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Denise Escande The Chibania

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Denise Escande The Chibania

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DENISE ESCANDE - Farewell to a great lady 

Denise, Habib, Eric below the Red chimneys - Walker spur
Denise, Habib (Marcel Zerf), Eric - splendid morning after the bivouac below the red chimneys - Walker spur 1 Septembre 1962.

« Ok Denise, climb up ! 

Those words so often heard leaving a belay

On hundreds of routes,

Today we say them heartily. 

For some years already,

You wanted to get beyond the other side of life.

Devout believer, you had utmost confidence in the hereafter.

This same confidence you gave to all your leaders;

You gave them the chance to become alpinists,

To climb the greatest routes

or to discover new mountains far away.

No question of giving your record of achievements,

You would not like that.

You loved action, travels, music.

Faithful to your friends,

You always welcomed them

to use your impressive alpine library.

In short, you loved and respected natural life

but also its supernatural dimension.

Those last years your sufferings were great,

 but you did not cease to clink to life.

Now, this is it, Denise, last belay,

           “Ok, climb up !”

           Pierre-Yves Doré


Born the 25th of October 1914, Denise died the 3rd May 2007 after several years of living nearly blind and a cripple due to damaged hips that no doctor wanted to operate. She discovered mountaineering at 35 and for the following 40 years she devoted her time to climbing. In 1962 after her ascents of the Walker spur, the West face of the Dru and other major routes such as the Carlesso at the Torre Trieste, she was made a member of the GHM, but as she stated: “For girls they were not too demanding!” A member also of the Alpine Club (1976), when she stopped climbing, she quitted all the climbing clubs she was a member of as for her: “Alpine clubs are for active members not for retired war-horses!” She remained a maiden all her life and her little chalet (in Les Moussoux – Chamonix) facing the Mont-Blanc was the base camp of many of the greatest climbers worldwide. She was the most famous French female climber during those years along with Sonia Livanos and Simone Badier. 

PLaque - Chamonix cemetery
The plaque placed on the Chamonix cemetery wall aside the one placed in 2007 for Vincendon and Henry who both died in a tragic accident on Mont Blanc in 1956. 

   Denise gave her body to Science, but we wanted a memorial to her in Chamonix so we had an engraved plaque mounted on the wall of the Chamonix cemetery next to the one of Vincendon (whom she had climbed with on the Fontainebleau boulders) and Henry who both died tragically on Mont Blanc in 1956. This was thanks to Vincent Couttet, one of her last guides, who obtained special permission from the mayor as plaques are allowed in the Chamonix cemetery only for alpinists who died in the Mont Blanc range. The Couttet family is with the Ravanel family, the oldest in the valley with records back around 1300… Twelve Couttet (and fourteen Ravanel) responded to the guides’ role call at the Chamonix Guides company annual ceremony that year. So Vincent’s request had the necessary weight, particularly since he is a brilliant and creative guide who invented a super abseil and blocking device the same year. He also spent much time with Denise during her last 20 years, while one of Denises’s first guides was his uncle, Fred Couttet, who also helped Denise to fit out her small chalet, and particularly the bedding system and the famous retractable ladder getting to the attic. Thanks to his talents as a carpenter, we could sleep nine people (with much comfort) in “La Tirelire” (The Moneybox) a building of no more than 35 square metres!

   After the ceremony I wrote the following letter to Jean Fabre (one of Denise’s guides and from another very well known Chamonix family (the Payot) who could not attend :

“16th September 2007,  Dear Jean,

Everything went well yesterday. We were 35 (Esther – my wife - counted us). I read the plaque epitaph and everyone approved my text:

"Her mazot in Les Moussoux, “La Tirelire” (the Moneybox), was for 40 years the base camp of the greatest alpinists and many guides to whom she was linked with a friendship and an unwavering gratitude. Discovering mountaineering at the age of 35, she dedicated herself to climbing the rest of her life. She loved mountaineering and the big routes. Let us remember the indomitable courage of this great lady of mountaineering!


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The history of La Tirelire
1951: discovery of a Mazot in a farm at Les Plagnes 1952: purchase of a 255 m2 field in Les Moussoux (10 old francs per square m) 1953: Foundations placed and mounting of the Mazot La Tireline enlarged with a kitchen and shower. 1rst May 1953: 2000 tiles drilled and placed by Denise under the supervision of Julien, sitting on the grass. Inaugurated 14th July 1953

  
 





   
















 I gave an history of Denise’s climbing life, quoting the guides as well as the pals she climbed with, then I read a moving text from Pierre de Galbert who is currently guiding in Yemen and had Vincent Couttet read your text that will be published in the November issue of the National Mountain Guides bulletin and I also read a text from my friend Muriel Gravina with her 45 French faults which did help greatly to relax the atmosphere. Furthermore, Denise’s plaque is very well situated on top of the wall beside the plaque placed in January 2007 in remembrance of Vincendon (who she had known) and Henry.

Vincent speaking at the cemetery
Vincent Couttet, one of Denise's very close guides read the text of Jean Fabre, another mountain guide and also a prefect with a talent for speeches.
The pic-nic at La Tirelire
After the cemetery ceremony we had a party at La Tirelire very much similar to those which Denise used to organise for her climbing friends. Quite a few did come down from Paris (the Lesueur and the Moreau for one).




 




















   The picnic at La Tirelire following the event went very well. The new owners, the Pégourié were there (Denise wanted her small chalet to go to a very good alpinist which Bernard is, as well as being a nuclear scientist. Denise had nicknamed him “Stars’s dust”) and La Tirelire was almost as it was when Denise: lived there: the twin pegs of “l’échelle à poisson” (famous route at Le Saussois and twin pegs extracted by Denise at a time when pegs were too costly for climbers to leave them in) were where it used to be along with the library with its mountain books and guides. We grilled sausages and merguez. Old Ma Moreau (the former boss of the Saussois and Larchant joints brought delicious hams and pies. We did not run short of beer (brought in barrels by Vincent and Claudine Couttet) nor of good wine bottles, with a number from my cellar.

   Each of us took souvenirs that Denise had left behind (mountain books, photos, stones and trinkets). Pierre Lesueur who is now 80 years old, hale and hearty with the same Paris suburb accent of 50 years back, was there with his wife, his two kids and one of his granddaughter (7 years old) to whom we gave most of Denise’ “jewels”, which we believe she would have much appreciated (Pierre Lesueur among his best new routes opened the direct on the Grand Dru North face in 1952 and in 1953 made the first ascent of the South face of Aconcagua with his Fontainebleau gang, among whom were Lucien Berardini and Robert Paragot).

   Bernezat arrived late because he was going to climb Mont Blanc with a friend the following day. (Jean-Louis Bernezat with his wife Odette has become the greatest guide “of the desert” in the world, speaking Tamacheq and winning races on a camel with the Targui).

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   The following day we went for a fun climb with Gilles Bodin who like Lafleur (Lesueur's nickname) has not changed one bit - he much appreciated my wine, that’s the least I can say! 

