Patrick Berhault

At the end of my voyage

While there is a clear arrival at the foot of the dihedral. It is in poor condition, the snow and ice have completely carpeted the ground, along with the dirty sheer drops. Tell me it’s a bad dream! Launch imprecations against the sky, I need to speak to him…every meter, every movement is a battle, and it will be so until the stop, without any relief.

On the last length, I gain an inch at a time because the conditions are, if possible, even more horrible than elsewhere. Time no longer exists. Yet, I know the place, I know that the summit plateau is here, very close, I know that you cannot miss much. Digging in the snow one last time, finding a foothold, recovering… And suddenly everything is loosened, fifty feet above me the cross ticks, right in the wind, trapped by ice on the top of this “inaccessible” esplanade, isolated from the rest of the world in the realm of verticality. I am overwhelmed by emotion, I have a deep feeling of being pushed to my own limits, to have given everything and, kneeling in the snow, I cry at length like a baby.

Here, on Corno Stella, I found my adolescence, my discovery of the mountains. I always dreamed of climbing this wall by myself in the winter that, thirty years ago, symbolized the extreme difficulty of this solid rock, a true legend. Today, at the end of my “journey”, that dream is realized.

From: Legato ma libero, Vivalda, 2002.

Patrick Berhault

Born in 1957 in Thiers, in the heart of France, he discovered climbing while hiking in the Maritime Alps as a boy. Established as a talented climbers in crags, this soon manifested into a marked predilection for extreme high-altitude mountaineering. From August 2000 to February 2001, he was the start of a ‘great crossing’ of the Alps, told in two books and a film. He disappeared in 2004, under the collapse of a snow frame, on the crest of Dom de Mischabel (Switzerland).

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