Pierre Vittoz (1926-1978)

Swiss Christian priest and missionary.
Tibetologist, lived six years in Ladakh (1950-1956).
Top alpinist, first climber in 1953 of Mount Nun in Zanskar.
Co-translated the Gospel into Middle Tibetan (1970).
Author of 5 books and... my (distant) uncle.


Childhood (1926-1942)

Pierre Samuel VITTOZ was born on 16 February 1926, as the son of the priest Robert Vittoz (1886–1942) and Denise Vittoz (born Rochat) (1887–1982) in French Switzerland. He had one brother Jacques Vittoz (1923–2001) and one sister Madeleine Vittoz (1930–).

Pierre Vittoz (P.V.) was the son of Robert-Ernest Vittoz (26mai1896–10nov1942), himself son of Edouard Samuel Vittoz (02août1869–27déc1942), himself son of Paul-Henry Vittoz (1846–1924). Paul-Henry Vittoz was the common ancestor of Pierre Vittoz and me. Paul-Henry Vittoz was PV's great-grandfather (son bisaïeul) as well as my great-great-grandfather (mon trisaïeul). Pierre Vittoz is thus my third cousin once removed (mon oncle au 3e degré).

The Vittoz name stems from France. It harks back to ancient "Huguenots" (French protestants) who took refuge in the reformed cantons of Switzerland in the XVIIth century, at the time of the severe anti-protestant persecutions in catholic France. There are still lots of Vittoz's living in France in the XXIth century.

As for her, Catherine Sophie Gerber, future wife of Pierre Vittoz, was born on 28 August 1927.

PV led a happy childhood in the small mountain village of La Comballaz, in the Les Mosses area, in the Canton of Vaud.

La Comballaz
Site officiel des Alpes Vaudoises     (0.24Mb)

La Comballaz
Source: Site officiel des Alpes Vaudoises     (0.19Mb)

His father Robert Vittoz was a protestant priest (pasteur), the priest of the village. His mother was a relentless walker and climber. On Sundays afternoons, she would leave both husband and kids to climb anything she could find in the near vicinity. Like the Mount Chamossaire. She was never tired of steep slopes and the beauties of Nature.

Son Pierre Vittoz might be seen as having received his talent for priesthood from his father and his alpinism gift from his mother.

Youth (1942-1950)

Unfortunately, the father died in 1942, as the son Pierre was only 16. The father suffered from varices in his legs. He was killed by a deadly thrombosis.

After the passing away of his father, Pierre Vittoz lived with brother and sister and widowed mother in the village of Grandvaux, in the Lavaux region, in the beautiful vineyard-covered steep shores of the Eastern Lake of Geneva.

The St-Saphorin village, in the Lavaux region,
Canton of Vaud, Switzerland, in June 2016.
In the background: the Lake of Geneva.
Source: A Contresens    (0.69Mb)

The Lavaux region in the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland,
in June 2016.
In the background: the Lake of Geneva and the Alps.
Source: A Contresens        (0.58Mb)

Between ages of 16 and 19, PV studied at high school (gymnase) in Lausanne, at the Gymnase de la Cité. As a gifted schoolboy, he could join the Mathematics and Latin/Greek section (Maths Spé & Latin-Grec). He ended up mastering very well Ancient Greek and Latine, German and English (not to mention his mother tongue French).

Even as an orphan, Pierre lived a happy teenager and young adult life, with his mother taking good care of him. But the family did not have much money. They received widow pension from the (stately) protestant Church, but that did not make them wealthy. Thus, the leisures had to be low-cost and on a do-it-yourself basis.

During the 1942-1945 interval (when Pierre Vittoz was 16 to 19 year old), Switzerland was entirely surrounded by the German empire. The borders were hermetically closed. There was no way to travel outside of the country, even for the well-off. Luckily, Switzerland possessed large swathes of wild mountains territory. The mountains offered an ideal escape possibility for Pierre Vittoz, who loved walking and mountaineering. He would depart for several days, leaving his home in Grandvaux on foot or on bicycle, to any possible summit in the cantons of Vaud and Valais. For example cycling from Grandvaux to Taesch (Zermatt), and then taking on any 4,000 m of the Zermatt mountain amphitheater.

Around 1943, as Pierre Vittoz was 17, he made friends with Édmond Pidoux (1908–2004), a passionate climber who initiated him to alpinism. Pidoux was litterature professor in Lausanne. Besides teaching and climbing, Pidoux is nowadays mostly remembered for his poems and novels.

Together, Édmond Pidoux and Pierre Vittoz have ascended most of the 4,000 meter-summits of the Canton of Valais. For example, they have escalated the Grand Combin, the Pointe Dufour, the Zinal Rothorn, the Weisshorn, the Finsteraarhorn, Nordend, Täschhorn. In April 1945, both made, with a group of friends, a series of climbings (Castor, Lyskamm) in the area around the Mont-Rose. The only exception being the Cervin/ Matterhorn in Zermatt, that was way too fashionable and mainstream, in other words too "everybodyish" for P.V. to be interested. Pidoux remembered later that Vittoz and him have achieved about 300 mountaineering excursions.

It is possible that Edmond Pidoux, as a writer and poet, has inspired, or supported, or even fostered the writing career of Pierre Vittoz, who started publishing articles in the Swiss Alpine Club journal at age 19 and would write countless articles and 5 books over the course of his life. Very clearly, Édmond Pidoux also became a replacement paternal figure for Pierre Vittoz who had lost his father at 16.

Already in his late teens, Pierre Vittoz demonstrated vivid talent and creativity in alpinism, by exploring and pioneering new escalation ways in the Valdean Alps (Alpes vaudoises). During the 1940s, PV opened several difficult pathes to ascend the Mount Diablerets (3,210 meter) on the southeastern side. On 10 March 1945, Pierre Vittoz and Gilbert Matthey were the first to escalate the Petite Dent de Morcles (2,969 meter), along the Voie du Roc Champion during the winter.

P.V studied then theology at Univ of Lausanne and completed his military service.

Pierre Vittoz and Catherine Gerber married on 01 April 1950. He was 24 and she was 22.

The wedding menu card was designed by famous Swiss graphist Paul Boesch.

PV and his wife became Christian missionaries. They signed with the German "Moravian Church" for a 6-year salaried mission in Ladakh.

The Moravian Church
In 1885, Leh became the headquarters of a mission of the Moravian Church.

Ladakh (1950-1956)

"The most beautiful years in my life" said Catherine Vittoz, wife of PV.

