23 September 2016
They did it! On Thursday morning, the climbing team made up of twelve representatives from the handball family succeeded in raising the Men’s World Handball Championship trophy, 2017, on the summit of Mont Blanc after a five-hour long Phenomenal Ascent.
Mission accomplished! The Phenomenal Ascent of Mont Blanc was a complete success, after weeks of preparation, and physical and technical logistics. The twelve participating members of the handball family (*), supported by six guides from the Chamonix Guide Company, arrived on the Roof of Europe, where they proudly lifted the Cup for the Men’s World Handball Championship, 2017.
They arrived on Wednesday at the Refuge in Goûter, at a height of 3817 metres. After two days of acclimatization, the group attacked the final climb of 1000 vertical metres overnight from Wednesday to Thursday. With a wake-up call at 3am, they started off one hour later, eventually reaching the summit of Mont Blanc at about 9am; at an altitude of 4809 metres, under a big blue sky. “I’m just a Sunday sportsman compared to the other members of the climbing party; I must admit that it was really hard going”, says Edward Donnelly, CEO of the Organising Committee of France Handball 2017, “but reaching the summit was worth all the effort in the world, it was absolutely magical. “
The weather played its part – even though the temperature was in minus figures (around -20 ° C) for most of the time- the twelve members of the climbing party, including Guillaume Gille, Handball World Champion with the French team (2001 and 2009), took time to pose for a photograph and for the camera crew that accompanied them. They lifted the World Championship cup; the symbolic purpose of the Phenomenal Ascent, which aimed to shine a spotlight on the upcoming major event of the Men’s World Handball Championship, 2017, which will take place from January 11th to 29th. “There was a great feeling of pride and a lot of emotion shared at the summit » says Edward Donnelly. « Days before, most of us did not even know ourselves, but we learned a lot about ourselves during this great adventure. Mountain climbing is a beautiful symbol of sportmanship; no member of the team gets left behind, each person both relies on the others and looks after the others in order to achieve the goal. This event has been a great success. “
After a good quarter of an hour to capture the moment of glory with the trophy, the twelve “champions” of Mont Blanc began the descent, coming down to 1,700 metres (3,000 vertical metres) in less than nine hours before reaching Chamonix by cable car in the early evening, where a well-deserved night’s sleep awaited them. “Our legs will, no doubt, feel the results of these efforts in the coming days, but we return with many happy memories, it was a Phenomenal Moment!” says Edward Donnelly.
(*) The twelve members of the climbing team are: Fabrice Ansoux (member of FFHandball Development Committee), Jacky Brown (technical team, FFHandball), Franck Cadei (technical team, FFHandball), Frédéric Demangeon (technical team, FFHandball), Edward Donnelly (Director General of the Organising Committee of France Handball, 2017), Fabien Dupuis (trainer, FFHandball), Mattia Gattuso (amateur player with FFHandball), Guillaume Gille (former member of the French Handball team, World Champion in 2001 and 2009 ), Corentin Lallau Bazin (Vice President and Coach of St. Peter amateur Handball club), Loïc Pascard (amateurr player with FFHandball), Stéphane Pillaud (FFHandball photographer) and Alain Ripert (President of the Dauphiné Savoie League).
Picture by Stéphane Pillaut