Mountain Wilderness Training goes to Gheralta-Tigray (Ethiopia).

Posted on November 27th, 2014

Few landscapes in Africa offer a charm comparable to the labyrinthine mountain system of Tigray. A fairy-tale charm that stems not only from the forest of rocky peaks that draw the horizons, but also by the large number of chapels, semi-caved churches, caves and caverns made sacred by hermits, hidden in the folds of the mountains.

Tigray 1

Tigray, located in the Northern part of Ethiopia 783 km from Addis Ababa the capital city of Ethiopia is a region where over 120 Rock-Hewn Churches are found. The Tigray Rock Churches are considered to be dating from the 5/6th century. Most of them not visited by tourists because of their location on the top of cliffs for security reasons.

Tigray 2

At the suggestion of the Italian Institute of Culture in Addis Ababa and with funding from the Italian Development Cooperation, the Mountain Wilderness Italy association is planning to organize, during the months of February/March, an introductory course on trekking management in the Gheralta Mountains of Tigray.

Tigray 4

This course will be reserved to local youth of both sexes interested in acquiring the basic technical skills needed to be presented to foreign visitors as reliable naturalist, sports and historical/archaeological excursions guides. These adventurous “outdoors” activities may also include easy rock climbing using ropes and pitons

Tigray 6Mountain Wilderness has a solid and proven experience in mountaineering/hiking training, with a focus on Eco-friendly activities fully respecting the nature values, as well as the aesthetic and cultural aspects of the mountain environment. At an international level, Mountain Wilderness has managed with great success “Environment Friendly Mountaineering” courses in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
For the first time it is bringing its experience to a project in Africa.

The course will benefits from a valuable collaboration with Gheralta Lodge, SCARPA boots, FERRINO tents and slipping bags, Climbing Technology (climbing equipments), and  of the ropes grant from our  of  “Rock and Wall’s” climbing friends.

16 trainees (14 boys and 2 girls) will participate to the course, they have been selected among the youth of the region. 3 Italians instructors will be led by Carlo Alberto Pinelli, president of Mountain Wilderness Italy.

The course includes lectures in English, and practical exercises with nights in tents along routes of varying difficulty and features.

Tigray 7

Theoretical and practical lessons will focus on ecological/environmental topics, on organizing trekking, with particular attention to hygiene and nutrition, on first aid and rescue operations, on rock progression techniques and safety on difficult or dangerous routes, on the appropriate use of fixed ropes and artificial anchors, on map and kompass reading on correct and respectful relationships with local people and the rock-hewn churches clergy.

This site will provide status information as the project progress

Some interesting photos can be found here


Tigray 8Tigray 10

The Sherpa Women’s project

Posted on November 17th, 2014

Paulo Grobel, a free lance to several mountains magazines, a Mountain Wilderness International Guarantor and a fine connoisseur of the Himalayas, especially Nepal, has launched a new original project : the “Sherpa Women expedition”. In partnership with Salewa, the project was launched in 2011. For the end of this year the mountain guide has invited five Western women climbers to rope up with as many Nepalese counterparts. The goal, after learning proper mountaineering techniques, will be to climb a summit such as the Tharpu Chuli (5663 m) in alpine style, in the heart of the Annapurna Sanctuary.

The Sherpa Women expedition is a unique project combining the mountaineering and social dimensions close to Paulo Grobel’s heart.

In taking the lead of an expedition mixing western and Nepali climbers, the mountaineer who shares his time between La Grave (France) and Kathmandu is undertaking a concrete action in line with the spirit that has driven him already for a long time, especially in Nepal.

©Paulo Grobel

©Paulo Grobel

The project aims to teach and promote mountaineering techniques to Nepalese women attracted by opportunities in mountain related business. Not necessarily leading to a High Mountain Guides status, this field based learning apprenticeship (“learning by doing”, the Grobel way) is expected to bring them additional skills, upgrading their professional experience. The technical content of the learning phase will be based on UIAA and NMA education guidelines.
“This project is a drop in the ocean that will certainly not change the world, but in the macho world of Himalayan mountains and expeditions, its visibility is real. It simply shows that it is possible, that the mountain is not exclusively reserved to men, and it spurs Nepalese women to step up to their wishes for liberation” explains Paulo Grobel.
The first part of this project took place last winter but difficult weather conditions limited its possibilities. This new chapter is in its final preparation phase and will start in the coming weeks.

