French Gendarmes from Chamonix Scale Indian Himalayas
Six instructors of The French Gendarmerie Ski and Mountaineering Training Centre from Chamonix, France, in the Indian Himalayas.
New Delhi, 14 October 2018
Mountain rescue is one of the areas being developed under the intense Indo-French cooperation on homeland and civilian security.
This special technical cooperation was financed by the Security and Defence Cooperation Division (DCSD) of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, and steered by the Homeland Security Department of the Embassy of France in New Delhi. The two partners involved in this cooperation were the National Ski and Mountaineering Training Centre of the French Gendarmerie (CNISAG) in Chamonix from the French side, and from the Indian side, the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM), based in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand, in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Established in 2012, this cooperation consists of exchanges between the two units, high-altitude mountain and mountaineering experts. Thus, each year, CNISAG hosts NIM instructors in Chamonix for advanced courses and CNISAG gendarmes come in turn to India to participate in the training modules organised by NIM in Uttarkashi.
The aim of this cooperation is to facilitate exchanges of techniques and best practices. It also enables French gendarmes to gain training in very high altitudes.
In 2018 it was decided that a special, unprecedented action would be organised to celebrate the 30th anniversary of CNISAG and the sixty years of the High Altitude Mountain Gendarmerie Squad (PGHM) of Chamonix.
In collaboration with their Indian partners, the plan for a joint expedition on the slopes of Mount Jaonli, the summit of the Himalayas on the Indian side standing at 6632 feet at its peak, was drawn up. Approved by the DCSD, this plan was scheduled for 17th September to 17th October.
Major Frédéric Amardeil, adjutants Amyot Tripard, Renaud Chatain, Luc Didelle, Vérane Bonneuil and Squadron Sergeant Major Vincent Caty – all instructors at CNISAG and experienced mountaineers – thus reached India on 16th September. After a brief halt in New Delhi, where they met the Ambassador of France, H.E. Alexandre Ziegler, and presented their mission at the French School in the capital, the gendarmes joined their Indian counterparts in NIM, Uttarkashi, in North India.
Accompanied by the Deputy Homeland Security Attaché till base camp, the Indo-French team started its approach trek on 21st September. This first phase was completed in a little over three days under tough conditions due to torrential rain. Thereafter, the team successively undertook acclimatization and reconnaissance treks towards intermediate camps at higher altitudes with the aim of undertaking the final climb till Jaonli peak in the first week of October. High-altitude weather conditions, particularly heavy snowfall, seriously jeopardizing the expedition’s safety, the peak could not be reached. Nonetheless, the joint team managed to open a never-before-used technical route for the summit on one of the pillars on the West face of Jaonli. They also climbed Draupadi Ka Danda, Jaonli’s neighbouring peak culminating at 5670 metres.
Back in New Delhi on 14th October, the gendarmes met the French School students again for a follow-up interaction to share their memories of this great adventure.