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JEAN-CHRISTIAN MICHEL

EXPEDITION TO THE HIMALAYAS

Peaks Tawesche & Cholatse in the Himalayas

Tawesche & Cholatse, two great summits in the Himalayas

Tuesday 16 april 1974, the 5th French expedition led by Yannick SEIGNEUR
has just achieved a great first in the Himalayas : The TAWESCHE or TABOCHE PEAK.


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French Expedition Yannick Seigneur To The Himalayas. Tawesche, Nepal Virgin Summit, First Ascension Story: Altitude Camps, Final Assault, Challenge Succeeded! Actuality Equipments, Prices, Himalayas Map. Himalayan Peaks, Himalaya Movie, Music. Himalayas Nepal Trekking

EXPEDITION TO THE HIMALAYAS' HIGH MOUNTAINS

Here is the story of Jean-Christian MICHEL's himalayan expedition
when he climbed Taboche (or Tawesche) with Yannick SEIGNEUR

HIMALAYA MAP

 Himalaya carte     Carte du Népal

NÉPAL MAP / HIMALAYA MAP NEPAL

The Tawesche rises in the immense Himalayan chain facing the Amadablam, between Everest and Makalu.

JEAN-CHRISTIAN MICHEL ABANDONED TEMPORARILY THE CLARINET FOR A GRAND PREMIER IN THE HIMALAYAS WITH YANNICK SEIGNEUR

 

Timbre du Tawesche Nepal

Postage stamp from Tawesche Nepal

Cimbs and expeditions Yannick Seigneur

American Alpine journal 1975 - NEW YORK N.Y. 10028


" Today it is an unusual Jean-Christian MICHEL that we introduce. In effect he temporarily abandoned his clarinet andthe welcoming embrace of the churches where his music still resonates, to attempt a grand adventure in the Himalayas. He returned fascinated and amazed by all that he had seen and heard, with a heart full of a quite new enjoyment.

For weeks, Jean-Christian MICHEL studied at the school of stamina and will, and of surpassing himself in a long climb where every step represented a victory.

He has brought us the dream-inducing story of this great first, and makes us dream about the secret Kathmandu where incantatory music springs from the heart of the temples, and the valley of the Everest with its steep slopes, ice-cold summits and eternal snows.

Jean-Christian MICHEL, through his compositions, brings us the emotion and magic of these magnificent moments". How did he manage this ?

TAWESCHE'S EXPEDITION IN THE HIMALAYAS - TABOCHE EXPEDITION TO THE HIMALAYAS

SUMMER SKI

An experienced skier, Jean-Christian MICHEL, during a summer ski training course, struck up a friendship with a Chamonix guide : Henri LEBLANC.

The following January, Yannick SEIGNEUR was looking for a doctor for his expedition. Henri LEBLANC, who was going to be the expedition photographer suggested Doctor Jean-Christian MICHEL.

 HESITATANCES

But the former surgeon hesitated. Withdrawn into the country in his house in Aix en Provence to had dedicated himself to musical composition, he had not practised medicine for years.

On the other hand, if it is true that he had made numerous difficult ascents in the Alps during his childhood and even Mont Blanc when he was 13. Due to his musical career, he had not done any serious climbing for a long time. In addition, the Himalayas are a very different matter from the Alps! The previous expeditions had often left sad souvenirs. Who remembers the suffering of Maurice Herzog...

High forbidden places do not forgive the weakness of their "intruding visitors". A merciless hand-to-hand struggle with cliffs and ice, where each gesture proceeds from an irreproachable technique and an implacable will to succeed. Where the least error can plunge you into the abyss. Where the icy cold can freeze hands. And for a clarinettist, are not fingers fairly vital ?

 SURGICAL RETRAINING

All the same, after a fortnights consideration Jean-Christian MICHEL eventually accepted this fantastic opportunity. An adventure such as this does not admit refusal.