Catherine Vittoz (ca.24-29) in her estate in Leh, about 1951-1956
Source: Fonds Pierre et Catherine Vittoz (FPCV) at BEAACT     (12.6 and 4.7 Mb)

In September 1950, Pierre and Catherine Vittoz travelled from Switzerland to Ladakh. The young, just-married couple set off for Bombay, India by sea. From there, they continued by train all the way up to Jammu. Then the couple flew up to Leh, the capital city of Ladakh, onboard an old DC-3 aircraft of the Indian Army. Leh is located at 3,500 meter altitude. The town counted 31,000 inhabitants in 2011 and 8,700 in 1981 (probably 5,000 in 1950); the whole Leh district (339 km2) boasted 69,000 inhabitants in 1981. From her writings, one can guess that the bride Catherine was just as enthousiastic for this travel, if not more, than her husband Pierre.

Ladakh (the "country of high passes" in Tibetan) is the westernmost part of the Tibetan culture area (or greater Tibet). It had just joined (on 26 October 1947) the newly independent Republic of India (independent since 15 Aug 1947) as a part of Kashmir. Before that, Ladakh had been controlled by the princely state of Kashmir under British rule since around 1850. In the Summer of 1947, Muslim militias attacked in order to take over the whole of Kashmir in favor of the new Pakistanese state. India counter-attacked in October 1947. By the end of 1948, India had finally secured control over Ladakh, after one year of mountain war.

The Tibetan Kingdom of Ladakh extends over 59'000 km2 in the 2019-administrative limits. The region counted 274'000 inhabitants in 2019 (maybe 150,000 in 1950). This means, this region contained 30 times less people on 1.5 times more land than PV's home country Switzerland. The country looked huge and empty to a Swiss visitor.

Leh was traditionally the capital city of the kindgom of Ladakh. Administratively, both Kargil and Leh are now (since 2019) capital cities of the Ladakh union territory. Leh is situated at 3,500 meter altitude.

Hemis Monastery, 30 km up from Leh, along the Indus river
   (Source: LLTD)     (0.12Mb)

Thiksey Monastery, 15 km up from Leh, along the Indus river
.     (Source: LLTD)    (0.10Mb)

In Ladakh, PV would wander endlessly across the highlands, riding his horse, in order to meet his existing and future flocks, of course, but clearly as well in my opinion in order to satisfy his thirst for mountains, for exploration and for adventure.

He wrote extraordinary lines on these exploratory travels in Un Autre Himalaya (a book that should have been named "Six years in Ladakh"), citing such days when he crossed 8 ice-cold rushing rivers one after the other in the same day. He had to walk and swim across them, in so severe conditions that he could barely save his horse from the stormy waters... Or telling us about his walking on unstable and slippery manually-dug roads between two huge cliffs (one above and one below), and so on...

Catherine wrote fascinating and inspiring testimonies of her own about these Ladakhi expeditions in Un Autre Himalaya. Those chapters remain as vivid, as thrilling and as interesting today as they were then. They should belong to any anthology of Tibetan travel.

PV would routinely climb all the 5,000ers and 6,000ers available around him, many without names, as a hobby, just for the fun. He would mostly climb alone.

Wandering with horse across all Ladakh
Source: FPCV/BEAACT     (23.0 and 9.9 Mb)

In April 1951, Child No1, a son, was born in Leh. The mother Catherine gave birth at home. The baby came out alive, but very small and weak. He died on same day. It seems that he could not stand the high altitude, difficult to overcome for a European baby.

In May 1952, having learnt sufficient Tibetan language and script, Pierre Vittoz started to edit a Tibetan language Christian newsletter with his Christian Tibetan friend Tsetan Phuntsog. That 4-page monthly media had been originally started by the German "Moravian" missionaries in Leh in the early XXth century. It bore the (final) name of "Ladakh Phonya". PV and Phuntsog renamed it "Snang Sal". Both friends would continue to edit this 4-page periodical until PV's departure in 1956.

Child No2, a son, was born in Leh in March 1953. PV's friend and mentor Édmond Pidoux became the godfather.

Leh around 1950-1956     (5.1 Mo).

The Vittoz' house and estate in Leh     (6.3 Mo).

The greenery around Leh in 1950-1956     (6.4 Mo).

The greenery around Leh in 1950-1956     (10.3 Mo).

The Leh palace-castle seen from the Vittoz estate     (12.7 Mo).

Source of all 5 photos: FPCV/BEAACT.

In Summer 1953, PV described himself, when talking with his Nun expedition mates, as "very busy" in Leh. He had started a small weaving business. He was compiling an English-Tibetan grammar. He was editing a newspaper. Catherine was doubling as a nurse. (In Sept 1952, the Leh dispensary being closed, Catherine was going twice a week to a village 20km away to provide advise and medicines to a small local medical center. In March 1954, the dispensary in Leh could reopen.) On evenings, the couple would play chess and bridge with their Tibetan guests Tsetan Phuntsog and his wife Sung Kyil. PV dressed most of the time like a Tibetan, wearing a long woollen robe down to the ankles with wide sleeves.

The Nun (right) and the Kun (left) seen from Zanskar.
Source:     (0.24 Mo)

In July-Sept 1953, PV (27) took part in an international expedition to ascend the Nun summit (7,135 meter), in the Zanskar valley, the highest peak of the Indian Kashmir. On 28 Aug 1953, Pierre Vittoz managed the historical first ascent of the Nun. He reached the summit with Mme Claude Trouillet veuve Kogan (who was killed six years later in an avalanche while climbing the Cho Oyu in the central Himalaya) on the very day of his wife's birthday. The French-Swiss party was led by French alpinist Bernard Pierre (1920–1997), who published the full story in his book Une Montagne nommée Nun-Kun.

Sept.1953: Pierre Vittoz (27), left, and the Nun party
invited by Indian prime minister Nehru.
From left to right: Pierre Vittoz, Claude Kogan, PM Jahawarlal Nehru, Bernard Pierre, Michel Desorbay, Lt Nalni Jayal.
Source: B.Pierre's book     (0.2 Mb)

On their way back from their climbing success, in Sept 1953, Pierre Vittoz and party were invited in New Delhi to have lunch with Indian Prime Minister Nehru, who congratulated them personally. The meeting was intermediated by the French ambassador, who knew that Nehru's family originally stemmed from Kashmir. Vittoz and party were introduced to Premier Jahawarlal Nehru (1889-1964), daughter Indira Gandhi-Nehru (1917-1984) and 9 yr-old grandson Rajiv Gandhi (1944-1991).

