Legendary technical advisors in video
Legendary technical advisors
French Mountaineer. Born on 17 July 1921 in Annecy, Haute-Savoie. He died in an accident on 25 November 1955 when he fell into a crevasse during a descent on skis in the Vallée Blanche in Chamonix. Louis Lachenal fut le was the first development consultant for Millet. An invaluable experience...
« …“...Annecy, France, 1950. On the Millet company’s modest premises in Les Marquisats, René and Raymond Millet once again – during a warm good-bye – shake Louis Lachenal’s hand. The mountaineer, already famous for his exploits in the Mont Blanc Massif, came to look for a certified sample of the first mountaineering backpack, finalised by Millet, thanks to his collaboration. Begun in 1946, this collaboration was enriched by Lachenal’s forward-thinking ideas. The culmination of several prototypes was finally ready: Volume 50 L, reinforced manufacture – made of cotton at the time – carrying frame, practical pockets, gear straps, etc. The components had been carefully selected, it was thoughtfully constructed and the final testing was performed by Louis at Chamonix. Watching him leave that morning, the Millet brothers were certain that the die had been cast: A Millet backpack would also soon be climbing the roof of the world!...
The Mountain Man’s Ethics, the Guide’s Passion, the Rock Climber’s Technical Body Language.
Louis Lachenal and Lionel Terray: a Legendary Rope Party.
1945. North Face of Les Droites and East Face of Le Moine in the Mont Blanc Massif.
1946. Fourth ascent, by way of Cassin, from the Walker Spur to the Grandes Jorasses.
1947.Second ascent, by way of the original Heckmair, of Eiger’s North Face, the must-do climb of that era.
3 June 1950: Annapurna, 1st 8,000m.
Louis Lachenal, along with Maurice Herzog, is part of the famous rope party, the first in the world on a summit of more than 8,000 metres.
An excerpt from his Annapurna journal: “Saturday, 3 June 1950... A corridor has led us to something that, from where we are, seems like a summit to us. We lift ourselves up to it. The corridor’s summit is merely a kind of saddle from which, on the left, leads a kind of ridge that once again seems to us to lead to a summit. And it is long! Finally, we are there. A ridge of snow bordered by ledges with three summits, each one higher than the others. It is the summit of Annapurna. Below, on the North Face, we land on a bank of rocks to take the few official photos that we must take...”
During this expedition, Louis Lachenal’s feet are frozen and must be amputated. A tragedy that means the end of high-level mountaineering for him. Carnet du Vertige (Notebook of Vertigo), excerpts from his book: “...we were on the train and Dr Oudot was going to leave me to go through Kathmandu. So he operated in a serial manner... Between stations, I would undo the dressing, and at the stops, Oudot would take up his scissors and clamps. In this way, for me, before Goratpur, two of my toes fell from my right foot. At the stop, three from my right foot...”.
From 1950 to 1955: After Annapurna. Treated at the Clinique Vaugirard in Paris, Louis received the Legion of Honour before returning to Chamonix. He then took up mountaineering again, and also opened himself up to other passions and pursuits: car racing, conferences – even to the Belgium Congo – management of the French ski team, downhill and slalom...
Louis Lachenal gave his name to an off-piste ski corridor at Chamonix. And above all, located close to the place where he died, on a sun-bathed granite needle that Gaston Rébuffat, as an homage to his friend, describes this way in Les 100 Plus Belles Courses: “...It is Pointe 3613, called Lachenal in honour of the exceptional climber and guide that he was... One goes to this wall for the pleasure of climbing; located in a spectacular setting, it has an elegant and smooth profile due to the purity of its lines...”
L . Lachenal, Carnets du vertige: first edition in 1956 based on Louis Lachenal's notes, formatted by Gérard Herzog. | L . Terray, Les Conquérants de l'inutile: Gallimard, 1961 | D. Roberts, Annapurna: Une Affaire de Cordée Guérin Publishers, Chamonix.
French Mountaineer and Politician. Born in Lyon on 15 January 1919; he is 91 years old today. Maurice Herzog was the first man to climb, with Louis Lachenal during a French expedition, a summit of more than 8,000 metres, Annapurna, on the 3 June 1950. With Millet backpacks, This feat was widely popularised in France by the front page of Paris Match, the film Annapurna by Marcel Ichac and the book Annapurna: First Conquest of an 8000m Summit by Maurice Herzog in which he recounts his ascent.
Maurice Herzog was also: President of the CAF (Club Alpin Français) (1952 to 1955). Mayor of Chamonix (1968-1977). Member of Parliament from the Rhone Département (1962) then from the Upper Savoy Département (1967-1978). President of the Mont Blanc Tunnel. Member of the Academy of Sports and member of the IOC (1970 to 1994). Presented with the Legion of Honour in 2008, he now lives in Neuilly-sur-Seine.
1950, Annapurna...1st 8000.
The Feat. Annapurna, 8,091 m, is the first summit of more than 8,000 metres to have been climbed by man. This feat remains in the annals of mountaineering as the only 8,000m summit to have been climbed on the first attempt. This mountain is today, still most dangerous one in the Himalayas, with a very high mortality rate: 1 death for every 2 successful ascents (1 in 4 on K2, 1 in 9 on Everest). The French conquest at Annapurna in 1950 had considerable impact around the world and particularly in France. Going well beyond the mountaineering world, the conquerors of Annapurna became true national heroes.
The team. Maurice Herzog, the expedition's leader; the mountaineers Louis Lachenal, Gaston Rébuffat, Lionel Terray, Jean Couzy, Marcel Schatz; the filmmaker Marcel Ichac; the doctor Jacques Oudot and the diplomat and liaison officer Francis de Noyelle.
The Choice of the objective. It was the first foray of Europeans into central Nepal. The expedition’s first task was to explore the terrain and correct existing maps. The mountaineers spent long weeks identifying the summits, finding the way to gain access to them and gauge the difficulties to be overcome on the various faces. Entire days of reconnaissance were necessary in groups of two or three, while climbing, along the way, summits of 5,000 and 6,000m to acclimatise themselves. Then came the choice of the objective: Dhaulagiri, another unknown summit? And it was Annapurna! Marcel Ichac found the access path and named this valley Hidden Valley.
3 June 1950, conquest of the summit at any price. Despite the fatigue and absence of oxygen, Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal reach the summit. The difference in the moral philosophies of the 2 men – Herzog motivated by the amateur mountain man’s patriotic gamble – and Lachenal vested with the responsibility of the professional Mountaineer – forever crystallised on the summit’s slopes.
Annapurna Premier 8000, excerpts:
“...Today, the 3rd of June, at 6am, the very last day of our approach, our expedition's goal…we are both leaving, Louis Lachenal and I… no rope, useless, in this vast glacier, the Sickle, very straight but without any crevices...The weather is beautiful but very cold…While Lachenal hits his feet and takes off a shoe that is a bit tight on him, I look out at the mountains that surround us… We tower above everything, except for the giant Dhaulagiri… I seem to be living in a sort of inner world…Forced to surpass ourselves constantly, I have nonetheless the impression that I am perfectly lucid… We take turns making the trail, since walking at this altitude is exhausting… We can see the summit ridge and make out a corridor along the extreme right that seems to lead to the summit… The hours pass... my heart is full, for it seems that victory cannot escape us any longer… The final slope is approaching as in a dream...The memory of what happened next has faded... I remember reaching the ridge then, by crossing on the left, reaching our summit! All this effort, all these sacrifices to reach this place seemed inconceivable to me… Lachenal, despite his joy, which he did not show very much, wanted to climb back down immediately, because he could feel his feet freezing…two metres below the summit ridge, we took a few photos of the flags and the pennants that we brought and that reminded us of our country… These manoeuvres are a great sacrifice…Lachenal was already leaving…A last look towards this summit that would be, from then on, for all of us our joy, our glory, and our consolation....”
The Ordeal of the Descent. Herzog and Lachenal have several frozen fingers and toes and must undergo amputations. During the long walk back, across the mountain, forest and rice paddies, in a race against monsoons and in a Nepal whose standard of living was medieval, the wounded men were carried on men’s backs; and Jacques Oudot, the doctor, attempted to care for them without any hospital equipment.
