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D ODD1 H57D15b 1
THE VICTORIAN MOUNTAINEERS
in the early i.S6o's
BOUND IN CREAT BRITAIN BY JARROI.
First published. BATSFORD X.
. W. FOR TUB PUBLISHERS
P.D AND SONS ITD LONDON AND NORWICH. T. PORTMAN SQUARB.
LONDON W.TD 4 HTZHARDINGB STREET.
the Boswell of the Alps
The Alpine Club
the Victorian Mountaineer
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
NOTES ON THE ILLUSTRATIONS
INTRODUCTION: Half of
with the Chip
for fig. and the late Ashley P. the Alpine Club. Mrs. n. 2.. Longmans Green and Co. for figs.ACKNOWLEDGMENT
author wishes to thank: T. Hugh Merrick
for fig. for figs. the Royal Geographical Society. Ltd. C.C. Abraham.. and die Journal of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District for the account
of the Napes Needle.. D. for fig.. for fig. for fig. for help and advice. Doctor Sieber of the Zentralbibliothek. Charles Vaughan. the Royal Institution. 35. 17 and 18.. for figs.
. Time and Chance by Doctor Joan Evans. 15 and 16. the Swiss Alpine Club. 13. M. Jonathan Cape Ltd.B. all those people who have lent illustrations. the Centre Alpin de Zermatt. Vanessa Bell. Mrs. for fig.E. Picture Post Library. MajorGeneral R.B. O. 22 and 33. for fig. 5. McGibbon and Kee from
by Noel Annan. 6. Norton. Mr. F. C. S. i. for figs. of Oslo.
Mr. which it has been impossible to incorporate in this book. Mrs. The Autobiography of a Mountain Climber by Lord Conway of Allington. Lewis. Messrs. Peter Eaton.
Winthrop Young. for figs. 29.. 19. for fig.O. Thanks
due to the follow-
ing publishers for granting their permission to
Messrs. Zurich. Scrambles amongst the Alps by Edward Whymper. for his kind co-operation with the Coolidge material.
tenant-General E. 23 Mr. James Reid.
. for figs.
Mary Howard McClintock. 30. 3 and 8. C. 34. C. and
Wanderings by Alfred Wills. for fig. 24-28.
Brock. 21 and 45. Messrs. Rubenson.. 7. Helmut Gernsheim. Doctor Monroe Thorington and Mrs. for figs. and made available information. among many others.. S. 31.
for fig. Miss Dorothy
Pilkington. Fig. Captain Neville B.S. John Murray Ltd. Blakeney. Mr. 36-44. Mr. 15 is reproduced from a photograph supplied by Messrs.B. for figs. 4. 10 and 20. the Editor of The Cornhill Magazine for kind permission to use the material incorporated in an article in that journal. George Starkey.
Ulrich Aimer saving his Employers on the
Leslie Stephen: Leslie Stephen:
Guide.LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
British Mountaineers in the early i86o's
John Ruskin Members of the Wills Family on the Col d'Anterne
of the Alpine Club
Ball. Coolidge to his Mother following his
. A. 18
Glace in the late 1870'$
Edward Davidson and
Edward Whymper: Edward Whymper:
Grindelwald Guides of the Mid-Victorian Age
A letter from W. Melchior Anderegg
later visits to
on one of his
17. 1876 12 The Rev. First President
Alfred Wills and a Family
A Group on the Mer de Glace above Chamonix A Group of British Climbers at Zermatt in the late 1 86o's
John Tyndall outside the Bel Alp with his Wife. Hereford George's Party on the Lower
Grindelwald Glacier. B.
Tschingel. in 1876.LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
A. Coolidge and Albert. Jackson
P. Haskett-Smith in
manservant. at the age of 14
Victoria ascending Lochnagar.
A Group taken in the late A
showing Miss Straton
and Miss Emmeline Lewis-Lloyd
in the i86o's
showing Miss Straton and
Prince Arthur. B.
"Stable-Door Traverse" at Wastdale
W. and the Printed
of her Peaks and
A Group on
Lord Con way of Allington
Duke of Connaught. in 1864. G.Jones climbing in Derbyshire 39 J. Robinson and George Seatree
Camp. B. near Balmoral
Cecil SHngsby. James
O. W. P. 1890
early climbing days
The Spring Meet of the Cairngorm Club on Mount
Group of Climbers outside Pen-y-Gwryd. at the age of 27
"The Keswick Brothers": Ashley Abraham
and George D.
Seymour. 43. frequently.C.. including a boy of six.
Major Elphinstone. the dates can often be surmised only from the clothes or. ".
from a drawing by H.
of 162 people. Donkin at die Montanvcrt in 1882. from the type of alpenstock In spite of this the following notes on some of the pictures. and the two voyageurs. Davidson's guides are Andreas Jaun (left) and Hans Jaun. is seen shielding the bottom right-hand end of the ladder.
Mount Keen on May
seen the spring excursion of the Cairngorm Club to die top of 5th. a man of formal meeting of the Club was held on the
at the far left
or ice-axe carried. and to his left. although
has been suggested that her
might be A. 19 is from a photograph taken by W. who alone remained on terra firma leaped a yard backwards.
fig. too often. Norton.
Moore. photographs of the earlier the have survived still fewer salvage drives of two world wars and the Even when of one.000 feet/* Fig. 22. Described as the highlight of die 1890 season.
fig. Horace Walker. F.
one of the
mountaineer. Aimer. Abraham. In fig. mother and father of General E. beyond
those climbers who are shown.
left. by an eyewitness. Oscar Eckcnstein.
fig. no bombings
means of identifying.
right. with rope
. J. Abraham. Jones and George D. 14.
seen centre. was thus enabled to arrest the fall of the entire party down a precipice of some 2. G.
his son. the
attracted a record total
seventy-six and 45 ladies. 31.
. is shown seated on the far Second and fourth from left are Mrs. G. Below him. fig. a huge mass of cornice fell.
fig.. all possible doubt. Collier
of the centre row with. Brantschen.
him.. plunged his axe into the snow. and planting himself as firmly as possible.
Williams. carrying with it the leading guide. C. holding alpenstock. is shown die incident when. Wills.
holding alpenstock. most famous of all the Oberland guides. F.NOTES ON THE ILLUSTRATIONS
Victorian mountaineers were ever taken. with over right rope shoulder and ice-axe in left hand. Fox.
. son of Sir Alfred Wills. Edward Norton (daughter of Alfred) and Edward Norton. Christian Aimer. photographs are discovered there is. from
are believed to be
photographs showing a Lucy Walker and her
i. 3. O.
be of interest. J.
Members of the Wills Family on the Col d'Antcrne above the Eagle's Nest
*HERE is something a little surprising and slightly indecorous
J_ about the fact that the Victorians. certain inbuilt strengths. too often. yet they had other qualities. a popular erection vigorously strengthened during the
at first glance. Their
portraits were taken against the backcloth rather than the landscape. which are illuminated most brilliantly of all by the records of the mountaineers among
. Fate drives me. Yet it is too often forgotten that the backcloth was almost a necessity of the pre-Leica age. The Victorians were not. the bearded gentlemen from the family albums. but also of the Natural History Club. lut I leave
Half of my
with you. provided the first considerable body of mountaineers that the world had ever known. at all like their caricatures. only of the men who wrestled with problems far more
than those of today yet who still succeeded in regarding the world "steadily and whole". of course.INTRODUCTION
HALF OF THEIR LIVES
I go. their clothes were such as to make movement difficult and violent action. that the Charge of the Light Brigade was led by an officer in corsets. through its chinks one has seen.
true that they were solid and usually sober. The "indoorness" of the period is in fact merely a part of the Victorian
fafade. dangerous if not impossible. and that the closing decades of the last century were die great years not only of the local debating society. their ambitions led to the Albert Hall and the terraced rows of the great towns rather than to the Garden Cities.
They were. one might well imagine from the illustrations which have remained.
left a fortune by his father he sometimes climbed with his manat the age of sixteen as he dared servant Fortunatus following as dutifully close behind who tramped who for a while lived with thieves and garrotters. Consider who disappeared from the Victorian scene without reason and
in the Far
West. Duty forged no chain.
