First Descent in the Alps

For skiers attempting to descend the steepest lines in the world’s great mountain ranges, seasonality of the sport does not apply.

Every month of the year, big lines are in play somewhere in the world, and top-level ski alpinists, like Swiss Gilles Sierro, know where to look. One of those magical times in Sierro’s home mountains is in early June.

IFMGA-certified Sierro hails from Hérémence in the Swiss Valais, a region that’s a virtual gold mine of iconic 3- and 4,000-meter [9- to 14,000-foot] peaks.

On Friday, June 6, Sierro, along with photographer David Carlier, completed a new line on the north face of 11,969-foot Blanche de Perroc. The next day, Sierro, accompanied by Andreas Fransson and one client, made a descent of the Marinelli Couloir, a legendary 8,000-foot run on the Italian (east) side of Monte Rosa.
This descent of the Marinelli came on the one-year anniversary of Sierro’s first descent on the 14,291-foot Dent Blanche via the Swiss Direct, one of the more notable firsts in this heavily trafficked mountain range in years.

Powder caught up with Sierro to ask about his recent successes, what it takes to pull off goals like this, and where he’s looking in the future.  Read on...

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