To carry out this learning expedition, five European women were invited to rope up with the Nepalese mountaineer students recruited in conjunction with “Everest women trek expedition”.
The goal is to foster relationships as a part of the preparation, essentially by exchanging knowledge and mountaineering techniques, and then to climb in alpine style a modest summit for the region (Tharpu Chuli, 5,663m).
“The idea is to find the right system of exchange or cooperation, where each Western climber supports a Nepalese mountaineer and where each Nepalese climber shows her country and its culture to the Western women. Mountaineering is not a trivial activity and the notion of being tied to a rope, being linked, really has a lot of meaning. Even and especially in the Himalayas. ”

©Paulo Grobel

©Paulo Grobel

The departure is in a few days and the final preparations are quietly underway.
This year the main goal is to simply learn and validate the UIAA technical content on the ground and have each participant focusing on it. For example by making sure everyone is systematically roped up on glaciers or while climbing: everyone, Nepalese and Westerners.
Almost a revolution in Nepal.
Mountain Wilderness is not directly involved in this year’s project phase, however a basic “ethical code of conduct” has been outlined jointly and will be put to test during the expedition. It will be further used during the upcoming phases of Sherpa Women by Paulo with increased support by MW.
We wish Paulo and his team plenty of success and we will report here on their adventure.
Links :
Paulo Grobel on Facebook
Paulo Grobel’s Web Page on Sherpa Women

[BM, DW]


2014 Elbrus Cleaning Expedition

Posted on November 17th, 2014

After Dhaulagiri in 2003 and Aconcagua in 2008, Breffni BOLZE, Philippe GOITSCHEL and Jean-François ROSSILLON are back from their cleaning expedition on Mount Elbrus (Russia), Europe’s highest summit, a dormant volcano.

Mount Elbrus is one of the famous 7 summits, topping the seven continents and consequently suffers from overcrowding.

About 2 tons of garbage were taken off the slopes of the mountain by the 3 guys and their Ukrainian Mountain guide Valentyn SYPAVIN during this mission organized in conjunction with Mountain Wilderness.
Cleaning the mountain was also a symbolic action to draw public attention to the need to sort and recycle daily waste.
The base camp is a vast chaos « made of » obsolete installations and outdated prefab buildings generally hosting local tourists and climbers. For decades all sort of waste has piled up there: cans, food packaging, batteries, as well as remains of abandoned infrastructure (electrical towers, barracks, engines).

The team’s presence and determination were so much noticed that they generated a spontaneous solidarity from many climbers of various nationalities and from local guides who decided to join the cleaning crew in their efforts.


















Upon their return from the Elbruz expedition the team drew a good deal of media attention, several radio interviews and a number of articles have been published. A few partners, as well as the Russian consulate of Lyon have asked for their participation to present the project in Lyon and Paris.

TREK Magazine’s reporter Anthony Nicolazzi accompanied the team and took the great photos you can watch here.

A « D_VOX production » video of the expedition was put together by Richard Bertholet.

Consistent with the team philosophy and action the expedition’s carbon footprint has been measured for compensation with Goodplanet . The money paid offsets the 11 tonnes of C02 emitted by the expedition. Goodplanet (Yann Artus foundation) finances projects for better waste management in the Southern hemisphere.

Expedition’s Facebook page
High definition photos

[BM, DW]

A petition to maintain the status of national parks in Spain

Posted on November 15th, 2014

On October 20, the group of the Popular Party in the Spanish Senate introduced, in the discussion on the draft Law on National Parks, amendment 278, which seriously threatens the protection status of National Parks.

This amendment makes the agreement of the owner mandatory in order to apply the National Park status to a parcel within the perimeter. Moreover, even if the owner approves the application of the law on National Parks to his property, he remains master in his own way to organize operations, and in particular to allow hunting, fishing or forestry. Mining or urbanization would also be possible.

Faced with this threat on the most prestigious of protected areas, a group of organizations, including Greenpeace, the Spanish Ornithological Society / BirdLife (Sociedad Española de Ornitologia) and the World Wildlife Fund, have launched a petition requesting the withdrawal of the amendment. This petition has received the support of Mountain Wilderness Spain, whose members are concerned about its possible application to the eleven mountain National Parks in Spain.

Spain has fifteen National Parks, whose area represents 1% of the country.



Posted on November 14th, 2014

** Click on CC for english caption **

Sunday, October 19, together with Mountain Wilderness, young climbers and mountain guides have carried up at the heart of the Mont-Blanc, at 3400m on the glacier of the Col du Geant a strong requirement to end the nuisance caused by the motorized recreational aviation in this paradise of beauty and silence! They have drawn with very large, but short leaving, letters a requirement widely shared:  “! SILENCE”

In our highly urbanized European countries, territories where men can still experience the “sound of silence” are very rare. This unique gift that the mountain gives us must be respected in Mont Blanc as it must be in all high elevation areas!