And grey dawns saw
his camp-fire in the rain. They were also phenomenal women they were. All these characters them represented strong forces which were at
in the age
whom it might truly have been
Change was his mistress. that ill-starred adventurer guides. Chance his councillor.
with similar companions from London to Brighton. they ill-treated their animals. beating the donkey-drivers if both of figure and of dignity. E. ample the the on "Marseillaise" top of Mont Blanc in yet singing the her with a and then dancing quadrille of the Second
frequently the stern new
William Grahame. that eccentric.
original. The wide seas and the mountains called to him. Love could not hold him.
. were nineteenth
century. few of the many thousand volumes of mountain exploration which
line the booksellers' shelves.ooo-a-year
woman who mar-
ried her guide. colourful galaxy second half of the the Alpine community which grew during the These men.
more than mental
giants.4. or benign C.
Consider Miss Straton. organising a six-course meal followed by coffee and liqueurs in the most desolate and
ill-equipped of Alpine huts. none of the hundred mountaineering groups which are scattered through Britain.of opposites who formed them. and who was remembered by one persistent question which he voiced more than any other "Is it right?" Consider Meta Brevoort. in the Alpine world.
enterprising. consider what sort of men and
Consider Edward Shirley Kennedy. and tough. almost without exception. adventurous.
of the age. Mathews. a microcosm of itself. the . almost true to claim that if there had been no Victorian
would today be no Alpine Club.
Trevelyan has written of the Victorian period.
The thoroughness of the record.
Yet there had to be something more.
"All the thought of the age arose out of the circumstances of M. the sport which during the 1 850*5 and took a relatively small number of the Victorians up i86o's most of the hitherto virgin summits of the Alps and enabled them
to gain. Strangely enough men do not go to the hills regularly for conquest alone. the scientist. of any one of them might well have meant the failure of the business to blaze up as it did.
and mountaineering so
V. to think
to feel for a while the cool keen finger of danger pointing at them. There had first to be the preparatory work of such
of John Ruskin.
up above the snowline even though they might not. And there had to be some such range as the Alps. or misplacing. All these were prerequisites for the development of mountaineering by British climbers during the middle of the
Victorian century. in a few glorious years of triumph. of that queer mountain-propagandist. They may go
that the subject
becomes half of one's
So did mountaineering.M. There had to be a demand for physical knowledge which would drive
as Forbes. Nothing less would
exacting standards of the people concerned. There had to be first. But to
climb continuously.the age". G.
How did it happen? What were the "circumstances of the age"
which made the
of mountaineering so nearly inevitable a
They were very varied. Albert Smith. the laurels which continental travellers had been eyeing for nearly a quarter of a
century. and the lack. which in Alpine statistics has the quality of an exhibition catalogue. the man who minds into thinking about mountains in a new way. a long peaceful period of economic well-being which made such excursions not only desirable but also possible. season
after season. They may even go because it is fashionable to do so. is typical. conveniently situated at the end of the carriage roads and only some couple of days distant from London. at attraction in mountains as such.
scientists. material advances of the Victorian years.
and merchants were willing to leave their well-servanted homes for the ragged bivouacs under the colder if more inspiring panoply of the Alpine stars.half of the
to treat the sport thus. doctors. the men who
questions answered in some detail. None of them are completely satisfactory. they were
salving their consciences in the Alps. the real Ivory Tower gentlemen for at least a few weeks every year. they had. scientists. Marxian. They were questions of two sorts and they were asked most
of people. fundamentally. it is true. in a manner of speaking. not only
men the craving for hard physical exercise under
the sky but
to reach the Alps with an ease
and speed which
astonished them. finding something in the mountain world that might redress the balance of the factory world in which. to get away from it all for one reason or the other. be the material circumstances of the age which enabled might
to climb mountains with a facility never before
was something more than
year after year. Alternatively. it which kept bringing them back
were always asking questions and they climbed.
This physical. They were. explanation is correct so far as it goes.
more important explanation of the which mountain-urge rippled through the Victorian years.
frequently by different. groups It is no coincidence that scientists and were
numerous among the It was natural that the
early mountaineers. because they wanted their questions answered. they worked under circumstances vastly different from those of their
The most usual explanation is that the Victorian mountaineers were over-fed with wealth. runs the argument. as did many climbers during the latter for all this to happen means that the last century
must have some deeper and less material reason behind it. and at times diametrically opposed. Many minor reasons can be given in an effort to explain how was that a few hundred lawyers. even if they worked twelve hours a day. ease and luxury. should be the first
been a number of men and women. who in 1865 took part in the famous first ascent of the Brenva ridge on the
women mountain-travellers. and a number of other glacier passes in 1828 and 1829. two years later Frederick Slade and Yeats Brown made an enterprising attempt to climb the Jungfrau with nine guides.
Mrs. had crossed the Theodule in the Pennines in 1825. William Brockedon. and Miss Campbell. directly led to its ascent in 1786. in his footsteps while there had. been asked before.
to climb in the mountains regualtered. almost literally. many of them
British. There had been other scientific mountaineers who had
had been unhampered by any
scientific ambitions. and they provided
call relatively little opportunity for what contemporary writers "the mountain magic" to get to work.same time science began to push its boundaries far beyond those of the earlier century. of course.
eighteenth-century prints. before the Victorians.
south side of Mont Blanc at the age of fifty-seven. two of the
had crossed the Col du Geant in the Mont Blanc range in the early 1 820'$. the Genevese whose offer of a reward to be given to the first man to reach the top of Mont Blanc. those white dragons of the
above the snowline with any throughout Europe became less
regularity. Francis Walker. The new enquirers began to ask why it was that one began to pant and gasp at a great altitude. Could birds or insects live above the heights at which snow lasted throughout the year? How and why did the glaciers.
aided only slightly in building up any permanent knowof high mountain travel. notably by Saussure. crossed the Theodule in the same year as Brockedon. For to secure answers to the
was only when men began
. the writer and traveller who helped John Murray produce the first edition of his famous handbook to Switzerland. they had little or no effect beyond ledge a small select circle of personal acquaintances. larly rather than spasmodically that the situation was These men were the scientists. Yet all these exploits were isolated examples of joie de vivre.
in just the
that they did
Such questions had.
finished by becoming as great a mountain addict as Ruskin (and. resolve in a the problems of high Asiatic travel. it might be said. Forbes.
became attached to the mountains of Snowdonia with an affection that was by no means scientific.
Karakoram and who. Tyndall. and later made his home in the little spiritual and almost unbelievably ugly house at Alp Lusgen. whose ponderous glacier argument rumbled round the universities for decades. whose geological researches took him into die Dauphine nearly
a decade before
Whymper went there. Bonney. not such a very different kind of addict). Ramsey. The men of science wits about acquired.
many of these
captured not only
the record of the rocks but also
the mountain scene. parts in pioneers such
who found in the mountains something that was apparently more
. who when it came to writing could rarely disentangle his mountain-worship from the trails of Royal Institution prose. It was necessary for them to be out and about not only in fair weather but in the full blast of the mountain
storm. had their counter-
as Forbes. Tyndall. almost
incidentally as it were. it was necessary for them to camp.
There are two points to note in connection with these Victorians
mountaineering to solve their scientific problems.
out the interesting to remember that those who today seek the Hindu Kush or the last technical secrets of the Himalaya. The first is the large number of who came to study and stayed to worship. the first rules of mountain travel. to build up a technique of travel above the snowline and to produce a demand for better inns below it. points which have a bearing on the apparently materialist theory
of mountaineering-impulse.which they had set themselves to solve they had to climb regularly. in order to keep both their scientific and their lives intact. to train and hire guides could carry their delicate instruments with some approach
to safety. and
the Alps during
who pressed ever more deeply into
the forties and
century. built his "London house at Hindhead where the mists can summon up the mountain glory as easily as anywhere else in the world.
them full and unavoidable contact with the into thought brought
awful problems posed by the revelations of this science which was then eating so deeply into many men's accepted beliefs. The
had done more than any other group of men to undergeologists mine man's ancient belief in the certainty of the Universe and in a life everlasting. They were. they found on them some hint of this mystic and needed
The form lacked nothing except the essential mystery.
that there were. that they both climbed for very similar
reasons.than the answers to their
conundrums. the little inn which had been opened on the magnificent vantage-point above the Aletsch glacier in the Oberland. on the same Alpine expedition. That was the outward form of affairs. they were supremely
confident of their position
Almighty's right hand. were in
in other words. so to speak. after
on the Matterhorn".
