Expeditions supported by the SFAR
Swiss Expedition in Tibesti Central Sahara
Excerpt from: Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, 1939 to 1970. Published in Zurich in 1972
Participants: Dr. med. Edouard Wyss-Dunant, Marcel Chappot, Herbert Hildebrand, Dr. Kurt Tschudi.
Outcome: Geographical exploration of the mountainous region of Tibesti; Ascent of Ehi Musgu (3100 m), Ehi Timi (3040 m), Pic Botum (2400 m) and Aiguille Botum (2000 m); anthropological observations in western Tibesti.
Tibesti is the highest mountain region in central Sahara, with a large number of extinct volcanoes of over 3000 metres in height, hot dry valleys with scattered oases and a sparse, mostly nomadic population. Politically, the region lies in northern Chad, with a small section in southern Libya. At the time of this expedition, it belonged to the French colony of Chad (French equatorial Africa).
The German explorer Nachtigall was the first European to enter Tibesti, in 1869. Later, only a few (mainly military) French and Italian expeditions passed through the sparsely-populated desert landscape, which was largely still unknown and untouched in terms of mountaineering. The participants in the expedition described here were experienced mountaineers from Geneva, with an equal interest in science and in mountaineering. They were carefully prepared and had secured the assistance of the French colonial authorities. The relatively modest means with which the trip was undertaken were contributed by the participants themselves.
The expedition used a Jeep as a patrol vehicle, and a Dodge truck with a trailer. Each vehicle was equipped with an extra fuel container, which contained a total of 1060 litres of petrol. This guaranteed a range of a thousand kilometres. Eight 20-litre containers held enough water supply for six days, i.e. the longest stretch without finding any water.
Central Sahara: a 9600 km long expedition stretching from the Mediterranean sea to the equatorial region of Africa. About 4000 km was driven on rough roads, while about 2000 km was driven completely without any roads. In the really mountainous region, 400 km was travelled by camel and (mainly) on foot. The French colonial civilian and military authorities played a crucial and generous part in the success of the expedition. A film was produced by all four participants.