With the Matterhorn in his backyard and four generations of mountaineering in his genes, it is little wonder that Hervé Barmasse became one of the planet’s most passionate and accomplished alpinists.
Following in the footsteps of his renowned father, Hervé became a ski and snowboard instructor at the tender age of 18, a mountain guide at age 22 and finally, an instructor for professional mountain guides.
Hervé began his mountaineering career on his home mountain—the Matterhorn—opening and repeating many prestigious routes, steep skiing and solo climbing, before leaving the Alps to seek new horizons. In 2004 Hervé traveled to Pakistan to seek unclimbed granite walls. That season he opened two new alpine-style routes Not yet satiated, Hervé returned to Pakistan the following year where he made the first solo ascent of an unclimbed 6,000-meter wall and established two new routes, for which he was honored with the Paolo Consiglio Award from the Italian Alpinists’ Club.
2006 saw Hervé traveling even farther afield to Patagonia, where he established a new route on the north face of Cerro San Lorenzo before seriously injuring himself on Cerro Piergiorgio. Despite the near tragedy, Hervé returned to Patagonia as soon as he was healed in early 2007, in hopes of mastering the indomitable northwest face of Cerro Piergiorgio, 1,000 meters of sheer granite that had defied even the very best climbers. While he came close to success, ominous weather turned him back 300 meters below the summit.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Hervé returned home to Italy’s Aosta Valley, where in April 2007 he made the first solo ascent and first repeat ascent of the Matterhorn South Directissima route. The climb was particularly personal for Hervé; his father had made the original ascent of this route with two partners in 1983. For this accomplishment, Hervé received the coveted Grolla d’Oro award.
Still obsessed with conquering Cerro Piergiorgio, Hervé returned to Patagonia for a third time in January 2008. Tragedy again threatened when his partner, Giovanni Onagro, was critically injured by falling ice. Following a heroic rescue, Hervé and partner, Cristian Brenna, finally reached the peak after climbing for 24 hours straight, at night and with a fast-approaching blizzard. It was a feat that went down in the history of mountaineering.
Birthdate: 21 December 1977
Favorite Destinations: Patagonia, Pakistan and Mt. Cervino
Favorite Snack: Bread with Nutella and beer
Theme Music: Elliott Smith, System of a Down, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Manu Chau
Proudest Moment: First solo ascent of the Matterhorn’s south face
Words to Live By: Freedom, nature, mountain, snow, climb, ski, liberté-égalité-fraternité
Inspiration: The idea that it’s possible to walk, to climb, to see where no one ever has before
Three Things He Always Packs: A book, my iPod and my will to live