A social phenomenon carried along by an extreme amount of media coverage. In France, the news was announced on 26 June by Le Figaro. It wasn’t until 17 July, when the men returned to Orly, then 19 August, with the special edition of Paris Match, that the adventure was transformed into an epic. The photograph of Lionel Terray, carrying his companion Louis Lachenal in his arms after the plane landed, went all round the world. Apart from the athletic feat, this conquest came at a time when France had great need of a hero. In these times of war, troubling and uncertain times (Korea, Indochina), France under the Marshall Plan raised the mountaineers, who were the protagonists of this conquest, to the rank of legend. Marcel Ichac's first story in Paris Match literally saved the weekly magazine from ruin. The photograph of Maurice Herzog brandishing the French flag on Annapurna’s summit will remain one of the magazine’s most famous front pages. In January of 1951, a round of conferences began with Marcel Ichac's film Annapurna. At the Pleyel cinema, more than 100,000 people crowded into the 40 showings. In June of 1952, 600 conferences took place throughout France: An exceptional financial and popular success. In the end, with the publication in December of 1951 of Maurice Herzog's book Annapurna: First Conquest of an 8000m Summit, whose initial printing (100,000 copies) sold out in less than a month, the photo album Memories of Annapurna and the conference series, the Fédération Française de la Montagne earned 87 million French francs. The “Annapurna phenomenon” carried along by the intense media coverage, fitted in perfectly with the mountaineering organisations’ plans. Thanks to the revenue, financing of several French expeditions was possible in the years that followed.
Italian Mountaineer. Born in 1930 in Bergamo, Italy. Exceptional climber, extremely talented and very good at mountaineering. The history of mountaineering surely owes him its best pages. And the mountain, its best paths.
He said of the mountains: «...they would be mere piles of stones if man were not here to give them life...».
Walter Bonatti was the first Millet Technical Consultant. Our pride and joy !
"...1959. The meeting at Courmayeur between Raymond Millet and Walter Bonatti – the legendary Italian mountaineer –marked the beginning of the modern era of the technical consultant under development contract. And of advertising... The slogan “trust your loads to Walter Bonatti" came out with the release of models invented by the mountaineer. But it is in the field (still and always) that the backpacks have proven their technical sophistication. The “Bonatti Style” – efficiency, rapidity, fluidity – strongly influenced the construction of the backpacks: Narrow, streamlined shape uncluttered with accessories for better climbing, volume carefully prepared based on the type of path, work on the weight and resistance... The technical codes were already there.
His crop of firsts still commands, even today, the respect of mountaineers throughout the world.
1949 - Walker Spur to Grandes Jorasses (4,208m)
1951 - First ascent of the East Face of Grand Capucin (3,838m)
1953 - First winter ascent of the North Face of the Cima Ouest di Lavaredo
1954 - He participates in the Italian expedition that makes the first climb of K2 (8,611m)
1955 - First solo ascent of the Southwest Pillar of Le Petit Dru, 3,733m (Bonatti Pillar)
1956 - Winter ascent of Brenva (death of Vincendon and Henry)
1957 - First ascent of the Northeast Spur of the Pilier d’Angle
1958 - Summit of Gasherbrum IV (7,980m)
1959 - First ascent of Pilier Rouge du Brouillard
1961 - Tragedy of the Pilier Central du Frêney
1962 - First ascent of the North Face of the Pilier d’Angle
1963 - First winter ascent of the Walker Spur to Grandes Jorasses
1964 - First ascent of Whymper Pointe to Grandes Jorasses (4,184m)
1964 - First ascent of the East Face of the Pilier d’Angle
1965 - First winter solitary ascent of a direct path on the North Face of the Matterhorn
1954. The Expedition to K2, the Tragedy.“...Answer! You have to be able to hear us! Lino! Achille! Answer, you bastards! Help us!” Tonight at 9.30pm on 30 July 1954, night fell a long while ago on the summit slope of the world’s second highest mountain, which the Italian expedition is attempting to conquer...”