This apparent paradox of the wolf and
lamb setting out. they were able to give the answers so more a matter of easily that in many cases religion had become
good cross-indexing than of basic
in at the
Knowledge had come
window and humility had flown out at the door. hold fast to the magnificent certainties of mountain-form and
mountain-beauty. They understood the codified business of religion down to the last
"Amen". it would be easy to maintain that in that fact lay the real seed of mountain-worship when immortality goes. gave a good and well-earned advantage in the life to come
men as the guides who occasionally lapsed into believing
not so very surprising. It shows what might have been expected from the circumstances. the gentlemen who were doing their best to maintain a belief in the cosmology which the awkward scientists were destroying
with an unnerving
ease. after the physical circumstances of the age had persuaded them up into the mountains. a form in which Sunday prayers at the Bel Alp. most illuminating.
Many of the clergymen of
a hundred years ago had become rather too near to God. Many Churchmen realised the fact. men whose daily life and geologists.
Yet the geologists were no more prominent than the clergy.
they had. Few of these climbers. though in a different way. This deep spiritual satisfaction which they found in the mountains was.
between themselves and the unexplained and the inexplicable. The geologists were in much the same way.
Almost without exception. They realised that to regain something that their age had lost they had to give genuine hostages to fortune.
carried this practice
rough yet most of their contemporaries. for they felt the artificiality of the picnic at the end of the carriage-drive. In their case of religious belief as an intellectual problem posed by expanding knowledge which was the difficulty. also. it must be admitted. too. had begun to explain everything far too satisfactorily. they
kindly touch of nature one logical step farther than
knew not only the limitless suggestions but also the limitations of Box Hill and Hindhead. the only thing that did unite them. something which was to mould their lives and to fashion out of them such beings that they who climbed mountains
Victorian climbers were therefore united in seeing in their mountain adventures something different from a sport.
What is more. The academic as well as the physical and spiritual
was not so much
problems they found gave them back their necessary unknown and made them complete men once again.
something impinging on their thoughts more significantly than any hobby could ever do. either scientists or Churchmen. and of the other physically lesser hills
of the world.
pungent reasons for
they did do was to agree that they had
ears attuned to the lesser mysteries. at some period in the process.
in their own opinions at least as other men. declared
openly and boldly to the world the
mountaineering. They. the climbing of difficult mountains restored the balance. yet with them. needed to get out beyond the slick certainties of life to the point where doubt arose. they found that it gave to their mortal work a new
and hard proselytising punch.
of experiencing the
they sought "contact with Nature". This was very right. They. really to stand alone and battered by the gale with only a fair chance of getting home alive.
Kingdom It was not surprising that the Victorian mountaineers should have argued. alone. made such different approaches
to the minutiae of their sport. some of the scientists. inside it
like the great teachers. either a confirmation or a
reassurance of those beliefs
above and beyond
the supreme will of
Yet there were no
about the matter.
was the one route not only up to the gate of the of Heaven but also right through it. and they
had particular views of their own on as John Ball and Francis Fox Tuckett. the red-bearded giant who was to become the first editor of the Alpine Journal. were among the most enterprising of the great climbers. Outside the bright circle of light cast by the great Alpine disputes they might be tolerant and liberal-minded and forgiving. Whymper above all.
. They were too many-sided to agree for long on
that his. The reasons that first drove them up into the mountains were
air. combined an amateur interest in science with their love of
exploring fresh country. was also a Clerk in Holy Orders and both undertakings are reflected in the reasons which drew him to the
Bonney. Hereford Brooke George.
. became not only mountain-worshippers
but pioneers in the craft far ahead of their contemporaries.Few groups of men joined by a common enthusiasm or belief have had such varied backgrounds. the geologist. or fought such bitter and unrelent-
ing disputes in urging their own specific points of view.
anything. some of the artists.
intermingled as their interests. Many. drawn such different pleasures from a similar set of circumstances. almost by accident. notably Tyndall. their interests overflowed into the other fellows'
partments. find in the sublimity of the mountain dawn and sunset.
. such everything. saw in what he called the climbing spirit both "that love of action for its own sake which has made England the great coloniser of the world" and also a means by which men could see more
mountains. The professional first climb for mental relaxation: the
might ascend a high peak to analyse the quality of the the clergy might.
wrote a revealing paragraph
an eighteenth-century gentleman born rather too late in life when the burden of 24
great glacier controversy equal in influence Albert Smith's
Blanc Sideshow" which earned him nearly . more. one of the most astonishing things is that the Victorians were tough enough to do what they did. first saw the Alps on a student's walking tour which he "got through amazingly cheap". when one considers the development of the
development worked up into a great movement by the of a yeast strong spiritual need. David the Forbes. Even the Coolidges.
touring with their caravanserai of Christian Aimer. at times
they were astonishingly
born with a canteen of silver spoons in were like Thomas Atkinson.
wealthy.30. one or more porters and the immortal bitch
Tschingel. that Whymper was by no means well-to-do when he first went to the Alps as an engraver for Longman.000? Do either equal the influence of Ruskin's fourth volume of Modern Painters? Men not only began climbing for a multiplicity of reasons. the select Alpine Club even though he had been born "of humble origin. they continued to climb
for an equally large and varied number of reasons. It is too often forgotten that Tyndall. and that many of the less well-endowed Churchmen who played such
were. Christian". superficially among the richest of
true. became a bricklayer's labourer and quarryman. a
had to cut their travel according to their was by no means all carriages and champagne. Others. and later a stonemason and carver".
becomes a major problem to judge influence on the fairly which group of men exerted the greatest Does the sport or drew to it the greatest number of adherents. James scholarly retiring invalid who was
late. the book publisher.Largely because of this intermingling of ideas and the interlocking of resultant events. It
a prominent part in Victorian mountaineering only did so through
the use of the cheaper pension wherever possible and of the packed diligence. the poor Irishman from County Carlow. once the "circumstances of the age" allowed. These Victorian climbers are slightly surprising in
ways. They were not
tough. admitted to their mouths.
editor of the Alpine Guide.
his skiff on the
Lake of Geneva or to
loiter in the salons
Baden". "When I come.
who was interand father-confessor enemy possibly how he would again visit one of his old Alpine haunts. lost his knapsack and crossed the Stelvio on foot with.and overwork was already hanging heavily on his "He who does not feel his step lighter and his breath freer on the Montanvert and the Wengern Alp. A."
Coolidge. If none can be had. John Ball. just what he could stuff into his pockets. forty-four miles in ten and a half hours and two hours' rest. The Rev. to the end. and lonely. strode down the scorching Italian valleys
own pack although he was an Englishman who might have been expected to employ porters. he said. Yet in the toughness of his old age he was no exception. the certainly invalid. Forbes reminds one of a
years later by Whymper. that giant whose tragedy loomed like a black behind the Alpine scene for nearly half a century. Leslie Stephen was not only the editor of the Dictionary ofNational
Biography but one of the forty-mile-a-day men. I shall come in the old style". he had
made the first ascent of the reputedly inMatterhorn and had then watched four of his com-
to their death during the descent. bad-tempered and an old lion of whom the breathless.
Thun. Wethered (roughly known to some as "Botherhead") once
Leukerbad over the
. natural traits which had been deepened when. as kit and food. "Shall walk up. and take my chance as to finding a room. He was explaining to W. he wrote.
seventy-one at the time. may be classed the and among incapables permitted to retire in peace to paddle
shoulders. not order rooms in advance. Michael as as well mountain-traveller scientist. It was a tragedy whose effects mountaineering was to recover far more
quickly than did Whymper. confident. walked from Faraday. as a man of
twenty-five. younger generation was still both respectful and cautious. aggressive. in spite of illness. B. that pedantic scholar-mountaineer
mittently his friend. I shall camp out. Forbes.
the amiable Irish whose lovely map of Mont Blanc carried on the work of gentleman
Forbes. "Legends of air too rarefied to support life. Deposited at the railway terminus of the lowland belt. the Victorian mountaineer fared little better. when the first tracks were laid in Switzerland. leaving the mountain aspirant with the choice of travelling on
carriage. said this fellow first man to climb the Matterhorn in a day from
am thankful who was the
then the Vicar of Hurley. and to bathing in the Thames every breakfast in residence. keep their and ask a few pertinent and probably awkward
. and of avalanches started by the human voice. too dear except for the moderately wealthy. no railways really entered the mountain zone. even though the gentlemen concerned
would go through
the business in stovepipe trousers. "I put
the Alps. In his inns. there were then only a few miles of them and in 1857." The date was October
seventy years. many of whom had a toughness which would probably reveal itself surprisingly well on a Commando course.
