Patrick Vallençant

Patrick Vallençant (June 9, 1946 in Lyon – March 28, 1989) was a French alpinist/skier and pioneer in ski mountaineering.

Patrick Vallençant
Born(1946-06-09)June 9, 1946
Lyon, France
DiedMarch 28, 1989(1989-03-28) (aged 42)

He was a pioneer in ski mountaineering and leader of the French school of ski mountaineers. His motto was: "si tu tombes, tu meurs", translated as "you fall, you die". In addition to numerous first descents, he was responsible for the creation of the "Pedal-Jump Turn" and co-founded the Degré 7 ski apparel company.

He died on March 28, 1989, in a non-skiing related climbing accident as a result of a broken carabiner, while abseiling from the top of La Beaume Rouge, in France.


Vallençant became known for a number of first descents on skis within the French Alps that had previously been considered too steep to ski. To achieve this he developed a ski technique known as the "Pedal-Jump Turn". His feats required him to first climb the mountain in order to make the descent on skis, at the time it was uncommon to use helicopters to reach the top. His climbing and skiing partner for many of these first descents was Anselme Baud. In achieving this he took up the mantel of Sylvain Saudan ("Le Skieur de l'Impossible") (French Wiki, Sylvain Saudan) and was a contemporary of other French extreme skiers, such as Jean-Marc Boivin and Bruno Gouvy.

Year Location Descent Comments
1971 North face of the Grande Casse and the couloir des Italians 1st descent
1971 North Face of the Tour Ronde[1] 1st descent
1972 North face of the Courtes with Marie-Jo
1973 French Alps Couloir en Y on the Aiguille d'Argentière with Marie-Jo
1973 French Alps Couturier couloir at l’Aiguille Verte 2nd descent, with Anselme Baud
1973 French Alps Couloir Whymper on the Aiguille Verte 2nd descent, with Anselme Baud
1977 French Alps Arête de Peuterey 1st descent, with Anselme Baud, filmed
1978 Peru South-west side of Huascaran South (6750 m)
1979 Peru South-east side of Artesonraju
1979 Peru First ascents/descents in the White Cordillera
1979 Peru West Side of Yerupaja (6630 m) Slopes of over 65 Degrees skied
1985(?) Peru Mt Huascaran with Jean Marc Boivin, filmed

Pedal-Jump Turn

To cope with skiing the steep terrain (greater than 50 degrees), Vallençant developed a new turning technique, known as the "Pedal-Jump Turn" (also "Pedal Hop Turn" and "Pedal Step Turn"). The technique involved pushing off from the uphill ski, away from the slope and completing a portion of turn's rotation while in the air and then landing back on the downhill ski. With the advent of parabolic skis, using the uphill ski to initiate a turn is now a common technique for carved turns and racing. The key difference is in carving or racing the skier is traveling much faster, the terrain is not as steep and there is no need for such a dramatic thrust off the slope. The "Pedal-Jump Turn" was originally developed on traditional racing skis.


Patrick Vallençant founded the Stages Vallençant in Chamonix to teach extreme skiing & co-founded the "Degré 7" ski apparel company in 1983 with Iingrid Buchner, a stylist. He sold his share in Degré 7 in 1988.


  1. Baud, Anselme (Oct 2004). Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles Rouges - a Guide for Skiers (section 112: Tour Ronde). Cordee. ISBN 9781904207276. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  • Ski Magazine (October 1980) – Patrick Vallencant and His Pedal-Jump Turn
  • Climbing Magazine – No. 106 – Vallencant Cover Photo by Noble
  • Ski Extreme, Ma Plenitude by Patrick Vallencant (Edité par Flammarion, 1992) (French Only, Ski Extreme, My Fullness)
  • – Biography of Patrick Vallencant
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