At the mountain school, young city dwellers tame the peaks

Grenoble, report

The sun is high in the sky as the red team reaches the top of Fort de la Bastille. Built on the foothills of the Chartreuse massif, the former military building culminates at almost 500 meters above sea level and dominates the city of Grenoble (Isère). Between city and mountain, ten teenagers aged 11 to 16 prepare to spend two days full of adventure. The theme: Koh-Lanta, famous French reality TV show. In addition to the orienteering, drawing, or obstacle course events, the weekend revolves around an open-air night, a first for many of these teens.

To motivate them, something had to be at stake. They have nothing to do with coming to the bivouac in the Bastille † They want to experience an adventure laughs Eddy Yansounou, one of the five supervisors of the group and responsible for the youth sector of the MJC Premol Theater.

These are the cabins where we sleep when we win , asks Angy, 12, as she unpacks her picnic. Indeed, at the beginning of the month, four huts and six tent sites designed by students of the National School of Architecture in Grenoble were installed on the esplanade of the Bastille. They are bookable until October 2, free or at a reduced price, for guided groups and the general public. The project is part of the mandate of green capital of europe held by Grenoble for the year 2022. This bivouac is not a tourist project of unusual huts. It’s an educational project. explains Pierre-Loïc Chambon, director of the mountain mission of the city, in charge of the project. It has started an experiment with the idea of ​​building a bridge between the city and the mountains.

This Saturday, May 14, Aboubacar, Safir, Pierre, Phinéas and the others will open the site. they come out MJC Théâtre Prémol en Anatole France, located in the heart of the priority areas of the city: the Olympic Village, Villeneuve, Mistral, Lys rouge…

The tests start tomorrow morning at 5:30 am announces Kathleen Jamardo, director of the recreation center of the MJC Premol Theater. it’s dead replies Calvin, 16, who has just arrived at the bivouac after an hour of walking the winding path from the city center. But it’s still dark at 5 o’clock exclaim the others. As the animators set up the afternoon tests, Younes, 12, liberally sprays herself with perfume, soon imitated by Ciltia, 14, who pulls a bottle from her makeup bag. At the same time, Angy shows his friends the small knife he took: If there are bears, we can defend ourselves. At first glance some and others roll mechanics, but we feel the awakening fear of a night in nature. I don’t want to sleep outside murmurs Pierre, 13, when his team loses a race. There is a huge gap in the representations between practitioners of mountain activities and non-practitionersemphasizes Pierre-Loic Chambon. For many Grenoble residents, the Bastille is not the mountain. While for those who have always lived in the city, the Bastille becomes huge like a mountain adds Leïdja Prevost, head of the youth sector of the MJC Anatoll France.

The Bastille bivouac consists of four huts and six tent pitches. © Pauline Boulet / Reporterre

The project was conceived precisely with the aim of narrowing this cultural divide. Pierre-Loïc Chambon remembers that for the vast majority of the inhabitants of Grenoble, the mountain suffers from very negative perceptions: it is an accident, it is a danger

That is why the city launched the Youth in the Mountains program in 2003, which allows more than 400 young people from Grenoble to discover the mountain environment every year. Over the past three years, the program has expanded to include Families in the mountains. The bivouac on the Bastille acts as an intermediary in an attempt to reach an audience that would never dare venture off the beaten track. The question we must ask is: do we go to people or do we wait in our ivory tower for them to come to us? summarizes Pierre-Loic Chambon.

Education for citizenship, solidarity, sharing and sobriety

For example, the French Federation of Alpine Mountain Clubs (de FFCAM), partner of the project, and will take turns on site six days a week to guide visitors and pass on their knowledge of the mountain environment. The federation wants the mountain to play its role as a school of lifesays Gilles Chappaz, head of development for the Hautes-Alpes commission. We don’t just learn about sports. It is primarily an education in citizenship, solidarity, sharing and sobriety. All this is related to the major environmental problems of glacial erosion, the collapse of biodiversity and climate change. , especially visible at height. This summer, supervised groups will be able to attend a variety of educational events, from observing the starry sky and raising awareness about light pollution with the Auroralpes Association to discovering nocturnal birds of prey with the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO

Grenoble and the Grésivaudan valley seen from the Bastille, with the Belledonne massif in the background. © Pauline Boulet / Reporterre

It is not yet 5 o’clock in the morning on Sunday 15 May and the bivouac is shrouded in darkness. Eddy Yansounou is already folding his things and the friction of his down covers the shaking of the city that can be heard in the distance, behind the chirping of birds. Like the other animators, he slept under the stars to keep an eye on the teenagers. Discreetly, he sets out to get fresh pain au chocolat for their breakfast. At 5.45 am Phinéas (15) and Elouen (14), still wrapped in their duvets, come out of their tent. Fifteen minutes later, Younes and Angy, less delicately, wake up their neighbors with loud kicks in their tent and just as many bursts of laughter. My mother’s life, we slept too well exclaims Younes with a smile.

6.30am, the teenagers are waiting for breakfast. From left to right: Elouen, Calvin, Kristjan, Phinéas (from behind), Saphir, Ciltia, Angy, Younes and Aboubacar. © Pauline Boulet / Reporterre

They rose with the sun for a bonus event that their team could win at the end of this Koh-Lanta weekend. Eyes still swollen from sleep, they try to answer Kathleen Jamardo’s questions: What is the name of the mountain for us? † In what year did women vote for the first time in France? † Which of these plants is not eaten?

Their enthusiasm gives hope for a successful weekend. Will they come back to the mountains? † Will they continue for another day, in a refuge or at a high altitude? † Whatever. They discovered an environment that was largely unknown. We only protect well what we know well and what we value Pierre-Loic Chambon recalls.

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