The First Winter Solo of the Rebuffat Route on Pic de Belledonne

On Feb. 5, French mountain guide Thibault Sibille (32) made the first winter solo of the Rebuffat route on the Northwest Face of Grand Pic de Belledonne (2,977m). It is the highest peak in the Belledonne massif in the Dauphiné Alps.

Sibille climbed this classic route alone over three days, “with a few comforting KitKats and two icy bivouacs.”

“It’s not a feat, just a great adventure, and the longest, hardest 400 meters of my life,” Sibille told Alpine Magazin after his remarkable climb. The line is exactly 410 meters.

Sibille wrote on social media that he climbed solo because it was impossible to find a partner for the route. But it also coincided with his desire to solo “that [peak] that has harassed and attracted me for almost 10 winters.”

A hard bivouac

Of Sibille’s two bivouacs on the face, one was very difficult because of the wind and cold. “Personally I would remember an adventure at the edge of my limits,” he recalled after the climb.

His mother and a friend were the only ones who knew what he was doing, and with whom Sibille was in touch during the climb.

The base was a 60˚ snow slope, with short passages of 70˚, and M4. The rest of the route was 6a+/M5+.

Thibault Sibille.

Thibault Sibille. Photo: Alice Filliol


Grand Pic de Belledonne was first ascended by Etienne Favier in 1859, via the valley of Eau d’Olle and the Lac de Belledonne. Favier repeated the ascent years later, in 1873, with his son, Emile Viallet, and Auguste Michel.

In 1944, Gaston Rebuffat was the first to climb the mountain from the north, accompanied by Michel Chevalier.

Winter solo ascents in the Alps are risky and require high technical ability and a great deal of knowledge. As Gaston Rebuffat said once: “Consider what you want to do in relation to what you are capable of doing.”

Left: Gaston RebuffatRight: Thibault Sibille

Left: Gaston Rebuffat. Right: Thibault Sibille

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law. Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.