Pierre Vittoz (about 28) and wife Catherine,
in Tibetan dress, around 1954.
Source: FPCV/BEAACT     (9.8 Mo)

Child No3, a daughter, was born in Leh in Sept 1954.

The Ganesh I/ Yangra Kangri seen from the West.
Source: Monterosa Trekking     (0.14 Mo)

In September-October 1955, Pierre Vittoz (29) joined an expedition aiming at ascending the Ganesh I / Yangra Kangri (7,422 m) in Nepal. This peak is located in the Ganesh Himal range, about 70 km northwest of Kathmandu. The expedition was led by Swiss alpinist Raymond Lambert (1914–1997). The expedition was financed by the city and canton of Geneva as well as by the Himalaya Committee of Lyon, France.

However, on 24 Sept 1955, after Base Camp was established at 4,500 m and as explorations started to establish Camp I, PV fell ill. The party continued the struggle to build Camp I (at 5,030 m) and Camp II without PV who waited sick in his sleeping bag. However, his health went worse, his fever reached 40 degrees. On 30 Sept 1955, the team evacuated him on a stretcher (brancart) down to the village of Sangje (4 hours further down), where the lower altitude, it was hoped, would help him recover. Lambert remained on his side in a Tibetan shepherd house. During this time, Gendre, Gauchat and Kogan established Camp II.

However, noticing that PV did not get any better, Lambert ordered 12 porters from Chilime to carry Vittoz and his luggage to Kathmandu. The requested porters arrived to Sangje on 06 Oct 1955. They immediately left with ill PV as a cargo. They brought him on foot all the way down to Kathmandu. Robert Guinot and Claude Morel kindly accompanied PV during this trek. The three alpinists then continued to New Delhi, where they arrived on 08 Nov 1955 (cf article). The rest of the party had reached the peak of the Ganesh I Yangra on 24 Oct 1955.

P.V. could go back to Leh by the end of December 1955. He had overcome both a high fever (Sumpffieber/fièvre typhoïde) and a pneumony (Lungenentzündung/ pneumonie).

In July 1956, PV and his whole family had to leave Ladakh and travel back to Switzerland. Pierre and Catherine had been the last European missionaries to be active in Kashmir.

They had wanted to stay longer, but the Indian authorities refused their visa request. New Delhi seemed not to want to keep any foreigner in that dangerous region. Ladakh was under steady military threat by the Chinese army along the Eastern border, and by the Pakistanese army along the Northern border (not to mention the Soviet army lurking a few kilometers further north). Besides, unrest kept rife in Western part of the Indian Kashmir, where the Muslim majority sithered under the (mostly Hinduistic) Indian rule. Hence, India had many heavy reasons to keep foreigners out of this region. Ladakh was reopened to foreigners only in 1974.

The Chinese threat was real: the Chinese Empire gobbled up Indian territory in 1955 and 1956 (constructing a road in Eastern Aksai Chin, part of Indian Kashmir) and attacking India's Himalaya provinces outright in 1962 (the remaining part of Aksai Chin in Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh in the Northeast, taking advantage of the Cuban missile crisis. The Chinese annexed the whole Aksai Chin plateau in Oct.1962.

As it turned out, finally, Leh was left untouched by these wars with China, but how could the Indian authorities have known in advance? Evacuating foreigners was very rational in the 1956 state of affairs. Much more rational than the British authorities evacuating the German missionaries out of Ladakh in 1914...

Switzerland (1956-1957)

Pierre Vittoz with his family took a 1 year-holiday in Switzerland, Missionary work was structured as an alternance between periods of 6 years without break and 1 year of holidays.

P.V. took over the parish of Les Mosses, in the mountains of the Canton of Vaud. The family lived in a chalet house in La Comballaz.

Even during this period officially devoted to relaxation, PV would waste no time in idleness. They would run around to the mountains and beyond, walking and exploring, everytime possible.

Libamba, French Cameroon (1957-1959)

Pierre Vittoz took his next mission in the French colony of Cameroon. The whole family left in July 1957 for Libamba, 30 km southwest of Yaoundé, the capital city. Libamba sits on the main Cameroonian railway line, connecting Yaoundé to the country's main harbour, Douala. PV had to teach maths and physics there to Cameroonian schoolchildren. The mission was planned to last 11 months, but it finally lasted stayed 24 months.

Children No4 and No5, two twin daughters, were born in April 1959 in Cameroon.

The whole family returned from Cameroon to Switzerland on July 1959.

Mussoorie, India (1959-1962)

For his next mission, PV settled in the city of Mussoorie, in Northern India. Like always, the whole family moved with PV. They travelled from Switzerland to Uttar Pradesh, by sea and by rail, in September 1959.

Mussoorie is located 200 km northeast of New Delhi, in the present Indian state of Uttarkandh (and at this time in Uttar Pradesh). It is close to the city of Dehra Dun. PV had to work in the campus of an American High School.

Mussoorie is located between Nepal and Ladakh, at 2,800 meter altitude. It stands along the foothills of the Himalaya. It is situated 200 km south from the Ladakhi border and 100 km from Tibet. Thus it was not a bad deal for P.V. who longed after his beloved Himalayan mountains.

In Mussoorie, PV was quickly joined (in 1959 already) by his best friend from Ladakh, the Christian Tibetan Tsetan Phuntsog, who had to flee Leh at this time.

In Mussoorie, PV and Phuntsog resumed their work about translating the New Testament and the Psalms into Tibetan. They translated the Gospel directly from the Greek into mid-register Tibetan. PV was indeed fluent in Ancient Greek, as well as in the three levels of Tibetan. Phuntsog was an exquisite scholar in literary (Middle and Upper) Tibetan. The final Gospel text was published in 1970. It was and is still considered the best attempt at rendering the Gospel into (Middle) Tibetan, but is barely used by contemporary Christian Tibetans, who are used to read their bibles in English or Urdu...

Pierre Vittoz (ca.34-35) at his outdoor desk, with friend Phuntsog
Source: FPCV/BEAACT     (4.0 Mb)

During these 3 years at the foothills of the Himalaya, PV does not seem to have been invited to other alpinism expeditions, strangely enough, even as he was available onsite. Maybe his 1955-sickness in the Ganesh Himal had somehow dampened his career, impeding his fame to grow as it should have. Or maybe the "alpinism market" in the Himalaya suffered from the closure of Ladakh to foreigners, and from the tensions along the India-China and India-Pakistan borders, by reducing the number of expeditions.