   Pierre-Yves Doré, Jean-Hervé Colle, Pierre Lesueur and one of his sons, Jacques Alary and one of his friends formed roped parties, each climbing in parallel on one of the routes on the Index buttress, Manu Pulliti, Nez rouge and a third one which name I forgot. Jean-Hervé was my Roux-Combalusier (a well known French lifts manufacturing company) as I had a dislocated finger (from an Mountain bike accident in town 5 days before) and my right hip completely impaired by arthritis (arthritis of a premature old man: I will have a new hip in three weeks time). Gilles never stopped saying that he was hearing Denise’s voice and he started playing the porter and climbing instructor for an eight years old lad, grandson of Emile Allais (a famous French skiing world champion) who was roped to Gilles Ravanel (the one from Argentière), his uncle. 

Denise with Stars' dust
The new owner of La Tirelire chosen by Denise, a good alpinist and nuclear scientist who Denise nicknamed "Stars' dust". Denise wanted her little chalet to go to a good alpinist after she stopped climbing and could not live in it because of its access and the impossibility to use it in winter as it had no isolation.










   






  

  The Lesueur were very glad, the Couttet also, particularly Aimé who was moved to tears and brought flowers to the Pégourié the next day to thank them. There it is: I think the event pleased many of Denise’s friends and you will have been with us with your text which was much appreciated.

We owed her at least that much!  

Amitiés” 

Denise "The Chibania" - Jean Fabre

Denise links with her leaders and particularly her guides were so strong that they had better speak of her as a mountaineer themselves, with first of all Jean Fabre:


   “Denise Escande ‘the Chibania’(an old lady in Morocco and Algeria)


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Groucho "Escande"

   Denise did her first parachute jump when she was 65. In her youth (the 1930’s and 40’s), she had an upper-middle class education and above all played tennis. She claimed to have played with the famous champion Suzanne Lenglen (but I have doubts about the historic truth of this sporting encounter as, in all Denise’s stories, there was as one commonly says in Marseille, “much to take and much to leave”).

   In her forties, afflicted with a persistent “tennis elbow”, she gave up the “lobs”, “passing-shots”, “smash” and other “drives”. But as she was missing a passion, she decided to become a mountaineer. Well, the word is weak: let’s say that in her second part of her life, she married mountaineering (as a nun would marry God) and only lived for it. Nothing a priori predisposed her to follow such a path, particularly at a time when most climbers (those who did not perish at the bottom of a trough or with their skull smashed by a stone) have long since put aside their ice axe in their cellars.

   She came from a flat country, the Sologne, and none of her ancestors had the eccentric idea to hang oneself on rocks and putting pegs into them. Therefore one cannot suppose that she followed family example. Only eccentricity can explain her late and unpredictable calling.

   Small (her growth stopped irreparably at 1m55 – only just over 5 feet tall), she sweated, puffed, ranted and raved during the approach marches. Following a traffic accident, her right ankle had lost all mobility. In those days, ice climbing required a permanent twisting of the leg (the “front pointing” technique was introduced quite late in France), and such stiffness would have dissuaded most, but not Denise. On rock, on too strenuous pitches, one had often to hold the rope tight to allow her to take her right foot in both hands and place it on the desired hold.

   At a pinch, one could think that, not liking her trade as a real estate agent, she should have tried the movie. Indeed, she looked very much alike “Groucho”, the younger of the Marx brothers, to the point that she had, against her will, to sign autographs in Paris streets for American tourists convinced to have met their favorite comedian.

   But success in mountaineering does not obey true classical sporting rules (which differentiate it from pure climbing). You can be built like a Greek athlete, eat fish and cabbage every day, do push-ups, execute splits and never manage a significant climb. On the opposite, you see bean-poles, heavy smokers, bald men with dark rings under the eyes climb incredible walls.

   In High Mountains, moral qualities prove to be essential: determination, risk acceptance, survival instinct. A physical mechanism as oiled and superb as it can be will not function when there is a lack of will.

   So, if nature did not provide Denise with a body predisposing her to climbing (flexible, muscled, slender), it gave her an unfailing psychological strength. When the weather turned to a storm, when the “pianos” were brushing against your scalp, when heavy fog forced you to snuggle up in the snow, she knew how to find the tone and the right words to perk up the foundering morale of her companions (mainly men as Madame Escande – who did not stand ladies in the mountains, and not much also in the plains – always chose males to guide her on the great routes).


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Harold "Afanassieff" - 1rst ascent Harold & Maud - Pointe Lachenal
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Maud "Escande" on Harold & Maud

   Denise did not ignore fear, she was not sheltered from discouragement, but she faced dangers and dominated the most critical situations without a trace of emotion. There was elegance and nobility in the way she behaved at altitude. She seemed to never lose her optimism. When she climbed with Jean Afanassieff, the guide with whom she probably did her most difficult rock routes (the Philip/Flam, the Brandler/Hasse, the South face of the Fou), we nicknamed the couple “Harold and Maude” and one of their first ascents on the Lachenal Point was so baptized. Jean was the young man of the movie, depressive with vague suicidal desires. Denise was the grandma, boiling over with hope and joy of living.

   However, all those who had adventures in the mountains with the “vioque” (the old boot) (this is how we disrespectfully named her) complained of a major flaw: she did not stop speaking (from dawn to dusk, on paths, in refuges and even hanging on etriers with a 1000 m void below). The chatterbox did not cease to function except at the bivouac, when Morpheus took her in his arms, but then, alas, came from her nostrils snores of a boor. Only “Popo”, her equivalent in the Pyrenees could equal her verbal output.

   As the Marques d’Albertas or Claude Cogan, and before the era of Simone Badier, then of Catherine Destivelle, Denise Escande could be considered as an authentic female climbing pioneer.
   Notably she was the first one from the “weaker” sex (this expression being now obsolete) to climb the west face of the Drus, the Magnone/Berardini route and the second (after maybe Yvette Vaucher, I forget) to climb the Walker spur. At the end of her 60’s, no woman had an equivalent score in the Alps. She had climbed all: from the Bonatti pillar, the Poire and the West face of the Petites Jorasses. She had been roped with confirmed climbers such as Dominique Leprince-Rinquet, Robert Guillaume, Pierre Kolhmann, Eric Vola, guides as famous as Marcel Burnet, Jean-Louis Bernezat, Pierre de Galbert, Claude Jaccoux, or even Gaston Rebuffat.



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Maud "Escande " summit Pointe Lachenal (note the fingerless gloves to hold well the rope while belaying)
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Jean-hervé Colle 1rst ascent Harold & Maud

  I bumped into Denise at the end of the 70’s. I was not yet 30, but she was already 65. The older she got, the more demanding she became. She could not stand the old guides; she was a female Minotaur - she needed fresh blood, young climbing Adonis, from the elite (for purely sporting ends that is). She joined me in Morocco, her ego aroused by promises of tempting first ascents in the Todra gorge. At that time the site was desert. There were no 4X4, no spits, no fluo suits. We arrived at nightfall in a rough hut which was used as a tavern. The boss and his friends were sipping their mint tea listening to the frogs croaking. There were astonished to see us arriving at twilight, a young Rumi and a grandma, but nevertheless they did not infringe the Berber hospitality law: mutton tajin with stringed instruments music. I remember their derisive smiles, when I had tried to explain in “tamarzit” (le local dialect) the reasons of our venue in this “Ksour”: with the white haired lady, we shared that night the same room, unfurling our sleeping bags on heavy woolen carpets; there were of course no beds and the next day we would climb the rock walls putting in metal rods. For those mountain men, for whom getting back their lost sheep constituted the only justification for taking a risk in the djebel (if not one had to be mad!), my hokey pokey was masking a reality far more ”bawdy”: obviously I was sleeping with the Chibania” (this is how are named the old ladies in Arabic) and she obviously must be paying me handsomely for this service. The next day, after having seen the “Chibania” hanging in the overhangs, they came to welcome us at the top as if we were extraterrestrials.