Such men were typical Victorians. he said.
to say that I am very fit in health". The railway came to this shadowy land only in 1844.described to Coolidge his methods for keeping
of their adventures was primitive in a
bathe now. 1910. still lingered among the crags the 'trailing skirts' of that departed night of superstition which had before peopled them with dragons and chimeras". winter as well as summer. nine months. a world not so very different from that
which saw the end of the Golden Age. Adams-Reilly. or the out in packed diligence. the traveller bound for the Alps had for the next stage of the journey the choice of
transport petered the mountain zone. Even these sources of
foot or of bargaining personally with the muleteers. Wethered's age. with the exception of those few which followed the carriage routes across the great passes into Italy. the year in which the Alpine Club was founded. once wrote of the Alpine world into which Forbes had penetrated in the 1 840*5.
a land off the main track of Franco-Italian travellings. and one feels at times that old Semiond.
almost completely lacking in what would now be called amenities. were worst. Even as late as 1870. when his aunt came down from the and Coolidge Aiguilles d' Arves into the Romanche Valley. Here. a land traversed by few roads
traffic. a map drawn only a few years after the days of Scheuchzer who seriously listed the various species of
so laughably inadequate that they could not seriously
dragons to be found in the Alps. a strange dominion in which the heights of many of the were still cloaked in an great peaks obscurity not so very different
of the Middle Ages. although a lovely place."
of our room was
sister]. but neither milk nor butter as the cows are away. decade before Coolidge and his aunt. flowers spread out to dry on the no pillows.
means of washing apparent.
.Bonney. "I am no different
them. says cryptically: "Fresh meat could not be obtained. lay a great area of high virgin country.
It was in the Dauphine that conditions. of the came little more than a who explorers Dauphine. sheets like dish-cloths! Will went to bed while his clothes were drying and. that frontier of the Dauphine.
Miss Brevoort to her
as black as the ace of spades [wrote bag of flour and a sieve in one corner.
he confidently said of the
subject. were forced to use Bourcett's map of 1749-1754." Fleas provided an almost inexhaustible supply both
of annoyance and of Alpine humour. even at the end of the Golden Age.
Throughout most of the Alpine regions. ablaze with flowers of every hue. vermin abounded. Fleas without end!
floor. and at least the most philosophic one. both of travel and of accommodation. they found La Grave. remained there We made some tea and had boiled eggs. in his remarks to Whymper. the pioneers were by maps that were at the worst unreliable and at the best
be used. concluding it was the best place for him.
a country where even the
huts of goitrous peasants were frequently better habitation than the inns. writing of the i86o's. had almost the right attitude. the bread and wine alike were sour.
half pilgrims. that autocrat
from the heights was the signal for a of the guides' association. for the local innkeeper to summon staff for the and for servants to touch off the victory
event. the grotesquely goitrous. Men not only spoke.
banquet. still hung in the larger Alpine inns. Some spirit of the eighteenth century still hung like the gauzy mists of dawn above a world where the
Guide-Chef.During these days of mountaineering genesis. roared out to
the valley of such a triumphal
was into this remote world of the day before yesterday that the Victorians strode. to prepare
specially written testimonials. of the giants who dwelt among
the thunder of the peaks. but spoke in careful words. half conquerors. walking examples of both the success and the dissatisfaction of their own
age. collecting boxes for cretins.
. the period during which the comfortable homes of Britain were left in search of some new mystic Grail.
Each individual enthusiast merely glowed for a while in the small circle of his own personal conquests. pink-and-white paradises where
Rousseau-like peasants danced in perpetual good weather. There had first
would enable men
to be a spiritual preparation. the Studers and the Ulrichs these are only some of the Swiss who climbed the high peaks of the
Alps before the growth of the Victorian mountaineer. The
Wandering by lone
are the dreamers
of dreams. as Frederic Harrison wrote to his daughter.
by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers. The
who ascended the Jungfrau in
1811 and the Finsteraarhorn
the following year.Chapter One
are the music-makers. three essential requirements had to be met. the making of an apologia which to regard mountains neither as areas of danger and terror nor as roseate. Before mountaineering could reach full stature. Yet each man's achievements remained an isolated series of sparks.
are the movers
ever. the Hugis. unlike the British variety of the 1850*5 and i86o's.
ARTHUR WILLIAM EDGAR O'SHAUGHNESSY
the beginning of the Victorian Age the Swiss had been climbing their own mountains for a number of years. was not the stuff to blaze up.
seems. the mountains themselves
had to be given a new place in the Universe.
Before such isolated episodes could blaze up into a conflagration. "know nothing and
. a place not only where man could walk calmly close to God but where he could.
and Albert Smith. gaudily painted backcloths. the technique of mountain
best methods of moving on different types of snow and ice. exponent of mountain beauty who was the protected son of a wealthy
It was almost a mixed blessing. Piccadilly. in the 1840*8 and 1850*5.
The whole mountain world which expanded. and which grew during the subsequent years of the century. the scientist. the sayings.
travel had to be built up. com-
with Swiss misses. had Thirdly. was illuminated by the writings. the
playwright. set-piece-like. the safety measures to be observed in this virtually unknown world. and creator of the "Mont Blanc" entertainment which he produced in the Egyptian Hall.
St. and as his writings gained influence he expounded the fact with increasing
suburban wine-merchant. the existence of this world above the snowline of handful a small to be made known to more than specialist
adventurers. the writer and art critic. careful. one of which struck fear into Queen Victoria when it was later presented to the infant Prince ofWales.
but that he
in a marvellous
world". James David Forbes. Secondly. These men were John Ruskin. in the contemporary sense of the word. the sheltered. journalist.
. ofJohn Ruskin. in the
volume of Modern
Painters. the peculiar physiological problems that presented themselves
had to be enquired into by men entering a world as little known and almost as forbidding as that of the thin blue haze of outer space which awaits the explorers of today. Only with difficulty can two of them be classed as "mountaineers". Yet without them the charge built up by the middle of the nineteenth
century might possibly have exploded not into mountaineering but into some hitherto unsuspected and possibly less harmless enterprise.
His belief was
early. and genuine Bernard dogs. Ruskin was one of the first writers to believe that mountain scenery had something to offer the human race.
were carried out by three men who even in their have made little claim to genuine mountain would day prowess.feel nothing.
But loveliness of colour, perfectness of form, endlessness of change, wonderfulness of structure, are precious to all undiseased human minds; and the superiority of the mountains in all these things to the
of a painted of a museum compared with that of a simply furnished chamber. They seem to have been built for the human race, as at once their schools and cathedrals; full of treasures of illuminated manuscript for the scholar,
window matched with
repeat, as measurable as the richness a white one, or the wealth
kindly in simple lessons to the worker, quiet in pale cloisters for the
thinker, glorious in holiness for the worshipper.
Here, indeed, was an attitude diametrically opposed to that of Master John de Bremble, the medieval monk who after crossing the Great Saint Bernard prayed: "Lord, restore me to my
brethren, that I may tell them that they come not to this place of torment." Here, with no mistake, was a man who was producing a good logical reason for going up into the mountains. As
Ruskin's influence increased throughout the long Victorian reign, so did he score and underscore the lesson.
of the thoughtful mountaineering disciples who slipped the through gate that Ruskin, almost alone, had carefully pushed open for them, have acknowledged how much they owed to this
young man who was
most ways the
Many people hands upon Alpine descriptions since Saussure, but Ruskin's chapters seemed to have the freshness of a new revelation.
a personal debt [wrote Leslie Stephen].
