There are many reasons to love the mountain. As many as the number of enthusiasts who drive up on weekends to get there, and more. Many more.
There are those who choose it because of the differences with the seaside resorts, with its tranquility and decidedly cooler climate. There are those who like to lose themselves in mountain landscapes, to feel infinitely small in the presence of rocky boulders and to reconnect with the natural cycle of the planet, from which we are often separated by the hectic life of the cities. Or those who, without too much romance, see a challenge in every peak and climb all around them.
Today we are talking to mountaineering enthusiasts: those who already know and practice it, and those who are looking for new ways to experience the mountains in an adrenalinic way. Today we are talking about Fast & Light.
What is Fast & Light?
It is not a true discipline like hiking and climbing, but rather a new style of mountaineering, a new approach to mountaineering. Unlike mountaineering, which began as a quiet, relaxing activity of exploring routes while admiring the scenery, the spirit of Fast & Light lies in the middle of the most competitive disciplines to be practiced in the mountains. As the name suggests, it is all about the speed with which a route or climb is carried out, which is often tackled with the bare minimum or directly without any specific equipment. Obviously, this is not a challenge to be taken lightly, and it is not recommended for Sunday amateurs or people who do not experience the mountains with consistency and preparation.
Any route to be undertaken in Fast & Light mode must be meticulously prepared, taking into account several factors: first of all, the weather conditions expected in the area for the duration of the trek; the state of the route itself, if it has temporary obstacles or is at risk of landslides; the number of participants willing to engage in the venture; the physical condition of the participants; and, finally, the equipment required.
When everything is put on speed, it is necessary to minimize the load of the backpack that one carries, leaving any superfluous thing at home. To do this, one must be fully prepared for any inconvenience, to face it with a clear mind and sometimes without full climbing gear.
On the other hand, a Fast & Light approach definitely has advantages that make any traverse more attractive, in addition to the physical and mental challenge. The speed of travel, in fact, makes it possible to face and quickly get out of passes and dangerous areas, and to get away quickly if weather conditions worsen – two scenarios that are common in the mountains, as I’m sure you know.
How to lighten the load?
They may indeed seem like trifles, since a single climbing carabiner or piton has a negligible weight. However, if you multiply the weight of the single item by all the items needed for the route to be climbed, the weight increases dramatically.
Fortunately, mountaineering equipment manufacturers have evolved in this regard, developing solutions that focus on lightness and speed. Several brands are constantly striving to make their products more efficient and safer, without neglecting aesthetics, comfort and lightness.
They are also focusing on raw materials to create technical accessories that offer the same safety and performance as their predecessors, but with significantly less weight. Or climbing ropes that are more efficient so that they do not fray in contact with the rock, despite their small diameter, and above all waterproof so that they do not accumulate water and do not gain weight.
In short, there are so many possibilities, but one must always remember that the choice of equipment, before the characteristics of the product itself, should be made taking into account one’s physical and technical abilities, as well as the experience gained after climbing.
The decision to climb a Fast & Light route must be made consciously and deliberately, because the mountains are not to be taken lightly. And as much as it can be an adrenaline rush to push your limits and take on increasingly difficult projects and routes, it is important to remember that less equipment also means more difficulty in dealing with the unexpected.
Nadir Maguet, the wizard of Fast & Light, tells about it
For him, speed equals safety. And that’s why he chose what he calls the Fast & Light style of mountaineering: because it encompasses technical ability as well as physical and mental strength. He also relies heavily on the technical innovation of constantly evolving equipment that allows athletes to push their limits. But that’s only natural for someone like Nadir Maguet, who has lived in the mountains since birth.
Born in Torgnon, in the heart of the Aosta Valley, Nadir took his first steps on cross-country skis: he was only two years old when his father took him out on a snowy slope for the first time. Since then, he has never stopped practicing the sport. Growing up on the slopes of the Alps, between biathlon and biking, he found his true path in ski mountaineering.
Nadir loves the mountains in all their forms and facets, but he realized that his best way to experience them was through the solitude of the trails and steep walls. It was written in his destiny that he would become a versatile athlete. And he proved it amply this summer, establishing himself among as many new FKTs on as many mountains in the Alpine arc where he was born and raised.
What is an FKT?
FKT stands for “Fastest Know Time” and can be understood as an unofficial record of a certain mountain section or route. Unfortunately, since we do not have precise and documented data, but only the intermediate times recorded by a GPS and the statements of the athlete himself, we cannot have the officiality of a chronometric time, as we have seen with Hillary Gerardi. Nothing, however, undermines the dignity of the performance.
With what equipment did he carry out the FKT?
Since this was a Fast & Light test, as we saw earlier, there was no huge backpack full of different types of equipment on his shoulders.
As usual, in addition to technical clothing and climbing essentials – since the record was set by taking only the times for the ascent and not also for the descent – we focus on shoes.
The shoe Nadir chose to tackle his climbs with was the Aequilibrium Speed, from La Sportiva‘s Aequilibrium family. The uniqueness of this shoe lies in its development, which was carried out with several brand ambassadors, including Nadir Maguet. The result is a lightweight and durable boot that offers excellent performance on mountain terrain and rock faces. Designed and developed by experienced athletes, it can also be a great shoe to start walking in the mountains.
In short, everyone has their own path and route. Whether it is steep, flat or full of cliffs to climb, the important thing is to be properly equipped for what you are facing and to be aware of your technical abilities and physical condition.
At the end of the day, no matter how accurately a stopwatch measures the time it takes to complete a route, it will never be able to tell you all the emotions you felt while doing it. So put on your shoes, grab your backpack, and remember the most important thing: enjoy the mountain. Even with a little more calm!
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