CAF Girls Grand Est is a group born in 2018. The idea was and is to promote the practice of mountaineering to women. An initiative that seems essential to us. It allows our members to gain autonomy in mountaineering, climbing, skiing, etc. and at the same time to be more confident in their everyday life. I hope that our humble story can serve as an inspiration to some (nothing is impossible!).
CAF Girls Grand Est
On December 15 and 16, 2018, the first women’s gathering was held at Hohneck, a summit well known to mountaineers in the Vosges. We aim to form the CAF Girls mountaineering group for the Alpin Grand Est promotion 2019-2020.
The twenty participants, mainly from the Strasbourg region, braved conditions worthy of a harsh Vosgian winter to prove themselves in the snowy couloirs of Falimont and on the rocks of the Spitzkopf ridge.
Henri-Luc Rillh and Jean-Pierre Courvoisier, commissioned by the French Federation of Alpine and Mountain Clubs (FFCAM), had the heavy task of selecting the group’s six members from among all the girls present.
Their mission will be to promote women’s mountaineering in the region and national gatherings and be trained to get involved in their club.
The creation of FFCAM women’s groups responds to a real need for training practitioners and helping more women to practice more mountain sports. This non-mixing is even necessary for the feminisation of mountain activities. Thus, it allows women to make their own decisions without a male influence, which is often the case in mixed roped parties. Promoting these female groups will bring more parity to the clubs.
Saturday started in a thick fog, but nothing to discourage the girls! Roped in pairs, they evolved on the snow slopes, going down and up the couloirs. Looking at them allowed us to assess their ease and knowledge of rope techniques. The fog descended into the valley, forming a beautiful sea of clouds. All felt privileged to find themselves in such a setting. For a moment, they forgot the pressure of evaluation.
Gradually, the whole team returns to the top of the ridges to end the day under a beautiful sun. It’s time to return to the chalet to prepare a small aperitif and assess the day’s performance.
At Chalet SHM, it’s herbal tea, tea and coffee. The time for individual interviews is coming. Some candidates are already standing out, and others have yet to prove themselves. Jean-Pierre and Henri-Luc will wait for the next day’s events to finalise the selection.
After this day in the cold and the wind, it’s time for conviviality around an aperitif followed by a hot meal. The participants get to know each other, share their experiences, and create stronger relationships.
The last straight line
Sunday begins with a sick fog, which will not leave us of the day. The biting cold (-12°C in the morning!) and the wind will not discourage the roped parties. The women who decided not to apply to the group are going to the corridors of Falimont. Then, still in the race, the contenders go to the Spitzkopf ridge to be evaluated on mixed terrain.
Ropes of two evolve on the rocks by adapting their roping techniques to the situation. Each, in turn, takes the place of the leader. The jury will thus be able to evaluate the ease and technique of each candidate.
The organisers meet to deliberate in the afternoon, and Henri-Luc announces the result after some explanations. The joy of the selected girls opposes the sadness of those who are not selected.
I take the direction of a group of happy selected women. I am at the origin of the project and the group manager. To share their joy, I am starting to organise our first adventure, the “Ice climbing Ecrins 2019”.