Michel Vaucher 1936-2008

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 18/11/2008

Michel Vaucher, arguably the most famous and most active mountaineer in Switzerland during the late 1950s and 1960s, died yesterday, the 17th November. He was 71

Born in Geneva, Vaucher began his climbing at the nearby, celebrated crag of Salève, where he climbed routes in big boots that are today rated F6a. He quickly moved to the major peaks of the Alps, in 1957 making a four and a half hour ropeless solo ascent of the South Ridge of the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey (Mt Blanc) and the following year the first ascent of the now classic East Face of the Petit Clocher de Portalet (with Italo Gamboni, who has also just died).

Other new routes in the Mt Blanc Massif include the South West Ridge of the Peigne, which he may well have felt was relatively minor at the time but has since became a great classic. However, probably his most revered new route was the Whymper Spur on the North Face of the Grandes Jorasses in 1964 with Walter Bonatti.

Although he took part in few Himalayan expeditions (one of which was the notorious 1971 International attempt on the South West Face of Everest), his place in the record books is assured: in 1960 he made the first ascent of Dhaulagiri, the penultimate 8,000m peak to succumb. It was in the years following this success that he would team up regularly with some of the greatest names in the history of alpinism, such as Bonatti, Desmaison and Rébuffat.

Vaucher began practicing as a qualified guide in 1964 and would later climb several outstanding routes for the era with clients, eg the Walker Spur on the Grandes Jorasses (1969) and the North Face of the Eiger (1975).

However, he juggled climbing with an academic career and remained a college lecture in Mathematics until retiring in 2001.

The great Lionel Terray once took him as a climbing partner for the award winning film, Etoiles du Midi, after which Vaucher would star in five more mountaineering films, as well as becoming the author of the 100 Best Climbs in the Valais, part of the well-known Rébuffat series.

Many of his best routes in both the Alps and Dolomites were climbed with his wife, Yvette, who was a very capable alpinist in her own right. One of their most notable achievements was the difficult mixed climb of the North Face Direct on the Dent Blanche.

Vaucher’s high standard ascents finished at the end of the 1970s but he continued to climb and cave on a regular basis until quite recently, some of his last trips taking him to the desert areas of Africa.

 Thanks to Claude Remy for help in preparing this report

 



« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 1240 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

The Porter: what it's really like to work one of the hardest jobs on the planet
6
The Porter: what it's really like to work one of the hardest jobs on the planet

Sherpas. Porters. The spine to many a mountaineering mission. Watch the documentary that gives the mountaineering community an eye-opening look at what it's really like to work one of the hardest jobs on the planet.
Read more »

25 mlwyddiant Caradoc ar y Copa
0
25 mlwyddiant Caradoc ar y Copa

Gyda’r holl gysylltiadau rhwng Cymru a Chomolungma, ‘does ryfedd ein bod yn falch o bob cyfle i ddathlu llwyddiant y Cymro cyntaf i gyrraedd y copa. Pum mlynedd ar hugain yn ôl, ar 23 Mai 1995 y cyflawnodd Caradoc Jones o Bontrhydfendigaid y gamp honno.
Read more »

The Curious Story of the First Welsh Person to Summit Everest
1
The Curious Story of the First Welsh Person to Summit Everest

25 years ago, Caradoc 'Crag' Jones became the first Welsh person to summit Everest, quite by accident. Don't miss his wonderful tale. "People did not have the cynicism about the mountain that exists now, it was still a 'worthy' aspiration! Two grand to cover costs and I could attempt it in any style I wanted. This was planned to be: no guide, no Sherpas for the actual climbing, no oxygen, just climbing one-to-one." It didn't work out quite that simply...
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
0

There are currently no comments, why not add your own?

RELATED ARTICLES

The Porter: what it's really like to work one of the hardest jobs on the planet
6

Sherpas. Porters. The spine to many a mountaineering mission. Watch the documentary that gives the mountaineering community an eye-opening look at what it's really like to work one of the hardest jobs on the planet.
Read more »

25 mlwyddiant Caradoc ar y Copa
0

Gyda’r holl gysylltiadau rhwng Cymru a Chomolungma, ‘does ryfedd ein bod yn falch o bob cyfle i ddathlu llwyddiant y Cymro cyntaf i gyrraedd y copa. Pum mlynedd ar hugain yn ôl, ar 23 Mai 1995 y cyflawnodd Caradoc Jones o Bontrhydfendigaid y gamp honno.
Read more »

The Curious Story of the First Welsh Person to Summit Everest
1

25 years ago, Caradoc 'Crag' Jones became the first Welsh person to summit Everest, quite by accident. Don't miss his wonderful tale. "People did not have the cynicism about the mountain that exists now, it was still a 'worthy' aspiration! Two grand to cover costs and I could attempt it in any style I wanted. This was planned to be: no guide, no Sherpas for the actual climbing, no oxygen, just climbing one-to-one." It didn't work out quite that simply...
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »