Chamonix based guides Rémy Lécluse, Ludovic Challéat and Fabrice Priez were typical of alpinists who had been drawn to the valley by their passion for the mountains. Open, keen to share their passion with others and with a zest for adventure that went far beyond the abrubt mountains that dominate this small French alpine town. Talking with friends it is amazing just how many people had climbed or skied with one of them and how big a hole this will leave both in their families and in the mountain community.
Rémy Lécluse was born in Paris but had made his home in Servoz. Always smiling and happy to talk Rémy was best known for his exploits on skis with 65 “firsts” and over 500 extreme ski descents. Rémy was not afraid to share this passion with clients teaching his “safe” double pole plant technique while standing on a 50 degree slope. He’d even guided clients on first descents. Rémy had found his perfect ski partner in American hero Glen Plake and they had shared many adventures, including Manaslu, together. He was known to my son as “the man who skied on the moon” and was happy to answer questions from a timid 7 year old about this feat. Rémy encapsulated the current zeitgeist by refusing helicopter assistance on “ethical and sporting grounds”. He is survived by his wife and three children from previous relationships.
Ludovic Challéat, an engineer from Lyon, married with two children was a Himalayan specialist alternating between high altitude climbs and expeditions with clients. He already had seven 8000m climbs to his name including Everest without oxygen. As the late Anatoli Boukreev said, climbing at altitude without oxygen gives you a margin when leading groups with clients in case of problems. Ludovic already knew Manaslu and he was on course to be the first Frenchman to complete all 14 8000m summits although he once said “I don’t climb to tick boxes, as long as I enjoy it I will carry on”. Prudent, he had given up an Everest summit due to “traffic jams” close to the summit which would have made the timing risky.
Fabrice Priez was assisting Ludovic Challéat team in an unpaid capacity. He was chief instructor with the UCPA in Chamonix. Originally from the Grenoble area in the Isere this ex-rugbyman had a long career as a instructor behind him. He’d worked for the ENSA as a ski and climbing teacher and had been with the UCPA for a decade. Manaslu was his 5th 8000m. summit. He was married with a 2 year old.
Grégory Costa was part of Rémy Lécluse and Glen Plake’s team. A ski instructor with the ESF in Courchevel 1850 he was also a regular on the big descents of Chamonix. 28 years old, he specialized in off piste skiing with his clients. Neither married nor a father his sole passion was skiing and he knew the Trois Vallees like the back of his hand.
Catherine Ricard worked in the Paris area for Massey Ferguson in the HR department. Passionate about the Himalayas and Nepal she worked with Ludovic Challéat and Philippe Bos (also from the Paris area who perished with Catherine) on number of cooperation and aid projects with the country. Discreet her passion for the region and for high altitude climbing and skiing was almost unknown by her colleagues. She had already taken part in a number of expeditions in the Himalayas including an attempt on Everest. Catherine lived alone.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=z3ydPbZyfy4 - Ludovic Challéat
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yP0Q6-k02Po - Grégory Costa, Rémy Lécluse and Glen Plake