In July 1960, the children 4 and 5, the twin sisters, died of an allergical reaction to the smallpox (variole) vaccine. The mother would never fully recover from this excruciating pain.

PV's mission in Mussoorie was planned to last 6 years, but the Indian authorities refused to renew the visas of the Vittoz family. Hence, the whole family had to return to Switzerland in February 1962.

Lausanne, Switzerland (1962-1969)

Pierre Vittoz and the whole family spent about 7 years in Switzerland, from February 1962 to August 1969.

PV helped establish the Missionary departement in Lausanne. He became main secretary of this Missionary Department in 1963 (secrétaire général du département missionnaire des Eglises protestantes romandes).

Dans les années 1960, Pierre Vittoz adhère au Rotary-Club de Lausanne.

Child No6, a daughter, was born in Jan 1965.

During this 1962-1969 interval, the family has again travelled a lot, in particular to Southern France.

PV did not forget his beloved mountains. In particular in 1966, he ascended the Lenzspitze, face Nord, and the Salbitschijen, arête Sud.

Yaoundé, Cameroon (1969-1974)

In 1969, Pierre Vittoz took his next mission in Cameroon. The whole family left in August 1969 for Yaoundé, capital city of Cameroon. In the meantime, the country had become independent from France (in 1960).

In Yaoundé, PV was nominated university priest (aumonier d'université). He also managed the CLE publishing house (Centre de littérature évangélique).

In 1971, PV was nominated Honorary Member (membre d'honneur) of the Swiss Alpine Club, Diablerets section. A letter was sent to him on 25 novembre 1971 (annonçant à Pierre Vittoz sa nomination comme membre d’honneur).

Catherine Vittoz translated into French an English book by Geoffrey Wainwright, Le Baptême, accès à l'église, that was published by the Editions Clé in Yaoundé in 1972 (135 pages, 21cm).

PV and whole family returned to Switzerland on July 1974.

Back to Switzerland (1974-1978)

Pierre Vittoz and the whole family came back to Switzerland in July 1974. PV became priest (pasteur) of the parish of La Sallaz in Lausanne.

During this interval, PV was an active member of the "Groupe de Haute Montagne de Lausanne" (GHML). He was president for a while. He made quite a lot of climbings, on solo basis or in groups, whose list can be found on the association's website. In particular:

1974: Jägigrat, pilier S-E par R. Gilliéron, P. Vittoz et P.-A. Jaunin.
1974: Requin, face E par P. Vittoz.
1974: Bishorn, face N-E par P. Vittoz.
1974: Dent Blanche, arête de Ferpècle par P. Vittoz.
1974: Eperon de la Brenva par P. Vittoz.
1974: Chardonnet, face N par P. Vittoz.
1975: La Meije (3'983 m), in the French Alps, P. Vittoz and team.
1975: Aiguille du Midi, Eperon Frendo par P. Staub et P. Vittoz.
1976: Aiguille de Bionnassay, face N par E.Nusslé et P.Vittoz.
1976: Aiguille du Plan, voie Ryan-Lochmatter par P.Staub et P.Vittoz.
1977: Aiguille du Plan, face N par P.Vittoz et P.Staub.
1977: Fletschhorn, face N couloir des Viennois par P.Vittoz.

Ladakh again

In 1974, New Delhi opened the Ladakh region to Western tourists again. Catherine Vittoz went back to Ladakh in 1974 and in 1976. She led groups of Swiss tourists with travel agency Artou, helping them with her deep knowledge of Western Tibet.

To help the first tourists venturing into this newly open, unknown territory, Artou published, in 1976, a travel guide on Ladakh that was co-written by Pierre Vittoz.

PV's secret for flourishing at high altitudes (on top of passion and training) was a slow heart pulse (42 beats/minute) and a low need for sleep (5-6 hrs/ night were sufficient for him).

It was during this 1974-1978 interval that I met several times my third cousin once removed Pierre Vittoz. I was 9 to 13 year old at this time and I still remember him.

Decease in the Mont Blanc, Italy (1978)

Pierre Vittoz (52), his son-in-law Philippe Staub (32) and Michel Duport (34), all of them living in Lausanne, went to escalate the Southern, Italian side of the Mont Blanc mountain (4,886 meter) over the week-end of 19-20 Aug 1978. The Mont-Blanc is the highest summit in Western Europe, but a piece of cake (or so it seems) for a champion of 6,000 and 7,000 meter-Himalaya peaks.

However, the three men died on 20 Aug 1978 while climbing. Depending on the versions, they were either victims of a fall of sérac, i.e. big ice blocks falling from a glacier situated above, or the whole wall upon which they were clinging broke loose and fell down.

The fact that such an experienced alpinist, used to 6,000 and 7,000 meter peaks, disappeared in such an accident was a big-bad surprise for everybody around Pierre Vittoz. This accident has raised (and still is raising) painful unanswered interrogations as to its cause.

In Aug 1978, Pierre Vittoz was past president of the Groupe de Haute Montagne de Lausanne (GHML), Philippe Staub was president and Michel Duport was cashier.

The funerals took place in Lausanne on Friday 25 August 1978. The "Gazette de Lausanne", at this time the top newspaper of the Canton of Vaud, wrote on 26 August 1978 that crowds of people had attended the ceremony: "[des centaines de] personnes ont rendu hommage à Pierre Vittoz, Philippe Staub et Michel Duport. Les deux chapelles de Montoie n'ont pas suffi [à accueillir tout le monde]".

Another newspaper article from the time.

Even forty years later, old parishioners and alpinists would still remember and mourn their lost priest, champion climber and top tibetologist. Pierre Vittoz was for modern, laicist Switzerland the closest that comes to a holy man, for the Christian times, or to a saddhu, in Hindu India: someone who has accomplished great things, someone who can be revered as a model, as a reference, and as a hope figure. Someone who can be looked at as a protective personality for all those who feel lost, or who feel that they have not done enough of their lives.

PV is buried in the Bois de Vaud cemetery in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The family after 1978 (1978-2023)

After her husband death, widowed wife Catherine Vittoz fell into depression. The couple had been in good terms over all these years, even after 30 years of marriage. She would only slowly recover after about one year.

Catherine then started to study theology (formation diaconale) and journalism (journalisme RP). She started to prepare and animate Christian programs on the Swiss radio chain, until retirement. When she got retired, back to loneliness, she felt stronger the loss of her beloved husband and fell again into depression.

