6/6: DANI ARNOLD SETS SOLO SPEED RECORD ON PETIT DRU NORTH FACE
Press release | Record-breaking project successfully completed after 10 years
September 9, 2021
With 1:43 hours, Mammut Pro Team athlete Dani Arnold sets a new best climbing time on the Petit Dru. The exceptional alpinist has now set solo speed climbing records on all six major north faces in the Alps. This extraordinary project, which started more than 10 years ago with a record on the Eiger North Face, is coming to an end – let’s take a glance back.
On August 15, 2021, Swiss climber Dani Arnold set a new solo best time on the north face of the French Petit Dru (3733 m) in the Mont Blanc massif. Unlike the Eiger, for example, speed records on the Petit Dru are rare. One reason for this is the exceptionally short window of time in which a speed solo ascent is possible at all. In 1982, Christophe Profit was the first solo climber to ascend the west face of Petit Dru on the Route Directe Américaine in 3:10 hours. In March 2015, Tom Ballard ventured on the Allain-Leininger route (north face) and, despite challenging conditions due to snow on the route, reached the summit after eight hours. In terms of poor weather, the summer of 2021 played into Dani Arnold's hands. An ascent in August usually is not possible due to the high risk of falling rocks.
- First ascenders: Pierre Allain und Raymond Leininger, 31.7.-1.8.1935
- Summit altitude: 3733 m
- Wall height: approx. 900 m
- Difficulty level: TD+ (max. 5c)
- Record Dani Arnold: 1 hour and 43 minutes 35 seconds
On August 14, 2021, Dani Arnold and mountaineer Stefan Brugger set off for Chamonix in France. From there, they took the rack railroad to the Montenvers mountain station (1913 m) on the glaciers of the Mer de Glace and, in four hours, continued to the bivouac. The plan was to climb together with Brugger, but the stable weather and the uniquely good conditions on the Petit Drus made Arnold change his mind without further ado.
“When an opportunity arises that everything falls into place, then I must take that chance”.
So, Dani Arnold climbed the wall alone at exactly 8:46 the following day, filmed by Stefan Brugger and Guido Perrini. Exactly 1 hour, 43 minutes and 35 seconds later, he stopped the time at 3733 m and was able to rejoice over his sixth North Face record. Commenting on his successful ascent, Dani Arnold says:
“It is an art to be in the right place at the right time on every big north face. In this respect, the Petit Dru is the most demanding. It can't be too hot or too cold. Very few days in the year are the conditions optimal and acceptable enough to take the risk of climbing without a rope.”
This record hunter climbed the route in the complex wall only twice before. The first time in July 2020 accompanied in approx. 14 hours. Then a year later, in July 2021, together with alpinist Roger Schäli in just under 10 hours. In the process, they clocked a wall height of just under 900 meters - 841 meters and a 16-meter descent.
After setting a new best, Arnold continued from the Petit Dru summit to the Grand Dru and by rope down its entire south face to the start of the glacier. From there, Arnold walked back to the hut, arriving at about 12:57. Shortly before the Petit Dru summit, Arnold overtook three rope teams on the Grand Dru and during the rappel.
One solo speed record chases the next
On September 5, 2019, Arnold climbed another free solo record time on the Comici Dimai route at the Cima Grande in Italy. He conquered the 550-meter-high, partially overhanging north face in just 46 minutes and 30 seconds, beating the existing record by nearly 20 minutes. The Walker Pillar (4208 m), the north face of the Grandes Jorasses in the Mont Blanc massif, was the backdrop for a record ascent on July 27, 2018. On the 1200 m high wall, Dani Arnold made a speed statement via the Cassin route in just 2 hours 4 minutes.
Two years earlier, on September 16, 2016, the Swiss climber took only 52 minutes to ascend the 800-meter-high wall on the northeast face of Piz Badile via the Cassin Route in his native Bergell Alps. Worthy of honor was his best time of 1:46 hours in April 2015 on the Matterhorn, where Arnold climbed to the summit via the Schmid Route on its 1100 m high north face. He had thus beaten Ueli Steck's previous record by 10 minutes. The Mammut Pro Team athlete celebrated his debut North Face speed record on April 20, 2011, on the Eiger North Face in the Bernese Oberland. Via the Heckmair route, he climbed the Swiss cultural heritage site in just 2:28 hours, beating a Steck record by 20 minutes. Ueli Steck did not let this sit and countered with 2:26 hours in 2015.
After more than ten years, Dani Arnold's solo speed project is coming to an end. He has climbed the six big north faces of the Alps in free solo and solo speed records. An outstanding achievement that will not be surpassed anytime soon.
“I would never have dreamed of making the fastest ascent on all six north faces. It is very important for me to have big goals and the courage to try something. After all, everything starts with a small step.”
ADDITIONAL PICTURES // SUMMIT PICTURES
DOCUMENTS FOR DOWNLOAD
Press Release Dani Arnold Record Petit Dru
PDF - 302 Kb
Experience Report Dani Arnold
PDF - 77 Kb