   Maybe Denise became one of the local Marabouts and the “Chibania” route immortalizes her.

   I am pleased also to have guided her with Guy Abert on her last great route, the South face of the Gugliermina. She was 70. We had to spend two bivouacs, one on the way up and one coming down. The following year, I attempted to lead her on the Red pillar
of the Brouillard, but after the first pitches the storm forced us to a strategic fall back towards the Eccles hut.

   Denise continued to climb with other guides, Dominique Marchal, Vincent Couttet until she was 76. She passed away in May this year 2007 and gave her body to Science. 

   Requiescat in pace.

   Jean Fabre

   Guide de haute montagne

"Denise Escande 60 years of Baraka!" - Sylvain Jouty (Alpi-Rando)

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Denise belaying Bernard Pégourié on a Machaby route - 1985

I now quote a few extracts of an article that our friend and « Bleausard », Sylvain Jouty wrote in January 1979 for AlpiRando magazine about Denise, titled

“Denise Escande 64 years of Baraka!”

   “Do not tell her that she is a great alpinist. She would laugh at you or she could fall out with you, although she rarely gets angry. And she would be right in explaining to you that she climbs rather badly, solely as a second, that she does mountaineering for pleasure and that when it will tire her or when she is not be interested any more with it, she would stop. Maybe she will confide in you that the normal route up Mont Blanc which she discovered recently was more painful to climb that many hard routes, but that she discovered the beauty of Mont Blanc’s summit which no one ever told her about. Denise is anything but blasé. Listening to her, it seems that each route, each event, each souvenir is a pretext to a new wondering. She has an eagerness to live and to learn that many youngsters have lost. At 64, her youth of mind is staggering…

   Denise could have been more than a bright second, and she proved it when the occasion came up. ‘It’s Leprince-Rinquet who forced me to lead… He sent me on the South face of Marmolada which I led in 1954. At the Civetta, he had found an “easy” route for me which I did with a lady friend: the Castiglione on Torre Venezia… I found it harder than he had told me, particularly the last chimney. Luckily my friend loved chimneys and she led it. Of course we did not find the way down, so we abseiled, when I had never put a peg in my life then! Back at the hut, I told Dominique: this route is not grade III! He laughed loudly and replied: “I took one degree off on it all”. Dominique was not scared to test Denise and in 1961 he took her up the Ratti route at the Noire de Peuterey. Desmaison’s reaction when announced gives a good measure of this feat: “Who is the mad man who had the guts to take you there?”…

   Let’s admit, in order not to antagonize her, that she is not a great alpinist. At least she is an example. An example of what is possible to achieve when one has the will to do so. It also proves that the most difficult routes are not reserved to an “elite”, but if one has certain qualities and skills, providing one respect a number of rules, they are accessible to people who are not heroes. It proves that if mountains rarely forgive errors, they can show themselves to be accessible to those who want to truly know them… Maybe she would have been a good guide?

   ‘To be a guide you must have teaching skills and I have, I found out as I was a climbing instructor in “Bleau”. I shared the guys with Habib: he took the
strongest and I the weakest. But as I was a girl, I obtained from them much more than anyone else
.’…

   Denise, a young miss of 64, summarizes her philosophy: ‘In all your life, you must have the Baraka.’ And I forgot, she just started parachuting and Delta plane!”


Denise with Pierre Alain
Denise 80 years old with Pierre Alain 90 years old at a La Tirelire party

Last guide and last climb: Michel Bordet

   Finally I will quote the words of her last guide, Michel Bordet, who accompanied her during her last, longest and most difficult climb with much love and to whom I and all Denise’s
friends and guides are so indebted for it:

Pierre Yves Doré distributing Denise's books
Pierre-Yves Doré, a long time friend of Denise is distributing Denise's books amongst the members of the party, all old friends of Denise. Denise had donated all her savings to about 60 friends, but some could not get much as she had overevaluated the amount she had saved, but at least 45 got something!

   “There is a blizzard outside and I took time off to visit her at the Chamonix hospital where she has lived for some time now. Howling, at times she roars with hoarse fits of laughter, as now, in the full February season, she hears a helicopter landing: “Look! A thighbone again! Ha! Ha! Ha!” One must say that her lot is not to be envied… 90 years old; she just came out of 3 years confinement to bed due to repeated operations on an uncooperative hip. At the same time she was progressively becoming blind and now she is seeing nothing, even with the large magnifying glass that she always has near her hand.

   At times, her hip dislocates itself without warning, breaking the natural alignment hip/thighbone/shinbone-fibula; she freezes immediately, as a pointer listening to her body. She then executes some energetic moves with her leg and a muffled “clonk!” let us know that the operation of putting all back into the axis did succeed… Shrunk down in her armchair, an upright posture is now too painful. Of course after all those months in bed and this relapse… But she is holding herself on! In the small house she found – which seems designed for her – (EV: mine which I adapted for her heavy handicap and made it partially a replica of her chalet La Tirelire with the same retractable ladder made once again by Aimé Couttet’s brother) she found a way to make her bed up on a micro mezzanine, accessible only with a stone steep boarding ladder. It reminded her of climbing which she practiced so much. She grabbed the ladder sides as you start a climbing move, much more at ease in the move than in the simple upright posture.

   Climbing is how I met her. It was through a friend, a guide who “fobbed” her off on me as one does drop a hot potato: she was 72 or 73… I discovered that I was the last of a long list of mountain guides who took her everywhere in the Alps…/… she had developed a science in motion saving which was quite extraordinary. Useless to say that the term “free climbing” did not mean anything to her: she held heartily on pegs and quickdraws pushing on her legs without taking notice of any ethics. It must be said that she was from “the great days” of aided climbing when any means was good to get to the top of a route. In this way she had taken all the pegs out of the Bouclier du Gerbier (a mythical 400 m route in the Vercors) which her leader had to himself fully equipped (it was like that then: you did not leave a trace of your ascent, without speaking of the price of the pegs, preposterous for those climbers more or less broke). She had acquired a sense of energy economy which made her always find the right move even in the worst situations. But when I met her, it was her final days and compared with all those great routes she had climbed, her last years as a climber were only a last resort to fight the irreparable ravages of time.