From then on, his days were shared between a medical and surgical retraining, the study of clinical observations made during Himalayan expeditions and very hard sports training. Climbing, walking, bike riding, skiing and snowboarding were the order of the day…

Departure took place at Orly in the second half of March. Jean-Christian MICHEL met for the first time all the members of the expedition. Yannick SEIGNEUR, conqueror of the western pillar of the MAKALU, hero of the north face of the GRANDES JORASSES. One of the top 4 or 5 international climbers. Serge CACHAT, the fantastic specialist lane skier, Henri LEBLANC Chamonix guide and photographer, and the veterans of himalayan climbing, Paul GENDRE, Louis DUBOST and Jacques BRUGIRARD. Finally, two French film-makers specializing in high mountains : Jacques ERTAUD and René VERNADET, who would afterwards realize a magnificent film "PREMIER DE CORDEE" ( First in Line ). Fourteen people who have decided to go all the way.

The Boeing 750 stopped over in Tel Aviv, Teheran, New-Dehli...

KATHMANDU IN NEPAL

Kathmandu Bodnath stupa

Kathmandu, Népal : Bodnath Stupa

And here is KATHMANDOU - nestled in a plain surrounded with hills, sculptured by their "restanques" in contour lines : the least square meter has its value for growing something !

In the streets of Kathmandu

KATHMANDU - CALENDARS ADVERTISEMENTS FOR HASHISH-CENTRE

A busy and mysterious city with its spice-laden markets, prayer flags, temples hidden by the jungle; the swarming multitudes who haggle over a few rupees.

The river BAGMATI, the sacred river, lazily stretches in long meanders. It is a fabulous city smelling of dust, where forests of giant bamboo and eucalyptus stand out against the intense blue of the sky.

 A magma of flesh and bone, people and animals muddled together. A world indifferent to life and death, with its cremations usual, but always moving.

A city where hashish is freely sold, with even advertising calendars for "Haschisch centers", but from which the junkies have gradually been banished... Preserved city, where it is still impossible to buy a photo film !

INCANTATORY MUSIC IN THE TEMPLES OF KATHMANDU

Temples in Kathmandu

TEMPLES AND MUSICIANS AT NIGHT

Kids accompany the team everywhere and guide it through the maze of Kathmandu's streets. One of them manages to speak in six different languages and plays marvelously of a kind of little violin.

Nepalese people adore music.

At night, Jean-Christian MICHEL goes to listen to Nepalese musicians, in their strange temples : "They play with their eyes closed and the face tightly concentrated on listening to life… mystic incantation, always the same and never monotonous.

A prayer which seems to regenerate perpetually as if by a reflection from the borders of heaven... "

Too bad, he left with an ice axe and crampons but did not think of bringing his clarinet...

The weather is not very good. And as we have to wait for something better before taking the small plane that will take us to Lukla, Yannick SEIGNEUR takes the opportunity to identify the two tonnes of material for the expedition:

2000 meters of ropes, ice picks and pins, Himalayan tents, inflatable mattresses, sleeping bags, food, canned food, powdered or freeze-dried food, Himalaya OmniFuel Primus stove, etc. and ... two trekking bags of 40 kg each, filled to the brim with medication.

Three days to wait. This is an opportunity to get to know Kathmandu better, to explore the surroundings and to stroll through its picturesque commercial district of Thamel ... But luckily the sky has just cleared ...

APPROACH - HALT AT NAMCHE BAZAR IN THE EVEREST VALLEY

Very early one morning the team flew towards LUKLA ( 2800 metres ) in small single-engined aircraft. The crew landed at a handkerchief-sized airport. The Sherpa Leader, TENSING Sirdar, was waiting for them with his bearers' caravan.

Lukla airport Himalaya Nepal

Lukla's Altiport

NAMCHE BAZAR, TANG BOCHE, KUMJUNG

Drapeaux à Prières dans l'Himalaya  

Himalayan Prayer Flags

Chemin dans la vallée de l'Everst

Himalayan Paths

Trekking d'approche en Himalaya

Approach Trekking


Porteurs en Himalaya

Porters in the Himalayas

 

Trekking halte apès Namche Bazar

Stop at Namche Bazaar

 

Yaks en Himalaya

Himalayan Yaks

It was a long walk to climb up the Everest valley, by steep paths, between huge rhododendrons, through steep-sided gorges with torrents of turquoise waters.

