Antoine Girard is just back from a 2-month expedition to Pakistan, where he and his six companions were aiming to do a series of combined paragliding ascents. By flying in from a base camp 40 km away, Antoine managed to climb Spantik in less than a day. On the last day of the expedition, he broke his own paragliding altitude record for a valley take-off by reaching 8,407 metres. We meet the man who is carving out a new form of Himalayism that is extremely committing but has great potential.
Ever heard of Baltoro? Antoine Girard has spent 6 months of his life there. In 2016, he set an altitude record at 8,157 metres while paragliding over Broad Peak (8,047 m). In 2019, he and Damien Lacaze completed an incredible expedition during which the intrepid pair covered huge distances by bivying between flights. They also achieved the first paragliding-mountaineering ascent of Spantik. Girard has built up unparalleled experience over the years, by pushing the boundaries in terms of distance, then height.
One could reduce this 2021 expedition simply to the new paragliding altitude record set for a valley start, at 8,407 metres. Taking off from a mountain top – as Boivin did from Everest in 1988 – is not Girard’s game. He prefers taking off from the valley floor to reach the Earth’s summits, travelling long distances both horizontally and vertically. He also wanted to share his expertise with his long-standing flying partner Julien Dusserre, as well as François