Breaking Limits, Challenging Conventions with the “Vertical Mile”
Would you be ready to climb a vertical mile in the European most beautiful canyon of Verdon Gorges?
This was the challenge set by adventurers Rodolphe Cassan and Mich Kemeter. Rodolphe Cassan is a renowned Paralpinist, Climber and Wingsuiter from France. He is also an Angage-sponsored athlete who shares his love for adventure, exploring the limits of human potential and optimising paths to success. Meanwhile, Mich Kemeter is a talented and internationally-recognised climber from Austria.
An Extraordinary Challenge: The Vertical Mile
The challenge was determined. Our adventurers set their sights on climbing 6 historical routes to reach over 1,650 metres above ground level within a day (before sunset). Along the way, they would set 63 pitches at 6 landmark locations along their 1.65km vertical journey.
The challenge was named the “Vertical Mile” and the location was the picturesque Verdon Gorges. The “Vertical Mile” would be a remarkable test of courage, strength and paralpinist skill – not only because of the 6-speed climbing ascents to the top of the Verdon Gorges, but also from the challenge involved to land the parachute in narrow places down the gorges.
Being meticulous planners and experienced climbers (with 37 years of climbing and 26 years of base jumping experience under their belts), the team of Rodolphe and Mich set out on what eventually turned into a 3-year journey, with these 5 key objectives in mind :
Think out of the box: The duo had a plan for ascending the mountain but agreed to let nature direct their descent. If wind conditions were good, they would skip the abseiling and parachute down with their climbing gear.
Optimisation: Our adventurers learnt their routes well, memorising and practising every detail – then optimising their climbing gear for maximum efficiency.
Train hard with a smile: The training would be tough, but the pair promised to always stay in positive spirits!
Be ready for the D – day: The climbers were packed an optimal amount of food, drink and gear for the journey. A logistics team stood by to pack the parachutes after the climbers landed safely.
Enjoy the journey: Most importantly, Rodolphe and Mich wanted to share their experience of stepping outside their comfort zone and exploring the unknown, expanding the human potential and enjoying every step of the journey!
Setting off early in the day, Rodolphe and Mich scaled Gorges du Verdon using nothing but climbing equipment (and the strength in their arms and legs). For readers familiar with Verdon Gorges, these are the team’s checkpoints and timings as they scaled the route (using a mix of simultaneous and regular climbing):
“Pichnibule” route / 1st ascent 1977 / 280 meters / Ascent time 1:49
“La demande” route / 1st ascent 1968 / 320 meters / Ascent time 0:53
“Ula” route / 1st ascent 1972 / 280 meters / Ascent time 1:21
”La dérobée” route / 1st ascent 1973 / 180 meters / Ascent time 0:24
”Solanuts from La demande” route / 1st ascent 1976 / 320 meters / Ascent time 1:27
”Le pilier des Ecureuils” route / 1st ascent 1972 / 270 meters / Ascent time 1:13
Total 1650 meters / 7:07 (average m/h 232)
From the top of the Canyon, the ecstatic duo leapt over the edge and parachuted gracefully towards the valley before landing at the bottom of the climbing route.
They celebrate the success of their “Vertical Mile” challenge with their friends and the pioneer Francois Guillot who opened the first route in Escales 50 years ago…. The team were delighted as they had completed a challenge that still eludes many adventurers around the world today.
Challenge Conventions in Everyday Life
One of the key reasons Angage sponsors Rodolphe is because the adventurer embodies a spirit that Angage believes in – a willingness to step out of his comfort zone, a desire to be extraordinary and a drive to be the best at what he does.
As a small but rapidly-growing global brand, we aspire towards these admirable traits as well and appreciate having Rodolphe play a role in team Angage – speaking at our seminars, motivating our teams with his presence and showing the world who we are as a brand.