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1984—Greenland, Disko Bay

WORLD RECORD for thermal shock.


Quest for the Absolute between two 100+ meter high  icebergs.

Three successive jumps in the same day, from a helicopter at a height of 13 meters. Water temperature: -2°

Publicity film for the brand HOM.

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Confidence for confidence,
The Iceberg whose magical intimacies
I know so well, this insomniac Pilgrim Phantom
this hunter of wrecks… sank the Titanic
without so much as a murmur.

Settling accounts?
Duel between Titans to separate out the real from the fake?

Many years later, they offered Exo Human,
in a emerald bath, the Venomous Northern Star…”


Stellar Gladiator, Elite Breather
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Seen from here, the iceberg seems really nice. The chartered trawler winds around the hill of ice from the North-East, counterclockwise. Don’t mess with its direction. The Greenlandish captain takes great care. He reduces speed and, when he shuts off the motor, we are still far away from the monster.

Excessivley prudent…is it overestimation of the danger or, simply, staging to amaze these little Frenchies?

Since this morning we have begun the scouting and the fisherman has not stopped telling us about the dangers of the iceberg. These masses of floating ice that have detached from the ice shelf or from a polar glacier show only one-sixth or one-eighth of their totality. The stories of shipwrecks after being hit by an iceberg are legion.

Most famously, the tragedy of the “Titanic”, super transatlantic liner sent to the sea floor in 1912.

But there, it was from a collision during foggy weather. And today the weather is great. Really great. What is less known is that these mountains (some attaining six to seven hundred meters above the surface of the water) are fragile like glass. They can suddenly split into two or several parts from the pressure of the water and clashing currents. But also—according to the captain— vibrations of a motor can pass into wave form causing entire sections to detach from the mass and collapse on boats. Flirting with these pure beauties can have mortal consequences even at a distance!
We have been informed. Flying over the iceberg in a helicopter is also risky. Not only for the pilot and passengers, but also for zodiacs, small boats and other crazy divers who may be exploring below. You see what I mean.

If the captain had wanted to get us scared, he succeeded. Silence reigned.

From Paris we had decided that I wouldn’t jump from the top of an iceberg. It was tempting for the image, but it would be a nearly impossible feat. Reluctantly I agreed. The exploit itself was already enormous, and my intention was not a death jump—unique by definition.

I forget that Janssen and the others bundled in their parkas. In a bathing suit standing at the front of the vessel—a living figurehead, I look at this cold heap of frozen water. This time, it’s it…Face to face with the elements, a monstrous arm wrestle begins. The goal of the maneuver…I understand it better now.
Camera manager, sound technician, photographers and directors look for the most favorable angles for the shoot. But beyond the purely technical and artistic success of the film, they just realize the colossal human challenge it involves. They know part of the responsibility falls on them. They also, at one point or another, dip their hand in the ocean, but quickly take it out.
Janssen would confess: Filming Edlinger climbing a peak is not easy. But Edlinger barrels along; he marks his path for each climb and, in front of the camera, redoes the moves ten times, even if it is a new path.
As for me, it’s a completely virgin path I’ll be doing. A ticket which I hope will not be one-way. But no-one could foresee the return. It was the complete unknown…”

Translation of an excerpt from the book “COMBAT VITAL” -
Editions Robert Laffont. (Dépôt legal: 1986 / ISBN : 2622160481163)