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
JEAN-CHRISTIAN MICHEL ABANDONED TEMPORARILY THE CLARINET FOR A GRAND PREMIER IN THE HIMALAYAS WITH YANNICK SEIGNEUR
" 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 ?
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.
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 Withdrawn into the country in his house in Aix en Provence to had dedicated himself to musical composition, he had not practised medicine for years.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 ?
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...
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 !
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.
NAMCHE BAZAR, TANG BOCHE, KUMJUNG
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
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 !
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..
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.
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
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.
SOME EXTRACTS FROM THE FRENCH NATIONAL PRESS