François Damilano

Francois Damilano - photo © Bertrand Delapierre
  • 30 December 1959
  • Chamonix (France)
  • State degree in special education, Mountain guide
  • Mountain guide, writer, filmmaker
  • 1985

Desire and ambition: a long-term relationship
«I had the chance to experience the golden age of ice climbing and I still love to climb at the end of a valley in full winter. My life as an alpinist has been marked with an indelible seal by the world of ice climbing.  In the early eighties, I found a synthesis between sport climbing and alpinism, two practices that tended to be differentiated by separate worlds. In ice climbing, I found the movement and the pleasure of rock climbing combined with the mastery of risky terrain that is important to an alpinist. In ice climbing, I have also made some great friendships with those tied into the other end of a rope.
The image had a strong influence on me and I love to try to carry the aesthetic of a mountain that has beaten me, or escape from a line that has made an impact on me. After that it’s the stories of companionship. Those with photographers and filmmakers. Their skills have taught me to look for the best light, select the material, transcend the impatience of a climber. It’s a way to not get locked inside the intemperance of the performance. In a photograph or film, this manifests itself as the choice of the best framing to elicit an emotion, of an angle used to tell a story, for many people to see, or simply as a way to keep a memory for a few moments of our lives as climbers. Finally, later, now, to dare to make my films from behind the camera and show things differently. Perfect my view, refine the dialogue, try to let others tell their stories by combining my mountaineering experience with my passion for the image. More than stories of climbing, I love the stories of climbers.»

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«I have climbed for quite awhile now… and, as in climbing, my journey is marked by a few key passages. Feelings of discovery emerge, the satisfactions of performance, the complicities of friendship, tears from dramas and the joy of motivation. Years forced to take a turn: the loss of recklessness. It’s perhaps because of this that today I am trying to keep from locking myself in my own caricature. Certainly, the practice of ice climbing is a ‘big part’ of my life as an alpinist, but it has also allowed me to go beyond that, to see differently and to learn from practices other than my own. Without being a writer nor a filmmaker… I have actually spent a lot of time making books and films. Today, I focus my guiding practice on the people I am with, at very high altitude, which forces me to explore other ideas and take a necessary step back from the practice of the sport, in my practice of the sport. Today, breathing life into a publishing house (JMéditions) is a way to use my pen to hatch the writing projects of others. The author publisher relationship is also like a climbing partnership. Today, to swap my ice tools for a camera is to walk away from the role of a climber ‘who takes the stage’ to talk about something new and give birth to the narrative. To find the angle of a story is to sharpen the critical analysis and not be soothed by convention.
Today, I continue to live my childhood dreams fuelled by the stories of Rebuffat, Terray and Desmaison. Their books and films inspire me to leave my comfort zone. I have always been sensitive to those who find the ability to juggle their passion (climber), their work (mountain guide) and the taste for publishing.»

picto plus Major ascents

Solo climbs:
- Mont-Blanc du Tacul (Chamonix) ‘Supercouloir’ 1986
- Ben Nevis (Scotland) route linkups, 1987
- La Grande Traversée des Cimes (Mont Blanc range) 1992, solo traverse of the entire Mont Blanc range summit ridge in total autonomy
- Ama Dablam (Nepal) Southwest Face in one day, 1993
- Canada Trophy Wall and Norway, ice route linkup, 2003
Exploratory first ascents:
- Urgyenmang (Nepal) North Face (6001 m) 1999
- Shishuan (China) Abi Mountain (5900 m) 2004
- Sano Chekigo (Nepal) (6000 m) 2006
- Hawley Peak (Nepal) (6182 m) 2008
First ascents in the Mont Blanc range:
- Aiguille du Midi, Mont Blanc du Tacul, Mont Blanc (seracs) 1987 – 1991
- Aiguille Sans Nom ‘Naïa’ (gully) 1996
- Mont Blanc du Tacul ‘Pilier des Séracs’ (rock route)
Ice climbing first ascents:
- Bourg d’Oisans (France) ‘Visa pour l’Amérique’ 1987
- La Grave (France) ‘L’étoffe’ 1987
- Val Nontey (Italy) ‘Repentance’ 1989
- La Grave (France) ‘Les Galands’, ‘Grands Clôt’ 1990
- Le Fournel (France) ‘Gramuzat Directe’, ‘Juste une Illusion’, ‘Blowjob’, ‘Les Racines du Ciel’ 1991
- Sixt Fer à Cheval (France) ‘La Folly’, ‘La Massue’, ‘Trélachaume’ 1991
- Canada ‘Le lézard d’Or’, ‘French Reality’ 1992
- Canada ‘The Day After les Vacances de Mr Hulot’ 1993
- Ben Nevis (Scotland) ‘French Connection’ (‘The most difficult route added by an overseas team’ S.Richardson) 1995
- Valdigne (France) ‘Liaisons Dangereuses’ 1996
- Vallée de l’Arve (France) ‘L’Arpenaz’ 2001
- Sixt Fer à Cheval (France) ‘La Sorcière Blanche’ 2006
The great classics with clients:
North Faces: Grandes Jorasses, Matterhorn, Eiger, Pilier d’Angle…

