The man who took the measure of Mont Blanc

Dressed in a blue suit, Jean des Garets presents himself with the ease of a politician, both talkative and smiling. This adopted Haut-Savoyard is enjoying his little moment of media glory. Responsible for piloting the Mont Blanc operation, this expert surveyor participated in the work of measuring the highest peak in Western Europe: 4,807.81 meters, or 91 centimeters less than in 2017, the date of the last measurement. .

“Two or three times a week, at 5 am I would set off to climb Mont Verrier for forty-five minutes, with a bag filled with a triplet of balls and everything that I could think of. “

“Mountain measurer” sounds like a profession invented for sweet dreamers. But that’s an understatement to say that he was not programmed for that. “To get there, it’s like getting to the top, there are several possible routes”, he said. He dragged his teenage doubts throughout his high school, which he did in five years in Beaujolais. Until his meeting with an expert surveyor. “There was advice, law, math, outside, physical practice… It suited me well! “

He had to take an oath, an obligatory passage since the creation of the order of surveyors, in 1946. By mentioning it, he recites it. “I swear on my honor to exercise the profession of surveyor with conscience and probity, to be loyal and correct with regard to my colleagues and to observe the texts governing the profession. “ With his wife, he saw himself launching his career in New Caledonia. But the handicap of one of his sons, born with Hirschsprung’s disease, pushed him to stabilize in France. He therefore landed in Haute-Savoie in 2006, a bit by chance.

Sports training

“When I started my job, I never thought I would do that one day”, he concedes. Drawing up plans, measuring and delimiting properties, yes. But measuring a mountain, no, never. Until then, he had never climbed any summit, hardly practiced hiking. It fell on him. “Whoever was supposed to do it resigned during the Covid period. As vice-president of the departmental chamber of surveyors of Haute-Savoie, I had to take over the management of the operation. “ He had to transform overnight.

This father of five, who had left the sport aside for years, had to train. A lot. “I must have lost 10 kg in ten months. And work my thighs. I had no choice. Two or three times a week, I would set off at 5 a.m. to climb Mont Verrier for forty-five minutes, with a bag filled with a triplet of balls and everything that I could think of. “ Little sleep, less food, a lot of physical effort. On September 16 and 17, the dates of the expedition, he left with his team of 27 people: surveyors, mountain guides and members of the project’s partner companies.

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