GUERRIERS DES CIMES – Benjamin Guindre
Benjamin Guindre is a French photojournalist, who is also a keen paraglider. At age 18 he did his military service under a specialist unit that introduced him to paragliding. Some years later, now a photojournalist, he returned to document the unit now called the Mountain Commando Task Force. This is an elite unit whose purpose is to dominate mountainous regions, but when deployed are tasked with covert reconnaissance, capture/retrieval, and military escorts.
Unique to their unit, however, are specialist pilot-commandos expertly trained to use paragliders to efficiently carry out operations under the radar, across terrain that is otherwise difficult to navigate. These commandos can operate with up to 40kg of gear as well as their weaponry and can fly in rain or at night. Ordinarily flying in these conditions – for civilians anyway – is a big no-no, like, it’s illegal! Rain can weigh-down and adversely affect the wing, and night-flying brings obvious visual obstacles; to get around this the Mountain Commandos utilise GPS and Night-Vision goggles to navigate in such conditions. To a novice paraglider pilot though, this still sounds scary as shit.
Guindre published his work with the unit in his coffee table book, whose title translates to: “Men and peaks: Meeting with the mountain commando group“. Naturally, it’s a French-language book, but he has also recently contributed an English-language article to this months Cross Country magazine (Issue 210) – if you’re interested in the sport this is an exceptional subscription. Check out some other images from this series on his site.