We cross cedar and pine of the Himalayas forests, conifers elongated like fir trees, but whose needles resemble those of pine. In humid places, the branches of trees are adorned with long hanging moss streaks, greenish gray in color.

The paths are often steep, but remarkably well paved. Indeed these tracks are the only way of communication there.

Carriers and Yacks, too heavily loaded (each carrier, men or women support on their back during the whole journey a barda which weighs between 30 and 70 kg), however advance fairly quickly and quite regularly.

MANI, CHORTEN, PRAYER FLAGS AND ... PRAYER WATER MILLS !

The road is marked by the emblems of the Buddhist "religion", omnipresent here as in all of Nepal besides, with its "mani", sometimes carved in giant pebbles high like buildings, its "chorten" (stacking of dry stones, its frayed and colored "prayer flags" which blaze in the wind.

Prayer wheels - some of which rotate continuously, driven by a paddle wheel in the clear water of a stream ... Prayers are then automatically debited : Human ingenuity is limitless and we never stop progress !

HASTOP AT NAMCHE BAZAR IN EVEREST VALLEY

We set up camp at NAMCHE BAZAR, still a small picturesque village at that time. The walls of the houses are decorated with dried yak dung which will be used as combustible.

We came across monsteries and picturesque villages : We sleep in TANG BOCHE in a sort of large icy lodge...

We continue the road to KHUMJUNG then, through fields of grass and fields of stones always in the direction toTAWESCHE. (or TABOCHE).

But with the altitude, oxygen begins to become scarce ... Well done the joyful "trekking in the Himalayas"!

The ascent itself will soon begin and with it the real difficulties.

We came across monsteries and picturesque villages : We sleep in TANG BOCHE in a sort of large icy lodge...

We continue the road to KHUMJUNG then, through fields of grass and fields of stones always in the direction toTAWESCHE. (or TABOCHE).

But with the altitude, oxygen begins to become scarce ... Well done the joyful "trekking in the Himalayas"!

The ascent itself will soon begin and with it the real difficulties.

 TABOCHE BASE CAMP - 25 DEGREES BELOW ZERO THE TEMPERATURE OF A DEEP FREEZE !

Base camp at the Himalayas

Tawesche's base camp

After about ten days of approach by foot, Yannick SEIGNEUR decides to install the base camp at 5200 meters by the edge of a cold lake, just at the bottom of the sacred mountain. A rocky and frozen site where the most beautiful tops of the Himalayas form a gigantic circle : TAWESCHE, MAKALU, AMADABLAM, EVEREST...

The team members took turns every day, whatever the weather, to prepare the rock-face and to move the supplies up : ice spikes, tents and food...

Ève ry day, the snow begins to fall in large flakes, regularly from 1 p.m. We play cards, which I hate, but it makes time pass ...

At night, there is an excruciating wet cold: the respiratory mist crystallizes in the air in fine flakes, which cover with frost of a bright white inside the tents. The handkerchiefs are frozen, cardboard. Engaged in our special down jackets from the Himalayas, we still chatter teeth...

Each evening, we carefully put our wet shoes (plastic mountain shoes do not yet exist) in the bottom of the sleeping bag, otherwise we would find them like ice blocks the next day.

The low atmospheric pressure at this altitude (indeed at 5000 m. High, the barometric pressure is half less than that of sea level), brings the water to boil at 60 ° ... The tea is served lukewarm, and with –25 ° c in the tent, the water does not remain so for a long time !

Oxygen was lacking : one night, a guide from chamonix woke up unable to breath. Two people began a lung oedema. Ève ry day two hours of care were necessary.

Dr Jean-Christian MICHEL set up a small makeshift hospital on a camp bed in the central tent. Sometimes he dreamt of the warm embrace of his home and the comfort brought by civilization...

In the base camp, five persons had to abandon the ascent, five others would not go further than the second camp.