Institutional organizations grouped under the Espace Mont-Blanc label are currently developing a “Strategy for the Future”, they should embrace an ambitious objective aiming at radically reducing the tourist flights pollution in respect of our beautiful high mountains, such as Mont-Blanc!

– To reaffirm that Mont Blanc deserves to be protected
– To encourage the “future strategy” of “Espace Mont-Blanc” and especially the “airspace” component
– To ask for an rapid implementation of a harmonized, cross-border regulation of the range overflights.


keepwild! in Val di Mello

Posted on September 16th, 2014

The official opening of the Casera Pioda will take place on the weekend of September 27 and 28. Casera Pioda, a former alpine building today renovated, -also used for servicing mountain pasture – is located in the Val di Mello at an altitude of 1559 meters, in a fantastic rocky amphitheater at the foot of Monte Disgrazia. Mountain Wilderness International has been involved in the renovation of the Casera Pioda. We find, next to the granite walls, countless climbing blocks (Boulder) and a mountain stream with relaxing bathing spots. The objective of Casera Pioda is not only to offer a (green) roof to climbers, but also to raise awareness of durable mountain sports. Future plans include: a fresh vegetables permaculture, a mountain pasture, as well as events such as the « keepwild! » climbing days 2015.

You are cordially invited to visit the Casera Pioda this fall already. Some places are still available (carpooling possible) for the opening on 27 and 28 September. Contact MW Italia

Preserving the Dolomite mountains

Posted on September 16th, 2014

To commemorate the five-year anniversary of the Dolomites being named a World Heritage site, Mountain Wilderness Italy held a hike at Croda Rossa on 2 and 3 August 2014.

At the same time, the initiative aimed to raise public awareness about the need to strengthen the protection of this fragile environment. Mountain Wilderness object… Read more (English) or  also (Italian)

The alpine Line

Posted on September 15th, 2014

Or the Great Alps Crossing.

A Mountain Wilderness International emblematic project

Recently, we had the fortune to join the Mountain Wilderness France board, a dynamic team full of energy and creative ideas. Within this framework, it seemed consistent to us to establish a constructive parallel between our achievements as mountaineers and those of the association which militates to defend the values of the mountain, which is for us a wide land full of means of expression and sharing. For many years we have a dream, a shared idea full of significance; a bet to the size of the wilderness, both unifying and useful.

Today, along with Mountain Wilderness, we introduce to you this story, a story that will be written with you …


Yoann Joly and Yann Borgnet










A unique project born upon the encounter between two young mountaineers, Yoann Joly et Yann Borgnet, both sharing the same passion and values​​.



Together, we are part of a creative mountaineering motivated by discovery whatever the difficulty may be. This led us to imagine a great journey combining exploration and proximity put together. Thus, our desire to live a real adventure in the mountains that have seen us grow and which wants to be at the far opposite of the remote, expensive and high impact fashion expeditions. In this sense, we were largely inspired by Patrick Berhault’s philosophy, giving a secondary importance to pure performance and giving more room to an open practice.

This Great Alps crossing is a long travel route that should lead us, starting on February 2015, from Monte Cinto in Corsica to the Slovenian Triglav. All done, without motorized means. We will explore various options offered by soft mobility to rally the jewels of the Alps. From sailboat to paragliding, skiing or hiking. The various natural elements we will guide us from wall to wall, allowing us to express our mountaineering vision. The unique connections of aesthetic openings and great historical climbing routes will punctuate our journey during 5 months.

Sharing being at the heart of the project, we have the desire to include the highest number of people in this adventure, each one bringing his own stone to the common “kairn”! In essence, the purpose of the trip is to gather as many folks as possible, beyond the the mountaineering world, around common values​. Among these, the protection of natural environment plays a center place. The project is intended to be a platform for reflection and communication about these issues that affect us all.

In this respect, Mountain Wilderness International is a privileged interlocutor and a moral guarantor of this federative  project.

This is a call for participation of all those interested, nature lovers, members (or potential members) of Mountain Wilderness, the experienced,  the discoverers, all those who wish, in any manner whatsoever, to give life to this great collective adventure!



Official Opening of the Mont-Blanc Goûter Hut

Posted on September 12th, 2014

Ségolène Royal and French Alpine Cub President Georges Elzière

Ségolène Royal and French Alpine Club President Georges Elzière

When the Saint Gervais mayor and the president of the French Alpine Club together with several officials and mountain guides returned from the Goûter hut after celebrating its inauguration with a small crew, (the shelter is operational since the 2013 summer), the ”Grand Official Show” could begin at the Espace Mont-Blanc in Saint-Gervais on September 6, featuring the well publicized Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, Ségolène Royal in person.