The fourth volume of Modern Painters infected me and other members of the Alpine Club with an enthusiasm for which, I hope,
an equal to Stephen in the Alpine hierarchy, claimed that no one had added so much as Ruskin to
enjoyment of mountain scenery.
fact; that although number of seasons
many of them Golden Age and although he had ample leisure and sufficient money, yet he only climbed one mountain, the
one disconcerting the through Alps for a great at the height of mountainto learn
is even more disappointing to record that the to the that "the Alps were, on him conclusion forced experience the whole, best seen from below".
io,i64-ft. Buet. It
only the beginning of the case against Ruskin. There is on the debit side, the famous jibe about "soaped poles" with
castigated at least certain types
Later, he was to write
the extreme vanity of the modern Englishman in making a momenan Aiguille, and his tary Stylites of himself on the top of a Horn or
occasional confession of a charm in the solitude of the rocks, of which he modifies nevertheless the poignancy with his pocket newspaper, and from the prolongation of which he thankfully
escapes to the nearest table-d'hote.
This attitude condoned if not understood,
too easy to
mountain Plazo-Toro, an Alpine general from behind. Most of the evidence does troops
suggest that he failed to climb because he disliked the hardship
of getting hurt; or, perhaps more charitably, because he did not think worth while the risks of getting hurt and was
which would, in his own inexpert judgement, have to be faced above the snowline. Yet to agree that Ruskin stood merely on the touch-lines of real mountaineering is in no way to belittle his effect. He helped in the essential task of clearing away the medieval undergrowth so that men of good will might regard the mountains "steadily and whole". That he, himself, did not press on regardless with the next job of personally discovering the mountains makes his influence on the Alpine world, so great, so vital, and so lasting, all the more remarkable. Had he appreciated to the
full his effectiveness in
the primary task, he
doubt have been
was not merely be-
was no part of his
London of well-to-d wS in 1819, of slow, well-ordered summer journeys across Europe. He made the first at the age of fourteen, the second
John Ruskin, born
inherited the tradition
Bali, first President
at the age of twenty-three, and the years later, the third fourth at the age of twenty-five. From the first he appears to have looked on the Alps, as he later wrote of all mountains, as "the beginning and end of all
through them, year
recording, questioning, sketching, enquiring ever into their geological structure and their purpose in Ruskin began to build up in his own mind a picture of the
mountains in which they formed a background not merely to one existence. It particular set of experiments but to all worthwhile
many-sidedness of his approach which was of such importance. For it meant that one could have a legitimate interest
mountains without being either a naturalist or a geologist. During the i84o's, in which Ruskin's earlier travels were made, the Alps were still largely the province of the scientific mountainin the
Ruskin did not object to this. One of his ambitions was to become President of the Geological Society; he planned many of his rambles with one eye on the strata; he was an inveterate collector of specimens. Yet be believed that a man among mountains should be something more than a mere
and he puffed
passage in his Chronicles of St. Bernard
illustrates this early attitude
and which might almost have
been written by Leslie Stephen three decades
In his semi-fictitious description, Ruskin
of of a young Englishman is proclaimed by "those worthless and ugly bits of chucky stones which, dignified by the name of 'specimens become in the eyes of a certain class of people, of such inestimable value". Together with Ruskin, the young man watches the sunset above the mountains near Courmayeur.
A few rosy clouds were scattered on the heaven, or wrapped about
but their summits rose pure and glorious, just beginning to get rosy in the afternoon sun and here and there a red peak of bare rock rose up into the blue out of the snowy mantle.
companion, "those peaks of rock
Such was almost the sacred
Ruskin began to startle the professors into opening their eyes. or nearly so.rise
into the heaven like promontories running out into the deep deep blue of some transparent ocean. but he saw the mountains as illustrations of something more than the mere physical facts of life that men
were then discovering
for the first time. He could chip and analyse
with the best of them. Tilman and Shipton." "Ah yes.
reaction to the scientific approach to the mountains was in this respect curiously modern.
them at breakfast to the readers of the Daily Newstti& that although
were no news. There are few better portraits of the attitude adopted by at least some of the scientists although few went so far as this one who made a point of chipping specimens off the nearby gravestones.
which permeated almost all that he wrote. Yet it was not the geological approach but the geological
approach unallied to anything wider.
not only with Leslie Stephen
drove Tyndall to resignation
from the Alpine Club by
but also with such
famous bantering after-dinner speech Lord Schuster.
attitude. Winthrop Young. brown. the mountains were examples of God's handiwork and in moving among them man could learn to discover himself. on the condition of his being the first to exhibit a pebble
Royal Institution. in this matter at least. but
recognise one who would not willingly see them all ground down into gravel. Whereas it may be felt in any single of Forbes* page writing.
they question their secrets in
reverent and solemn
at all that
articles. eighty-rive and a half". clearly of all in his verdict on Forbes. no
institutions. that they love crag and
glacier for their
sake's sake. For Ruskin. It
look with bewilderment rather than awe
later in life so
his contemporaries. more humane. that rankled with Ruskin. that
thirst. He was at one. or more artistic. or de Saussure's.
man of science. limestone strata vertical.
represent to us their pleasures in the Alps [he wrote].
He wrote copiously. at times magnificently. all men are
perpetually in his debt. and planned writing a
. steadily throughout the latter half of the Victorian era. it appears. lies in what he wrote rather than in what he did. His reaction to "sporting" mountainis
eering and the formation of the Alpine Club
typical. thought-provoking sights. Much of his criticism would
have been justified had
may have been
not at the genuine mountaineers but at their imitators. for the truth is that he did very little. or only to be taught to peasant children sitting in the shade of the pines. And must be remembered that in 1868 Ruskin attended the Winter
Dinner of the Alpine Club. though all their knowledge was to rest with them at last in the silence of the snows. Yet wherever he travelled he wrote.
Yet although Ruskin's emphasis on what mountains might to man remained constant throughout his whole life. exultation. and no mob. essays
Ruskin and the Mountains are almost equally divided between those which paint him in avuncular colours and those which list
his outbursts against the
and be glad. not steadily in one direction or the other as he grew older but from year to year. uplifting. For nearly half a century Ruskin used this message to
erode the slowly disappearing belief that mountain areas were areas of horror and ugliness and danger. that he was at
amid cannon-banging and with great
Chamonix when Albert Smith returned. without
or reason. at times pompously.no money. his estimate of how they might best be "used" was a perpetually
changing one. from his muchof Mont Blanc. but across whole oceans of his prose there sails the
All Ruskin's influence
message that mountains provide fine. changing. joined the Club a year later his qualification being authorship of the fourth volume of Modern Painters created an excellent impression. For that.
in the world.
on man's appreciation of mountains.
his disgust that the
mountains were being used "as soaped poles in a bear-garden which you set yourselves to climb and slide down again with " 'shrieks of delight' appears to have stemmed from one unfortunate fact.
in three minutes.
For. gentlemen [he told an Oxford audience].
have lost none of my old joy in the Alps. may one imagine. you can no more see the Alps from the Col du Geant. Oh. and of the sense that
it. you may go to Zermatt
.. He wandered extensively below the snowline. gentlemen. in at this suggestion with all professional hackles
Believe me.. If want to the see skeleton the of you Alps. And occasionally he who followed mountaineers genuine burst out with an exultation which suggests those better tilings
which never came. the members of the
Alpine Club] for the
at the not-so-ripe
age of fifty-four when many mounwell expect to be at the height of their power this
same lover of the Alps jumps into battle at Leslie Stephen's suggestion that Whymper had "taught us [i. that and records: line of the Aiguille d'Arves?
Jean de great. He looked about
than those of many eyes that were more widely open him. or your love of muscular exercise.contradiction paper on Alpine Art for tie Alpine Journal Yet the on the he stood remains. He
rushes out into the
Maurienne seeking.e. happy! I shall never forget this morning unless my brains go altogether. and my eyes strangely well able to meet the full blaze of the western pyramid without shrinking. grave. and even then the sound of its cattle-bells would ring in them. psychologically edge of the always mountains. I dressed and rushed out down through the galleried village
and up on the cattle path among the dewy rich pasture.
. It depends on the cultivation of the instrument of sight itself. your curiosity. the blaze of the snow on every side. your power of seeing mountains cannot be developed either by your vanity. and red and steep. than
the pastoral scenery of Switzerland from the railroad carriage.
Consider what the record implies
his heart set in the right place
the record of a
and a genuine
feeling for the
first time really to see the mountains". outSt. the rocks clean against the heaven. or the top of the Matterhorn. little as you may think it.
or Chamouni. It may also have been influenced by the fact that the guide chosen to accompany
Ruskin on his Alpine rambles was Joseph Marie Couttet. is the clue to Ruskin's failing. perhaps. "the real beauty of the Alps is to be seen. HameFs party
on Mont Blanc
in 1820. and
between one another's
legs. "All the best views of hills are at the bottom of thfcm". one knows what sort of a man Ruskin is.