   To best describe her character, her last adventure was when she decided to stop climbing at 75 and to make the great complete Sahara traverse with Jean-Louis Bernezat, THE French specialist of the topic: a first which lasted two months! A Sahara that she knew well, as she had led a mixed team of 60 climbers and walkers in the Hoggar, two years after the end of the Algerian war… Mid way, a young German lady member of the team broke her hip falling from her camel in the middle of nowhere!  "But I, I fell at least 3 times from my camel and without any damage!" she told me laughing. “Those youngsters are too tense! You must just let yourself fall like a bag!” But later she admitted that she had gone with two bags full of Di-antalvic, a powerful pain killer to take the brunt. Six pills a day! Maybe she was exaggerating a bit,but there in a modern hospital, they gave her a miserable one pill a day, in the evening…


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Happy and smiling - Photo Pierre-Yves Doré

   During her climbing days, she used to swallow regularly Voltarene pills, an efficient analgesic… She had a large stomach, the grandma! But her frame was somehow busted, all twisted, eaten away by arthritis.

   “Do you realize? All those years I patiently worked out my treatment and here, they take everything off me! “They say that I take too many drugs!”, “but I counted! I take 11 pills per day: more than before!” Grandma is discovering power relationships… The nurses here prefer the quieter…“customers”, those who accept their dependency without baulking. But I see clearly that week after week her condition does improve. The atmosphere also: she succeeded in softening them…

   Or also her last bivouac when she was 84 or 85, I forgot. She was still living at La Tirelire when she was coming down to Chamonix, her small chalet, in which she had put all her savings and from where she started to walk on paths all around. But that year, the works on Planpraz station did totally turned over the scenery and lost in this huge construction site, at nightfall, Denise could not find her way back home…
Undeterred, she saw a plank lying around; she rolled up in her polar fleece, used her rucksack for a pillow and spent the night so, remembering all the bivouacs she had spent in the mountains. This was her 57th!

 

After having been a bedridden invalid for three years - those were her own words - she decided to quit Paris, where she lived, to move to Chamonix in this small house which was as if it had been designed for her, “La Poupée” (the doll). When she had just arrived she thought it normal to do her shopping to the local supermarket. She was shaky and unbalanced, walking on crutches and could have been knocked down by a feather… All of a sudden, she fell on the curb of the pavement and wounded both shinbones. The wounds became infected. Home care, nurses whom she treated haughtily couldn’t
cure them: then they talked of sending her to a “specialized unit”…

   One day, I found her in this small house among an incredible mess of papers and files of all kinds, brought from Paris in two large refuse bags… I found myself recruited as her private secretary without noticing it. And those visits which I made by genuine affection she succeeded in paying me for them, cunning vixen she was, to ensure my regularity instead of giving alms!

   Luckily, the Chamonix hospital had a bed at the right time, but they did not keep her for long…

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"Radio Denise" describing a climb - Photo Pierre-Yves Doré

   But the “old one finally snuffed it!” Forgive those rough words, but that is what she used to say: “I do not manage to snuff it” she had been saying that for quite a while. “The old one we will have to use a gun to get her under” her old climbing friends were laughing and saying quite some time before. She laughed at herself, with a raucous and uproarious laughter, but us, the younger ones, we would not have dared, so impressed by the old lady and her endless stories… Denise was an inexhaustible chatterbox! She had seen so many pretty amazing things as we say. Starting from her older brother, Robert, a brilliant polytechnician, who presented her as the “village idiot”. But she had for him an unwavering veneration which came from their kids’ games and hunting parties in the Sologne’s forests. Rough games and school of endurance formed her which she found afterwards with her many rope companions when at more than 35 she discovered mountaineering.

   Soon she became a breadwinner and life challenges achieved to forge a character and a sense of duty…, unfailing, exceptional in many ways.

   The “village idiot” did quite well after all.

   Sacked in 1961 from the family leather factory which went bust, she went for a six months trip from Ceylon to Nepal, in the Langtang valley.

   She then committed herself, a bit by chance, to a career of an estate agent which allowed her to live her passion. Because her loves were reserved to the mountains which she discovered late and which she explored back and forth all the rest of her life. And more than a collection of routes, often of the highest level, it is the company of alpinists and mountain guides which she was seeking, finding again with them the roughness and complicity of her childhood games, looking for the esteem and affection of her climbing brothers. And esteem… she deserved it every time, for every route, for her fortitude in the greatest routes, for the unfailing confidence in her leader, for her rigor in action and her permanent generosity. As for affection, maybe she did put a ban to it when during her adolescence she was betrayed by the man she loved, her father, who abandoned them, her and her mother… She never fully recovered from it, preferring to fight and battle to the sweetness of a love life, so preserving her youth candor hidden by her fits of bad temper and her irreparable quarrels.

   From Paris to Chamonix, from Chamonix  to Paris, but much further also, to the UK or Nigeria… she succeeded in forging lasting friendships, those which link people through time and over continents.

   Fed up with the old people’s home which she had selected in Paris to end her days, and also with the other residents, she decided, when I met her for the first time, to move to Chamonix, to lay down her arms and wait quietly get to the other side…

   Well “quietly” is not the appropriate word…

   Denise fought to the end, against her pains from the bedsores she got after falling in the Chamonix streets. She soon left the Chamonix hospital to go back to “La Poupée”. Then it was Praz Couttant, this “death place for old people” as she was saying, where all the needy ones of the valleys around went. Ruled by Doctor Mol (or something like that) who as his name suggested, offered the image of an absolute uncertainty. Soon she took a distinct dislike of the man and to avoid his sight, she managed thanks to much stubbornness, to be accepted in the re-education center of the Plateau d’Assy reserved to the top athletes!

   It was at the moment when at last her repeated requests to alleviate her pains were accepted which by the fight and battle it meant, she maintained herself alive, stopped – I understand better now the doctors’ restraints – it is at that moment then, when she was given powerful drugs that she let go in a no return sleep…

Requiescat in pace’”


Michel Bordet

Guide de haute montagne


Unnamed Image
Morning of a very cold bivouac below the red chimneys - Walker spur 1962 - Eric, Cabri, Habib and Denise


Denise's plaque beside Vincendon & Henry's
The plaque we had sealed on the Chamonix cemetery wall is beside the one placed several months before in memoriam of Vincendon and Henry who died tragically on top of Mont Blanc in 1956. Vincendon, a guide trainee, was from Paris and Denise had climbed with him in Fontainebleau. Henry was a Belgian from Brussels.


