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Armand Charlet

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The prince of guides

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Armand Charlet
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Armand Charlet, known for his talent in glacial terrain, was also an unparalleled rock specialist. Born in Argentière on the 9th of February 1900, he is considered as the greatest guide of his generation, with over 3000 ascents. The Aiguilles Rouges - right above his home - are a fantastic playground where he trains often with his brother Georges, another exceptional guide. The prodigious rapidness of Armand, his ease with every itinerary, his perfect knowledge of the terrain, allowed him to succeed in the majority of his greatest premières in only one day.

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He will accomplish some of his greatest ascents outside his professional activity, often with his friend Camille Devouassoux. In 1928, he throws himself in a precursory adventure for an alpinist of that time: the Verte through the Nant Blanc side of the aiguille Sans Nom. Very long, because it starts under the col des Drus, it presents very high glacial and rock difficulties. Here, Armand will confess to have reached his limits. Camille “Pica” used to tell the famous anecdote where Armand walks on his head, with his crampons on, to bail out.

The great Argentière guide summits the Aiguille Verte around 100 times, by 14 different itineraries, including 7 new ones. Apart from this summit, among his best ascents there is the conquest and the traverse of the Aiguilles du Diables.

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Armand Charlet

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The French National School of Mountaineering

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The second part of Armand Charlet’s career will be decisive for the profession of mountain guide. He is the first one to underline the need of a rational, unique training for all guides. He has the legitimacy to do it. When the national guide diploma is created in 1948, he had already joined the French National School of Skiing and Mountaineering. Chief Professor in charge of the guides’ training, he will dedicate himself to teaching for several years. He will leave his strong mark on the profession. Beyond that, he participate in the life of the local community: he is in charge of the maintenance of the mountain huts and joins the ski-lifts commission.

He passes away on the 28th November 1975 in Argentière, at 75.