North6 Project

North6 Project by Gietl and Schäli

North6 project: the reinterpretation of the classic north of the Alps by Simon Gietl and Roger Schäli

An ecological project, born out of a desire to challenge oneself with a non-stop, “by fair means” approach to climbing the six classic northern Alps (Petit Dru, 3733m, Grand Jorasses, 4208m, Matterhorn Mountain, 4478m, Eiger, 3967m, Badile Peak, 3308m, and Große Zinne – Great Peak of Lavaredo – 2999m), cycling from one mountain to the other. It’s North6, the reinterpretation of the six classic northern faces of the Alps, the extraordinary adventure that mountaineers Roger Schäli (SUI) and Simon Gietl (ITA) undertook and successfully completed last year.

Between the mountains are born truly special, deep and intense relationships. A deep connection is created between climbing partners, an indissoluble bond” says Roger Schäli. By taking steps suspended in the void, deep friendships are formed, such as the one that binds Schäli to Simon Gietl, respectively Salewa and La Sportiva athletes: from the Alps to the rest of the world, they have faced countless expeditions side by side, between great emotions and defeats.

To complete their ambitious project, depending on the route and the conditions in the mountains, the two professional mountaineers climbed, traveled on foot, by bike, by paragliding or on skis.

The numbers of the incredible “journey” speak for themselves: 30.770 meters of elevation gain, 29.470 meters of elevation loss, a thousand kilometers by bicycle, all in fourteen days.

The secret ingredients to succeed in achieving this dream were willpower, a lot of experience, confidence in yourself and in your climbing partner.

Roger Schäli, remembers North6 as one of the most beautiful and unforgettable experiences in his life: “Sharing a challenge of this magnitude with a true friend is a rare and precious emotion. This project was a charge of positive energy, from start to finish!” For Simon Gietl, North6 represented “a new dimension of mountain living, full of adventures and memories. A great opportunity and an honor to be able to realize this dream together with Roger.”

Each trip has its origins, its whys… The Big Peak of Lavaredo

The original plan that saw the departure from France was revised due to unstable weather conditions. So the North6 project started in reverse order, from Große Zinne – Big Peak of Lavaredo (2999m) in the first half of September 2021.

A special place, like a flashback for Roger and Simon, who in 2012 had already completed the traverse winter of the Three Peaks. Once they reach the summit of the Big Peak though Via Comici, the smallest of the six classics, the two friends undertake two intense stages on their bikes: after 334km and an elevation gain of 3720m they reach the foot of their second challenge: Piz Badile.

Every meeting is an experience, an eternal bond: Piz Badile

The sun has not yet illuminated the two climbers when they leave the Sasc Furä refuge. Through the Cassin route, and under Roger’s guidance, they reach the summit in three hours. Then it’s time for the descent across the North ridge: the weather is favorable and so the last stretch can be done by paragliding.

I can not believe it! The second face also went well, and it gave us the thrill of a paragliding flight. It was just fantastic!” is Simon’s enthusiastic comment. After a brief moment of rest, both of them are back on the saddle, heading towards the Spluga pass.

Experiencing true feelings: Eiger

Switzerland welcomes Simon and Roger with perfect conditions, so they continue towards Kleine Scheidegg (2061m). The plan is to climb the first pitch on Eiger in the evening and to set up a bivouac to start “Chant Du Cygne” (7A) early in the morning. Then, around 5am, the two guys begin to climb illuminated by the light of their headlamps and, a few hours later, around 2pm, they climb the west ridge to reach the summit of Eiger. The descent from the mountain takes place via the western face. At the height of the “mushroom”, the pilots prepare their paragliders and fly the last part: the great paragliding professional Lucien Caviezel, in fact, had given them a green light, after having checked the weather once again. This is followed by a long cycling stage across the Grimsel Pass (2164m) to Zermatt.

Tired but happy: his majesty, Matterhorn

183 kilometers and 3080 meters of elevation gain separate Grindelwald from Zermatt, a long ride that takes the two companions in the shadow of their fourth test. For the next day, rain and snow are expected, so they decide to take a day off and climb up to the Hörnli refuge (3260m). The following day they attack the north face of the Matterhorn at six in the morning.

Roger Schäli and Simon Gietl take turns pulling the Schmid route, covered by a lot of fresh snow. Despite the adverse conditions, the two friends reach the summit of the Matterhorn at 6pm. The return takes place via the Hörnligrat ridge, and this path too is made more difficult by the bad weather but, finally, at 2 in the morning, they arrive at the Campingplatz Täsch base camp, tired but happy. After a short night, Chamonix calls and so does the 140 kilometers and 4460 meters of altitude that separate them from the new country: in France the last two north faces await them: Grand Jorasses and Petit Dru.

Patience is a virtue: Petit Dru

It’s time for the fifth consecutive north face. The Alpine region at the foot of Mont Blanc welcomes Roger and Simon with heavy rain and snow, but a window of good weather is on the horizon. The team prepares meticulously, they both know that everything must work perfectly on the north face. At dawn Simon and Roger leave the tent and choose Colouir Nord for the climb. 17 hours later, they’re on the summit. After a quick break, they descend along the south face, until they stop at Refuge de la Charpoua (2841m) at 1:30am, exhausted but satisfied. Only the last north face remains, awaiting Simon Gietl and Roger Schäli at 4208 meters above sea level: Grand Jorasses.

Last but not least: Grandes Jorasses

The last stage begins with a pleasant surprise: the sky is clear and the updrafts are favorable. All that remains is to spread the wings of the paraglider, flying from Refuge de la Charpoua (2841m) to Mer de Glace.

From up there it is impossible not to be enchanted by the north face of the Grandes Jorasses, which stands out towards the sky showing itself in all its imposing grandeur. After landing, the two experienced pilots and mountaineers quickly ascend to Refuge de Leschaux (2431m), where the final preparations for the grand finale end. At the crack of dawn, Roger and Simon are in the Bergschrund. The first meters of the “Direct Shroud” route, which involve about 1100 meters in altitude, are particularly challenging. But the progression is still rapid and the thrill of reaching the summit (around 3pm) is immense!

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