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Nadir Maguet: a mountain of freedom
It all starts as a child, when he puts on a pair of cross-country skis for the first time, at the age of two, thanks to his father – a ski instructor– who introduces him to the slopes. Shortly after he starts taking part in competitions: cross-country, biathlon, mountain biking, and, for just one year, football. But it is at the age of fifteen that Nadir Maguet - also known as the Magician - discovers his true talent in ski mountaineering. From that moment on, the young athlete, who lives in Torgnon, a small mountain town in the Aosta Valley, constantly strives to improve his technique, always raising the bar and challenging his own limits, until he wins the under23 world cup and three silver medals. at the world championships in Verbier. For several years, during the summer season, he also challenged himself in some of the toughest races in the world of Skyrunning, Vertical and mountain marathons, reaching standards of top professionalism. An eclectic and multifaceted athlete, Nadir lives the mountains to the full, enjoying the freedom, deepening every nuance, expressing his nature and always seeking new goals, without borders. In addition, for some years he has been engaging in fast & light mountaineering ventures, first together with Francois Cazzanelli, Alpine Guide and athlete of the La Sportiva team, and later in solo projects. From this spirit arose the desire to beat the speed records of three iconic mountains: Pizzo Bernina, Ortler, and Grossglockner. A dream that came to a successful conclusion this summer, and which for Nadir Maguet represents the confirmation of running in the right direction.
Where did the idea of this project come from? What does it mean for you?
I believe that the transition to the world of mountaineering was a natural one, I already possessed many technical and physical skills thanks to years of competitions and my experience in the mountains. I had already completed several projects with Francois Cazzanelli, always in a fast & light style, an approach possible thanks to the new, exceptionally light but superior performing products created by the various companies. After these first mountaineering experiences I decided to test myself with some speed ascents: this is how the idea for this summer's project came to be. I was looking for answers, which I had: I wanted to understand if I had the potential to successfully complete certain mountaineering projects. Now I have more self-awareness and thus have the skills to carry out ambitious adventures in the years to come.
How did you prepare for this challenge and how did you choose your goals?
The idea was to beat the speed ascent records of three mountains far from my home: I purposely decided not to choose mountains in Valle d'Aosta, I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone, away from the mountains of my hometown, where I would have had everything underneath. control, and instead, I chose to take on solo challenges. I chose three symbolic mountains with ridges more aesthetic than difficult but at the same time, never to be overlooked: they appealed to me more and fit perfectly with the fast & light style, where both experience in the mountains and good physical preparation count. The first project was the Bernina (4.049 m), the only four thousand metre peak in the Central Alps, with its Biancograt crest, in my opinion one of the most fascinating that exist in the Alps. I started out from Pontresina, I covered 16km, with a positive altitude gain of 2,400 meters, and it took me 2h44'13 ”, while the previous record was 3h21 '. The second peak was the Ortler (3,905 m), the most iconic mountain between South Tyrol and Valtellina, along the Hintergrat ridge, also very beautiful: I started out from the church of Solda, I covered 8km, with a positive height gain of 2,100 meters, and it took me 1h43'12 ”, while the old record was 1h48 '. Finally I climbed the Grossglockner (3,798 m), from the Studlgrat ridge, the highest mountain in Austria: I really like this mountain because it looks like a small Matterhorn, my home mountain: I started out from Lucknerhaus, I travelled 8km, a positive altitude gain of 1.900m, and it took me 1h30'23 ”, while the first record was 1h37 '. I chose these goals also because I knew that there was already a previous record, and I preferred to have a comparison with another performance, so that the project had more relevance.
What were the most challenging moments and the most delicate passages?
Organizing all the tests completely by myself was clearly more challenging, as was finding myself in the mountains without a partner: mentally knowing that I could lean on someone changes a lot, offers more safety, while in this case everything depended on my skills. On the one hand it is a very nice feeling, on the other it causes you a bit of anxiety. This was the greatest life lesson this experience gave me. The most demanding test was on the Bernina: it is an eternal climb, and on a physical level it is harder. It was also difficult to choose the right time to tackle it, because it has both rock sections and a steep snow ridge, and the conditions had to be perfect. On the Grossglockner the glacier is remarkable, I probably did not choose the best conditions, given that due to the climatic situation it was in quite bad shape: there were very large crevasses, so I had to find my own line to be able to continue. Perhaps in another situation I could have further lowered my time. Another complication was dictated by the fact that I had to match the project with the demands of the races, and so it happened that when the conditions were optimal, maybe I was struggling with a training session. It is obvious that if you only have one project it is easier to manage because you have more time to dedicate to it and more chances of success.
