Sponsored Content

The Tale of Andre and the Mountain Trolls

The (Somewhat Fictional) Birth of Valandré

Photo: Ben Tibbetts

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, a young boy named Andre was traveling through the mountains with his family. He, his mother, father, sisters, and brothers were all packed onto a wagon, heading to the market in a nearby village to sell their crops.

While crossing a high mountain pass at dusk, when Andre and his family were many leagues from the nearest settlement, a snowstorm descended upon their wagon. Amid the driving snow and howling wind, young Andre fell from the wagon and into a deep snowdrift. His family didn’t realize he had fallen, and though he tried to shout, they could not hear him over the wind, and the wagon continued on down the mountain. 

Andre was alone in the frosty night. 

As night fell the air grew colder and colder, snow piling high around him. Even the moon was absent, hidden behind a wall of clouds. Little Andre was freezing, his arms and legs numb, teeth clacking together, breath frosting in the air. He tried in vain to find his way back to the path, but the wagon tracks were covered with snow, and he could see no more than a few meters ahead. No shelter was in sight. Andre soon passed out from exhaustion, knowing full well that the breaths he took could be his last. 

Soon after, a group of mountain trolls found the boy, frozen in the snow. The trolls poked and prodded at his cold flesh. They had never seen a human before. He was a mystery to them. 

They carried his frozen body higher into the mountains, to the ice caverns where they lived. There, deep in their tunnels, the trolls warmed Andre with their magic, bringing him back to life.

For many years after, Andre lived among the trolls in the high mountains as they taught him their ways. He grew from boy to man, as his new family taught him how to live in the cold places of the world. He learned to breathe the thin air, to stay warm in the snow and ice and wind. 

The trolls showed him superior crafting techniques. They taught him how to use only the highest-quality down and how to specialize the down placement and design, crafting the warmest and lightest mountain gear and apparel in existence. They did this via a technique known as “tubular bell construction.” The trolls showed him how to cut precise baffles, or ribs, following the contours of the body, incorporating dozens of individually-cut pieces for a perfectly formed fit, and a temperature-to-weight ratio unheard of among the apparel and gear worn by humankind. Unlike many down jackets crafted by humans, the trolls never used augmented down, coating the down to cover up its low quality, either.

Andre missed his human family at first but soon became quite happy with the trolls. He grew to love scaling the icy walls, trekking across the glaciers, bivvying on the high mountain ramparts. Most of all, he began to love the cold. He loved the sting of frost on his cheeks, the glisten of icicles in the morning sun, the crunch of snow underfoot. 

Sadly, the way of life he enjoyed with the trolls would not last long. Though all was well in the high mountains, not all was well in the world below. 

Man had grown arrogant, too sure of his seat as master of earth, sea, and sky. He had begun to bend the world to his will, crafting machines of smoke and iron to do his bidding, creations which spat foul fumes into the air. With the machines of man polluting and warming the planet each year, even the high frozen valleys of the trolls began to melt. The once magnificent glaciers began to vanish, leaving scarred moraine in their place. Less and less snow fell each year. As the years passed, Andre’s home was irrevocably changed. 

In response, the trolls had no choice but to retreat ever higher into the mountains, far higher than young Andre could climb. As is the nature of such things, they left him as quickly as they had taken him in. It was not in their nature to regret, only to respond to change.

Once again, Andre was alone.

With nowhere else to go, he returned to his own kind. He knew there was only one path forward: to share with his fellow people the beauty of the high places of the world, to teach them both the skills to venture into them and an appreciation for these wild, frosty lands of snow and ice, so that humankind would come to value these places as he did, and fight to protect them.

He went on to found Valandré, the world’s premier high altitude down gear and apparel company, providing top-of-the-line gear for the hardiest adventurers venturing into the most inhospitable terrain. 

Valandré is about more than down gear and apparel, though. The lessons Andre learned from his troll family in those remote mountain passes still inform everything we do as a brand today, though our intrepid founder is long gone (he was struck by lightning on horseback, but that’s another story). 

Valandré is about living in harmony with the planet, as the trolls do. Valandré is about supporting anyone that seeks to discover the beauty in the high places of the world, about supporting athletes and expeditions that push the edge of possibility, off the track of logic and reason and into a realm of pure magic. 

A realm of trolls.

More than anything else, however… Valandré is about living for the fight

The glaciers may be shrinking and the oceans may be rising, but the game isn’t over yet. 

The trolls are still out there. They can only sit idly by, watching as mankind destroys the earth, for so long. They can only retreat so high into their mountains before they run out of ice and snow. As each year passes they grow bolder and bolder, more ready than ever to lend a hand in the battle against those who would befoul our planet.

The trolls are waiting for you… 

You just have to venture out and find them. Don’t worry. We’ll keep you warm along the way. 

Trending on Climbing

Film: How Matt Cornell Free Soloed One of America’s Classic Hard Mixed Routes

"The Nutcracker" explores the mental challenges of solo climbing and the tactics Cornell used to help him send the route.