For Walter Bonatti, conquering K2 was to engrave the Nation's courage and determination into the history books forever. For a man who grew up under patriotism fanned by two dictatorships, it was an entire people’s pride that rested on his commitment and devotion. 50 years later, a lengthy trial and three books that tell the truth leave no doubt any longer as to the events of this pitiful victory; Lacedelli and Compagnoni still deny the unthinkable: they definitely heard Bonatti that night. They talked to him, at a short distance, and flashed a torch on the rope party, probably to verify the presence of oxygen. Then they turned and left, abandoning the two men to certain death... Bonatti and Madhi most certainly owe their survival in that extreme bivouac at 8,100m only to the anger that kept their blood boiling. Trapped without equipment or protection, they were caught in a real storm...
1955. From the Solo Climb Comes the Light. Walter Bonatti celebrated his 25th birthday in low spirits. The nation refused his contribution. His esteem is trampled on, his confidence betrayed. “I had to do a lot of inner searching, which led me to a genuine existential crisis. The solo climb was the light at the end of that tunnel and his new structure: Learn to replace all the others, to become used to making his decisions alone, to compare himself against his own yardstick, to lead by his own example. Le Dru acts first of all as a theatre for this vertical psychoanalysis on 19 August 1955 by offering the virginity of its towering southwest pillar to its young patient. Buffeted by the weather, exhausted by five days of struggling alone, and demoralised by the dotted lines that broke the perfect line he had traced in that wall in his dreams, he discovered that he was as attached to life as he was hooked to that summit when he crossed, in several pendulums, the nauseating abyss that blocked his progress. He drew on his last bit of energy in the hope of unlocking his inner crisis and fighting to push beyond what was possible in order to be reconciled with himself. “...During these pendulums, I crossed over the barrier that separated me from my soul...”, he told this pillar that was named after him.
1957. Walter Bonatti moved to Chamonix. He settled the score with the “last mountaineering problems” and the Mont Blanc Massif’s most beautiful itineraries. A veritable bulimia of pleasure and tragedies as only granite can create. July 1961, on the Pilier Central du Frêney. He experienced an epsode that, by his own admission, was "the most dramatic of his life”. Things probably started to go awry at the La Fourche bivouac. A French team was already there to fight it out with the pillar. Instead of two light and fast rope parties, they were seven men who would attack this final vertical face... They would be trapped by the storm at two lengths from the summit, and would struggle to make the most perilous and incredible retreat in the history of mountaineering. A descent into hell that would give the three survivors (Walter Bonatti, Roberto Gallieni and Pierre Mazeaud) nightmares of precipices, storms and lightning bolts for the rest of their lives.
1965. He takes leave of his summits, from on top of the Matterhorn (4,477m)..After a snub that leaves the small world of great mountaineering conquests astounded: The opening, on a solo winter expedition, of the direct route to the north face. “I decided to stop practicing extreme mountaineering so I could remain consistent with my principles, which are those of pure mountaineering. I had reached such heights that the only thing left for me to do was repeat myself", he would confide to the magazine Vertical. Walter Bonatti abandoned extreme mountaineering to devote himself to exploration and adventure. He has done many great stories for Epoca. Italy awarded him the Civilian Merit medal, France awarded him the Legion of Honour, and the United States, the title of “Giant of Adventure”.
W. Bonatti, Hautes terres, Guérin Publishing, 2006.| W. Bonatti, K2, la vérité, Guérin Publishing, 2004.| Montagnes d'une vie, éditions Guérin. His autobiography as a mountaineer. | W. Bonatti, L'affaire du K2, Guérin Publishing, 2001.
French Mountaineer. Born in Bourdeilles – Périgord, April 14th 1930
René Desmaison, an exceptional Millet technical consultant. A Millet Technical Consultant from the very beginning, René actively participated for several years in the design of the Sherpa collection technical-mountaineering backpacks. These backpacks, innovative in their manufacture, permanently included Nylon as the flagship construction material, thus relegating cotton to the antique shop. René was also one of the prime movers of the very first Millet textile developments. One of our flagship products today is especially linked to him: The “Desmaison” padded jacket, made of French goose down, blue in colour and identified by its three-colour Millet logo, which he wore during most of his runs.