ALTITUDE CAMP 1 - 5400 m

Camp d'altitude en Himalaya Jean-Christian Michel

Tawesche Altitude Camp 1

Despite the comings and goings to equip each day the access way to the summit, time is running slowly, because every afternoon we remain locked up and inactive in the central tent.

Through the moraines we meander between "penitents" then climb rocky spurs to reach camp 1.

The "altitude camp 1" is installed at 5400 meters, hanging on the mountain on an oblique snow ledge : it is a simple tent on a snowfield, almost a bivouac ...

At this altitude, as it is vital to drink 7 liters of water a day. So you have to work on melting and heay up this hard and cold snow of the Himalayas.

Very nice Louis cooks us by reheating a delicious canned civet. Truth be told, it changes from rice and boiled yak!

A hot chocolate cup at  the camp 2

LAST NIGHT AT 6200 M. !

The first high camp was set up at 5400 m, then the second at 6200m under cover of a frozen ledge just after a vertiginous col. It was 35 degrees below.

The pure and frozen air vibrated like a crystal. The night glittered with an incredible brightness, mountains sparkled, bathed in a supernatural light. Slowly, the moon rose above the summits. Its strange colour seemed to mark the celebration of a cosmic spell : It seemed that the limits of exhaustion had been reached.

Jean-Christian MICHEL meditated before the final assault. He looked up at the vault of the star-crowded sky and remembered that of the cathedrals and how they "opened with their stained glass on the gates of the universe".

The equipment of the final wall lasts 3 days ! So each time, you have to go back to the wet tent where it is absolutely impossible to sleep as it is cold !

After another frosty night, the pale glow of dawn sounds the start of the departure for the final ascent. I can hardly wake up, get up. I am terribly tired... I leave half an hour after the others."

The day of the summit" opens with a magnificent, but terribly anxious day : Who among us will arrive at the top? A very perilous passage overhangs a 1500 m drop. The fixed rope was removed by the team who thinks they need it further ... Too bad for security, I pass without insurance. Because in the Himalayas the rule is "Ève ry man for himself" and "Only count on you". Harsh universe and not at all designed for "amateurs" and wimps.

We are far from the reassuring tranquility of the climbs of my childhood in the Alps, with our "good guide" Gaby Simon who watched like a mother over the rascals that we were !

Himalaya' expedition to  Tawesche Yannick Seigneur / jean-Christian Michel

Climbing to Tawesche

Climbing course of Tawesche Jean-Christian Michel

Climbing course to Tawesche peak

Paroi de glace au Tawesche Jean-Christian Michel

blue ice wall

Ice climbing Jean-Christian Michel

Climbing to the summit

But here I am at the foot of the wall ... Ice tiles rise to the pass, which seems so far up there. When I look down, I see tumbling endless slopes under my legs, I see much below the glacier with its crevasses and seracs ... All the way down in in the valley you can see the checkerboard of the fields around the villages. Clouds are fraying around me ... I find it hard to breathe regularly, I gasp violently! "

Jean-Christian MICHEL toiled after, his breath like that of an animal, but he kept struggling on and didn't give up. It took ten hours to reach the summit. Ten hours to climb 500 metres ! In one month, he had lost 10 kilos..

 THE "HIGH" OF THE SUMMIT

But the heady spirit of success was there. All around the summit, as far as one could see there was a sea of clouds through which sprang the highest peaks of the Himalayas.

Summit of the Himalayas Jean-Christian Michel

Jean-Christian MICHEL in the Himalayas : The high of the summits

Conquest of a virgin summit, is that a meaningless victory ? Only five people had known the exceptional joy of this moment.

Surpassing himself and building immortal memories, more beautiful than all the treasures of the earth Jean-Christian MICHEL still holds them in its heart :

He would display them one day as a great light in the mystery of his Music

YANNICK SEIGNEUR LEADER OF THE FIRST ASCENT

The Tawesche expedition was a "first" in the Himalayas, the first ascent of a virgin summit.

The summit team led by Yannick Seigneur included Louis Dubost, Paul Gendre, Jacques Brugirard and the clarinettist and composer Jean-Christian Michel, who all reached the summit. The peak was conquered in the day of April 16, 1974.

