AS SEEN IN THE 2012 FREESKIER BACKCOUNTRY EDITION—WORDS BY TREY COOK
During Andreas Fransson’s first trip to Denali last spring, he managed two warm-up runs down the Orient Express (a 5,000-foot, 45-degree couloir high), a 33-hour ascent of the Cassin Ridge (one of the most famous alpine climbs in the world, rarely climbed in under 36 hours), a casual lap down the Messner Couloir (a 45-degree, 5,000-foot shot) and a first descent of the coveted south face of Denali (a route Chris Davenport last year called “the baddest unskied line in North America”). All this in three days and on three hours of sleep. It was also the Chamonix skier’s first time above 15,782 feet (the summit of Mont Blanc).
“Where Andreas greatly differs from a lot of people getting after it in Chamonix is that he really embraces the mountaineering component of ski mountaineering,” says Chamonix skier Dave Rosenbarger. “He’s less concerned about snow conditions and he’s willing to go ski stuff when most people won’t.”
When the Swede arrived in Chamonix in 2006, he wasted no time rattling cages with his complete disregard for old-school rules. Skiing the Mallory (the famous route on the north face of the Aiguille du Midi) in autumn, linking three once-in-a- lifetime descents in a day, a first descent in the middle of the Chamonix Aiguilles in 2010… these feats were unheard of until 28-year-old Fransson showed up.
While Fransson’s alpine shenanigans may appear reckless from the safety of a barstool, his consistent performance on life-threatening lines is actually founded in a hyper-focused, zen-like devotion to training and the understanding of skiing’s micro-mechanics.