Lionel Wibault has painted Mont Blanc in Chamonix 69 times. He started painting the tallest mountain in the Alps in 1990, and intends to create 100 paintings in total to capture the full 360-degree view of the mountain. He hopes to complete his project by 2021, in time for the 200th anniversary of Chamonix’s historic La Compagnie des Guides—the oldest guiding company in the world.
Wibault, a 70-year-old Frenchman and Chamonix native, is a 46-year veteran IFMGA-certified guide. He raced for the French Ski Team from 1966-68, but a broken femur took him away from racing and to his “destiny,” as he calls it, ski coaching and eventually mountain guiding. He works for La Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix and has led clients up Mont Blanc 82 times.
“Growing up in Chamonix meant totally being engrossed in the ski lifestyle. There was school that was often coupled with ski club and if you weren’t at the top level,” says Wibault, “you became a ski instructor, coach or mountain guide.” In addition to his multi-faceted mountain lifestyle, Wibault is also a rather accomplished artist.
His art is a mix of sketching and painting with oils on canvas in a realistic and traditional style that he learned from his father, Marcel Wibault. Marcel who was born in 1904 and studied at L’École des Beaux Arts in Paris, would lug his paints, canvases, and materials to a good viewpoint to capture the mountains from sight. Lionel continues the tradition his father started and carries his art supplies into the Alps, but he has developed his own artistic fashion by placing more emphasis on light and contrasting colors.
The mountains surrounding Chamonix have long inspired skiers, and Wibault is no exception. He strives to capture the emotion he feels from the light that hits the mountain at the beginning or the end of the day, and mixes different shades and hues to recreate the colors. I caught up with Wibault to learn more about his art, skiing, and finding…