Tribute to Gaston Rebuffat


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Big Wall climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Nov 15, 2007 - 11:27am PT
Saw his ~1960 book used at at Powell's bookstore recently. Crazy the things they did in crappy hiking boots! Gotta go back and buy it...

Social climber
The West
Nov 15, 2007 - 06:15pm PT


Trad climber
berkeley, ca
Nov 15, 2007 - 07:20pm PT

Social climber
Feb 5, 2012 - 12:24am PT
hey there, say, all... just a bump...

say this while trailing through the ol' supertopo...

feel free to share more on this...

another climber that i had never known about...

some nice pics here...

thanks for the post of this, from ?back in 2007, think this was...

*got to go do some work, but wow:
sure look forward to see if more show up here...

god blesss...

Trad climber
Feb 5, 2012 - 01:07am PT
"Action and contemplation - never one without the other."
-Gaston Rebbufat

No doubt!
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Feb 5, 2012 - 01:13am PT
Gaston was a hero to Larry Dalke and me, during our early
days in Eldorado and around Boulder. We admired him, in part
because of the impressive photos. I met Rebuffat in Telluride in
1984, just before his passing, and he seemed serene and strong,
a gentleman truly. Through the years I have come to realize just
how good Rebuffat was as a climber. Because a few of his photos
were posed, some belittled him. He was, in fact, one of the great
master climbers. He also was an outstanding writer. To read
"Starlight and Storm," for example, is to encounter the clearest
writing, very gorgeous straightforward language by one of the
finest mountaineering writers. I recently dug out that book and
read it again, cover to cover. It's always good. It always arouses
what is truly important about climbing and the mountains.

Sport climber
Feb 5, 2012 - 05:07am PT
[Click to View YouTube Video]
"Some mountaineers are proud of having done all their climbs without bivouac. How much they have missed ! And the same applies to those who enjoy only rock climbing, or only the ice climbs, only the ridges or faces. We should refuse none of the thousands and one joys that the mountains offer us at every turn. We should brush nothing aside, set no restrictions. We should experience hunger and thirst, be able to go fast, but also to go slowly and to contemplate."

Just for fun - a quite poetic cartoon:
[Click to View YouTube Video]

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Feb 5, 2012 - 09:39am PT
Had my share of heroes bitd- Bonatti, Buhl and others, Gaston wasn't one of them. I was always blown away at the extaordinarily "posed" nature of every photo in which he appeared.
Jim Clipper

from: forests to tree farms
Feb 5, 2012 - 10:10am PT
I'm sure I'm paraphrasing history to fit my worldview. It seems like climbers from the Victorian Era were predominately from a privileged class. Honor, bravery, propriety, and maybe even taking one for GOD or the team, were valued. I don't know how far that ethos was carried into the 20th century. Still, there was undoubtedly a provincialism in Europe, at least in the early 1900's, that greatly affected many people. Did it ever influence climbing groups, locally, internationally, or even individually? Today, it seems that environmental issues, and diminishing resources are preeminent issues. I hope that the Web, may change that ...

Finally, I haven't seen many photos, nor climbed many places, to really know how posed Rebuffat was. Film, and photography were probably relatively rare when he was making his mark. I wonder how much of his image was influenced by others. Still, there is definitely some art in climbing that chimney.

2 cents from a'merican.

Trad climber
Feb 5, 2012 - 12:11pm PT
Got a whole library of Rebuffat books that I picked up at a bookshop in Ohio. All first editions, paid $5 each. They didn't know what they had.

Starlight and Storm (one of my favorites by anyone)
Entre Terre et Ciel (Between Heaven and Earth, in french)
Men and the Matterhorn
On Ice and Snow and Rock
The Mont Blanc Massif: the 100 Finest Routes
Annapurna (not by him, but he's in there)

Terrific books. They express a very poetic view of the climbing life. Well worth the time.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 5, 2012 - 12:13pm PT
More intergalactic Gaston here...
Bob Culp

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
Feb 5, 2012 - 12:29pm PT
It's always hard to compare people. The first two climbing books I bought were Lonely Challenge by Buhl and Starlight and Storm by Rebuffat. Both inspired me in different ways. About his posed pictures - yep, they were. I was particularly intrigued by the one where he is perched on the edge of a rock face with his rope hanging free. As it turns out I guess he climbed up on the other side and traversed around for the picture. When I found myself there one time I thought it would be cool to pose myself in the same place. Backed off.
I was impressed by the fact though that in spite of all that Rebuffat was an excellent alpinist. I did this route on the S Face of the Midi with sticky rubber, friends, etc and thought it excellent - kind of like a moderate in Lumpe Ridge. But with 4 pitons and bendy leather mountain boots? Not so much.
I have done a bunch of climbs he mentions in his 100 best routes and was always impressed by the times he posted. Sandbags maybe, but I figure he could do them. As a rule of thumb you could almost double the times he listed.
I particularly like his climb of the N Face of the Dru where he did it in a day and got back to Cham for the Guide's Fete. As he said in his book, it should be pointed out that his companion T. Habron (or some such) was a very fast walker. Right.
Met him one time and he seemed like a very nice guy.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Feb 5, 2012 - 12:39pm PT
Perhaps it is time for a 2nd ascent of the G Rubberfat Overhang? All you need is a blizzard and road closure.

