Weekend Warm-Up: Marcel Remy — 94 Years Old and Back to the Summit

Born in 1923, Swiss alpinist Marcel Remy is now 99 years old.This documentary from Mammut, however, focuses on 2015 and 2017. That’s when Remy set out to tackle Switzerland’s 450m-long Miroir d’Argentine.

Meet Marcel Remy, one stubborn alpinist

Screenshot from Mammut's 'Marcel Remy - - 94 Years Old and Back to the Summit', Swiss alpinist


“I can’t figure out people who don’t understand that at my age, you can still be active,” Remy says, mildly bewildered. “I just don’t get it.”

Over a quick cup of espresso at a local café, Remy reflected on a recent climb. “Yesterday, on the rocks, I loved being able to climb as if I were 60, 70, or 80 years old.”

These are words that those 30-, 40-, or 50-year-olds who feel prematurely ragged should perhaps take to heart.

‘F.O.S.L.’ route – February 2015

Remy in orange helmet crack climbing

Remy lead climbs ‘F.O.S.L.,’ 5C, in Leonidio, Greece, 2015.


At the age of 92, Remy lead climbed (and decisively fired) F.O.S.L., a limestone sport climb graded 5C (5.9) in Leonidio, Greece — no small feat, especially at an advanced age.

“It is so beautiful out here,” he remarked softly while steadily ascending F.O.S.L. “The rock is stunning.” To follow? The king’s seat at a long table set with tapas, red wine, and loved ones followed — the determined old Switzer had, after all, earned at least a bit of pomp.

And yet, Remy doesn’t exactly sugarcoat the truth. Age has presented him with a handful of its own proverbial summits.

Portrait of Marcel Remy and his son

Marcel Remy (left) with his son and fellow alpinist, Claude Remy (right).


“We realized that he was finding it tough to put the rope in the quickdraw,” his son Claude notes before turning to his father for confirmation. “It has to be said that you were in trouble. You really were at breaking point.”

The elder Remy nods in reluctant but dignified agreement. But would that be any reason to stop? Quite to the contrary.

‘Miroir d’Argentine’ – August 2017

The northwest face of Miroir d'Argentine in the Swiss Vaud Alps

The northwest face of Argentine Peak in the Swiss Vaud Alps, upon which the 450m ‘Miroir d’Argentine,’ 5C, route resides.


Argentine (2,421m) resides in western Switzerland’s Vaud Alps. Though empirically climbable on all sides, the route that dominates its Northwest face, Miroir d’Argentine, 5C (5.9), is the peak’s undisputed classic. Some experts have even called it “the most celebrated multi-pitch climb in Switzerland.”

No stranger to the formation (he first tied in at its base in 1946), Remy describes it as “something extraordinary…known around the world.” By his estimation, he’d returned “200, 220, or 240 times” over the years. He lost count when his physical strength began its slow, unauthorized descent.

And of all the routes on Remy’s prolific ticklist, the northwest face of Miroir is the one he’s loved and returned to the most.

When he told his son that he wished to return in 2017, Claude and his brother Yves, both well-known ascensionists, acquiesced — with a condition. “We set up a training plan with targets to achieve,” said Claude. “If the targets weren’t achieved, we wouldn’t do the Miroir.”

Hiking with a wall of rock behind

Remy on the technical approach to the base of ‘Miroir l’Argentine’, 5C, 2017.


And so it began, a flurry of days spent smearing his low-angle La Sportiva climbing shoes against the time-hardened limestone slab.

The trail leading up to the 5C route offered its fair share of difficulties. It is steep, peppered in scree, and therefore rather technical — it’s a Class 5 scramble in some stretches. Yet Remy kept on pace throughout the training program; by all metrics, he was ready for another battle with his favorite line.


Remy climbing

At 94, Remy winds his way up ‘Miroir d’Argentine’, 5C, 2017.


“I am already so pleased,” Remy remarks joyfully to the film crew, “because I can tell it’s going to be ok. I will struggle, but it will be fine.” One can’t help but suspect that the promise of struggle is what so enticed him back to the mountain at 94.

So, did the excelsior Marcel Remy reach the summit of Miroir de l’Argentine once more? I recommend taking a look for yourself to find out.

Runtime: 24 minutes