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Lionel Terray

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Lionel Terray

Page Type: Article

Object Title: Lionel Terray

Activities: Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Ice Climbing, Big Wall

 

Page By: Silvia Mazzani

Created/Edited: Apr 17, 2012 / Feb 13, 2013

Object ID: 785897

Hits: 6816 

Page Score: 92.25%  - 38 Votes 

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Lionel Terray (Grenoble 1921–Vercors 1965)

 
On Maurienne during the Alpine War in 1944
Terray during the French Alpine War in 1944
 
A very young Lionel with René Beckert and Louis Lachenal
A very young Lionel (on the right) with Louis Lachenal and Renè Beckert (in the middle)

Terray and his age


In the second post-war period the French mountaineering, which had previously played quite a secondary part, without participating in the run to the conquest of the great North walls and in the roaring Sixth Grade’s epos, really lived one of its best historic moments.
In that age a group of young transalpine alpinists, greatly motivated and free from the rhetoric and nationalism which
had characterized the European mountaineering during the pre-war times, “rode the wave”, realizing important undertakings in the Alps, in Himalaya and Peruvian Cordillera Blanca. Among them Lionel Terray, between 1945 and 1965, year of his premature death, quickly became an outstanding protagonist, bringing great prestige to the French mountaineering. He was one of the greatest alpinists in that age, but not only: as a matter of fact history tells us, through his behavior during some definite events, as Annapurna Expedition, that he also was a true mountain’s hero.

His ideals

 
Lionel Terray - Les Etoiles de Midi (Stars at Noon)
Lionel Terray in Les Etoiles du Midi - The rescue
 
The Conquistadors of the Useless
 


The title of his best-seller “Les conquerants de l’inutile” (“Conquistadors of the useless”), a book published in 1961, still nowadays is one of the most glamorous way to define the mountaineering; notwithstanding had become Alpine Guide, Lionel absolutely maintained that the true mountaineer’s worth is inherent to its gratuitousness: this is the main Terray’s ideal as well explained in his book’s title. As Lionel same wrote, all his life was a long and delicate balance’s competition between his pure youthful ideal and the Alpine Guide’s profession, which got to him the bread.

History and main undertakings

 
Cerro Fitz Roy and Aguja Poincenot
Cerro Fitz Roy - Photo Alberto Rampini 1987
 
Terray during Fitz Roy Expedition in 1952
Fitz Roy expedition
 
During the Eiger Rescue in 1957
Lionel (on the left) with Carlo Mauri during the Eiger Rescue in 1957


Lionel Terray was born of good family on July 25th 1921 in Grenoble, a town situated at the foot of the French Alps, and he was still a child when he started to climb and ski. In the beginning of the II World War Lionel served one’s apprenticeship inside “Jeunesse et Montagne”, where he made friends with Gaston Rebuffat, and he was an active participant in the alpine war against Germany, serving in the “Stéphane Company”. Soon he moved to Chamonix, where he met Louis Lachenal; after the war he became Ski Instructor and one of the best mountaineers and alpine guides in Chamonix, famous for his quick ascents, often roped with Lachenal, of some of the most challenging faces in the Alps, like Walker Spur on Grandes Jorasses, Aiguille Noire de Peuterey South ridge, Pizzo Badile North-East face and Eiger North face.After the unlucky Annapurna’s adventure Rebuffat left the high level’s mountaineering and dedicated himself to the Alpine Guide’s profession and to the climbing’s divulgation, becoming an appreciated mountain’s writer and director, while Lachenal was compelled to leave the mountaineering. Terray on the contrary in the following years achieved some of the most memorable Himalayan and Andean undertakings of that period. In 1957 Terray was one of the main participants in the great attempt to rescue four mountaineers, among them the italian Corti and Longhi, trapped on the Eiger North face. This mission forms the subject of Jack Olsen's book “The Climb Up To Hell”, in which Terray has a particular mention in reason of his bravery and skill.