Couttet no doubt talked about the
fresh enough. as he put it. immediately. as always. For he could only look at alpenstocks and guides with the eyes of ignorance.
Here. to of "The Ruskin's Avalanche". the cripple. Al-
though he had opened the door to the Alps.
and try to find some
companionship in yourself with yourself. he never had the courage to pass through that door himseif. and it subject poem seems possible that the story of this tragedy so worked itself into the mind of the impressionable Ruskin that almost all high mountain travel appeared to him as overshadowed by almost inevitable death and disaster.
to see the
soul of the
stay awhile among the Jura. but if
tourists. It was partly. and not to be dependent for your good cheer either on the gossip of the table d'hote. and in the Bernese Plain. one of few survivors of the disastrous accident to Dr. leave alpenstocks to be flourished in each other's faces. the result of his parents' crippling care. the incident
the Alps not
from without but from within? His eye for mountain form might have led him higher on to the mountains
V. of course. and seen only.M.
. The tragedy is what he might have been. the touchstone of the mountains revealed the fact. he writes and. The truth is that there was something twisted and something lacking in Ruskin and. or the hail-fellow and well met. and the man of grey hairs". where all may see it. hearty though it be. For what might not have happened had Ruskin escaped early from the hitherings and thitherings of his wretched parents? What might not have happened had he broken out from the careful round of mountain rambles and chanced himself so that he saw
accident. of even the pleasantest
of celebrated guides.
and vivid enough. the child. Some such abnormal working of the mind is needed to explain his genuine belief that.
He provides. He was the man at
age. his prose might have thundered in the Alpine Journal to good effect. chronologically. just as Ruskin made it worthwhile. epitome of all the
And it is
mountaineers. in dozens of small incidents which stand out
his stern scientific accounts.
and each when its day is done is often in a mood to regret the work of its own hands and to praise the conditions that obtained when it was young". He made mountaineering possible.
would have come of it had
not the mechanics of mountain-travel
been investigated in
crippled in early life
religion. an ideal example of
took place in those
who came to the mountains to study and who stayed to worship.
well Ruskin might have presented the fine mental
case for mountain-appreciation. well-to-do. mountain prophet
He made men look at mountains. moving through who with the last ruffle of his cuffs in place. between the world of Saussure and the world of the Victorian mountaineers.
the link provides. the tall unassuming professor of the early Alpine world Edinburgh University.
a yet retaining until death
love of mountains and mountain-travel.
. He made them talk about mountains and think about mountains.
the lock-gate turning the wheel to let the
through. in spite of the fact. John Tyndall. And he provides.than any other man of his generation.
that he would have agreed part of his tragedy later Victorian that with Martin Conway. psychologically. courteous.
was James David Forbes.
examples of the wonder and
which came to men when they sporting possibilities of the Alps. Forbes was in almost
of that every respect the text-book opposite
scientist. And. performed this task. Ruskin still towers as the first.
once wrote that "each generation makes of the world more or less the kind of place they dream it should be. and possibly the greatest.
All this was not to be.
acquired from his father. working at new experiments until they finally broke his health. visiting Innsbruck. and he generally swung himself into the busy routine of professorial life. like the master. to Oxford. Vienna. he decided first to establish himself in life and then to spend a part of each summer on the Continent. Forbes was led to the Montanvert. for Forbes. and Chamonix. His mountain travels would. by no less a guide than Cachat le Geant. who kept a in Edinburgh and a country house at Colinton. Naples. touring "not as an amusement but as a serious occupation". Siddons so that
might be improved. All of them and they continued until stopped by ill health were imbued by the same unusual mixture of intellectual
. and precociously
sending anonymous papers to the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal.
publication was under the editorship of the renowned Sir David Brewster.town house
Forbes. who printed the papers under the illusion that they must be from some distinguished and original-minded man of science. form an essential part of it. at
enough money for careful travel. the sunny belvedere above die Mer de Glace. one of those who had accompanied Saussure on his famous ascent. Rome. He travelled to London. to meet other men of science working in the same fields as himself and to discuss with them the various problems on which they were mutually at work. The post was no sinecure. rocketing into prominence. recording. On this first visit to the Alps. to Cambridge. He
took lessons in elocution from Mrs. and although always busy.
And. he was aided in his mountain-explorations by the old Scottish University system which crowded the year's work into six months and left the other six in each year free for travel. His first sight of the mountains came at the age of sixteen when he was taken on the conventional Grand Tour. He had not long to wait. it must have been as though good fortune had now given him another link with the master. becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society at the age of twenty-three and being elected to the Chair of Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh the following year. deducing. he
planned. born in 1809. already cultivating his genius for observing.
by one passage from his Travels through the Alps books which sparked the imagination of the one of those of Savoy consolidated the Alpine Club.
and to be overcome. Forbes. such as would prevent him from scampering from col to peak with an almost insane restlessness/* The first of his mountain journeys was made in 1835 when he
slight a tincture
. Mornings of active exercise.
over. with his staff. went one step
becoming imbued with the passion for exploration and climbing as a worthwhile endeavour in its own right. to be admired.
of the next
such as Tyndall and Bonney.
nose on the rocks. like Arnold later in the century. an from that of Ruskin who would
never have rubbed
generation. its wonders.
attitude significantly different
the attitude that Forbes retained throughout life. And most of those who have made the trial will
as amongst the happiest periods of their lives those which a favourite study has been pursued in the retirement of mountain scenery.
or rock as the case might be). His
philosophy of mountain-travel. his conception of the place which it should occupy both in scientific observation and in the happy
life. and its
difficulties. was not often employed. mind have some wholesome employment as well as the body [he wrote]. brushing the early dew before him. content
to leave to others the glory
of counting the thousands of leagues of earth and ocean they have left behind them. with here and there a day interposed of easy society with intelligent
or employed in reducing and digesting the knowledge previously acquired by observation. give the sense of living twice
travellers. when he sees the field of his summer's campaign spread out before him. and evenings of quiet thought and speculation. established in some mountain shelter with his
on bis first day's walk amongst the Alps in the tranquil of a morning long July day. Forbes
always kept to his earlier attitude. saw all life "steadily and whole".
to be explained. later which generation
Mere change of scene and active exercise produce fatigue at last. its beauties. his old guide. In many ways.
who. and added: "He would still be invaluable to any man with ever so
science.observation and emotional enjoyment. Late in life he regretted that Auguste Balmat. makes for the hill-top (begirt with ice armed and. from sunrise till afternoon.
scientist was still making his exact observations. Fortuitously. ostensibly to carry out
number of experiments on terrestrial magnetism.
traveller. It was during these two journeys that Forbes first began to appreciate the mountains not only as an arena in which he might tilt against the scientific unknowns. and watched the glacier waters disappearing into the Trou de Toro. In both cases Forbes wrote the first paragraph in a chapter of British mountaineering. the other an inspection of the Veneon Valley in the Dauphine Alps which brought him to La Berarde. First he crossed the glacier pass of the Col du Says
to Valgaudemar. One was the first complete circuit of Monte Viso. and it was to La Berarde
that he returned in 1841.
so far as
known. Gottingen. Moore. the rocky pinnacles of the Langkofel and the Marmolata groups.
fame. was more adventurous. Tuckett and Coolidge are written so clearly and so large. but also as a source of purely non-scientific wonder.
visited the universities
This time there was no doubt about where his interests lay. "The scenery is stupendous".
had been that of the enterprising mountainan interesting one. journey took him into the almost unknown area of the Dolomites where he saw. he wrote in an enthusiastic account of the Dauphine. a guide whose
name is woven into
the fabric of Dauphine exploration. the first dealing with attempts on the Viso that ended with Mathews' ascent in 1861. the first Englishman to reach the little hamlet at the foot of the Ecrins which was later to develop into the centre of Dauphine mountaineering. then struck south into Austria. then he returned
. but not such as to warrant his later was not until 1839 that he made the two journeys which
were to give him a genuine position in the mountain peerage.