Over the last five years of her life, Catherine suffered more and more mind loss, falling into complete memory vanishing during the last year. She would remember only the death of her 2 daughters Irène and Isabelle. Before deceasing, she spent 5 years in an old-people-home (EMS), out of which 1 year with severe Alzheimer disease, not even remembering her own sons and daughters. She passed away on 30 Jun 2012.

Upon the wish of the descendants, expressed on 9 Oct 2023, no other information shall be provided for the time being on the descendants before and after 1978.


In the 2019-2022 interval, Swiss archeologist
Martin Vernier (specialized in Ladakh) has gathered, recorded, classified and digitalized all Himalaya-related docus and photos of Pierre Vittoz and his wife Catherine Vittoz. He has officially become the owner of these artefacts in March 2021, with a full transfer act, as per the will of PV's heirs. The fund is called "Fonds Pierre et Catherine Vittoz" (FPCV). Martin holds these documents and objects available to any interested researcher, museum, or family member.

As of July 2023, Martin Vernier is an independent researcher at the Centre de recherche sur les civilisations de l'Asie orientale (CRCAO) in Paris, with a focus on Himalayan proto-history, cave art and early Buddhism. He also is Deputy director of the MAFIL (Franco-Indian Archaeological Mission in Ladakh,, and Associated researcher at UMR7041, research unit Archéologies et Sciences de l’Antiquité (ArScAn).

In parallel, Martin Vernier takes responsibility in guiding groups of tourists to Asia every year. With the Lausanne travel agency Sakadoh, he organizes and leads cultural initiation journeys to such places as Himachal Pradesh (North India), Tamil Nadu (South India), Bhutan, Mustang (Nepal), Japan and of course Ladakh.

I am grateful for having received a copy of the full P.&C.V. archive database from Martin Vernier on 09 Aug 2023.

Swiss archeologist Martin Vernier, on 09 Aug 2023,
in front of his Pierre & Catherine Vittoz archive boxes

Source: Sitemaster     (3.6 and 3.9 Mb)

Incidentally, Martin Vernier has become over the years manager and owner of 6 other, similar private Himalaya-related archive funds.
As of Aug 2023, he is thus managing 7 funds in total (plus one about to be added), namely those of:
–Fonds Pierre Vittoz (1926–1978) et Catherine Vittoz (1927–2012) / FPCV/BEAACT, legally transferred to M.Vernier in March 2021.
–Anne-Marie Sallaz of Lausanne, owner of many books on Tibetan culture (since Aug 2022).
–Rohit Vohra, Indian anthropologist living in Lichtenchtein, expert in Ladakhi pre-Tibetan Dard culture and rock painting (since July 2022).
–Janet Rizvi (1930–), British historian, free-lance writer and researcher specialized in Ladakh and Central Asia (since March 2023).
–Mireille Helffer (1928–2023), an expert in traditional Himalayan musics (since April 2021).
–Geneviève Dollfus (1938–2020), an archeologist specialized in Persian Central Asia (since Spring 2021).
–Claude B. Levenson (1938–2010), ex-wife of Jean-Claude Buhrer, journalist, translator, supporter of Tibet, befriended with the Dalai Lama (classification and analysis process started in 2015-2016; legal transfer 16 June 2022). On 21 May 2024, Martin Vernier communicated that most documents out of this Fund shall soon be transferred to the Tibet Institute located in the village of Rikon in the Canton of Zurich, Switzerland.

An 8th archive might follow soon (as of Aug 2023):
–Helga Uebach (1940–2021), German expert specialized in Ancient Tibet and Dunhuang manuscripts, author of a famous Tibetan dictionary.

Martin Vernier has named his archive holdings the “Bibliothèque d’étude et d'archives de l’aire culturelle tibétaine“ (BEAACT). The BEAACT is now (Aug 2023) counting no less than 1,750 books and other written documents.

M.Vernier wanted to store these archives and expose their artefacts in the Tibet Museum of Gruyères FR and in the castle of Oron VD (both in French Switzerland). However, after some discussions, both institutions refused – in a typical Swiss fashion. In that quite high-income country of Switzerland, many museums are overflowing with good-quality items and are therefore reluctant to receive even more...

In the meantime, Martin Vernier is keeping all these documents and objects in his home. In particular, he disposes of a stock of unsold copies of Rohit Vohra's book An Ethnography: The Buddhist Dards of Ladakh – Mythic Lore, Household, Alliance System, Kinship that are available for any interested reader.

Some other records of Pierre Vittoz are stored at the Archives Cantonales Vaudoises, in Dorigny.

Pierre Vittoz
around 20.


Pierre Vittoz in 1978 at age 52.

Source: L'Attrait
des religions orientales
Pierre Vittoz
around 52.

(0.02 Mb)

Pierre Vittoz measured about 180 cm in height. For his time, he belonged to the tall men.

Great tibetologist Pierre Vittoz (at around 30).
Source: FPCV/BEAACT     (4.9 Mo)

Christian missionary Pierre Vittoz (25-26), left.
Source: FPCV/BEAACT     (6.6 Mo)

Champion alpinist Pierre Vittoz (27), upper left. Source: B.Pierre's book     (0.02 Mo)


