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  5. Julien "Pica" Herry: “If I had to move away from Chamonix, I would go and live in Pakistan”

Julien "Pica" Herry: “If I had to move away from Chamonix, I would go and live in Pakistan”

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Chamonix Sotheby’s International Realty wanted to highlight Julien “Pica” Herry’s work in Pakistan. As well as being a mountaineer, extreme snowboarder and high mountain guide, the Chamoniard is also a community volunteer committed to a project allowing young people from Pakistan to discover mountain sports.

Julien “Pica” Herry: a link between Chamonix and Pakistan

Known as “Pica”, Julien Herry, a member of the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix and a high mountain athlete (mountaineering, snowboarding), is one of the figures of the valley where he grew up.

To learn more about his journey, check out the documentary: "Earn your turn".

After 3 expeditions to Nepal between 2004 and 2006, he decided to go to Pakistan: “It was the logical next step because there are similar mountains to the ones we have here, but it was also a bit legendary.” he explains.

“So I went there in 2007 and we had the chance to climb a very technical route to the top of Latok III, a very beautiful almost 7000 metre peak.” continues Julien Herry. “It sort of represented the culmination of a career as a mountaineer and made me want to go back.”

Many trips followed, always in the north of the country, in 2008, 2009, 2012 and then in 2018, where a documentary, "Hunza", was filmed from his adventures with Leo Slemett and Sam Favret.

"Pakistan is a very beautiful country."

From the outside, Pakistan usually suffers from a negative image. But after having been there many times, Julien Herry has a totally different point of view: “If one day I had to move away from Chamonix, I would go and live in Pakistan!” he says.

“Overall, I have spent almost a year of my life there. I don’t know the south of Pakistan, I have only travelled to the north, but I have never felt unsafe. It is a very beautiful country that will unfortunately suffer from global warming, much like here.”

The beginnings of the ZOM Connection adventure

On another trip to Pakistan in 2019, Pica had an accident in the mountains which forced him to spend more time than expected in the country and particularly in the capital, Islamabad.

“I met a lot of people and while talking, I learned that there was a big lack of snowboarding equipment. So in 2020, when I came home, I managed to send back about fifty snowboards by asking for donations over here.”

The feedback from Pakistan was very positive and the locals were enthusiastic, asking for more equipment. “That’s when I realised it can’t work on an individual level and that I had to set up an association to make it more structured.” he explains.

The same year, the ZOM Connection association was created with the aim of supporting the development of winter sports and mountain sports in Pakistan, “whilst respecting the environment”. “Our aim is also to leave behind this idea of a very selfish trip and share experiences with the locals.”

In 2021, a new trip was organised and allowed many Pakistanis to train and learn different winter mountain sports:

  • skiing
  • snowboarding
  • cross-country skiing
  • ice skating
  • hiking
  • initiation to avalanche safety

A snowboard competition was also organised.

In the autumn of 2021, the association sent 4 tons of equipment to Pakistan, before organising a trip in 2022. “The idea was to “acclimatise* together”, explains Pica. Instead of acclimatising amongst ourselves, we took the opportunity to introduce a dozen locals to ski basics and travelling along a glacier…”

*To allow the body to get used to the altitude before an expedition.

An eco-responsible initiative

First and foremost, ZOM Connection gives a second life to equipment by recycling boards or skis that are no longer used in order to send them to Pakistan.

“There is another part of our business that is slowly coming into place. Once the equipment which has been sent is no longer usable, we want to facilitate its recycling on site, or have it sent to Islamabad where we have a storage unit. From there, we can have it recycled.”

The evolution of ZOM Connection

“Now that we have a lot of equipment on site thanks to our association, we hope that in the future, expeditions going to Pakistan will have the opportunity to ski, snowboard and climb with locals during their acclimatisation phase.” says Pica.

ZOM Connection is currently a small structure made up of 3 active members working with different representatives in Pakistan (clubs, communities…). The objective is therefore to grow the association and to find new means of financing to further develop it.

“The next step is to release a 26-minute documentary about the beginnings of the association. The film will act as a business card and will allow us to more easily explain what we do.” concludes Julien Herry.

A new donation drive for equipment will be organised in the autumn of 2022.

Initiatives, partnerships, mountain sports, luxury real estate, culture, outings, lifestyle… Discover the valley’s news with the Chamonix Sotheby’s International Realty team.

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