crystals, swells into columns, spreads out into hanging draperies. An ice palace invites itself for a