CHRONOLOGY: P.V. Biography and World Politics

1926 16 Feb 1926 – Pierre Vittoz was born.
1927 28 Aug 1927 – Catherine Gerber, future wife of Pierre Vittoz, was born.
15 Aug 1947 – India and Pakistan became independent states. Civil war and inter-religious mass killings between Muslims and Hindus followed suit. The princely state of Kashmir, led by a Hindu maharajah, joined the Republic of India on 26 Oct 1947. The Muslim majority and the Muslim Pakistanese neighbours did not like this choice and the region slid into turmoil, with Pakistanese militias trying to invade Kahsmir.
In Nov 1948, the Indian army at last repelled islamic hordes occupying Kargil and threatening Leh in Ladakh. They took over the Zoo-Ji pass with tanks in Winter, freeing the road connecting Leh with Srinagar and Jammu. The Muslim militias were now being kept in check and Buddhism regained some chance of survival.
1950 01 April 1950 – Wedding of Pierre Vittoz (24) and Catherine Gerber (22).
1950 Sept 1950 – Pierre and Catherine Vittoz travelled from Switzerland to Ladakh (leaving London on 26 Aug 1950), with train, boat, train and airplane. They settled in the capital city of Leh (3,500 m)
In Oct 1950, the Chinese communist Army attacked the independent theocratic Kingdom of Tibet along its Eastern border (Chamdo province) from Chengdu and along its Western border (U-Tsang province) from Turkestan. The weak and under-equipped Tibetan army could not oppose serious resistance. On 19 Oct 1950, 5,000 Tibetan soldiers were dead already. On 7 Nov 1950, Lhasa sent a desperate call for help to the United Nations. However, not being a member, having shunned the rest of the world for too long, the Kingdom of Tibet did not manage to attract much attention. Last but not least, the Korean War was raging at the same time. It had begun on 25 Jun 1950 and would continue until 1953. It overnoised the Tibetan War, which remained ignored from the world.
1951 xx Apr 1951: Child No1, a son, was born in Ladakh and died on same day.
On 23 May 1951, the capitulation treaty of Tibet was signed in Peking (the Seventeen Point "Agreement" on the "Peaceful" "Liberation" of Tibet)
In 1951, frightened by the Chinese invasion of Tibet, the Kingdom of Nepal began to open to international alpinists. They granted their only annual Everest permit for 1952 to Switzerland.
In 1952, a Swiss expedition from Geneva attempted to climb the Mt Everest (8,868 m, the world's highest mountain, from the Nepalese side. They almost succeeded, reaching an altitude of 8,600 m.
1952-1956 From 1952 to 1956, Pierre Vittoz edited in Leh a Christian newsletter in Tibetan.
1952 During the year 1952, Pierre Vittoz went for explore the Mount Nun (7,135 m), the highest summit in the Indian Kashmir, to find out the best ascent routes in view of the expedition to come the following year.
1953 Mar 1953 – Child No2, a son, was born in Ladakh.
1953 28 Aug 1953 – Pierre Vittoz (26) was the first man to ascend the Mount Nun (7,135 m), the highest summit in the Indian Kashmir, together with C.Trouillet-Kogan.
1954 Sep 1954 – Child No3, a daughter, was born in Ladakh.
1955 Sept-Nov 1955 – Pierre Vittoz (29) participated in an expedition aiming at climbing the Mount Ganesh I Yangra Kangri (7,422m) in Nepal. But he was stopped before the summit by a sudden high fever.
Starting in 1955 or 1956, China built a strategic road across the (Eastern part of the) Aksai Chin district. This road connected the Chinese Turkestan to the freshly conquered Tibet. The Aksai Chin plateau, 3,000 km2 at 5,000 meter altitude, was entirely desert and not guarded by any Indian troops. However, it was Indian territory, i.e. the district lay inside the 1865-Johnson line that India (like Britain before) considered to be its external border. The road was completed around 1957.
1956 July 1956 – Pierre Vittoz and whole family moved back from Ladakh to Switzerland.
1956-1957 Pierre Vittoz with his family took a holiday of one year in Switzerland.
1957 July 1957 – Pierre Vittoz and family moved from Switzerland to Libamba, French Cameroon.
1957 31 Aug 1957 – Pierre Vittoz (31) and Catherine Vittoz (30) published the great book Un Autre Himalaya about their deep understanding of the Tibetan civilization gained over his six years in Ladakh.
10-23 March 1959: the Tibetan people rebelled against Chinese communist yoke in Lhasa on 10 March 1959. The Chinese engaged in a violent repression that turned into a genocide. In Lhasa only, they killed about 15,000 Tibetans. The Dalai Lama (the "king" of Tibet) secretly fled with a small army on 17 March 1959, crossing the border to India at Tawang, in Arunachal Pradesh, on 31 March 1959. Over 1959-1960, about 80,000 more people managed to flee Chinese-occupied Tibet, protected by Khampa warriors.
1959 xx Apr 1959 – Children No4 and No5, twin daughters, were born in Cameroon.
1959 July 1959 – Pierre Vittoz and family moved back from Cameroon to Switzerland.
1959 Sept 1959 – Pierre Vittoz and family moved from Switzerland to Mussoorie, Northern India.
1960 xx Jul 1960 – the twin daughters both died in India of an allergic reaction to the smallpox vaccine.
1962 Feb 1962 – Pierre Vittoz and family moved back from Mussoorie, Northern India, to Switzerland.
On 20 Oct 1962, the Chinese Empire attacked India with 80,000 soldiers, on the west and the east. Peking was taking advantage of the Cuba missile crisis (14-28 Oct 1962) that kept the world distracted. Peking conquered the whole Aksai Chin district and the Arunachal Pradesh province, east of Bhutan, India's northeasternmost territory. All Indian troops were killed or captured. On 20 Nov 1962, satisfied by its quick victory, Peking declared ceasefire but only retreated from Arunachal Pradesh.
1965 Jan 1965 – Child No6, a daughter, was born in Switzerland.
1969 Aug 1969 – Pierre Vittoz and family moved from Switzerland to Cameroon.
1974 Jul 1974 – Pierre Vittoz and family moved back from Cameroon to Switzerland.
1978 20 Aug 1978 – Pierre Vittoz tragically disappeared at age 52 in an accident while climbing the Mont-Blanc.
1978 The book by Pierre Vittoz L'Attrait des Religions Orientales published posthumously
2012 30 Jun 2012– Catherine Vittoz, wife of Pierre, died at age of 84.


A non-exhaustive list of Pierre Vittoz' original books, translated books and journal articles (plus writings introducing him).

1946 Paper by PV on his 1945 Mont-Rose expedition. Pierre VITTOZ: "Autour du Mont-Rose", "Les Alpes/ Die Alpen", Journal du Club Alpin Suisse, 1946.

First recorded article by P.V., written at age 19! The champion shares with us his experiences of climbing around the Mont-Rose massif, south of Zermatt, in the Swiss Alps.
1953 Movie on the 1953 Nun expedition Bernard PIERRE: "Une Montagne Nommée Nun-Kun", Film de 60 minutes, présenté au Festival du Film de Montagne de Trente (Italie), en 1953.

Film malheureusement introuvable aujourd'hui (21 juillet 2023), que ce soit dans les ciné-archives suisses, françaises ou italiennes.
Si quelqu'un peut m'aider à retrouver une copie de ce film, merci de me le faire savoir.
1954 Paper by PV on his 1953 Nun climbing. Pierre VITTOZ: "Ascent of the Nun", a chapter in the book/journal The Mountain World 1954, 224 pages, edited by Marcel Kurz, Ruskin House, George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., London, 1954.

Republished in Indian Mountaineer, Number 25, 1990.
1954 Paper by PV on his Nun 1953 expedition Pierre VITTOZ: "Dernière chance au Nun", Les Alpes, Journal du Club Alpin Suisse, 1954.
1954 Book describing PV at 27 during the Nun expedition. Bernard PIERRE: Une Montagne nommée Nun-Kun, Bibliothèque de l'Alpinisme, Amiot Dumont, Paris, 1954, 199 pages. Ouvrage épuisé (au 10 juin 2024).