External Links

Claude Barbier and Denise - French site of Claude Barbier

Camp to camp Harold and Maud route description

Michel Bordet Web site

Jean Afanassieff on Wikipedia

Panorama vidéo of Afa on top of Everest & 1rst ski descent with Nicholas Jaeger from above the South col

Appendix - Her climbs

The list hereafter has been established based on Denise's climbing CAF notebook. After 1973, it was full up so she established lists. It shows well her progression, her years of intense activity but is by far not exhaustive, I guess roughly half of what she has climbed but it includes all her major climbs. I could not find her notes for the years 1966 and 1986, some years the lists are incomplete, pages and names of her partners missing and they are routes which she did in the Dolomites with Claude Barbier that were not in her notebook while they are mentionned by Claude Barbier's friends such as in 1961 when they climbed 6 weeks together doing among major climbs the 2nd ascent of the Sas Maor direct and also of the Terra Nova. (Denise story of her 6 weeks with Claude in 1961 as recorded by Benoît de Ruffi de Pontevès, in Paris, 29th January 1982 :

 DateRouteGuideFriend
1947Le Moine normal routeGaston Monard
1949


None-Evêque, Traverse
Peigne, normal route
Aiguille du tour
Purstcheller
Aiguilles dorées
Roger Simond
Roger Simond



Goureaud St Guillelm
Goureaud St Guillelm
Torquelier
1950
Grossglockner
Dachstein, traverse
Petit Charmoz, traverse
Aiguille de l'M, normal route
Pic Albert,normal route
Grépon, traverse
Aiguille Blaitière, normal route
Austrian guide
Austrian guide
Marcel Burnet
Marcel Burnet
Marcel Burnet
Marcel Burnet
Marcel Burnet

1951
Aiguille de Bionnassay North face
Chardonnet, arête Forbes
Verte, couloir Whymper
Tour Ronde, traverse
Aiguille de Talèfre, traverse

Pierre Peltier
Pech
Pech
Pech
Pech & Peltier
1952
Ravanel et Mummery
NNE de l'M
Cinque Torri, traverse
Groupe de Sella, traverse
Roger Simond
Marcel Burnet


A. de Jouvenel
A. de Jouvenel
1953Requin voie des Plaques
14th July: inauguration of La Tirelire
Aig. Du Tondu, normal route
Aig. Du Peigne, normal route

Gilbert Blaise

Pierre Peltier
Pierre Peltier
1954Aig. Du Moine, arête sud
Aig. Du Tour,normal route
Aig. Dorées, traverse
Fred Couttet

Pierre Mazeaud
Pierre Mazeaud
1955Denise leads "La Martine" and does "L'Echelle à poissons" - Le Saussois
Aig. Du Triolet, normal route
Saussois, Ardennes
Aig. Du Moine, South ridge
Petit Triolet, ridges

Neige Cordier (Oisans)

Pierre Mazeaud, Pierre Engldinger etc…
Pierre Mazeaud, Pierre Engldinger etc…
Pierre Mazeaud, Pierre Engldinger etc…
Marcel Schatz, J. Ecole?
Dominique Hulot?
1956Ardennes & Saussois
Cougourde
Malédia (Vésubie)

Robert Dubois, P. Mazeaud, R. Guillaume
Robert Dubois
1957Ardennes (Fréhir)
Aig. Du Peigne, les papillons
Aig. Du Peigne, la Lépiney
Doigt de l'étala

Marcel Burnet
Marcel Burnet
Marcel Burnet
Claude Barbier & Jean Alzetta
1958Denise discovers the Calanques
Calanques
Ardennes (Fréhir)
Midi-Plan traverse
Aig. Des grands montets
She breaks her backbone and an arm 


M. Boulvard
Alain Vincent
G. Rigot
G. Rigot
1959la Ménégaud
Aig. Du Diable, traverse
Aig. Du Peigne, SW ridge
Purtscheller, Terray route
Grépon normal route
Saussois
Ardennes (Fréhir)
Hoggar : la Garet el Djenoun 6x1rst ascents (Adriane...)
Robert Guillaume
Marcel Burnet
Marcel Burnet
Robert Théron




J.L. Nicolas
R. Guillaume, Michel Brébant, G. Bartes
Alphonse Hellebrekers
Bernard Dubois et J.L. Nicolas
1960Corno Stella (Vésubie): 5 routes, leads Alain route 
Saussois
Calanques

Pilier de Bertagne (Denise takes all pegs out leaving not even 1)

Michel Brébant
Robert Paragot
D. Leprince Ringuet, J. Le Menestrel
Pierre Lesueur, La Fouine & Giramville
1961Saussois
Glandasse, Livanos route
Mont Aiguille NNE
Aiguille Noire de Peuterey, voie Ratti Lionel Terray to Denise:
"who is the madman whotook you up the Ratti?"
Petites Jorasses, South ridge 
Aiguille du Géant, normal route
Aiguille de l'M, Couzy route
Rochefort Mont Mallet
Mont Blanc, Brenva spur
Aiguille de la Nonne, normal route
Petits Charmoz
Guy Richard







Marcel Burnet 
Marcel Burnet 

Leprince Ringuet, Pascal Meyer
Robert Delvoye
D. Leprince-Ringuet

D. Leprince-Ringuet
D. Leprince-Ringuet
Robert Delvoye


Edith Moreau, Pierre Peltier
1962travel and trekking in India and Nepal january to April
Aiguille du Midi, Rebuffat route
Croix de fer, South pillar
Aiguille du Midi, Contamine route
Grand Capucin, voie Bonatti
West face of the Drus (1rst feminine ascent)
Grandes Jorasses, Walker spur (2nd or 1rst feminine ascent)
Aiguille du Moine, complete South ridge
Aiguille du Peigne, Papillons ridge
Mont Aiguille, Direct South face & voie des étudiants
Tours du Pleney, South 
Brison, St innocent, voie des toits
Campanile Basso, dièdre Ferhmann, voie provinciale
Punta Frida, Hilversum route
Punta Frida, Comici route
Picolissima, Stoffer route
Campanile Salami, Comici route
Sella, 1rst & 2nd tower
Marmolada, face sud, normal route
Sassolungo, cinque ditti
Torre di Babele, Solda route
Torre Venezia, Tissi route
Torre Venezia, Castiglione route
Tour du Masque, East face



Jean Thérond
Jean Thérond
Jean Thérond
Jean Thérond



J.L.Bernezat ?
J.L.Bernezat 







Bob Xueref
J.L.Bernezat
J.L.Bernezat
leading
Pierre de Galbert

Eric Vola
Eric Vola

Eric Vola & Marcel Zerf
Eric Vola & Marcel Zerf

J.C. Chauvin & Robert Delvoye
J.C.Chauvin
Michel Amoudruz


Dominique Leprince Ringuet
Dominique Leprince Ringuet
Dominique Leprince Ringuet
Dominique Leprince Ringuet
Dominique Leprince Ringuet
Dominique Leprince Ringuet
J.C. Chauvin



Etienne Nicolas
1963Aiguille du Peigne, Contamine/Vaucher
Aiguille du Moine, Contamine route
Aiguille de Roc, traversée Roc/Grépon
Petit Capucin, Gervasutti route
Aiguille de Blaitière, Brown route
Torre Vénézia, Andrich route
Torre Trieste, Carlesso Sandri route
Ardennes
Glandasse, voie de la Pentecôte (3rd ascent)
Calanques







Michel Trottin
Michel Trottin
J.L. Bernezat
Jean Fréhel
Jean Fréhel
Robert Delvoye
Lucien Georges (Exo)
Jean Fréhel
Dominique Leprince Ringuet
Dominique Leprince Ringuet

J. Fréhel, Antoine Xinant
1964Vercors, les 2 sœurs, Spigolo SE
Vercors, les 2 sœurs, Spigolo SE
Le Parquet, voie des aspirants-guides
J.L.Fraimbaut

J. Fréhel et Nano
?
1965Hoggar, Assekrem & Illamane, 2x1rst ascent et 15x2nd ascents
Denise organized the expedition of 25 climbers and 40 walkers,
1,5T of food taken from France, 55 camels, 7 Targuis and
1 landrover, No holiday that year
Petites Jorasses West face