What emotions did you feel and what was the greatest satisfaction?
On the Bernina I felt a strong emotion because it was the first record I broke, but also the hardest, of the three, so after completing it I felt more serene. In addition, it was a very intense experience, and I received many compliments. The Ortler was the task that went the smoothest, while I had some concerns for the Grossglockner, because I had to postpone twice due to the weather and I didn't know if I would be able to do it this year. The day before the attempt there was still snow on the ridge because there had been a storm: I was hoping to find the ridge clean but I had not been able to do a survey of the glacier and I had to rely on the information of my friends mountain guides, I did not really know what to expect and in fact there were many crevasses. At the top of the Grossglockner, in the end, I felt immense satisfaction, much greater than what I feel when I win a race: I felt this project was mine and being able to finish it successfully meant being more aware of myself and my abilities.
Which products did you use for this project and how did you find them?
I used a prototype of the AEquilibrium Speed boots, the innovative product dedicated to fast & light mountaineering that La Sportiva will launch in spring 2023: I was very happy with this interesting product, which guarantees the same performance as a mountaineering shoe, structured but at the same time super light. La Sportiva is investing heavily in mountaineering boots, and the results are visible. Then I used minimal and light equipment. The clothing was also labelled La Sportiva and was super functional: from the Equilibrium Softshell for the most aerial parts subject to strong winds, to the Triumph pant, technical and breathable mesh trousers perfect for racing in colder climates.
How do you interpret the concept of challenge? Why do you feel the need to constantly put yourself to the test?
I have been part of the racing world since I was a child, it is something I have inside of me, constantly putting myself in the game is part of my nature: it completes me as an athlete but even first as a person. It's like a drug: I need to find new challenges to feel good about myself, it's something that keeps me constantly alive.
Fast and light mountaineering: what’s good about climbing a mountain quickly?
During the races you compare yourself with other people, a project in the mountains is totally personal, you choose which summit to do and the style with which to climb it, and in this way, you can find your identity: this is my favourite aspect of personal projects. It is true that during the performance you do not have time to look around, but the world behind it is wonderful, it allows you to go to the mountains to train with friends, with your climbing partner, and to experience very strong emotions. It also offers you the opportunity to challenge yourself.
You are a multifaceted athlete, what does multidisciplinary mean for you, how do you live it and what opportunities does a multi-pronged training offer?
For me it means experiencing the mountains at 360 °: it is a lifestyle and a way of life that keeps me mentally active and physically fit. I find stimuli and new ideas all the time, I never get bored, and I am always motivated when I vary. Mentally it helps me a lot, I always train with enthusiasm.
Do you feel more comfortable with mountaineering boots, ski alp boots, or trail running shoes?
I have not been mountaineering for many years, but it is a world in which I feel good, I am happy with myself, and I live it with a lot of passion, not because it is imposed on me: it is a continuous challenge and a chance for personal improvement. Ski mountaineering and running are the worlds I come from, there I am in my comfort zone, but I believe that in the next few years I will feel more comfortable with mountaineering boots.
Who is the best alpinist ever?
Who are the climbers who inspire you?
I admire Francois Cazzanelli a lot, for the path he is taking, for the relationship I have with him but above all for the passion and dedication he puts into what he does. I am learning a lot from him, both on a mountaineering and human level, I consider him my point of reference in mountaineering.
How do you see yourself in the future? Short and long term projects?
I am in a moment of my career as an athlete in which I have well in mind what my path will be in the next few years. I would like to evolve and grow as an athlete and a person. I would like to continue competing and carry out some ambitious mountaineering projects: what I achieved this summer was just the starting point. My secret dream is for sure to beat the Matterhorn ascent record: I see it every day and I would eat my hands in a few years if once I had finished my career as an athlete I had not at least tried. I would like to test myself with some projects in the high mountains, always fast & light, some alone, others in a roped partnership with a friend, like Francois Cazzanelli. This year I would also like to try the selections to become an Alpine Guide, a path that I have decided to undertake because in the future I would also like to remain in this environment and give continuity to the path I have taken.