The First High Mountain Military Guide Instructor

4 mins read

Sergeant Michaël Petitdidier serves as an assistant in the mountain safety unit of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment and now stands as the regiment’s first non-commissioned officer high mountain military guide instructor. This ranks as the top qualification. Despite his quiet and humble nature, his friends from the mountains made sure his achievement didn’t go unnoticed.

Sergeant Michaël Petitdidier skiing down a 50º slope

His persistent and determined friends finally persuaded him to share his accomplishment with the Képi Blanc editorial team. He highlights four of the most unforgettable moments from his extensive preparation for the military guide tests.

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A Dream Turns into Reality

I’ve always dreamt about undertaking grand adventures like the south pillar of the Barre des Écrins or the south face of the Meije, which I’ve admired so often. I used to view these mountains from below, believing climbing them impossible. Yet, relentless training has brought me closer to the goal. Now, I’ve managed to climb them! This effort reminds us of our humanity and how fatigue eventually takes its toll.

The Deadly Aiguille Verte

Qualifying for the military guide instructor training demands a long list of climbs, offering both magnificent and challenging ascents. Climbing the north face of the Green Needle via the Washburn route and skiing down the daunting Whymper couloir from the summit marks an unforgettable phase in a climber’s life where full commitment is essential. Skiing down a 50° slope leaves no margin for error, as life and death hang on the few millimeters of steel anchored in the snow with each turn. Finishing brings a wave of joy and accomplishment, sparking the desire for new, more ambitious projects. What seemed impossible now feels within reach.

The Unpredictable Three Teeth Ridge

Mastering everything is crucial to anticipate all challenges in this demanding setting. The adventure on the Three Teeth Ridge of Pelvoux was filled with unique and emotional experiences. We thought we had made it through and looked forward to celebrating with a good beer at the refuge. After removing our gear at the couloir’s base, setting down our bags, and enjoying a drink while admiring the landscape, a sudden deep noise caught our attention. We turned to see a microwave-sized rock hurtling down the slope, narrowly missing us. That day taught us a valuable lesson. The next day, we chose not to climb but to head down to the valley, heeding the mountain’s warning.

Iceland the Unpredictable

Sharing experiences in the mountains is crucial for a complete adventure, especially true during cold environment expeditions. In Iceland, we used pulkas, arm-powered sleds for transporting food, tents, and survival equipment across the mountains. Normally suited for snow, pulling them over grass and mud, where sliding is harder, significantly increased our effort. Yet, the effort was well worth it, leading to an unforgettable evening with my fellow travelers. Expeditions go beyond mere travel; they offer a timeless break for self-reflection. Iceland, our ten-day playground, provided the perfect setting.


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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for all the good articles I, as a father, am trying to trace, in my imagination, the footsteps of my son. I am guessing he is halfway through his basic training and before he left home he said he would like to get to the Mountains. Who knows maybe he gets to know you! I now have an idea what his journey may be like. Thanks.

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