Cronology

 
Over the sharp summit of Makalu in 1955
His pal Jean Couzy on Makalu

 
Terray on Chacraraju North-East face (Cordillera Blanca)
On Chacraraju North-East face in 1956

 
The Jannu m. 7710
Jannu m.7710

 
Makalu first ascent
Makalu first ascent





1942-1943 Terray makes his first climbs in the Mont Blanc group, often roped with Gaston Rebuffat
1944-1945 Terray takes part in the alpine war against Germany
1946Grandes Jorasses Walker Spur, climbing a new
variant, with Louis Lachenal
1947Eiger North Face with Louis Lachenal
1950 – Terray takes part in Annapurna French Expedition (Nepal) with his friends Louis Lachenal and Gaston Rebuffat; two members are getting to the summit, the first 8000 meters peak ever climbed. During the tragic descent Terray, with the Sherpa Adjiba, had a prominent part to help Lachenal, Rebuffat and Herzog seriously frozen.
1952Fitz Roy 1st ascent with Guido Magnone (2-2-1952); Nevado Huantsan m. 6359 (Cordillera Blanca, Perù);
1954 – During the Makalu recovery expedition he realizes the 1st ascent of Chomo Lonzo m. 7790 (Nepal)
1955Makalu French Expedition (Nepal); Lionel climbs the Makalu m. 8490, the fifth highest summit on earth (15-5-1955), roped with Jean Couzy.
1956 – Cordillera Blanca: Chacraraju Oeste (m. 6112) 1st ascent climbing the extreme North-East face (31-7-1956); this peak was named “the impossible peak” because of its extreme technical difficulties. During the same expedition Terray realizes the Taulliraju (m. 5840) 1st ascent climbing the North face (18-8-1956); this superb peak had not seen anyone else for twenty years
1957 - Terray is one of the main participants in the great attempt to rescue four mountaineers trapped on the Eiger North face.
1959Jannu French Expedition (Nepal); the ascent stops 300 m. before the summit.
1962 - Lionel leads a new expedition to the Jannu m. 7710 (Nepal) and realizes the 1st ascent (29-4-1962) 1964 - Mount Huntington m. 3731 1st ascent (Alaska)

1965 - Terray dies in the Vercors, south of Grenoble, during a rock climb’s accident, on 19 September 1965, with his companion Marc Martinetti. His grave is in Chamonix.

Lionel's spirit of mountaineering

Two small "anecdotes" about him by Ericvola

Of all the great alpinists of this era, Lionel was the nicest, the most generous and the most unselfish one. Here are two small "anecdotes" about him.
First, a tiny one but which happened to me: in 1962, just 20, I went to climb the Walker spur, but as my friends thought my equipmment was too poor for a climb then considered as one of the greatest, they took me to Lionel to borrow some and particularly an "elephant foot" for our bivouac. When I took it back to Lionel it was punctured with a number of holes made by my crampons! But instead of getting angry, he congratulated me for having completed the ascent and offered me a drink.

The 2nd one happened on Annapurna.

After the bivouac in the crevasse they fell into during the descent, when Louis Lachenal his pal, whose frostbitten feet he had massaged all night long, tried to put back his shoes, he couldn't as they were frozen stiff and his feet too swollen. Lionel then gave him his shoes, two sizes larger and put Louis's ones two sizes smaller! Imagine doing that and at around 8000 m high. For Lionel his climbing pals were like brothers and all mountaineers were his pals.

As we say of him in France, Lionel was a 'Seigneur'. The equivalent in English would be: Lionel was the essence of the 'spirit of mountaineering'.

Images


Comments


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TijsEleven days for 800 vertical meters!

Tijs

Voted 10/10

Interesting portrait. That first ascent of Chacraraju was a true demonstration of perseverance. For the last 800 vertical meters, Terray and his six companions (Sennelier, Martin, Souriac, Davaille, Jenny and Gaudin) needed eleven days! They all reached the summit, like you say, on July 31 of 1956. That same year, he had already made first ascents of Humantay in the Cordillera Vilcabamba and Veronica in the Cordillera Urubamba, two seriously difficult peaks, though obviously not as impossible as Chacraraju. He climbed Humantay and Veronica with his good climbing friends Cees Egeler and Tom de Booy, the same two Dutchmen that had already joined him during his first on Nevado Huantsán. They reached that summit July 7, 1952.

