EXPEDITION TO THE HIMALAYAS
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JEAN-CHRISTIAN MICHEL

EXPEDITION TO THE HIMALAYAS


Tawesche & Cholatse in 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.

 

Jean-Christian MICHEL abandoned temporarily the clarinet
for a grand premier in the Himalayas with Yannick SEIGNEUR

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

" 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
 
 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 Withdrawn into the country in his house in Aix en Provence to had dedicated himself to musical composition, he had not practised medicine for years.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 - CALENDARS ADVERTISEMENTS FOR HASHISH-CENTRE

In the streets of Kathmandu

KATHMANDU IN NEPAL

on a plain surrounded with hills sculptured by their "restanques" sculptured in contour lines. 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 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. 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, but from which the junkies have gradually been banished...

 INCANTATORY MUSIC IN THE TEMPLES AT NIGHT

Temples in Kathmandu

TEMPLES 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...

 APPROACH - HALT AT NAMCHE BAZAR IN THE EVEREST VALLEY

The long approach trek

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.

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. The roads were marked by religious signs, the "mani" sometimes sculptured from pebbles as big as buildings and the "chortens", prayer mills - water-powered ! We came across monsteries and picturesque villages : NAMCHE BAZAR, TANG BOCHE, KUMJUNG then through fields of grass and fields of stones always in the direction of TAWESCHE. ( or TABOCHE ).

 IN THE TENT AT BASE CAMP - 25 DEGREES BELOW ZERO, THE TEMPERATURE OF A DEEP FREEZE !

Base camp in the Himalayas

Jean-Christian MICHEL at the 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 ascent proper with its real difficulties was about to begin. 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...

Oxygen was lacking: one night, a guide woke up unable to breath. Two people began a lung oedema. Every day two hours of care were necessary. Jean-Christian MICHEL set up a small makeshift hospital 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.

 THE LAST NIGHT AT 6200 M.

A hot cup of coffee on

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".



Tawesche, way.to the summit

Course of the climbing to Tawesche summit

Camps to the summit of Tawesche in the Himalayas

High mountains of the Himalayas

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.

Jean-Christian Michel on the summit

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

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

Jean-Christian Michel, Yannick Seigneur and Serge Cachat
Ve french expédition to the Himalayas



PRESS REVIEW OF EXPEDITION

SOME EXTRACTS FROM THE FRENCH NATIONAL PRESS

Himalayas Press rewiew

JEAN-CHRISTIAN MICHEL : HIMALAYAN CONQUEROR
Doctor to the 5th French expedition to the Himalayas led by Yannick SEIGNEUR

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

" 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 doctor of the expedition..."


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