Réédité dans une version très raccourcie, avec moins de photos, par les éditions Slatkine, Genève en 1982.

A review by D.Dangar (1954).

A very lively book, very nice to read, describing all dimensions (human, cultural, organizational, geological) of the 1953 Nun conquest, that reads like a novel. B.Pierre (1920-1997) describes all events with so much sincerity and so little filter that you feel like being within the expedition yourself. You delve directly into the human soul, right into the most important questions of life. The book has received the French "Grand Prix Littéraire de la Montagne" in 1955.

Translated into English as A Mountain Called Nun-Kun, Hodder & Stoughton Limited, London, 1955.

Translated into 9 languages altogether, the book has received several literature prizes.
1954 Book describing PV at 27 during the Nun expedition. Ang THARKAY, Basil NORTON: Mémoires d'un Sherpa, Amiot-Dumont, Paris 1954.

Translated into English in 2016 as:
Ang THARKAY, Basil NORTON: Sherpa – The Memoir of Ang Tharkay, Mountaineers Books, 1st edition, March 2016, 192 pages.

Describing the 1953 Nun party in very vivid terms.

1955 Paper by PV on his solo ascent of an unnamed 6,000m peak in Ladakh. Pierre VITTOZ: "Solitude Himalayenne", Les Alpes, Journal du Club Alpin Suisse (CAS), 1955.
PV sharing with us about his ascent of an unnamed 6,000m peak in Ladakh, uphill from Leh, between the Indus and the Zanskar.
1956 Paper by PV on his interrupted Ganesh Himal 1955 expedition Pierre VITTOZ: "A travers le Népal", Les Alpes, Journal du Club Alpin Suisse, 1956.
1956 Article describing PV at 29 during the Ganesh Himal 1955 expedition. Raymond LAMBERT: "Die französisch-schweizerische Ganesh-Himal-Expedition (August-November 1955)", Die Alpen / Les Alpes, Journal du Club Alpin Suisse, 1956.
1956 Article by CV at 28 on her 1955 visit to Tibetan highland nomads. Catherine VITTOZ: "Hautes Terres", Actualité Missionnaire, no1, Neuchâtel, février 1956.
1957 Book No1 written by PV
and 1 other author (his wife)
Pierre VITTOZ et Catherine VITTOZ: Un Autre Himalaya, Missions protestantes, Lausanne, 31 août 1957 (31 Aug 1957), broché, 186 pages.

2nd edition: Pierre et Catherine Vittoz: Un Autre Himalaya, Editions du Soc, Lausanne 1958. Ouvrage épuisé (au 10 juin 2024).

15 editions published between 1957 and 1966 in 4 languages (really 4?).
1958 Translation of Book No1 Goldene Daecher – Schwarze Zelte: Herrnhuter Mission unter den Tibetern, Friedrich Bahn Verlag, Konstanz 1958.
Reedited by Christliche Verlagsanstalt, 1966.

Translation of Book No1 from French into German by Winfried Thiemer.
1968 Translation by PV Pierre VITTOZ, Eliyah Tsetan PHUNTSOG: The Way of Power: the Acts of the Apostles in Tibetan, 1968.
1 edition published in 1968 in Tibetan.
1970 Book No2 written by Pierre Vittoz Pierre VITTOZ: Manuel de l'engagement chrétien, Yaoundé, Cameroun, 1970, 67 pages. Ouvrage épuisé (au 10 juin 2024).  
1970 Book No3 written by PV
guide de marche et d'alpinisme
Pierre VITTOZ: Alpes Vaudoises, Éditions du Club Alpin Suisse (CAS), Zurich 1970. 140 pages, avec 29 croquis de l’auteur et 12 photographies de Kinette Hurni. Ouvrage épuisé (au 10 juin 2024).

Réédité en 1981:
Pierre VITTOZ, Philippe METZKER: Alpes Vaudoises, Editions du CAS, 1981. Ouvrage épuisé (au 10 juin 2024).

Livre souvent rebaptisé, dans les références: Guide des Alpes Vaudoises.
1970 Text translation by PV and E.T.Phuntsog The New Testament in Tibetan (Traduction en tibétain intermédiaire entre sacré et vernaculaire) translated by Pierre Vittoz, Eliyah Thsetan Phuntsog and Yo-seb Dge-rgan, Bible Society of India, 1970, 847 pages.

1 edition.
1974 Paper by PV on his expeditions to the Mont Blanc massif in the 1950s La Meije. Pierre VITTOZ: "Brenvasporn 20 ans plus tard", Les Alpes, Journal du Club Alpin Suisse (CAS), 1974.

PV sharing with us his times on the Mont-Blanc massif... An eerie article, thinking that he would lose his life in that massif just 4 yrs later.
Book No4 written by Pierre Vittoz
together with one other author
Pierre VITTOZ, Pierre JACCARD: Ladakh, Editions Artou, Genève, 1976, 50 pages. Ouvrage épuisé (au 10 juin 2024).
ISBN-10: ‎ 8190437852, ISBN-13: ‎ 978-8190437851
Translation of Book No4
together with one other author
Pierre VITTOZ, Pierre JACCARD: Ladakh: fuer Reisende, Alpinisten und Liebhaber der tibetischen Kultur, Editions Artou, Genève 1976, Collection Artou Reiseführer. Translated by Haia Müller.
1976 Paper by PV on his expedition to the French 4,000m peak La Meije. Pierre VITTOZ: "Magie de la Meije", Les Alpes, Journal du Club Alpin Suisse (CAS), 1976.

PV sharing with us the charm of his ascent to the Meije mountain in the Parc National des Ecrins in the French Alps.
1977 Paper by PV defending mountaineering handbooks. Pierre VITTOZ: "Donne-moi mon guide de montagne", "Les Alpes/ Die Alpen", Journal du Club Alpin Suisse, 1977.
Book No5 written by Pierre Vittoz Pierre VITTOZ: L'Attrait des religions orientales et la foi chrétienne, Collection "La Parole et les hommes", Éditions Labor et Fides, Genève, 1978, 59 pages. Ouvrage épuisé (au 10 juin 2024).

5 editions published in 1978 in French.
1990 Reedition of the 1954 paper by PV on his 1953 Nun climbing. Pierre VITTOZ: "Ascent of the Nun", Indian Mountaineer, Number 25, 1990.

