Titoune Bouchard [Photo] Giulio Malfer

Marie-Odile Meunier "Titoune" Bouchard

Posted on: June 1, 2003


I grew up in a large family at Premier de Cordee ("First on the Rope"), my parents' climbing lodge in Chamonix. I was always around climbers; my first memory of climbing goes back to Christmas Day, 1957, and the disastrous rescue attempts of the young Parisians Vincedon and Henry on Mont Blanc. I spent a lot of time at the home of Gaston Rebuffat, our next-door neighbor, hanging out with his son. As a young girl, I would listen to stories from guests and their guides and watch people prepare their gear, study the mountains, the maps, the weather .... But trying to find climbers through the telescope was not enough. One day I knew I would need to go up there for myself.

I climbed hard in the Alps from 1968 to 1976 with Nicolas Jaeger and Lothar Mauch. In 1977 I met John Bouchard in Peru, and we made the first ascent of the south face of Chacraraju Oeste. On that expedition, all of us—from Bernard Prud'homme (6'4") to me (5'3")—had the same gear. Though top-of-the-line, it was heavy and cumbersome. Something had to change. John and I started the climbing company Wild Things as a result.

Climbing has taught me to set goals, avoid mistakes, take calculated risks, adapt to changes, make the right decisions, and take care of myself so I can take care of my partner. When I wonder what I'm doing up there, cold, exhausted and terrified, I remember the words of Winston Churchill: "When you are going through hell, keep going." (He must have been a climber.) I've learned to prepare my mind, body and soul (yoga!), enjoy my adventures and return home to share the stories with family and friends. This is the best part, one I still enjoy every day.

Titoune Meunier Bouchard: curriculum vitae

1964: Normal Route, Kleinkaiser (2216m), Austria, first climb.

1968: One month of ski mountaineering and climbing in Switzerland (during the May 1968 French student revolution). First trip to USA.

1970: Ascents in the French and Swiss Alps: Aiguille du Midi-Aiguille du Plan-Aiguille du Midi, solo traverse (1400m). Papillons Ridge (AD, 600m), Aiguille du Peigne (3192m) (winter conditions).

1971: Ascents in the French Alps: Aiguille Blaitiere (3522m), complete traverse (D-, 1300m). Mount Blanc du Tacul (4248m) to the Aiguille du Gouter (3863m), complete traverse. Moved to USA (Hawaii).

1973: Diedre Nord (TD, 500m), Aiguille des Pelerins (3318m), first forced bivouac (epic).

1974: Tournier Route/North Spur (TD-, 1210m), Les Droites (4000m), France, ascent. Cassin Route (D+, 1000m), Piz Badile (3308m), Switzerland, ascent. Northwest Pillar (D, ca. 900m), Piz Cengalo (3370m), Switzerland, ascent.

1976: Ascents in the French Alps: Cordier Route (ED, 500m), Pic de Roc (3409m); North Face (IV/III, 800m), Les Courtes (3856m); North Face (V/II, 800m), Le Triolet (3870m); Croz Spur (ED 1/2, 1000m), Grandes Jorasses (4208m).

1977: South Face Direct (ED Sup-, 800m), Chacraraju Oeste (6112m), Cordillera Blanca, Peru, first ascent. Southeast Ridge (D, ca. 400m), Pisco (5752m), second (and first female) ascent.

1981: Started the climbing company Wild Things with John Bouchard.

1983: Ascents in Yosemite Valley: Direct North Buttress (V 5.10b A0, 600m), Middle Cathedral; Regular Northwest Face (VI 5.9 A2, 600m), Half Dome.

1984: French Route (ED1 5.9, ca. 2400m), south face, Aconcagua (6962m), first female ascent.

1988: Snake Dike (III 5.7 R, 245m), Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, ascent and first paraglider descent of the formation.

2001: Stolen Chimney (III 5.8 A0, 100m), Ancient Art, Fisher Towers, Utah, ascent. New Hampshire Small Business Exporter of the Year. First round of golf.

To read the full text of this article, DOWNLOAD the digital issue in our app or BUY THE BACK ISSUE in our online store. Or even better, SUBSCRIBE to join our community and get this "coffee-table book masquerading as a magazine" (Lynn Hill) four times per year.