His legendary style. René Desmaison is one of the greatest figures of French Mountaineering, with 114 first ascents to his credit, out of a thousand ascents worldwide. In a masterful way, he improved respect for Major Winter Mountaineering in snow, ice and mixed environments, such as Very-Difficult Technical Rock Climbing. René left his mark on the history of mountaineering through his main ascent style, made up of commitment, technique, mentality and a visionary mountaineer spirit. The Desmaison paths always have a strong character, and they are always large scale, steep, wild, committed and very aesthetically pleasing. Even today, attempting them is for serious and incredibly experienced mountaineers!
1957 - Birth of great Winter Mountaineering in the Alps.First winter ascent of the West Face of Les Drus / 3,733m / Mont Blanc Massif.
1960 - First winter ascent of the North Face of Olan / 3,564m / Les Ecrins Massif.
1961 - In the quest for great difficulty, the Desmaison benchmark is the obvious choice! With André Bertrand and Yves Pollet-Villard, René carries out the first ascent of the eastern pillar of the Pic de Bure. Labelled ED and presented at the time as “the most difficult climb in the limestone massifs of the French Alps”, it remains an emblematic undertaking even today.
1962 - Even a bit further in the high-altitude commitment. With an expedition led by Lionel Terray, René succeeds in climbing Jannu – 7,710m – in the Himalayas. He had previously made an attempt on this summit in 1959, with an expedition led by Jean Franco and Lionel Terray.
1966 - the Les Drus rescue, a turning point in his career, marked by media coverage in the mountains. In the summer, René, with Gary Hemming, carries out the ambitious rescue of two German mountaineers stuck on the West Face of Les Drus. When he takes advantage of the opportunity presented by a story in Paris Match and ignores the reservations of the Chamonix Compagnie des Guides regarding his initiative, René finds himself at the centre of controversy. He was stricken off the company’s membership... Then reinstated in 2005.
Janvier 1968 - René Desmaison kept all of France in suspense... For 9 days, he makes RTL listeners experience live - in a first winter ascent - his ascent of Le Linceul on the North Face of Grandes Jorasses, thanks to two radios weighing 3kg in the backpacks.
Avril 1968 - René Desmaison upset the codes of sponsorship. René, through his choices, was again the subject of fierce controversy: For an advertising campaign, he set up his BHV 4807 tent on Mont Blanc’s summit. Chairs and a table were also set up, for snapshots taken from a plane. The Advert was a success, but Desmaison was accused of making money by defiling the mountain. René argued about the financial difficulties of his career as a guide... And that he found nothing wrong with setting up a tent on a mountain's summit.
Février 1971 - the tragedy of the Grandes Jorasses: the painful episode of a life. On 22 February, Serge Gousseault, his rope companion, died of cold and exhaustion at his side after two weeks spent fighting on the North Face of the Walker Spur. The ascent had turned into a nightmare: Ropes badly damaged by rock slides, pitons gone missing, exhausted provisions... Apocalyptic weather... radio contact cut off... René Desmaison was saved at the last moment by a helicopter from Grenoble - an Alouette III flown by Alain Frébault. In this way, the feasibility of using helicopters in the mountains was proven. Very saddened by the death of S.Gousseault, René judged harshly the inadequacy of the resources that were set up –notably by Maurice Herzog who was then managing the mountain rescue service (PSHM) – to come to his aid. René recounted this adventure in his book 342 Hours in the Grandes Jorasses. This story became a cult classic for all adventurer-mountaineers of the late 20th century.
R. Desmaison, La montagne à mains nues: Flammarion, 1971. | R. Desmaison, 342 heures dans les Grandes Jorasses: Flammarion, 1973. Republished by Hoëbeke. | R. Desmaison, Protégeons la montagne: Nathan, 1978. | R. Desmaison, Professionnel du vide: Arthaud, 1979. | R. Desmaison, Les Andes vertigineuses: Flammarion, 1983. | R. Desmaison, Au royaume des montagnes: Barthélemy, 1992. | R. Desmaison, Pérou-Équateur: Barthélemy, 1993. | R. Desmaison, Les grimpeurs de muraille: Roman. Hoëbeke, 2000.R. Desmaison, Les forces de la montagne: Mémoires. Hoëbeke, 2005.