TO 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.
TO THE HIMALAYAS' HIGH MOUNTAINS
is the story of Jean-Christian MICHEL's himalayan expedition
when he climbed Taboche (or Tawesche) with Yannick SEIGNEUR
American Alpine journal 1975
113 EAST 90TH STREET - NEW YORK N.Y. 10028
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.
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.
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.
MICHEL, through his compositions, brings us the emotion and magic
of these magnificent moments". How did he manage this ?
EXPEDITION IN THE HIMALAYAS - TABOCHE EXPEDITION TO THE HIMALAYAS
experienced skier, Jean-Christian MICHEL, during a summer
ski training course, struck up a friendship with a Chamonix
guide : Henri LEBLANC.
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.
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 Withdrawn into the country in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.
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...
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
the same, after a fortnights consideration Jean-Christian
MICHEL eventually accepted this fantastic opportunity. An
adventure such as this does not admit refusal.
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
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...
- CALENDARS ADVERTISEMENTS FOR HASHISH-CENTRE
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.
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...
MUSIC IN THE TEMPLES AT NIGHT
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.
people adore music.
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... "
bad, he left with an ice axe and crampons but did not think
of bringing his clarinet...
- HALT AT NAMCHE BAZAR IN THE EVEREST VALLEY
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.
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 ).
| TABOCHE BASE CAMP - 25 DEGREES BELOW ZERO THE TEMPERATURE
OF A DEEP FREEZE !
Tawesche's base camp
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,
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...
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
the base camp, five persons had to abandon the ascent, five others would
not go further than the second camp.
LAST NIGHT AT 6200 M.
NIGHT AT 6200 M. !
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.
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.
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".
Climbing to Tawesche peak
to Tawesche peak
Climbing to summit of Tawesche peak
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 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.
MICHEL in the Himalayas :
The high of the summits
of a virgin summit, is that a meaningless victory ? Only five people
had known the exceptional joy of this moment.
himself and building immortal memories, more beautiful than all the
treasures of the earth Jean-Christian MICHEL still holds them in its
would display them one day as a great light in the mystery of his Music
Michel, Yannick Seigneur and Serge Cachat
Ve french expédition to the Himalayas
REVIEW OF EXPEDITION
EXTRACTS FROM THE FRENCH NATIONAL PRESS
MICHEL : HIMALAYAN CONQUEROR
to the 5th French expedition to the Himalayas led by Yannick SEIGNEUR
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
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..."