With 1 hour and 43 minutes, Dani Arnold sets a new best time on the Petit Dru north face. With this, he completes his project, which began ten years ago with the record on the Eiger: to climb all six large north faces of the Alps solo and as quickly as possible.

Unlike, for example, on the Eiger, speed records on the Petit Dru are rare. The reason for this is, among other things, the short time windows in which a speed solo ascent is possible at all. In 1982 Christophe Profit climbed the west face of the Petit Dru on the Route Directe Américaine in 3 hours and 10 minutes, it was the first solo ascent. In March 2015, Tom Ballard ventured the Allain-Leininger route on the north face and, despite difficult snow conditions, reached the summit after eight hours.

On August 14, 2021 Dani Arnold and Stefan Brugger left for Chamonix. Actually, the two wanted to climb the north face together, but the good conditions on the wall tempted Arnold to do Sologang without further ado: "If there is a possibility that everything will fit, then I have to use this opportunity".

Three rope teams overtaken

Shortly before 9 o'clock the next day he climbed the wall alone. After exactly 1 hour, 43 minutes and 35 seconds, he was on the summit. “In every large north face, it is an art to be in the right place at the right time. The Petit Dru is the most demanding in this regard. It can't be too warm or too cold. Only on a very few days a year are the conditions ideal and the risk of climbing without a rope is justifiable, ”he said afterwards. In the upper part of the wall he overtook three rope teams.

“It can't be too warm or too cold. On only a very few days a year, the conditions are optimal and the risk of climbing without a rope is justifiable. "

Dani Arnold

Arnold had only climbed the route twice before with a rope partner. It took him over ten hours each time. With the Petit Dru north face, he completes his project of climbing all six large north faces of the Alps solo and as quickly as possible.  

Dani Arnold on the Eiger summit after setting his speed record in 2011. (Image: Thomas Ulrich)

Here is an overview of the chronology:

  • April 2011: Heckmair route (1800 m), Eiger north face in 2 hours 28 minutes
  • April 2015: Schmid route (1200 m), Matterhorn north face in 1 hour 46 minutes
  • September 2016: Cassin route (800 m), Piz Badile north face in 52 minutes
  • July 2018: Cassin route (1200 m), Grand Jorasses north face in 2 hours 4 minutes
  • September 2019: Comici-Dimai route (550 m), Great pinnacle north face in 46 minutes
  • September 2021: Allain-Leininger Route (900 m), Petit Dru north face, in 1 hour 43 minutes

After more than ten years, Dani Arnold's solo speed project comes to an end. He has climbed the six large north faces of the Alps all free solo and each with speed records. Ueli Steck recovered the speed record on the north face of the Eiger in 2015 with an ascent in 2 hours and 22 minutes.

That might interest you

Credits: Cover picture key visual

climbing shoe