picto rss Other informations

Books :
- ICE 89: Illustrations, Proactis 1988
- CHEMINS DE GEL: Text and photos with Bernard Amy and Gérard Kosicki. Glénat 1989. French and German versions. Awarded in Germany
- HAUTE MONTAGNE ET ALPINISME: How-to book with Dominique Lebrun. Solar 1989
- L’ESCALADE: How-to book. Solar 1990
- CASCADES DE GLACE: Guidebooks for l’Oisans with Godefroy Perroux, 1992
- GLACE NEIGE ET MIXTE: 500 Itinéraires dans le Massif du Mont-Blanc. With Godefroy Perroux, 1996
- MONTAGNE PASSION: With Claude Gardien. Hachette 1997. French, English, Spanish, German versions. Awarded in Italy
- CASCADES AUTOUR DU MONT-BLANC: Two volumes with Godefroy Perroux, 1998
- CASCADES DE GLACE, l’Oisans aux six vallées: Two volumes with Godefroy Perroux, 2000
- MONT BLANC 4808 m, 5 Routes to the Summit: JM Éditions 2004. French, English, Spanish versions
- SNOW, ICE AND MIXED, guide to the Mont-Blanc Range: two volumes. JM Éditions 2005. French, English, Spanish versions
- ICE CLIMBING AND DRY TOOLING, Haute-Savoie: Two volumes with Philippe Batoux et Ludovic Seifert. JM Éditions 2007. French, English bilingual version, Italian, Spanish, English editions
- LA VALLÉE BLANCHE, the most beautiful off-piste in the world: JM Éditions 2009. French, English versions
Chronicler: MONTAGNES MAGAZINE (1987 - 1989),
Editor: VERTICAL (1990 - 2000).
Films :
- SAFARI ROC: Bourse de l’Aventure Antenne 2. 1984. Climbing Mont Kenya (5200 m)
- VISA POUR L’AMÉRIQUE: FR3 Montagne, 1988. Ice climbs
- LA DAME BLANCHE: Ushuaia/TF1, 1989. Solo ice climb in Québec
- L’ÉLÉPHANT BLANC: Ushuaia/TF1 - Chromatique, 1989. Seracs of Mont Blanc
- À BOUT DE GLACE : MC4/Antenne 2, 1990. Ice climbs of Canada. Awarded at the Autrans Festival.
- USHUAIA. TF: Trois plateaux en situation avec Nicolas Hulot: Alpe d’Huez, Aiguille du Midi, Canadian rock
- ICE UP: 2003. Ice climbing and dry tooling with seven famous climbers. 30’. DVD, French, English versions
- SKIPPERS D’ALTITUDE: 2005. Gear guide - clients on a 7000m peak. 38’. DVD, French, English, Spanish versions
- LA SORCIÈRE BLANCHE: 2006. Ice climbing and dry tooling in the Cirque du fer à Cheval. 40’. DVD, French, English, Spanish and Italian versions
- LA STRATÉGIE DE L’ESCARGOT: 2008. ‘Moving slowly’ at very high altitude. 10’. French, English versions
- PARENTHÈSE À 8000: 2009. Stories from eight amateur alpinists at very high altitude. 30’. French, English versions

picto photo Photos

picto video Videos



Francois Damilano - photo Bertrand Delapierre
Francois Damilano - photo Bertrand Delapierre

picto featured François and the Petzl team

«I started my collaboration with Petzl in 1985… I like long-term relationships! Petzl is one of my best climbing partners. I represent desire and ambition. I am both ambassador and counsellor.»