Parquet, Coupé/Livanos route
Ardennes






Michel Trottin




P.Cordier (18), Gilles Bodin,
Alain Duffrenoy
Jean Fréhel
J.C. Droyer
1966All records lost ???
1967March: Broken ankle, 3 months in plaster, ankle permanently blocked, Reeducation:long walks in the Dolomites, Alta Via N°1,
Restart of a "small" activity (Denise dixit)



19682nd operation

1969No alpine activity


1970Aiguille Crochues, Ravanel route 2nd ascent
Aiguille Crochues, Escande/De Galbert route 1rst ascent
Planet, voie Gauci
Calanques
Pierre de Galbert
Pierre de Galbert
Pierre de Galbert



Simone Badier
1971Le Pouce, voie des dalles
Aiguille de Praz Torrent, Seigneur route
Pointe Adolphe Rey, la Saluard
Aiguille du Midi, dièdre Kolmann
Vésubie : 5 routes TD to ED on Corno Stella
Calanques
C.Jaccoux
C.Jaccoux

Pierre de Galbert
Pierre de Galbert


Coco


Simone Badier
1972Aiguille du Peigne, North ridge
Pointe Lachenal, Contamine route
Aiguille de l'M, Leininger route
Aiguille de l'Evêque, SW ridge
Petit Capucin, Gervasutti route
Tour ronde, Bernezat route
Pic de Bure, Desmaison route
Chapelle de la Glière
Paroi des Voutes, Cordier/Jouty route
Archiane, Livanos route
Archiane, voie du Levant
Paroi du Duc, voies des enragés
Jardin du Roy, Deck/Brunet route
Rochers de Leschaux, voie des collégiens
Torre di Brenta, Bruno Detassis route
Crozzon di Brenta, voie des Guides






Pierre de Galbert
Pierre de Galbert

leading

Gilles Bodin
Jean Afanassieff?
Jean Afanassieff
Michel Afanassieff
Jean Afanassieff
R. Corompt 
Gérard Magne?
Gérard Magne?
J.P.Digeon
J.P.Digeon


P.Y. Doré
Jean Hervé Colle





Gérard Magne
Gérard Magne
1973Pointe Adolphe Rey, Gervasutti route
Aiguille des Cosmiques, Leroux route
Aiguille de l'M, Leininger route
Miroir d'Argentine (2 routes)
Glandasse, Leprince-Ringuet route
Gerbier, voie de l'arc de cercle
Gerbier, voie de la double brèche
Gerbier, voie Clément Gauci
Gerbier, voie du Bouclier (fullypegged by Afa and unpegged
by Denise but one U peg God knows why she stated)

Jardin du Roy, voie paroi rouge
Jardin du Roy, NE pillar
Presles, voie des Chrysantèmes
Presles, Nominé route
Verdon, éperon sublime
Jean Afanassieff



Jean Afanassieff
Jean Afanassieff
Jean Afanassieff
Jean Afanassieff
Jean Afanassieff

Gilles Bodin
Gilles Bodin
Pierre de Galbert
Pierre de Galbert
Jean Afanassieff

Jean Pierre Digeon
Jean Pierre Digeon
Pierre-Yves Doré






3 bivouacs
1974Grands Charmoz, voie Cordier
Leschaux, pilier d'angle
Aiguille du Midi, Desmaison route
Bec d'oiseau, Pascal Meyer route
Le Pouce, Kolmann/Mazeaud route
Dalle de l'Amone
Aiguilles crochues, Escande/De Galbert route
Rochers du Midi, Fulton/Heming route
Jardin du roy, dièdre gris
Jardin du roy, fissure inférieure
Verdon, pilier des écureuils
Jean Afanassieff
Jean Afanassieff
Jean Afanassieff
Michel Afanassieff
Michel Afanassieff
Michel Afanassieff

Michel Afanassieff
Gilles Bodin
Jean Afanassieff
Michel Afanassieff






J.P. Digeon
1975Grand capucin, voie des Suisses
Chandelle du Tacul, Bonatti route
Pic du midi d'Ossau, directe pointe Jean santé
Deux-sœurs, voie du toit
Presles, dièdre W grande Cournouse
Tourniol, voie du grand dièdre
Teillon, voie de l'Y
Teillon, voie du dièdre
Spigolo Giallo
Cima Picola
Cima Picolissima, Cassin route
Jean Afanassieff?
Jean Afanassieff?
Jean Afanassieff
Jean Afanassieff?
Jean Afanassieff?
Jean Afanassieff?
Jean Afanassieff?
Jean Afanassieff?
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal

1976Aiguille du Minaret, Rebuffat route
Aiguille de la Brenva, Rebuffat/Deudon route
Aiguille de Roc, Cordier pillar
Aiguille du Fou, Harlin/Frost route
Le Pouce,voie Nominé
Praz Torrent, Ravanel route
Toit de Sarre
Rochers du Midi, Coupé route
Paroi de la vierge, 1rst ascent De Galbert route
Presles, voie du souvenir
Presles, voie de la grotte
Presles, voie des 2 aigles
Presles, voie Conod Cler
Presles, voie de l'école buissonnière
Presles, voie du dièdre oublié
Presles, pilier de Chaorance
Grand Manti, voie Seigneur
La Brosse, voie Pellebrosse
Verdon, voie ULA
Verdon, voie de la Demande
Paroi rouge, voie Guy Héran
Morocco: Walkingin the Ait Bouhli, Bou Gemenez, Ait Chitachen,
2x4000 m summits, Rgat andMgoun,

Jean Afanassieff ?
Jean Afanassieff ?
Jean Afanassieff 
Jean Afanassieff 
Jean Afanassieff ?
Jean Afanassieff ?
Jean Afanassieff 
Jean Afanassieff ?
Pierre de Galbert
Pierre de Galbert
Pierre de Galbert
Pierre de Galbert
Pierre de Galbert
Pierre de Galbert
Pierre de Galbert
Pierre de Galbert
Pierre de Galbert?
Pierre de Galbert?
Michel Afanassieff
Michel Afanassieff
Michel Afanassieff

    
1977Aiguille de Lépiney, voie Cordier
Aiguille du Moine, voie Feutren
Aiguille du Peigne, voie Devouassoux/Mollier
Charlanon
Perron, voie Ravanel
Gerbier, voie des Chambériens
Gerbier, voie des Tichodromes
Presles, voie de l'olivier
Presles, voie des bouffons
Presles, voie de la conque
Presles, voie des jardins
Rocher St Michel, voie du photographe
Verdon, luna bong
le triomphe d'Eros
les tuyaux d'orgue
le Péril rouge
l'Extemporanée
Bertagne, pilier
Bertagne, la directe
Bertagne, le jardin
Cima ovest, Brandler/Hasse route
Cima Grande, Cassin route
Tofana di Rozes, voi Appolonio/Constantini
Cima de la Madone, spigolo el velo
Passo di Balle, spigolo del vecchio
Canali, Hermann Buhl route
Civetta, dièdre Philipp Flamm
Great Britain - Wales with a group of French climbers, 
Jean Afanassieff, Claude Deck, EricVola, Patrick Cordier (Vember, 
Shrike, Vector, Cenotaph corner, Cemetery gates,Ivy Scepulcre etc…)
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Jean Afanassieff 
Jean Afanassieff 
Jean Afanassieff 
Jean Afanassieff 
Jean Afanassieff 
Jean Afanassieff 
Jean Afanassieff 

