Upon arriving in Chamonix, France, one will immediately come to realize why that particular village is the birthplace of Alpinism - and the epicenter of the European Alps. Chamonix is a place where language is not defined vocalized communication, but rather by a mutual understanding of what each person seeks: a connection with the mountains; no place facilitates it better than the granite towers, glaciated valleys, and snowy slopes of the Mont Blanc massif.
It would make sense then, that an epic campaign through the European Alps should begin there; and that partnerships be forged there.
On a drizzly September afternoon, Christian Lanley, fresh off a flight from LA, walked into a courtyard across from the Aiguille du Midi at the heart of Chamonix. There he was greeted by a shout down from the balcony upon where Chris was organizing gear for their upcoming climb. The two had never met before; so began their brotherhood in the mountains and in life.
Chris Brinlee, Jr.
Chris had visited Chamonix for the first time just a few months earlier in May while on a press trip with Julbo eyewear, which is designed and manufactured in a nearby valley. One of the "press outings" was a traverse of the Arête des Cosmiques, which is one of the most classic mountaineering objectives in the world. With that climb, Chris's life was changed forever: that was climbing - no more slogs up volcanoes; and he vowed to return as soon as possible.
Inspired by having read and re-read (many times over) Mark Twight's Kiss or Kill, Christian dreamed of climbing in Chamonix. So, when he saw that his friend on Facebook, Chris Brinlee, Jr., was soliciting a partner to return after a tiny taste, Christian immediately signed up - despite the two having never met in person.
Chris & Christian began their adventures in the Alps with a handful of objectives around Chamonix, before venturing over to Switzerland to take on the most classic mountaineering objectives.
Aiguille du Midi - S. Face, Rebuffat
1 Day, Trad/Alpine, 6a difficulty, 650 feet long, 11 pitches
Me: "Let's go climb the Arête des Cosmiques for a warm-up route." Them: "No, let's go climb the Rebuffat." Me: Sandbagged.
Arête des Cosmiques
4 Hours, Mountaineering/Trad, AD/4a difficulty, 500 foot elevation gain
This is the classic that changed Chris's life.
8 Hours, Mountaineering/Trad, AD/4c difficulty, 1,300 feet elevation gain
This is like the Arête des Cosmiques, but longer and more exciting.
The Eiger, Mittellegi Ridge
A Long Day, Alpine Rock, 5.8/A0, 2,000'
"A long day" if it's in-season and in-condition, as Chris & Christian would find out, after an unplanned, frozen, hypothermic shiver-bivy.
The Matterhorn, Hörnligrat
A Long Day, Mountaineering/Mixed, AD-, 5,575'
"A long day" is accurate when coming straight off a shiver-bivy on the Eiger and sworn to a day of constant movement and no shiver-bivies.
Stories from Ze Alps were told through a variety of media including photography with long-form captions and highlight videos - both shared on social media; and editorial features. Additionally, Cotopaxi tapped into Chris & Christian to shoot the Libre Sweater Kickstarter Campaign video and photos, which went on to become the most-funded sweater in crowdfunding history.
One Week Adventure: The Alps
\\\ The Red Bulletin
A week's worth of adventures and climbing around the Chamonix region of the Italian, French, and Swiss Alps.
The Libre Sweater
Insulator. Outerlayer. Epic enabler. Made in Bolivia with responsibly sourced llama fiber, the Libre Sweater is Cotopaxi's answer to the garment that doesn’t exist any more—a beautiful, rugged knit engineered to be put through the wringer, day after day. It keeps you comfortable, invites you to push yourself, and maintains that classic, heritage-inspired look, wherever you happen to roam.
Shot on-location in the Alps.