Feb 5, 2012 - 02:01pm PT
I found Rebuffat's On Ice and Rock and Snow at the Sac State library while doing a report on mountaineering in 8th grade. There was something about his writing style and the beautiful photos of the Mont Blanc massif that got my attention and I always wanted to visit Chamonix and become an alpinist after that. Later on, I discovered The Mont Blanc Massif: The 100 Finest Routes, which is still my favorite climbing book. Somehow, he manages to hit the nail on the head with regard to what is enjoyable and interesting about climbing, at least for me.

I finally managed to visit Chamonix for the first time when I was 31. I had very high expectations but they were completely exceeded. Really a great place and no wonder that it inspired him.

Disappointed to learn that some of the photos were posed but he's still the man as far as I'm concerned.

Sport climber
Feb 5, 2012 - 02:12pm PT
Rebuffat was an excellent climber and an excellent author and he knew both how to inspire and how to become famous. The posing was part of the ability to inspire and become famous. I can see why that can disappoint. To me it makes no difference as long as making other people suffer was no part of it.

The Mont Blanc guide is part of a series of guides (Alpes, Dolomites) where Rebuffat was in part author, in part editor.

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Feb 5, 2012 - 02:31pm PT
I had the privelege of hearing Rebuffat narrate his film Starlight and Storm back in 1965; that was at South High School in Denver. The audience was very appreciative, but in one instance, impolite. There is a sequence in the film of Gaston driving a piton on the NW face of the Piz Badile, clipping in to it, then using the thing as a handhold (French Free, anyone?), and then standing on it for a foothold. The audience laughed; Rebuffat was perplexed and didn't understand what was funny.

I always thought Rebuffat was bigger than life due to his elegant photographs. Yes they were posed, but as Bob implied earlier in this thread, it took some balls to get into the posed positions. Almost everyone in Boulder was trying to emulate Gaston back in the very early 1960's, vis a vis photograpic posing.

A "P.S." added as an edit: I believe that Jan accompanied me that evening, and it was part of the inspiration for the subsequent Yosemite trip that Summer?

Sport climber
Feb 5, 2012 - 02:45pm PT
In Scandinavia standing on the bolts is a tradition. LOL... Here represented by philosophy professor Arne Nęss.


Social climber
Feb 5, 2012 - 06:18pm PT
hey there say, all...

thanks for all the great shares here added on to the bump...

one note:
obviously i can see why climbers would not take to the 'posed pics'
(even as rodeo folks, surfer, and any etcs, would as to seeing 'untruths)
but those that are artist or photographers WOULD take to seeing the artist value of the beauty of the scenery, for inspiration to either enjoy these same "let's do it"s, or, for the "art of the moment at hand" that they inspire the heart to SEE, when one can not DO IT themselves--if, of course--there was qualifying SUBSTANCE that went with those poses, from "said poser"...

art, and setting up scenes, is an art all its own, and in some ways
does not match climbing...
*as, could be dangerous outcome, i know, if someone tried to do poses to match his... (though i saw the story note, posted here, as to how one of you all, easily SAW this, after a climb, and BACKED off from doing so)....

the honorable note here as to him, as to the posed pics is this:
folks DO see-and-know that he was a skilled alpinist, and that is what makes the full picture of the man... he knew what he was doing...

seems from all these shares, he was both skilled climber,
with the ol' "hidden artist" inside, just longing to freely express this ART in his way,from his heart, as to the appeal-to-the-eye, that he had for doing such with...
(and perhaps as someone said here, for to sell photos, too, but then, that is what artist and photographers, do as well) :)

very interesing part of history...

thank you all so very much! :)
never would have seen or learned any of this...
thanks again! :)
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Feb 5, 2012 - 08:24pm PT
Hey Dononni- all the shots are posed these days, people are followed around by camera crews.

Red shirts- nobody would wear them except that their photographer says they have to.

Perhaps the posed nature of the Gaston shots aren't so important anymore?

He was the cool head in the Annapurna book, and I'll be danged, those posed shots were inspirational when I was a kid.

Dan-O had that posed flag shot at the Needles, it was still real, and still cool.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Feb 5, 2012 - 10:04pm PT
Hey Woods, don't recall flamboyant, even arrogant, posed photos from Rebuffat contemporaries like Bonatti. Geez, I even spelled your name correctly.
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