 1978Mont blanc, normal route
Aiguille des grands Charmoz, voie Coquegniot
Petit Dru, directe américaine
Aiguille Crochues, Bron route
Presles, voie Cordier
Presles, voie du vol au vent
Presles, voie du gag
Jardin du roy, voie Ulysse
Jardin du roy, voie Kicoupe
Jardin du roy, voie Télémaque
Jardin du roy, voie Kitouche
Jardin du roy, voie des Suisses
Combe Laval voie de la Pantalonnade
Combe Laval 1rst ascent
Verdon, Nécromicon
Verdon, Dingomaniaque
Verdon, Roumagnou
Verdon, Mou du Miaou
Verdon, Mouton soult
Verdon, l'Oursinade
Campanile Basso, voie Preuss
Crozzon di Brenta, voie des français
Maroc, Aoui, pilier des Ihansalènes
Maroc, Taghia, voie Oujda
Maroc, Taghia, voie Ta Oujda

Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal

Jean Afanassieff
Jean Afanassieff
 Simon Figelson





















Eric Vola
Eric Vola
Eric Vola
 1979 Pointe Lachenal, Harold & Maude 1rst ascent
Aiguille du Peigne, Reppelin route
Mont blanc du Tacul, Martinetti/Mollier pillar
Rocher des fiz, le Marteau, Berruex route
Bargy, voie Bernard Amy
Presles, voie Nils
Presles, voie de l'As
Presles, voie Kilukru
Presles, voie Hafniouf
Combe Laval, voie de la pluie
Glandasse, voie de la Pelle
Verdon, Pichenibulle
Verdon, Caca boudin
Verdon, Mangoustine scatophage
Verdon, Gueule d'amour
Fanis, Scotoni/Lacedelli route
Sella, Vinatzer route
Pordoï, left pillar
Pic Chiavez, Michaeluzzi route
Spain, Penon de Ifach, Tozal delLevante, Puig Campana,
Sierra de Lleva, Cartagena
Jean Afanassieff
Jean Afanassieff
Jean Afanassieff
Jean Afanassieff
Jean Afanassieff











Jean Afanassieff
Jean Afanassieff
Jean Afanassieff
Jean-Hervé Colle


















Simone Badier, EricVola,
Lothar Mauch
 1980Aiguille d'Entrèves
Aiguille Croux, Ottoz route
Aiguille des Cosmiques, Monacchi route
Presles, voie Télébus
Presles, voie Uxgloa
Presles, voie Nosfératus
Presles, voie Mesrine
Presles, voie Filflip
Verdon, E Pericoloso Sporgesi
Piz Badile, Cassin route
Crozzon di Brenta, voie des guides
Torre di Brenta, Detassis dihedral
Romania, Alpes de Transylvanie - 6 TD-ED routes
Spain 5 routes
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
?
Dominique Marchal
 
 1981
Mont Blanc du Tacul, Gervasutti pillar
Pointe Lachenal, voie Marilène
Presles, Bel Interlude
Verdon, Pichenibule sortie directe
Verdon, voie Chanté
Verdon, voie de l'Arabe dément
Verdon, voie Solanut
Verdon, voie Sordidon
Nepal - She organised an expedition to Tamserku - 10 climbers
(summit missed) - 45days walking Everest (6100 m Pumori ridge)

  
 198268 shestops working: her guides will now be fully employed!
Aiguille du Trident, 1rst ascent , voie des fissures directes
Tour Ronde, voie Payot/Mollier
Aiguille du Midi, dièdre Kolmann
Aiguille de Roc, voie des Mousquetaires
Grand paradis, Becco diValsorea, Spigolo Perrego
Verdon, voie Nasiaque
Verdon, voie Patipulaire
Verdon, voie Mort à Venise
Verdon, voie Frime et Châtiments
Verdon, voie des Barjots
Verdon, voie Footcroute
Verdon, voie Fenrir
Verdon, voie Rêve de fer
Verdon, voie Toujours plus près
Presles 8 routes
Clapis 3 ED
Buoux 13 routes
Buis les baronies 2 routes
Romania, Alpes de Transylvanie et Bicaz 5 TD-ED
Spain, Terradets, Villa verde
Spain, Terradets, Smoking
Spain, Terradets, C.A.D.E
Spain, Mallos de Riglos, Carnavalada
Spain, Mallos de Riglos, voie Mosquito
Spain,  Mallos deRiglos, voie Rabana
Morocco, The Chibania 1rst ascent
Morocco, Todra,1rst ascent, voie du couchant
 
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Jean Afanassieff, Jean Fabre















Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Jean Fabre
Jean Fabre

 
 1983Gugliermina, voie Gervasutti/Boccalate (Denise is 69)
Aiguille dorées, Trident au Trient voie suisse
Aiguille du Midi, voie Demaesmaker
Aiguille du Moine, voie Contamine
Aiguille du Peigne, Le Ticket
Aiguille du Peigne, Le rond, le carré, la lune
Aiguille de Roc, voie du Marchand de sable
Aiguille de Roc, voieChildren of the moon
Salève, West face
Presles, Topomaniaque
Presles, voie des brumes visqueuses
Presles, voie etcetera
Verdon, l'ange en décomposition
Verdon, Rêve de fer
Verdon, Chatilla
Verdon, Ouacon
Verdon, Mégafoot
Verdon, Gaffe dans le dos
Verdon, Dur en dalles
Salvan, voie Eole and other Remy brothers routes
Grimsell, voie des pieds et des mains
Grimsell, voie Eureka
Grimsell, voie Septomania
Grimsell, voie de Quartz
Grimsell, voie Métal hurlant
Bulgaria - Malovitza, 5 voies TD/TD+, Wratza, 5 voies TD/ED
Mali, Hombori, Hombori Gonfo
Mali, Wanderdu, voie des cinéastes 
Mali, Wanderdu, voie Malotondo, 1rst ascent
Mali, Wangel Deblidu
Mali, Suri Tondo, face sud
Chablais, Bioux & Calanques many routes
Mont Chauffé North face many routes
Jean Fabre, Guy Abert
Vincent Couttet?
Vincent Couttet?
Vincent Couttet?
Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet

Eric Decamp



Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal



Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet

Vincent Couttet

Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet
 

























SimoneBadier, Lothar Mauch,
Jean-Pierre Leininger, Eric Vola

 1984Piola routes at Aiguille de Blaitière, Aiguille de Roc, Aiguille des Nantillons,
Tour rouge, Aiguille du Peigne, Mer de glace (voie Georges)
Corma de Machaby - 6 routes
Chablais, Aspic, été indien, Flavie etc...
Briançonnais - 6 routes TD-ED
Tête d'Aval, voie Desmaison
Presles 12 routes
Caroux 28 voies 
Calanques - 10 routes
Clapis
Tête de chien - 6 routes
Finale - 20 routes
Grimsell - 4 Remy brothers routes
Népal - She organises a trek outside known paths N of Gorka
andAnnapurnas
Val d'Orco - 3 routes
Pointe Mroz, sigolo Grassi
Spain, Carthagena 15 routes

