’50’ pilots topland Mont Blanc as Chamonix sees record day

The summit of Mont Blanc, where dozens of pilots toplanded on 19 August 2012. Photo: Sylvain Gattini

The summit of Mont Blanc, where dozens of pilots toplanded on 19 August 2012. Photo: Sylvain Gattini

A record 50+ paraglider pilots successfully top-landed Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, on Sunday 19 August, a day which will surely go down in Chamonix paragliding history as one of the most remarkable ever.

With pilots climbing to 5,000m and blue skies all around, one of the pilots, Sylvain Gattini, summed up the experience of landing on Europe’s highest peak saying, “And here I am, in heaven!”

Read Sylvain’s blogpost and see the photos here.

See photos on Facebook from Gael Lafond who toplanded on the top.

Mont Blanc from Stéphane Boulenger on Vimeo.

Cross Country magazine’s Marcus King was there, as was former Cross Country editor Bob Drury. Bob, who was flying tandem with a friend, said: “Base at 5,300m! Booming conditions with 7m/s climbs.”

Ozone also reported on the pilots they knew who made the summit, including Martin Bonis who flew the Ozone XXLite, Ozone’s single-surface ‘descent’ glider. “We knew that the XXLite was capable of more than just gliding down, but we are very impressed!” said Ozone.

Ozone also said that photographer Olivier Laugero made the summit, top-landing for the second time after doing it last year too. Alongside him was his friend Eric Gramond with his wife as passenger. Making it a family affair Eric’s son also landed on the summit.

And acro ace Felix Rodriguez also landed on the summit flying his 18.5m Ozone Trickster. After taking off again he infinite tumbled back to the valley floor.

Meanwhile photographer Jerome Maupoint was also flying Mont Blanc on what he called an “incredibly busy day up there”. He had his camera with him – to be featured in the next issue of Cross Country magazine.

Amid the excitement however, the local mountain rescue issued a warning about not flying in restricted airspace around Mont Blanc, saying “Bravo!” but that “many wings” were seen in the exclusion zone on Sunday. Details of the restricted zone, which is in force until 31 August, are here.

This week of August is becoming something of a classic for paragliding in Chamonix. On Sunday 21 August last year around 20 pilots soared above the summit at 5,000m and five, including Gin’s Eric Roussel, top-landed the 4,808m mountain.

And in 2009 pilots landed on the summit on 19 August. The first time pilots successfully landed on the summit was on 13 August 2003.

Congratulations to all pilots who made the summit today. Send your photos to editor@xcmag.com, we’d love to see them.

More news when we get it.

From the archive: Toplanding Mont Blanc in 2003

• Got news? Send it to us at news@xcmag.com



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12 Responses to “’50’ pilots topland Mont Blanc as Chamonix sees record day”

  1. Plop
    August 20, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    Following the French Flying rules, it’s FORBIDDEN to top land on MontBlanc.

    Be warned…

  2. SpiralDive
    August 20, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Well done & ignore the killjoys.

    Thanky ou for keeping the sport of Paragliding ALIVE, fun & pushing the sport forward.

    This sport is all about FUN & Adventure – not criticism of someone making their own decision to fly or land.

    If the killjoys had their way – all freeflight would be “forbidden”. Todays society has so much agains paragliding. Are you with us, or with “them”?

  3. zeljko rudan
    August 20, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    Hi Friends.

  4. Plop
    August 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    @SpiralDiveAugust: the “free” of freeflight does NOT mean you can do want you want.
    There is a restricted airspace, and the top is INSIDE it, you must follow the rules.

    Simple. Or then, free flight will be easily forbidden everywhere…

  5. Carolien
    August 20, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Fantastic, wings make dreams come true!

  6. Jerome
    August 20, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    Just amazing!!!

    Funny first post and so typical, jesus this is a one time opportunity, so please there is enough restriction and rules and more restriction and more rules…

  7. Plop
    August 21, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    The French Federation cancelled ALL the flights declared in the CFD (“friendly” XC competition):

    Just respect the rules !
    This area is restricted to allow easy access for Rescue helicopters. Not to annoy paragliding pilots.

    How difficult it is to understand that???

  8. pictben
    August 22, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    Why so many angry answers Plop? It’s a ONE TIME oportunity.

    it so difficult to understand?

    Some people stricktly respects rules, some don’t, intentionaly or by ignorance

    A bit of philosophy far away from top landing in mont blanc : Most people try to find ways to adapt rules for a better human life. To do that, we need people that makes things change.

    If anybody had always respect the rules, we still had lived in cavern because it was forbidden to leave the cavern!!!

  9. lafinesse
    August 22, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    Why so many blinded thoughts ?
    If you have the opportunity to land at Heathrow, would you do it?

    The restricted area is for safety interventions. If one of your friend die due to a delay due to people taking fun, flying in restricted areas, would you be happy?

    The PGHM is composed of people loving mountain activities, and they didn’t point the fact that pilots landed on Mt Blanc, even though it is in the restricted area, but not far from the limit.
    They pointed out pilots flying deeply inside the restricted area.

    The issue is that if pilots don’t take at all the restricted area into account, the area might be strongly extended.

    Another issue is that more and more pilots would think about this flight as a type of Holy Graal as it is already for mountain climbing, even if they don’t have the skills for this flight and landing, leading to incidents.

  10. Tobi
    August 24, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    Awesome, absolutly wesome!

    Sometime it is better to forget fhe rules, for great experience in this case. Thank you for sharing.


  11. paraglider
    August 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    I cant understand why so many people are pissed because of this amazing thing. If you could land on the top of the Mont Blanc wouldnt you do that?

  12. Paul marchant
    August 25, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    Your on this planet for a blink of an eye,,, enjoy the world and it’s space of which no entiity owns..harm no one… Take risks …take responsibility if it goes wrong! Take the memories with you for ever !!!

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