19 Down, 63 to Go


After three and a half weeks of effort, Frenchmen Patrick Berhault, 47, and Philippe Magnin, 39, have climbed 19 4,000-meter peaks in the Alps, but two spells of snowy weather have put them nearly a week behind schedule. The two hope to climb all 82 of the 4,000'ers in the Alps in 82 days, traveling between the mountain groups only by foot, skis and bike. In early March, the two men climbed the three peaks of the Ecrins and Gran Paradiso groups, isolated at the far southwestern tip of the Alps, and then made their way to Italy and the south side of Mont Blanc. In a four-day push, they climbed 16 high peaks of the Mont Blanc group, but on March 23 they were forced to take a cable car down to Chamonix to escape heavy snow. Today they hope to return by the lift to the top of the Aiguille du Midi and then continue on skis to the Grandes Jorasses group, Les Droites, and the Aiguille Verte. In all, 12 peaks remain to be climbed in this area before they can move on toward Switzerland.