(Article courtesy of Breach Bang Clear)

Dead Bird, Gendarmes, and the Spirit of Rescue
David Reeder

Arc’teryx gear of any line is expensive. Damned expensive — and there’s a reason for that. Not only do they use the best materials they can source (often developed in-house), they design everything with input from professionals whose lives literally hinge upon the quality of their gear. This is why they do so much work with CANSOFCOM, and units like France’s Specialistes Montagne of the Groupe Montagne Gendarmerie. They are some of the finest high-altitude rescue personnel in the world, and as you can imagine the nature of their job requires a lot of specialized equipment and some great big brass balls.

I’m not sure how these guys walk with those things banging around their ankles. You’d have a hard time convincing me to let you drop me by a cable head first into a crevasse so tight you had to grease me up first to get in. Under a helicopter. In a blizzard.

Dead Bird, Gendarmes, and the Spirit of Rescue

But that’s what these guys do. French gendarmes, like Italy’s Carbinieri, Spain’s Guardia Civil, and Jordan’s Darak, are an LE element of their military. They’re a nationalized police force, operating throughout France’s mountain ranges, from the Pyrenees to the Alps. The Specialistes Montagne are to mountain operations what GIGN (Groupe d’intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale) is to counter-terrorism ops, though there are far, far, fewer of the Gendarmerie de Haute Montagne.

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Photos courtesy of Breach Bang Clear