Expedition to the Himalayas, Jean-Christian Michel, Yannick Seigneur, Serge cachat

Jean-Christian Michel, Yannick Seigneur and Serge Cachat, 5th french expedition to the Himalayas


PRESS REVIEW OF EXPEDITION

SOME EXTRACTS FROM THE FRENCH NATIONAL PRESS

Himalayas french expedition Press rewiew

HIMALAYA's FRENCH EXPEDITION - LE FIGARO - LE MONDE - FRANCE SOIR - PARIS MATCH - L'AURORE - LE PARISIEN LIBERE - WIKIPEDIA - ETC. - HUNDREDS Of ARTICLES IN THE SPECIALIST PUBLICATIONS AND THE REGIONAL PRESS

 
Jean-Christian Michel : back from the Himalayas

" The 5th French expedition led by Yannick SEIGNEUR has just achieved a great first in the Himalayas. With two tons of supplies, 2000 metres of ropes, 80 kg of medicines, 14 French climbers, 15 sherpas and 70 bearers they overcame an inviolate mountain in the Everest, Makalu and Amadablam region. A world of cliffs and ice where expeditions led Japanese, Germans and even the famous Edmund HILLARY, conqueror of Everest, had failed … "

"Of this hundred people, only five reached the summit at about 7000 metres. Among them an unexpected climber:

Jean-Christian MICHEL whose music still resounds in everyones heart. Jean-Christian MICHEL, composer, clarinettist, surgeon, climber and octor of the expedition..." Jean-Christian Michel : Himalayan Conqueror Doctor to the 5th French expedition to the Himalayas led by Yannick SEIGNEUR

NEW ALBUM / CD RELEASE & MP3 DOWNLOAD

The music you are listening to on this page is in the album :

JEAN-CHRISTIAN MICHEL VISION D'ÉZÉCHIEL

Jean-Christian Michel" Vision d'Ezechiel"

DANIEL HUMAIR DRUMS

Replay music

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VISION D'ÉZÉCHIEL

Fantastic CD by Jean-Christian MICHEL with Monique THUS, organ ; Daniel HUMAIR, drums; Miguel JAÈN, classical guitar ; Guy PEDERSEN, double bass.

Vision d'Ezéchiel - Les Joints de lumière - Au Clair de la Lune - Berceuse - Marche Nuptiale - Chant Funèbre - L'Horloge Perpétuelle.

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NEW VIDEOCLIPS OF JEAN-CHRISTIAN MICHEL

Music video clip Jean-Christian Michel

  BACH JAZZ BY JEAN-CHRISTIAN MICHEL
  BACH JAZZ : TRIO IN C MINOR
SWINGING BACH : SONATA 4  
CHURCH CONCERT : JESU JOY OF MAN DESIRING
MUSIC DVD : MY SOUL LONGETH TO DEPART
  JAZZ & SACRED MUSIC BY JEAN-CHRISTIAN MICHEL
JAZZ & SACRED MUSIC : VISION D'ÉZÉCHIEL
JEAN-CHRISTIAN MICHEL IN CONCERT
CONCERT IN MARSEILLE : L'AUBE DES TEMPS
SACRED MUSIC VIDEO CLIP : KYRIALE
BY JEAN-CHRISTIAN MICHEL s SHOWS " SON & LUMIÈRE"
INTERSTELLAR CONCERT :ÈVE DES ORIGINES LASER CONCERT WITH KENNY CLARKE
SHOW "SON & LUMIÈRE" : DES GÉNÉRATIONS
LASER SHOW : DANSE AUX PIEDS NUS
JEAN-CHRISTIAN MICHEL PLAYS JAZZ
CLARINET JAZZ CONCERT : BLACK & BLUE VIDEO CLIP JAZZ : LOVELESS LOVE (JAZZMAN)
JEAN-CHRISTIAN MICHEL's INTERVIEWS (FR)
STAR MUSIC INTERVIEW
INTERVIEW ARTIST FRANCE 3 TV

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