A few years ago, the Swiss freeskier and Mammut Pro Team athlete Jérémie Heitz set himself a challenge: to ski down the slopes, some with gradients of up to 55 degrees, of the most breathtaking 4,000-meter peaks in the Alps – at speeds reaching 120 kilometers per hour.
For “La Liste”, Jérémie put together a list of fifteen 4,000-meter Alpine peaks, inspired by the idea of telling the story of each of these mountains and demonstrating the evolution of freeriding. The extreme peaks of days gone by are now freeride faces for a small band of skiers. Too steep, too extreme? Not for Jérémie. The steep skier races down 55-degree slopes, making sweeping turns at speeds of up to 120 kilometers per hour. From a bird's eye view he looks very relaxed. His fuel, however, is adrenalin.
“I wanted to push my skiing abilities to their limits, in a discipline that requires a great deal of experience and knowledge. So I tackled these steep slopes in an aggressive and flowing style – something that had never been tried before. You are going to see a ski movie that takes you on a journey through many decades of skiing history and breathtaking shots of the Alps!”
When you watch these spectacular images, on their own enough to make you feel dizzy at times, you will very quickly appreciate the many dangers and risks involved in this kind of project. To gain a better understanding of the inspiration and an insight into what it takes to successfully complete this kind of undertaking, we asked Jérémie a few questions:
"You need to be able to climb for several hours and then ski down in the best way you can."
How did you come up with the idea for “La Liste” and what message would you like to convey?
I pondered this project for a very long time, because the Alps are infused with the history of this sport. When I found out how my predecessors had skied these mountains for the first time, it immediately captured my imagination. In my opinion, development is apparent in two main areas of this sport. Firstly, you need to be capable of jumping everywhere, using spin and flip tricks. And secondly, you need to be able to ski very fast even in steep, high-altitude terrain.
I put together a list of 4,000-meter Alpine peaks that I planned to use to demonstrate the evolution from Sylvain Saudan, Anselm Baud or Jean-Marc Boivin to the present day. Back then, the equipment was completely different and the significance was entirely different.
What criteria did a mountain need to meet to be added to your list?
I selected these mountains on the basis of their beauty, their history and their steep slopes. First up in my “selection” was the Obergabelhorn. This extremely beautiful mountain has precisely the type of descents that interest me as a skier.
How did you get fit for this project?
You need to be able to climb for several hours and then ski down in the best way you can.
In the summer and fall, I work out a lot in the gym and I also spend many hours cardio training in the mountains - mountain biking, hiking or climbing.
After La Liste, what’s next? Any upcoming projects we can be excited about?
The next level after the Alps are clearly the Himalayas and the Andes. I would like to know if my fluid skiing style is also possible on 6000m peaks.