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Europe, France, Chamonix, Rassemblement International d' Alpinisme de Haut Niveau

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 1985

Rassemblement International d’Alpinisme de Haut Niveau. The Rassemblement was held from July 8 to 21 at the Ecole Nationale de Ski et d’Alpinisme in Chamonix, France. All the climbers ate and slept there when they were not climbing. While the school offered us the hospitality and convenience of its services, all details regarding daily activities were handled by M. Paul Brasset and his wife Raymonde. They were magnanimous hosts, giving us every service they could provide and allowing us the maximum freedom to pursue our own program of climbs. We were also extended courtesies by the Chamonix section of the Club Alpin Français, the mayor’s office and the Hotel Montenvers. I think it was a little misleading to suggest that the meet was for climbers competent to UIAA V, because nearly all of us were climbing routes of greater difficulty than that. I had the chance to climb with representatives from Peru, Spain, Korea, Taiwan, Portugal and the Netherlands. In all, 66 climbers from 30 nations participated. Few ice routes were done this year due to warm conditions and the relatively dry winter. Poles Maciek Pawlikowski and Lesnek Bednark reported much rockfall on the north face of Les Droites, and they looked fatigued when I spoke to them after their return. Spaniards Manuel de la Matta and Alberto Ibáñez, on the other hand, looked none the worse for wear after their return from a one-day ascent of the central pillar of Frêney. I left with the impression that everyone was very satisfied with the nature of climbs accomplished during the meet. We were free to climb with whomever we wanted and whatever we wanted. The only stipulations placed on us by our hosts were to arrange our climbs with the help of either André Contamine or Michel Thi- vierge, who arranged transportation and food, and to adhere to time schedules for our climbs as closely as possible. I climbed the following: Mont Blanc via the Goûter route with Peruvian Leonardo Pittá, Taiwanese Gau Ming Ho and Korean Kwon Soon Ho; Pointe Lachenal by the Contamine route (UIAA V + or VI, 5.9 or 10a, Al) with Pittá, New Zealander Richard Balfour, de la Matta and Ibáñez; attempt on “Subtilités Dulferiennes” on the Envers du Pic du Roc with Netherlander Pieter Hamans; Aiguille du Midi, Contamine route (UIAA V + , Al) with Portuguese Paulo Hagendorn; and the Aiguille des Grandes Charmoz, Pilier Cordier (UIAA VI or VI + ) with Hamans. We had several social functions which allowed us to socialize with one another; the closing dinner held for us at the Salle Michel Croz in Chamonix on July 20 was wonderful. The 1984 Rassemblement was a very rich experience for me. I had the opportunity to become friends with people from many different cultures, and I got to experience the richness of French hospitality. I was able to learn much from my foreign friends, not only with regard to their attitudes about the mountains and climbing in general but, more importantly for me, I learned about their attitudes about my culture and my country. I enjoyed many conversations about politics, manners and mores of our respective cultures, especially with friends from New Zealand, Peru, Austria and Yugoslavia. If I can share my experience with other Americans and in some way influence their perception about our culture relative to others, so that they will be more tolerant of cultural differences, then I shall consider this trip to have been an even greater success than I could have expected.

Michael Holt

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