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.
Q & A
Describe the type of skiing you do.
I love every aspect of skiing, but i guess you could say my speciality is riding technical lines on big mountains.
How did you get into ski mountaineering?
I spent my early years of my skiing at Riksgränsen in the very north of Sweden. It's a place with great potential for ski touring and semi steep lines. And, I love exploring.
Why do you think you are able to excel at this type of skiing?
I feel at home in exposed terrain and I love problem solving, as well as mental and physical challenges. Combine this with a passion for skiing and climbing and you have a definition of my passion.
Why is Chamonix the best place for a ski mountaineer to live?
You can be out in the high mountains skiing or climbing beautiful lines and then come back to your friends and family in the late afternoon, living an ordinary life. Do this most days the year round and you have kind of a dream situation for any skier or climber.
What are your goals for the future?
To keep on learning from life, do great things in the mountains, make decisions I'm proud of later and at the same time have lots of love in my life.