Terray returned to Chacraraju in 1962 to climb the even more difficult East Peak. Yet another first.

Cf. Hermann Kiendler, Die Anden — Vom Chimborazo zum Marmolejo — Alle 6000er auf einen Blick, ISBN 978-3-936740-36-3, p. 54 (Chacraraju) and p. 82 (Huantsán).
Posted Apr 17, 2012 3:11 pm

Silvia MazzaniRe: Eleven days for 800 vertical meters!

Silvia Mazzani

Hasn't voted

Thank you for your comment.
Cheers

silvia mazzani
Posted Apr 18, 2012 10:26 am

rggGreat article

rgg

Voted 10/10

... about an amazing man!
Posted Apr 18, 2012 11:18 am

Silvia MazzaniRe: Great article

Silvia Mazzani

Hasn't voted

thanks Rob!
cheers
silvia
Posted Apr 18, 2012 11:33 am

pabloInspire

pablo

Voted 10/10

Super article Silvia. Lionel inspires me the best of mountaineers spirit.
Posted Apr 19, 2012 4:48 am

Silvia MazzaniRe: Inspire

Silvia Mazzani

Hasn't voted

He was really a great person... and not only in reason of his climbs.
Thank you for visiting.

p.s. Sorry but SP rules don't allow attaching other owners' pictures to a page, so i can't attach your picture: if you want only you are allowed to attach Lionel's grave picture to the page.
Posted Apr 19, 2012 1:27 pm

Silvia MazzaniRe: Inspire

Silvia Mazzani

Hasn't voted

Hello Pablo, finally i have found the way to attach pictures submitted by other users, so i'm attaching your picture of Terray's grave to my article.
Hope you like it!
All the best.
silvia
Posted Dec 7, 2012 4:22 pm

ericvolaThe spirit of mountaineering

ericvola

Voted 10/10

Of all the great alpinists of this era, Lionel was the nicest, the most generous and the most unselfish one. Here are two small 'anecdotes' about him.

First, a tiny one but which happened to me: In 1962, just 20, I went to climb the Walker spur but as my friends thought my equipmment was too poor for a climb then considered as one of the greatest, they took me to Lionel to borrow some and particularly an 'elephant foot' for our bivouac. When I took it back to Lionel it was punctured with a number of holes made by my crampons! But instead of getty angry, he congratulated me for having completed the ascent and offered me a drink.

The 2nd one happened on Annapurna.

After the bivouac in the crevasse they fell into during the descent, when Louis Lachenal his pal, whose frostbitten feet he had massaged all night long, tried to put back his shoes, he couldn't as they were frozen stiff and his feet too swollen. Lionel then gave him his shoes, two sizes larger and put Louis's ones two sizes smaller! Imagine doing that and at around 8000 m high. For Lionel his climbing pals were like brothers and all mountaineers were his pals.

As we say of him in France, Lionel was a 'Seigneur'. The equivalent in English would be: Lionel was the essence of the 'spirit of mountaineering'.

Thanks for that article on this great man!
Posted Apr 19, 2012 7:49 am

Silvia MazzaniRe: The spirit of mountaineering

Silvia Mazzani

Hasn't voted

I'm according with you about him! A answer: can i add this two small anecdotes inside the article?
Thanks and best regards.

silvia
Posted Apr 19, 2012 1:17 pm

ericvolaAnecdotes

ericvola

Voted 10/10

Please do.

Eventually if you want I will later send you some more and from one of his best pal, Jean-Louis Bernezat, but using suummitpost mail.

Best regards

Eric
Posted Apr 19, 2012 1:25 pm

Silvia MazzaniRe: Anecdotes

Silvia Mazzani

Hasn't voted

Now i'm going to add this two ones, but if you want i will be happy to receive some more.
Thanks and have a good evening.
silvia
Posted Apr 19, 2012 1:31 pm

hanswInteresting article - and comments!

hansw

Voted 10/10

I enjoyed reading this!

The closest I came to Lionel Terray was to meet the Dutch climber Tom de Booy who also took part in the 1957 Eiger rescue. He claimed that he was the one who came up with the title “Conquistadors of the Useless” for Terray’s book. Seen up to the left on the picture.

