Our Polish colleagues mentioned it yesterday (in Polish). French climber Catherine Destivelle will receive a Piolet d´Or at the Ladek Mountain Festival next September. By receiving this recognition for her entire career, she succeeds in particular Krzysztof Wielecki (2019) or Andrej Stremfelj (2018) but also Walter Bonatti (2009) and Doug Scott (2011). She is the first woman to be so awarded. The only Frenchman to have received this “Piolet d´Or Carrière” was Robert Paragot, in 2012. The latter passed away a few months ago.
But who is Catherine Destivelle?
The Rock-star and his never-before-seen solo-ascents
In the early 1970s, young Catherine discovered the rocks of Fontainebleau (near Paris). Very quickly, she approached the Southern Alps and she made her first multi-pitch routes in the Verdon (if we forget those that she discovered some time earlier without telling her parents). She then went on to impressive alpine achievements on the Olan, the Drus or the Ailefroide. In 1985, she took part in the first climbing competitions and it was a success. She won. Her media coverage then allowed her to choose and she dropped the competition to begin new projects, especially solo-ascents.
She thus signed several first female solo-climb in the Alps: on the Drus, the Eiger (in winter), the Eperon Walker in the Grandes Jorasses or the Bonatti route to the Matterhorn. With a love for the north faces therefore, the harder. An exceptional “record” which has not yet been matched. At the same time, she also climbed in Karakoram (Trango Towers), Tibet (Shishapangma) or even in Antarctica.
Passing on her passion
In the early 2000s, she gave up professional climbing. But as a better way to start a second career. By taking over the publisher Editions du Mont Blanc, she found a new way to convey her passion for the mountains and for climbing. “I can’t do things halfway; all of my energy and time is now spent on books. I have always enjoyed sharing my passion, whether through films, lectures or even writing. Publishing books also allows it, and in a broader, more subtle way » she explained then.
Illustration © Editions du Mont-Blanc