Vincent Couttet
Dominique Marchal
 

Vincent Couttet









Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet
Dominique Marchal
70 years, record year with
over 
100 TD and + routes
Simone Badier
Simone Badier
Claude Franc
Claude Franc

Claude Franc with EricVola, Tom Hubbard
Claude Franc
Claude Franc
Simone Badier
Simone Badier

Simone Badier
Simone Badier
Simone Badier
 1985Aiguille d'Argentière 4 routes on the Plateau
Barberine, dalles
Vuardes, voie Costa
Louis Philippe, Seigneur route
Barberine, 8 pitches
Valais, voie du barrage
Aiguille de Blaitière, Margareth Thatcher
Aiguille de Roc, marchand de sable
Clocher du Tacul, pilier rouge, Boivin route
Vuardes, vestiges de l'oubli
Val d'Orco 8 routes
Corma de Machaby - 5 routes
Clapis - 3 routes
Salvan - 3 routes
Vercors ( 16 routes)
Sud de la France - 50 routes
 
Gilles Bodin
Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet

Dominique Marchal



Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet
 





Bernard Pégourié

Bernard Pégourié
Bernard Pégourié
Bernard Pégourié
Bernard Pégourié



Claude Franc
 1986Very active but Denise lost her list of ascents!
Piola routes Mont Blanc, Vercors, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, missed
attempt on the Brouillard pillar with Jean Fabre
Algeria 3 weeks od discovery in Immidir
 


J.L.Bernezat
 
 1987Aiguille du Peigne 2 Piola routes
Aiguille du Midi, voie Rébuffat
Aiguille du Peigne, voie Passe Mongol
Aiguille du Peigne, voie Lépidoptère
Aiguille du Peigne, arête des minettes
La chapelle de la Glière
Aiguille des Nantillons 2 Piola routes
Aiguille de Roc, marchand de sable
Chablais, voie Butterfly
Paroi d'Aiglin 3 big routes
Leysin - 4 routes (Sphinx)
Bayer, songe des cronos
Bramois (dangerous route)
Cornettes de bise, Butterfly
Pissevache, pilier central
Sanetch - 3 Remy brothers routes
Corma de Machaby - several routes
 

Dominique Marchal
Dominique Marchal







Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet
Dominique Marchal
Vincent Couttet
Vincent Couttet
 
Jean-Pierre Vincent


Jean-Pierre Vincent
Jean Zalio

Simone Badier


Simone Badier




Simone Badier
Jean Zalio
 1988Aiguille des ciseaux, voie Troussier
Aiguille des Nantillons, Bienvenue au Georges V
Aiguille des ciseaux, voie Troussier
Aiguille du Trident, voie Lépiney
Cosmiques, voie Leroux
Petit Bargy, voie Prévent (4 routes)
Petit Bargy, voie des dalles
Barberine, voyage au bout des combes
Vercors, Calanques, Sud de la France many routes all year round
Sanesch, les zéros sont fatigués (4 Rémy brothers routes)
Corma de Machaby 6 routes
  




Bernard Pégourié
Bernard Pégourié
Bernard Pégourié
 In Septembre, Denise had a car crash and could not climb again.
Still she did the great N/S complete Sahara traverse with
Jean-Louis Bernezat - November 1988 - February 1989: a first 
of 3000 km on camels
  
    

Denise also climbed with Michel Bordet who took care of her during her last 3 years, becoming her private secretary. There has been also an Austrian guide and many friends from Paris such as Grand Pierre Mazeaud (Pierre Mazeaud's uncle), Alain Vincent, Michel Brébant, J.C.Chauvin, Bernard Magne, Michel Populaire, M. Boulvard, Robert Paragot, Edith Moreau, Bob Xueref, Lucien Georges (Exo), Benoit & Vincent Renard, Claude Deck and his pal Brunet, Robert Thérond (Cabri's brother)


Unnamed Image


Unnamed Image
2000 Denise La Tirelire (photo Pégourié)
Unnamed Image
Friends of Denise at the Chamonix ceremony (Simone Badier, Dodo, Pierre-Yves Doré, Anne-Marie Lochu, old Ma Moreau, Eric Vola, Jacques Alary, Aimé & Nadine Couttet, Jean-Hervé Colle and more)





























Unnamed Image
Gilles Bodin, Lafleur (Pierre Lesueur) and Jean-Hervé Colle at the memorial party, Esther, Simone and Aimé in the background

Unnamed Image
Aimé Couttet, poet and Denise close friend










Images

Unnamed Image

Comments


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Viewing: 1-7 of 7    

PAROFESA damn fine

PAROFES

Voted 10/10

Peace of Historic investigation you put up here my friend.
I never even heard of her until 40 minutes ago, and she did so much, she climbed so much....wow;...
Perfect job, flawless.
All the best
Paulo
Posted Dec 23, 2013 11:34 am

markhallamI'll second that...

markhallam

Voted 10/10

This has really come out really well Eric and is a fine memorial to an extraordinary lady. Parofes is quite right.
Very best wishes of the season
Mark
Posted Dec 23, 2013 2:41 pm

ericvolaDamn fine

ericvola

Hasn't voted

Thank you both. I thought I owed something of the kind to Denise whom I first met back in 1961: seeing me soaked through in a Chamonix camping site - I had no tent, just a piece of canvas to protect me from the rain. Those were days when most climbers were broke and as my friend Georges Livanos used to say: "pegs were not sold by the kilo on the Canebière" (the most famous avenue in Marseille going down to the old harbour) - she invited me at her chalet "The Moneybox". 45 years later it was my turn to invite her to come and live in an even smaller chalet, "The Doll" which I fitted for her handicap and which had the advantage to be near a main Chamonix street and easily accessible, unlike "The Moneybox". Unfortunately her stay did not last long enough as she had to spend much time in hospitals which she hated. But I wonder if that kind of story can still interest much the younger generations of climbers. Still she had the spirit of a "warrior" which the best climbers have whatever generation they belong to.
Posted Dec 23, 2013 4:58 pm

alpineairWell done!

alpineair

Voted 9/10

Really enjoyed reading this. Confirms my belief that it is never too late to have a happy childhood.
Posted Jan 22, 2014 9:21 am

Sarah SimonThank you for sharing

Sarah Simon

Voted 10/10

This great story about an amazing alpinist! Well researched, well written. -Sarah
Posted Jan 25, 2014 6:12 pm

ericvolaWell done and thank you

ericvola

Hasn't voted

Glad you enjoyed it. I did not have much to research as Denise was my friend for 45 years and I had to dispose of her personal belongings which she left in the small chalet I let her when she could not live any longer in hers. It is called "the doll" and is a much reduced copy of her "moneybox" so she felt at home. Her memory will always be with me.
Posted Jan 26, 2014 1:51 am

Bob BurdBrilliant

Bob Burd

Voted 10/10

Best 45 minutes I'll spend this week. Thanks for sharing.
Posted Feb 7, 2014 3:01 pm

Viewing: 1-7 of 7