Cirque de Gavarnie and the Breche de Roland. hiring Joseph Rodier. Whymper. the
traveller.travelled to the Pyrenees to study the
geology of the region. the second with the exploration of the Dauphin6 across which the names of Bonney. but
Forbes the mountaineer. and pressed on into a score
of tiny hamlets where he was. with amazed eyes.
scientific assistants. on a scene which included no trace of animation and of which our party were the
. an expedition which Forbes. helped by had turned into the centre
of enquiry. he
combined work and pleasure. for some inexplicable reason. For the
uncrossed passes. The "Hotel des Neuchatelois" consisted of a large cave on a rockisland in the middle of the glacier. the great Swiss geologist whose Etudes sur les Glaciers had concentrated a major part of scientific
thought on the problems presented by the Alps. and then set out on a five-
hour tramp up the Unteraar glacier to Agassiz' encampment. the mountains and the glacier. made more weatherproof by a wall of stones. Agassiz had invited Forbes to his famous "Hotel des Neuchatelois" so that on
leaving the Dauphine in 1841 Forbes made his way to the Oberland.
Forbes enjoyed himself at the "Hotel des
I here willingly record [he later wrote] that I shall never forget the charm of those savage scenes. the fourth that had taken place and the first British ascent a climb which presented greater problems than the regular ascent of Mont Blanc. but making
the "hotel" the centre not only for scientific but also for
tain expeditions. Perhaps Forbes
previous year.Vallouise. The varying effects of sunshine. he had met Louis Agassiz. formed by a huge overhanging block of mica schist. at a meeting of the British Association in Glasgow.
in the Dauphine.
cloud and storm upon the sky. the rosy tints of sunset. thus linking three
that he could conscientiously give time to a little "pure" mountaineering in view of the arrangements which he had made for scientific work later in the season.
porters. and it was here that Forbes spent three weeks during the summer of 1841. the cold hues of moonlight. rested at the Grimsel Hospice.
spot that Agassiz. and more comfortable by layers of grass and oilcloth on
the rocky floor. of his scientific expeditions
guides. occasionally travelling back to the Grimsel Hospice for a few days. his most important expedition being an ascent of the Jungfrau.
of the Weisshorn and all at once the scientist blazed into the mountaineer as he replied." Forbes had a feeling for mountains equalled only by his desire
to solve the great
problems of the
presented one of the main problems of the physical
world into which
were enquiring. he added.
Here was a
man of whom
he was brought
of illnesses from which
he never recovered. Ruskin suggested that Forbes' sketch might be of the Matterhorn it was. but
did they. serene labour". and may even have influenced Ruskin's early attitude to the mountains. and. perhaps. you will never take anything else for it. and even
Alpestre. drove him to the championship of Forbes
argument which broke out later between Forbes and Tyndall. It was known that was not known how they moved. "Our busy fellowtraveller seemed to us taciturn. "Quiet.
finally. The meeting lingered in Ruskin's memory.
of regelation. and. sitting in a corner of the room. thawing and then re-freezing? It was to the answers of such questions that Agassiz was seeking an answer on the Unteraar glacier. Ruskin was looking through his sketches in the coffee-room of the inn while his mother and wife were
demurely at work near by.
out of mountain
Throughout the next two decades
enquiry into these
. somewhat severe-looking and pale". as it were. Forbes' concern with the great glacier controversy continued to limit the time he could devote to mountaineering.
Forbes was interested in the sketches of so young a man Ruskin was only twenty-five at the time. Were they solid bodies which slid down the sides of the mountains as a sledge will slide downhill? Were they viscous bodies which
glaciers moved. Forbes. was how Ruskin described him. slightly inaccessible. who met him at the la Hotel de Poste on the Simplon in 1844. freezing. was. "No and when once you have seen the
Matterhorn. was quietly sketching.great things might have been expected. in fact.
The Forbes of the mountaineering years has rarely been more accurately than by Ruskin.
" Forbes had realised. Often they were accompanied by another David of the Montanvert. "and found that the matter of dispute was neither of the common topics politics or religion but the theory of the glaciers. Men felt strongly
the disputes split old friendships.problems led to a
of disputes conducted with a ferocity about the matter.
long worsted stockings and a pair of doublesoled London shoes which had been locally nailed. a thoughtful
the objective enquiring mind of the scientist. Balmat chipping observation marks on the nearby rocks. what portions of them moved at the greatest speed. noting
and finding how far they had moved after so or hours many days. the two men spent part of the early summer in driving metal stakes into various parts of the glacier. astonishing. and
hired Balmat. into the world of scientific travellers as a companion and friend rather than a hewer of wood and drawer of water. and at what speed. who was
become the first President of the Alpine Club. carefully dressed in a suit
their positions. and together they Couttet guide.
and from the time of his stay at the "Hotel des Neuchatelois" much of his time in the Alps to obtaining such
measurements. created bitterness. "I listened". that before one could solve many
of the glacier problems it was necessary to carry out detailed measurements showing just how much glaciers moved. Forbes. John Ball. Forbes
measurements on the Mer de Glace above
Balmat. setting up his
instruments on the glacier. recalls how one day at the Grimsel Hospice he overheard two young men who had travelled from America together. and Couttet shielding Forbes' instrument
of the sun with a large green umbrella. he says. and who were now parting company on the most bitter terms of enmity.
He began this work
summer of 1842.
. Together. and
cance in the story of mountaineering because it helped to raise the status of the Alpine guides by bringing one of them. and developed into a series of almost religious controversies. who had studied as friends in Germany. early on.
explored the glaciers.
. In spite of this.The
observations proved three important things
moved steadily and not by fits and starts. He returned to Chamonix by way of Zermatt. Forbes had already more above the snowline than any other Englishman. he was struck with fever from the effects of which
he never fully recovered. and for almost a text-book for mountain-travel. and observed the total eclipse of the sun. He continued his glacier observations. Eight
he published an account of his Norwegian visit and it a note of his appended wanderings in the Dauphine a note which for more than a decade was virtually the only information
the district. the Swiss scientist. and that they moved faster in the
centre than at the sides. the hard-headed Scotsman. and then climbing the Riffelberg. while travelling through Bonn on his honeymoon.
normal course of his scientific work. this time with Professor Studer. to get to work on the glacier itself and prove the matter once and for all.
appeared to be at the height
of his power and on the verge of a genuine mountaineering career. Yet the crippling effect of his illness prevented the development of his wanderings
into anything approaching high climbing. In 1851 he travelled to Norway. Yet the following year. almost a geological sketch. for the little hamlet did not have an inn.
had been formed on all three needed Forbes. staying with the village doctor. It was here
famous drawing of the Matterhorn. in both of which places he was probably the first British traveller. and throughout the
fifties. Satisfied with his results and having left Balmat to supervise
further observations throughout the winter he was off again. which was later so praised by Ruskin in the fourth volume of Modern Painters. that they moved glaciers by night as well as by day. first to Arolla
and then to Evolena.
in the mid-thirties.
constantly in touch with the
growing band of young men. Forbes' influence continued to increase. though he relied more and more on Balmat. He made an enterprising attempt
on the Aiguille du Moine with Balmat and David Couttet. In 1845
he had published
Travels through the Alps of Savoy. Theories
at the implications of the Matterwondering. purely non-scientific interest in the Alps.
the dreadful accident
place. and rather one may imagine. He encouraged Adams-Reilly in his great project of mapping Mont Blanc. horn disaster. in 1859. Edward Whymper. after all. and gentlemen of leisure.lawyers.
In 1853 he invited Balmat to visit
in England. had explained to him in the Birmingham house where the
Forbes died in 1868. sensed the attraction of the great mountains before
Edward Whymper had been born. one-
thousandth of the population. The Eagle's Nest.
formation of the Alpine Club had
been formally discussed.
