“The mountaineering world is no more sexist than the rest of society” Lise Billon

Lise Billon ©Ulysse Lefebvre

Alpinist and mountain guide Lise Billon spent the summer in Peru with rock climber Mélissa Le Nevé (the first woman to send Action Directe, 9a, in May 2020) and photographer Jan Novak. Before she heads off again, this time to the United States, she chatted to us about her time in Peru, a high-altitude trip focused on friendship and sharing. It was also an opportunity to ask her, between bursts of laughter, about the difficulties women have in finding climbing partners…


You got back on 3rd September after more than a month in Peru. What took you there ? What objectives did you have in mind when you left ?

Lise Billon : It was actually Mélissa Le Nevé and Jan Novak’s idea. They wanted to go to Peru together. Mel [Mélissa Le Nevé, editor’s note] and I get on really well, so we wanted to do things together in the mountains. The problem is that we don’t do the same type of climbing at all. She’s a pure rock climber; I’m more a mountaineer. The idea for Peru was to find terrain that suited us both, where we could both have fun. For Jan it was an opportunity to get into mountaineering, by doing some classic peaks, and to take great photos!

“Altitude is not to be sneezed at when you’re not used to it!”

But things didn’t go as planned (she laughs)! We began by heading to the Sphinx [a big wall in the