Shadowing Andreas Fransson: Lessons Learned in Chamonix

Andreas Fransson is defining modern extreme skiing. And the 30-year-old Chamonix, France transplant from Sweden brings to the sport wisdom of mountain men twice his age.

In the October issue, Managing Editor Tyler Cohen travels to Chamonix to shadow Fransson for three days. There, he found a whole lot more than he could cram into a 10-page story. Here’s a dose of Fransson’s wisdom and a preview of photos from the trip. For more, pick up the October issue, on newsstands October 1.

“I think guiding and being in the mountains is much more important than being in the mountains by yourself. Maybe you see the results in a year, but when you are guiding someone or teaching something, you see it that day. You are giving something that day.”

“You will make millions if you take these kinds of risks in another job.”

“Sometimes, I think the life of a perfect guide is better than [that of] a professional skier. But I have a perfect life now. You do, too, I think. You have to be able to look at it from the outside because, by yourself, you might have a bad day, but from the outside you wouldn’t see that.”

“[The South Face of Denali] didn’t feel like such a big thing because I had done my homework. It’s like three skis in Chamonix: The Aiguille du Plan, the Mallory and the Coutourier. Aiguille du Plan is route finding and stuff. The Mallory is kind of short with rappels but not that steep. The Coutourier is a steep, ice face with snow on it.”

“There was a part at the end of Denali where I had to rappel for 400 meters. If you climb in Chamonix, you first climb an ice route and normally rappel that ice route, 1,000 meters, to end a normal day. So what is the biggest nightmare for a skier is like ‘OK, this is what we do.’”

“The best skiers, they don’t think about how they’re going to ski. They just ski. It helps if they have years of thinking about what they’ve done before, so their movements are natural.”

“If you’re going to do something great, it will always also be an act of madness.”

“When I was a kid, I was never the bravest. When I started skiing, I was really into park and jumping cliffs. Every time I was standing there, I was like ‘this doesn’t feel good. It’s scary.’ So when you’ve done that enough times, and you realize that it will never happen, you have to learn.”

“I think one [of my] advantages has been the lack of [having a mentor]. I always wanted to find someone who can just help me—teach me—but they never seemed to come. Which is good if you want to do something new. You cannot have someone tell you if it’s possible or not…. You have to think and just come in here with an open mind.”

“I had five years with seven operations. I had a knee surgery every year for three years in a row. And then I broke my neck, and I’d done two shoulder reconstructions. That’s the most painful surgery I’ve had yet. It’s next to your head, so it doesn’t go away.”

“Of course one or two times I’ve had great luck. But I’ve already paid great prices. Others have paid great prices with their lives and such. But it’s like yesterday. We were so close to it all day long. One slip, and….”

“I don’t like to talk about statistics anymore, because statistics don’t work for the individual. Only for the masses.”


For more photography from Daniel Rönnbäck, visit To learn more about what Andreas Fransson has been up to, visit

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  1. ‘Defining modern extreme skiing’. What a load of crap. That has all been skied long ago! Why does every generation think they invented the wheel?

    • Did you actually read the hard copy article? THis is just an excerpt. He’s skiing lines no one has before…

    • trent scarlett says:

      Oh, Jamie, really? Like you’ve skied all the same stuff?
      Oh, I thought not.
      You’re an idiot, this guy is an absolute champ.
      What’d you hit some moguls the other day and ruled it? Good for you.
      Unless youve actually seen the Eugster, the Auguille’ Du’ plan, Poincenot, or any of a hundred faces this gut has put turns down, you’re opinion is baseless and a joke. buh bye.

      • Sorry Trent, but yes i have skied the area your speaking of, Many times. In fact just got back from mY twenty sixth trip to Cham. Visiting friends this time. Skied the mallory in the early 90’s, skied the aIguillE vert (correct spelling) during the big winter of 99′. You remember that winter in Cham? Oh, that,s right you weren’t extreme then. Let me guess you moved to B.c. From back east and now your the typical eastern no it all.

    • I’m Curious as to how you managed to interpret ‘defining modern extreme skiing’ as ‘exclusively skiing first descents’…?
      Incidentally, as Levi says, he is skiing first descents, and indeed the world over; I believe the Whillans Ramp on Aguja Poincenot is one such example.
      IF ASKED, I WOULD IMAGINE THAT MOST PEOPLE WHO FOLLOW SKI-MOUNTAINEERING WOULD NAME FRANSSON AS ITS PRINCIPLE CURRENT EXPONENT, for feats such as that mentioned above. To me, that is what is meant by him ‘defining modern extreme skiing’. As it happens, those words were not his…

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