Video: North Face of the Breithorn Ski Descent

The north side of the Breithorn in the Pennine Alps.

The Breithorn is a huge Swiss peak with no less than five summits to it’s name, and sits on the border between Switzerland and Italy…not north-face-ski-descent-of-the-breithorntoo far from the Matterhorn.  At 40164m (13.661ft), the Breithorn is a pretty big peak by European standards, but it’s summit is made that much more accessible by the Klein Matterhorn cable car which whisks skiers and climbers to over 3800m on it’s south-southwest side.

In this video, skiers Samuel Anthamatten and Michi Lerjen get a helicopter ride to the top and tackle the Breithorn’s north face route in July 2008.  Though the video doesn’t have any sound (I wonder if YouTube removed it due to copyright violations?) it still has plenty of aerial footage stoke to get you even more fired up for this coming season.  Be sure to click the picture on the left for a larger view of their descent route.  Imagine ending the your ski season with this run!

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18 Responses to “Video: North Face of the Breithorn Ski Descent”

  1. 1 Euro Rob Oct 22nd, 2009 at 6:27 am

    Awesome run, stunning footage.

    Will human-powered descents become what “red point” is in climbing though? I certainly hope so.

  2. 2 Rahul Dave Oct 22nd, 2009 at 7:06 am

    Wonder why they didnt hike up. It took my out of shape ass an hour from the top of the klein matterhorn gondola up the south side (normal route). But what an asthetic line with the traverse above the hanging glacier!

    Summer view: (north west side)

  3. 3 randosteve Oct 22nd, 2009 at 7:07 am

    It could Rob. I’ve already been hearing people refer to ‘onsight’ ski descents. I guess my own personal definition of what an ‘onsight ski descent’ is would be…to ski a line, without having climbed it, or seen anyone else ski it.

    What do you think…maybe?

  4. 4 randosteve Oct 22nd, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Rahul Dave, my guess is that at that time of year, the sun would have already been up for 3-4 hours prior to the cable car being open to the public…and god forbid if they had to spend the night and get an alpine start.

    Still some cool footage though.

  5. 5 Euro Rob Oct 22nd, 2009 at 7:49 am

    I don’t know Steve. Nothing wrong with climbing a couloir and then skiing it, right?

    Also I think it’s quite natural to look around for potential lines when in the mountains and scribbling them into your black book at home. Guess that would be “flash” in climber speak.

  6. 6 randosteve Oct 22nd, 2009 at 7:56 am

    I totally agree Rob, but skiing something without having climbed it would seem to be one step higher in…well…sickness. So would ‘onsight’ refer both means of approach…or should there be descriptions to distinguish the two???

  7. 7 Gary Oct 22nd, 2009 at 8:25 am

    I climbed this and skied it the easy way from the southside and moved too fast and got a brutal case of altitude sickness that left me totally wacked for the next week.

  8. 8 rod georgiu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 10:07 am

    I climbed the Breithorn in 01 (South side) and looked down the North side. Pretty steep and exposed.

    Question: I like to climb a coloir before I ski it, to check the conditions.

    Do you think this increases the risk of triggering and getting caught in an avalanche?
    Alternatively, could get to the top of the couloir by another route and try to cut it to trigger whatever weak layer might be.

    How would you decide between the two approaches?

  9. 9 AJ Oct 22nd, 2009 at 10:07 am

    check out the website of Simon and Samuel Anthamatten

  10. 10 Frank Konsella Oct 22nd, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    I don’t think I’d like to have climber terms or the climber attitude get into skiing at all. Every descent would need an asterisk for *lift-assisted descent, *snowmobile assisted descent, *heli-assisted descent, *google-earth assisted descent, *trailhead reached by a non-prius vehicle descent. The talk of redpointing and pinkpointing can stay in Boulder, thank you very much.

  11. 11 randosteve Oct 22nd, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    That is some good stuff Frank…and I would have to agree…to some extent.

    Rob, everything is so terrain and condition dependent. Sometimes access and objective hazards might make a different approach seem better than climbing the line you are going to ski. There are a lot of lines here in the Tetons that are just easier and faster to access the top of…without climbing the actual routes. Is it easier to find out the snow conditions by climbing up a route? Well yes. But with experience and knowledge, can a skier kinda predict what they might expect anyway? Of course.

  12. 12 Colin O'Farrell Oct 22nd, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Thanks for posting that, Steve! Such a gorgeous line skied in great style (especially the straightline over the bergschrund).

    I lived in Zermatt for a while and used to wake up to that view every morning. While I’ve skied the south side, I never tackled the north side. Thanks for the reminder that there is a ton of potential in that valley. We should get over there some time.

  13. 13 Euro Rob Oct 23rd, 2009 at 2:10 am

    Frank, that’s totally not what I mean, but you are of course right that there’ll always be people taking it to far.

    "Luckily" the question of helicopter served big mountain skiing won’t be a daily one for most of us and we’ll just keep doing our thing, right? :-)

    Best of turns,

  14. 14 Le Pistoir Oct 23rd, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Serious SkiMo stoke. Love that there’s a little cliff-droppin’ and blasting out at high speed mixed in. Looked like he almost missed the entrance tho, at the very beginning…

  15. 15 ptor Oct 23rd, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Heli, no heli, those dudes nailed an intricate line in great conditions. Didn’t look like he stopped too much either. Sweeeeet!

  16. 16 Frank Konsella Oct 23rd, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Rob, I was just kind of joking around and taking it over the top. Pointing out differences in style is one thing, and fine by me, but “Check me out, I’m rad, I on-sighted it” is another. Climbing jargon is too often about the latter, IMO, and that’s the part I wouldn’t want skiing to go to.

    Unbelievable conditions for JULY, by the way.

  17. 17 Ann Oct 24th, 2009 at 7:04 am

    Wow! Thanks for posting that Steve. I climbed the north face back in August ’95 and remember 60 degree ice and lots of crevasses to negotiate. Conditions looked really good for these guys. Even so I don’t think I would have the cojones to ski that!

  18. 18 dano Oct 25th, 2009 at 10:53 am

    sweet video, looks like those guys slayed proper instead of tiptoeing down with jumpturns

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