Dani Arnold, No Speed Breakers

Speed Record on Nordwand Grandes Jorasses

Dream Wanderlust

Photographs: Dani Arnold, Mammut
Category: Expedition, Climbing, Interview
Date of Publication: Aug 30 , 2018


Swiss alpinist Daniel Arnold (AKA Dani Arnold) (34) set a new speed record on the North Face of Grandes Jorasses on 27th July, 2018. He climbed the Pointe Walker (4208m) in the Mont Blanc massif via Walker Spur (Cassin route) in 2h 4min.

After the failures in two successive years (summer 2016 and 2017) on the North Face of Grand Jorasses, due to bad weather conditions, this summer Dani again focussed on the same project. On 27th July, by taking advantage of good weather window, he climbed the North Face with a height of over 1200m via Walker Spur (Cassin route) 2hr 4min. With this speed record he now holds the records on two out of the three legendary North Faces (North Faces of Eiger, Matterhorn and Grandes Jorasses, popularly known as 'The Trilogy') in Alps. Beside the North Face of Grand Jorasses, on 22nd April, 2015, Dani recorded the speed record on the North Face of Matterhorn in 1h 46min. In 2011, he also set speed record on the North Face of Eiger as well in 2hr 28min, which overshadowed the previous record set by Ueli Steck (2hr 47min in 2008) by 19min. However, in 2015, Ueli reclaimed his title by climbed the North Face of Eiger in 2hr 22min 50sec, thus beat the Dani's record by almost 6min.

The Grandes Jorasses is a mountain in the Mont Blanc massif in Italy. The North Face is located on the French side of Grandes Jorasses. The classic route, which leads directly to the summit of Pointe Walker, on the face is the Walker Spur (Cassin route). Pointe Walker is the highest peak of the mountain.

In an exclusive interview to Dream Wanderlust, Daniel Arnold talks about his time record on the North Face of Grandes Jorasses.

Dani Arnold, Grandes Jorasses

Grandes Jorasses

Interview with Daniel Arnold


DW: Congratulations Daniel Arnold on an epic North Face of Grandes Jorasses in record breaking time.

Daniel: Thank you very much.

DW: This unboubtedly proves that you are a super-athlete and also a super-climber. Do you give equal weightage to both these qualities?

Daniel: Not only climbing skills are needed for such performance. I am not a very good rock climber ;-)
Important is a great experience. Good condition and above all a very big mental strength.

DW: You obviously also enjoy climbing and would want to carry on for many more years. Why then climb free solo, which, God forbid, would jeopardise your carrier.

Daniel: For me climbing without rope is not more dangerous. A year of preparation is important. Of course, the risk is very high, but if everything is right, it works. The most sensitive situations I've never had with Free Solo. But I'm aware of the danger and I try not to do it too often.

DW: Once you start climbing do you only focus on the next few moves only, or do you think bigger picture too?

Daniel: While climbing everything is unimportant, it counts only the moment the next meters. I do not think I have to climb 1000 meters. The focus is very important. Only the moment counts.

DW: Such solo climbs need absolute focus on the work at hand. Does this take away the joy of climbing?

Daniel: Fun is the most important thing for me. Of course I had many sleepless nights. The doubts were big. After the start I had a lot of fun. This can also be confirmed by the other climbers. But I also have to be honest that it was exhausting :-)

DW: The Eiger speed record is still held by the late Ueli Steck. Would you want to reclaim it again or would you rather let it stand in Ueli's name?

Daniel: In all likelihood, I will not go back to the Eiger North Face. There are so many new goals that I find more interesting.

DW: How do you mentally reconcile to the fact that this is a zero mistake endeavour?

Daniel: I'm 100% aware of that. But I can learn from experience. I know that when it matters, everything works.

DW: Are you a fatalist, willing to risk it your fate and rely totally on your fate?

Daniel: I'm not a gambler. I love the live. I've been doing this for a long time. I started with very small things. I have worked everything out. It is important to reflect, only in this way can you make progress.

DW: Do you have similar free solo plans on big faces/ridges of the Himalayas or Karakoram?

Daniel: After a big project, I feel empty. It takes some time until I can motivate myself again. But I still have many goals.

DW: Best of luck for your future endeavors and thank you very much for this interview.

Dani Arnold, Grandes Jorasses

Dani Arnold at Grandes Jorasses

Dani Arnold, Grandes Jorasses

Dani Arnold at Grandes Jorasses North Face

Dani Arnold, Grandes Jorasses

Dani Arnold climbing at Grandes Jorasses

Dani Arnold, Grandes Jorasses

Dani Arnold climbing Walker Spurs

Dani Arnold, Grandes Jorasses

Final steps to speed record

Dani Arnold, Grandes Jorasses

Dani Arnold on Walker Spur

Dani Arnold, Grandes Jorasses

Dani Arnold Speed Record at Grandes Jorasses North Face

Dani Arnold, Grandes Jorasses

The North Face of Grandes Jorasses

Dani Arnold, Grandes Jorasses

Last meters for Dani Arnold at Grandes Jorasses

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