“I’ll have to do some workout before going-up there on my own” did she joke in her speech

The Ministerial Siren, singing a well rounded ecological song introduced to this vibrant parterre the delicate subject of Energy Transition “The “Goûter hut” proves that today in France the technologies to build positive energy buildings are real. If we can make such a building at the altitude of 3,800 meters, we can do the same at lower elevations. Thus, from now on , all new French public buildings should be of positive energy “, said the minister, while the law on energy transition is debated the present week at the National Assembly.

Sensitized by presentations surrounding the delivery of a report on global warming in France given to her during the afternoon at the Nid d’Aigle hut, she sent the convincing message that “France can become the land of environmental excellence and wishes that a smart partnership between the state and the territories is created. The work of the teams who created the new hut and the many technological innovations that make the high environmental quality of this building is a symbol of French capability”

Addressing the overcrowding problem of Mont-Blanc. In the process she announced that a consultation was launched under the mandate of the regional prefect with all stakeholders to review the possible options and to take decisions balancing tourism and preservation constraints of this natural area. “The mountain must remain a place of freedom, but preventive measures are needed,” she said. “We need to find ways to control the attendance of Mont Blanc, prevention actions are thus necessary”
Moreover, in his introduction, the mayor of Saint Gervais, Jean-Marc Peillex, which misses no opportunity to highlight his aspirations for a greater control over “his” royal way, has not failed to remind the incivility and risks taking actions identified and publicized this summer. For him, “awareness, prevention and education have shown their limits. It is becoming urgent that those who do not follow the mountain rules are punished [. . .] and to regulate access to the Mont Blanc”.
As he has become accustomed, the politician proposed several possible tracks, some of them surprising: enforce compulsory reservations at the hut through upstream controls, refurbish the old hut (opposing the obligation to demolish the old shelter as that was a condition for the creation of the new one) to increase (! I must be dreaming!) the sleeping capacity of the site, to fine those who are abusing the usage of rescue means, or assess the physical abilities of those attempting to climb Mont Blanc as it is done in other sports.

On the Royal way to the top… the saga goes on …


A vain gathering in Saint Gervais to save the Alpine Ibex of the Bargy Range

Posted on September 12th, 2014

Taking advantage of Ségolène Royal’s presence at the “Grand Opening” of the Goûter hut, a small crowd of seventy people, representing several environmental associations (including Mountain Wilderness), in support of FRAPNA  gathered in Saint Gervais on Saturday, September 6, to ask the minister to “stop the Alpine Ibex slaughter in the Bargy range »”.

Since the discovery of brucellosis on some ibex, 320 goats over 5 years old were slaughtered on October 2013 in the Bargy range. The, remaining 300, are the ones that the associations have come to defend.
An adviser to the minister had accepted to meet with a representative of the protesters. However according to Ségolène Royal (who did not personally accept meeting the associations): “We must accelerate the sanitation of the massif to preserve pastoral activities », she stressed in her speech at the Espace Mont-Blanc. “Well briefed” she was indeed, by the “nature lovers” who are Bernard Accoyer and Martial Saddier (two right radical French deputies) … so even if the game was not yet over, it was not engaged on the right footing …

But, the associations requests seemed reasonable, they wanted only the sick ibex to be eliminated. They argue that there is no need to kill them all as requested by the prefect because, they said, today there are adequate technical means to distinguish ill ibex from those that are not.
They asked for an arbitration by the minister to preserve healthy animals, also arguing that the ibex, a true symbol of mountain wildlife are a tourist attraction and that their reintroduction has been long and costly.

A quick decision was then expected : it came abruptly on Wednesday, September 10 : the minister had decided the final slaughter of all the Bargy Ibex.

This is a demonstration of what they call democracy in France, a country who continuously gives lessons to others. In this case the minister only paid attention to those who are close to the economy. Whereas the environmentalist movements have requested a meeting with her to present scientific facts, showing that no emergency situation dictated such a rapid and final decision, that this epizootic case was not that critical and could be either cured or selected killing of sick animals was possible and good enough to take care of the whole situation, they have just been ignored.
She did not even agree to have a discussion.

In France, elites only talk to elites, even more so when they are supposed to represent the people.

fabc6c2a3ce85cdff8c997ef40ab0eec (BM)

© Mountain Wilderness International