The first Frenchman who climbed Everest
Pierre Mazeaud was born on 24th of August, 1929 in Lyon, in France. He was studying law in Pariz and had a doctorate in law from the University of Paris. Later he became a professor on the univesity. From 1961 to 1964, he was a member of the judiciary. In the 1973 he got subordinate governmental positions regarding sports. In 1976, he became a counsellor in the Conseil d'État, a position from which he retired in 1995. In February 2004, he was appointed president of the Constitutional Council of France by president Jacques Chirac, till February 2007. He had been a member of the council since February 1998. He is a politician and it is interesting how he found free time for climbing. In his famous book Montagne pour un homme nu (A mountain for a naked human) he described how he was driving thousand times from Pariz to Chamonix and all over the Alps for climbing. In the late hours of Friday he went from Pariz, he started climbing in Chamonix till Sunday evening and then he drove back to Pariz because he had a job on Monday morning.
His first visit of mountains was during the holidays in Dauphine group and some ascents with his father in the mountains around the city of Grenoble. In 1947 he was for the first time on Mont Blanc. He becamse addicted with the book of the famous alpinists like Anderl Heckmair, Emilio Comici, Giusto Gervasutti, Pierre Allain… He became climbing in the climbing area Fontainebleau, around 50 kilometres from Pariz. Climbing and preparing for big climbs in this are became his habit. In the year 1949 he and some of the climbing friends (in this group was also famous Gaston Rebuffat) survived a tragical storm in Mont Blanc group. Later he heard that some climbers died on this day. In his book he said that after this tragic event he almost stopped climbing. But in the next year he was back in the mountains and made some easy climbs and also a crossing of Mont Blanc. He made a military service in the mountains. During these years in army he made also some nice ascents.
In the year 1956 he climbed the north face of Aiguille du Plan and northeast face of Piz Badile. In the next year also the east face of Grand Capucin, south ridge of Aiguille Noire de Peuterey and crossing of Aiguilles du Diable. He admired the masterpieces of Riccardo Cassin and Walter Bonatti. Later both of them became his friends. His uncle was also well known climber and he found out a climbing area of Saussois. Pierre visited this place often and there he met with Jean Couzy, Rene Desmaison and some other good climbers. In this time he climbed Brenva spur in east face of Mont Blanc and later he went to the Dolomites. First visit in Dolomites and he went directly in Tre Cime di Lavaredo. In this trip he climbed the famous pillar Spigolo Giallo, Comici-Dimai in the highest Cima. In the next days he climbed with Desmasion in West Cima and in seven hours they made a repetition of Cassin`s route in north face. He said that Rene Desmaison taught him a lot of things. In the year 1958 he made an acquaintance with his greatest friend Pierre Kohlman.
In the year 1959 he made one of his greatest climbs. Under leadership of Desmaison and two other climbers they climbed a new and famous French route in the mighty north face of West Cima. They named this route after the recently killed climber Jean Couzy. This was one of the biggest competition in the history of Alpine climbing. In the competition for the new route in this face were also the Swiss and Italian climbers. Now some more words about this climb. They came to Misurina and they heart that there was already a competition between two Swiss climbers and between many italian climbers. There were all the famous climbers from Cortina like Lacedelli, Franceschi, Zardini and many other good climbers. They came below the face and started climbing. He and Rene climbed first. Their two friends were handing them gear and food over the long ropes that Pierre and Rene had to pull it in the height. In the next day they made exchange and the other two were climbing. Because of the bad weather they almost stopped climbing but because of the convincing of the other climbers and people in Misurina and Cortina. Some days later when the weather became better they started climbing again. They decided that Rene and Pierre climb first and after they came below the big roof which is the hardest part of the route the other two will start climbing. In the hard days of climbing they almost ran out of water. From the Demuth`s pillar they were also filmed by the famous Gino Solda who first climbed the south pillar of Marmolada. After the long days they won. The Couzy`s route, the French diretissima in north face was climbed. It is important to mention that Desmasion climbed almost the whole face in the leading.
In the next two years he climbed many hard route in the face of Les Drus, Aiguille du Midi, Aiguille de Peigne, Grand Charmoz, Tre Cime di Lavaredo and many other hard faces. In 1961 he tried to climb the famous Cassin`s route in Piz Badile in Winter but he was not successful because of very bad conditions. He climbed with Kohlman the north couloir between Cengalo and Piz Badile.
Now it is turn on the most tragical event in his career. The attempt in the Central Pillar of Frêney in the powerful south face of Mont Blanc. He, Kohlman, Guillau, Vieill and three Italian climbers, the famous Bonatti, Oggioni and Gallieni met below the face and recognized that they had the same plans. They decided to climb together. In this tragical climb they were caught in the pillar for 7 days (they were four nights on the same place in the face). After the long and fearful descend from the pillar only Mazeaud, Bonatti and Gallieni survived.
After this tragical event he came together with feelings and in those hard times he met some of the most famous alpinists. Many of them he met in the festival in Trento. Some years later he climbed a new route in the east face of Petit Jorasses. His climbing partner was Walter Bonatti. In these years he climbed many new routes and tried to climb also the first Winter ascent over the Walker spur in Grandes Jorasses but Bonatti and his climbing partner was quicker. He was happy for Bonatti and hot angry because Bonatti climbed his big wish. Later he climbed Walker spur with Roberto Sorgato. They cimb it in 12 hours. For that time extremly fast. On the same day was in the face also Walter Bonatti who climbed a new route in north face that comes on the summit of Pointe Whymper.
The next big story is climbing in the mighty north face of Civetta where he, Roberto Sorgato and Ignazi Piussi climbed new route. They hardly survived a bad storm and a big rockfall. Again very hard days in the face.
In the year 1978 he became the first Frenchman who climbed on the highest mountain, Mount Everest. In this expedition 15 members in three days climbed on the summit. I think one of the most successful expeditions.
Pierre Mazeaud is one of the greatest alpinists of all time. With good and careful training he climbed some of the hardest problems in faces in snowless and Winter conditions. If you want to know Mazeaud better I suggest you to read his famous book Montagne pour un homme nu where he so nicely and lovely describes his nice and tragical adventures in the mountains that he loves them so much.