Terray


Thanks,
/Hans
Posted Apr 19, 2012 1:38 pm

Silvia MazzaniRe: Interesting article - and comments!

Silvia Mazzani

Hasn't voted

Hi Hans, thank you, i enjoy very much reading all your comments and contributions!
I'm really very happy!
Cheers and a good evening
silvia
Posted Apr 19, 2012 1:49 pm

Antonio GianiGrande...

Antonio Giani

Voted 10/10

e ottimo lavoro Silvia...

Complimenti

Ciao Antonio ((O:
Posted Apr 19, 2012 1:51 pm

Silvia MazzaniRe: Grande...

Silvia Mazzani

Hasn't voted

Grazie Antonio, è stato un lavoro molto "sentito" perchè da sempre ho una grande ammirazione per lui.
un saluto

silvia
Posted Apr 20, 2012 4:28 pm

Silvia MazzaniRe: wow

Silvia Mazzani

Hasn't voted

Thank you very much, but i don't think this is really...7 stars!
My congratulations for all your ancient pictures.
cheers
silvia
Posted Apr 20, 2012 4:34 pm

ericvolaMovies

ericvola

Voted 10/10

Dear Silvia,

you could add some movies about Terray:

the full movie of his 1rst ski descent of Mont Blanc in 1952, quite well filmed for the time (4 or 5 cameramen): http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xi2ml1_la-grande-descente_sport?search_algo=1

The trailer of Gilles Chappaz's movie in memoriam of Lionel (2007) where some of his friends say a few words (all nice) about him: Pierre lesueur, Robert Paragot, Lucien Bérardini, Maurice Herzog, Guido magnone, Jean-Louis Bernezat, Paul Keller, Claude Jaccoux, Pierre Mazeaud,

His 1rst ascent of the Fitz Roy (1952) told by his companion Guido Magnone: http://www.tvmountain.com/video/voyage-expe/6767-fitz-roy-patagonie-lionel-terray-guido-magnone.html

A TV short movie made just after his death in 1965 in memoriam: http://www.tvmountain.com/article/videos-archives-ina/8294-hommage-lionel-terray.html

His ascent of Mount Huntington :http://www.tvmountain.com/article/videos-archives-ina/8276-alaska-mont-huntington-lionel-terray.html

and finally the beginning of another movie made in 1994 showing Lionel as a young child: http://www.ina.fr/economie-et-societe/environnement-et-urbanisme/video/CAC94065611/dossier-lionel-terray-le-conquerant.fr.html

They are in French but the images are still explicit in themselves and at least one can get a feel of the man.

Finally I strongly recommend to anyone who has not seen it 'Les étoiles de midi' (Stars at noon) from Marcel Ichac, one of the best mountain films ever in which Lionel plays the leading part.

All the best
Posted Apr 19, 2012 4:39 pm

Silvia MazzaniRe: Movies

Silvia Mazzani

Hasn't voted

Thank you Eric, now i'm very busy because i'm starting for a climbing's trip to Les Calanques. When i'll come back i will add the movies.
All the best also to you.
silvia
Posted Apr 20, 2012 4:40 pm

Ejnar FjerdingstadGreat Article!

Ejnar Fjerdingstad

Voted 10/10

Terray was one of the heroes of my teenage years, I have several books where he figures large, and appreciate getting more information about him. Sad that he should die at such a young age.

One of my books is about the 1952 climb of Huantsan, which was unusual as he was actually hired as a guide for two Dutch geologists, C.C. Egeler and T. de Booy who wanted to do this first ascent. They wound up becoming great friends, on the climb, which was not without dramatic incidents, as Egeler describes in his book "The Untrodden Andes" (Faber and Faber, London 1954)
Posted Apr 22, 2012 7:17 am

macintoshRe: Great Article!

macintosh

Hasn't voted

My very first serious book about mountaineering was "Cuceritorii inutilului", the romanian version of "Les conquerants de l'inutile". I still have it in my library. Me too I have an very short and insignificant anecdote with Terray familly. When In 1979 I participated at the first exams to become trekking guide, one of my team mates was Nicolas Terray, Lionel's first son.

Posted Apr 25, 2012 2:41 am

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