List of websites were P.V. is mentioned or quoted:

–Wikipedia: "Le Christianisme au Tibet".
–Wikipedia: "Nun-Kun" (fr), "Nun Kun" (angl), Nun (Berg) (all).



PV has a lot of homonyms, in Switzerland and in France.

The "Vittoz Method" (la "Méthode Vittoz") in psychotherapy was not invented by Pierre Vittoz, but by Roger Vittoz (06 mai 1863–10 avril 1925). Roger Vittoz was a Swiss doctor born in Morges VD and who lived first in La Brévine NE, then in Les Verrières NE, and finally in Lausanne VD. In 1911, Roger Vittoz published a book about his method, entitled: Traitement des psychonévroses par la rééducation du contrôle cérébral.

Pierre Vittoz (1948-), né en 1948 et habitant Nancy, en Lorraine (France). Ayant fait l'École Nationale d'Ingénieurs de Saint-Étienne.

Pierre Vittoz (1950-), né en 1950 et habitant Villefontaine (à 30km de Lyon).
Peut-être le même Pierre Vittoz que celui qui est devenu en février 2012 le président du Comité de Jumelage de la ville française de Francheville (dans la grande banlieue de Lyon) avec Steinheim en Allemagne. Jumelage lancé vers 1982.

Joseph Louis Pierre Vittoz (1913-1979), born on 13 Sept 1913 in Burcin, Isère, French National Institute of ... and deceased on 05 Nov 1979, Pin.

Un autre Pierre Vittoz (1914-1993) est né de Victor Pierre Alexandre VITTOZ und Tante Fine VITTOZ. Victor né le 14.10.1886, à Burcin, 38690, France. 2 frères et soeurs. Pierre a épousé Jeanne VITTOZ (RASSAT) (1912), 2enfants.

Un autre Pierre Vittoz (1914-1993) est né de JEAN PIERRE JOSEPH VITTOZ (né 19. September 1885 à BURCIN-38) et ANNE ALEXANDRE VITTOZ (née JULLIEN). 5 frèes et soeurs.

Un autre Pierre Vittoz (1929-1978) est mort en 1978. A savoir Pierre Denis Eugène VITTOZ) né à Lyon le 4 octobre 1929 et décédé le 22 décembre 1978 à Lyon.

Pierre VITTOZ (1920-1999) (Pierre Ange Alexandre VITTOZ) né à Fréhel (22) le 22 mai 1920 et décédé le 30 août 1999 à Rouen.

Pierre VITTOZ (1949-2015) (Pierre Henri VITTOZ) né à Saint-Fons le 14 mars 1949 et décédé le 22 août 2015 à Lyon.

Pierre VITTOZ (1919-2008) (Pierre Baptiste Paul VITTOZ) né à Burcin le 14 décembre 1919 et décédé le 22 février 2008 à Voiron.

Un Pierre Vittoz a été membre du conseil d'administration de la Dallas International School au Texas, USA, en 2008-2009. Il a étudié à la Temple University à Dallas/Fort Worth. Il a été aussi Chief Executive Officer for Isas à Midland, Texas. Ce Pierre Vittoz a dirigé ensuite pendant 6 ans la Mission laïque française à Paris.
Pierre Vittoz was a Headmaster at Mission laïque française based in Paris. Previously, Pierre was a Head of School at Dallas International School. The Mission laïque française, or "French lay mission", is a non-profit organisation founded in 1902 by Pierre Deschamps. This organisation works to spread the French language and culture by creating and running schools outside France.

Un Pierre Vittoz de l'Université Lumière de Lyon a été responsable du secteur Jardiland à Nouméa en Nouvelle-Calédonie 2014-2022, puis acheteur pour Greenway NC (2022-2022), puis acheteur pour Cabinet Richard Koch.

Un Pierre-Etienne Vittoz est analyste quantitatif en données informatiques à Lausanne, en 2020-2023.

Un Pierre-François Vittoz a soutenu en déc 2016 sa thèse de doctorat en chimie "Valorisation de bioressources dans des matériaux catalytiques organométalliques: préparation, caractérisation et applications en catalyse".


I found the information and pictures above on the following websites:

The daughter nr1 kindly provided precious biographical information on her father at two meetings on 14 Feb and 22 Feb 2023. But when it came to supplying photos, she just disappeared from the scene (no reply until 09 October 2023). As she intended to write a biography of her father, it is possible that she wanted to finish first, before supplying pictures to "competitors".

The son nr2 wrote on 09 Oct 2023 a letter co-signed by two sisters expressing discomfort about any mention of the three of them on these online Pierre Vittoz pages. Following which I retrieved all personal information about the descendants (names, any detail about their lives, etc.), even if being a descendant of Pierre Vittoz should rather be, in my opinion, a source of publicly shared pride. It was a pity because the family context helps understand the life of P.V.
On 24 Jan 2024, the son nr2 kindly provided a list of suggestions of corrections, which I readily applied onto these pages, when deemed necessary or suitable. One problem in those suggestions was the wish by the son nr2 to erase anything personal or subjective, or any analysis and reflection (so as to make these pages look more like a pure professional resume). This reflected a typical Swiss tendency to consider anything personal as needing to be smothered and kept secret, because of the shame linked to the implied imperfections. However, by following such an approach, the real risk would be to bury P.V. a second time... to let all life and color from PV's personality disappear for ever. With such a wane for discretion, there is a real risk for Swiss great men to be forgotten.

The daughter nr4 accepted to open a mail communication channel on 22-23 May 2024. She however reiterated demands for erasing most elements of this blog, not giving any thanks for the work undertaken, and not seeming to understand her duty to take care of the memory of P.V. feats and writings. As a possible truce, I accepted on 06 Jun 2024 to delete a few reflections and analyzes from my pages in exchange for a positive contribution by the descendants' side: the BP movie, the Gospel in Tibetan and more historical photographs.

Bernard Pierre and his book on the Nun expedition: Une Montagne nommée Nun-Kun (1954).

Pierre and Catherine Vittoz' book on their six years in Ladakh: Un Autre Himalaya (1957).

The Moravian Missions archives.

The Swiss Alpine Club journal.

The American Alpine Journal.

Jonathan Guyon Le Bouffy and his book on Joseph Gergan Joseph Gergan et l'Histoire (2012).

Martin Vernier, manager of the BEAACT archival fund, kindly transmitted on 09 Aug 2023 copies of unique pictures and documents.

The sitemaster (myself): David A Cosandey (dcosan at These pages were mainly developped between March and August 2023 and between May and June 2024.


Created: 09 Mar 2023 – Last modified: 11 Jun 2024