. as was said of Coolidge. moreover. discerning.
member. thus being the godfather of that long association which culminated in Wills' famous
of the Wetterhorn and ended with Balmat's death in Wills' chalet. He never developed into a mountaineer as did some of the later scientists
such as Tyndall and Bonney. the Alps and their names were not even symbols but queer words which meant little
more than unusual sounds used by men back from
Neither Ruskin's revelation of the mountain glory nor Forbes'
careful enquiring journeys
would have had much
Victorian public had it not been for the activities of a third man. non-scientific reasons for
mountaineering which grew up during his later years. Both Ruskin and Forbes spoke to the informed. "the great master". whose sole English survivor.
and subsequently introduced him to Wills. discovered by quiet observation how one could travel among them
in relative safety.
and played a significant part in having the map published by the made the first honorary Alpine Club of which he was. few even among this small minority real knowledge of mountains and for the middle classes. He had. He had.
alone for the vast belly-and-body masses. Yet during the later period of his was. doctors.
worn out by illness and work. in the Valley of Sixt.
than either Ruskin or Forbes. harder. Throughout the rough-and-tumble of authorship he had retained much of the genuine mountain enthusiasm which had driven him across France as a younger man with only a few pounds in his pocket so that he might look at Mont Blanc and
where he volunteered. The Man in the Moon. In 1849 he visited the Middle East and returned to London where in 1851 he gave his first public entertainment. Smith set out for Mont Blanc.Someone very different from either Forbes or Ruskin was needed before any knowledge of mountains or mountaineering could.
He was born in Chertsey of The Peasants of Chamouni. his later experience of a rather Bohemian playwright and author who was rarely worried by such bourgeois matters as solvency. in 1820. "The Overland Mail".
in 1816. an author of light plays. Smith trundled steadily up the ladder in his new profession in a deft but slightly haphazard
way. and subsequently followed the news of each new ascent of the mountain with an almost pathological interest. filter down deeply and yet more
Victoria's subjects so that eventually inarticulate had heard of at least one mountain. like rain on the earth.
or nothing about any other mountain in the Alps.
Blanc". He made a brave. was cut for the job. as a
porter willing to
out for the summit
accompany any party setting and returned to London where the profession
of doctoring gradually left him and where he turned to writing as an alternative love. as dramatic
critic to the Illustrated London News and joint editor of a shortlived magazine. different. un-
successfully. His early background was that of the small surgeon's practice
Albert Smith. As a contributor to Punch. harsher.
the year. received as a child a
studied medicine in Paris. The idea of climbing Mont Blanc obsessed him even though he
misleadingly simple. copy a book which described the accident to Dr. Hamel's party on Mont Blanc. "the
man of Mont
up by his father in a sleepy Surrey town. hitch-hiking. a venture a than more him at for of which had nattered away thought decade.
Comyns Carr. " although the curios'* were not highly remarkable from the standpoint of high art. kept from making Blanc. Smith was in almost every respect a totally different sort of man from those who were about to create the sport of
mountaineering. were piles of French novels. iron jewellery from Berlin of the historic "Ich gab Gold fur Essen pattern. later in life he wore a beard.
He had gone back to Chamonix
whenever the chance
the ascent of Mont
both would be contributed to the ascent of
was not merely
from. on the whole. and his profession. more by lack of finance than
lack of courage. dolls. Littered about the room. and were not very antique. men of singular opinions. porcelain and meerschaum pipes although Albert was no smoker and the
model of a French
diligence. his enthusiasm.
times perilously near the edge of
of him paints a
a strange contrast to the future elders of the Alpine Club. crimson sash.
something that might have been considered quite inexcusable. broad-shouldered. caricatures. as a result of the success of
"The Overland Mail" he had
money and leisure. a debardeuse silk shirt. claimed that his initials represented merely two-thirds of the
truth. his study was like a curiosity shop. Mont Blanc. he bore a most striking resemblance to Mr. toys of every conceivable kind. and. and flowing locks of light brown. with grey eyes. spending a
friends the Tairraz at the
Hotel de Londres. stubborn will.
. the white linen raiment of a Pierrot.
His voice was a high treble. made in the similitude of fruit. and angry words. one feels. which was on the ground floor. short-necked man. and velvet trousers. and large side-whiskers.
I can recall him [writes Sala] as a sturdy-looking.
while Dickens resigned from the Garrick Club when elected for in this he was comparable to many of the was Smith most famous Victorian mountaineers. He was rather showy. Smith was something more. in yellow paper covers. and his
vulgarity. cakes of soap from Vienna.
his contemporaries Douglas Jerrold slightly disliked by. miniature Swiss chalets. Now.
with my Lord Mayor and other distinguished members of the corporation. all of whom were glad to join Mr.
Yet there can be no doubt that Albert Smith. the Hon. Floyd. There was Smith and his three companions. He set out in the right
spirit. and about a score of porters and other volunteers who were accompanying the party varying distances up the
mountain. and an indication that the Victorians set about climbing much as and then at 'em" set about Wellington "first a full belly
one of die kindest and cheeriest of
have added that Smith was also one of
wedding-day he was found. not having a knapsack under
At Chamonix he was joined by three men.
I found my old knapsack in a store-room [he writes]. lost all their luggage.He was
mankind. like Smith himself. and filled it as of old. as
no doubt chronicled
even though he knew that with any luck the ascent would provide the material for some public performance. and I beat out the moths and spiders. Smith in his ascent once they learned his identity. a total of sixteen guides. quietly reading was he which from dragged away by the officiating position
clergyman. The first two were to become.
The table of provisions provides an interesting comparison with the contemporary ineal-in-a-biscuit school.
After a day's waiting for good weather.
also. William Edward Sackville-West. had a genuine enthusiasm for the adventure. the party set off. who were going to the fetes at Paris in honour of the Exhibition. and Charles G.
Sala. at the hour a paper at home. one of the largest and most unwieldy parties ever to straggle out from
Chamonix. members of the Alpine Club solely on the strength of
of Mont Blanc. and who. Francis Philips. when he set out for Mont Blanc.
. I left London Bridge in the mail-train of the South-
Eastern Railway. a planned for the ceremony. 1851. and on the first of August.
the whole population a-flutter with handkerchiefs in the
street. dressed with bouquets and champagne
bottles. was not without its critics.
francs. partly due to a particularly boisterous party
Robert Peel.60 for each of the four travellers. made at a cost of nearly .Here are the provisions which added 456 to the cost of Smith's expedition:
. There was a bivouac on the Grands Mulcts. a fine view from the summit. George
of St. a safe descent.
The ascent. was unremarkable. the thirty-seventh of the mountain and the first to be made by any future member of the Alpine Club. Jean botdes of Cognac
1 bottle of Syrup of Raspberries 6 botdes of Lemonade
2 bottles of Champagne
10 small cheeses
6 packets of chocolate 6 packets of sugar
4 packets of prunes 4 packets of raisins 2 packets of salt
4 legs of mutton
4 shoulders of mutton 6 pieces of veal
11 large fowls
and a triumphal entry into the village of Chamonix with cannons firing.
60 bottles of Vin Ordinaire
6 botdes of Bordeaux
10 botdes of St.
a festive table in the courtyard
of the Hotel de Londres.
for a mindless and rather vulgar redundance of animal spirits.
"The Ascent of Mont Blanc".
ran until two years before Smith's death in after its first performance. a third
was given. and "The Ascent of Mont the entertainment which he subsequently produced at
the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly. attended a special private morning performance of the show. yet
1860. opened on March 15. and. played to packed houses.
Both survived the criticisms. topographical. Smith afterwards being presented with a diamond scarf-pin by the Queen.
the same criticism was to be levelled against both
Smith's description of the ascent. He need not have
certain rather naive innocence. Both were a curious mixture of gauche sensation. which forms the concluding
of his The Story of Mont Blanc. Prince Alfred. Those of Mr.
ness. making Smith not only financially but in reputation. and various less serious allusions. Smith appears to have been uncertain as to its financial success. journey from London to the summit of Mont Blanc was interlarded with historical. will not go far to redeem the somewhat equivocal reputation of the herd of English tourists in Switzerland. in which every incident was over-dramatised. this time at "Windsor before the Court and King Leopold I of Belgium. so that for a whole segment of the population he became "the man of Mont Blanc". the Prince months Only the of "Wales the future Edward VII and Prince Consort. 1852.
. Albert Smith will be most appropriately accorded in a tissue of indifferent
stale fast witticisms.
with an incessant straining
of the four pedestrians to the top of Mont Blanc. for such it was.
years afterwards. The show.
worried.Saussure's observations and his reflections
on Mont Blanc
philosophy [said the Daily News]. a display in which Smith a described series of dioramic views drawn by William personally and in which the whole Beverley. Two years later a special performance was given before the Queen and the Prince Consort at Osborne. with the accompaniment of Sir Robert Peel's orgies at the bottom. Even after the first performance.
In 1853 he was invited to the ceremonial opening of the first hut on Mont Blanc. behind-the-stockades figure as Douglas Freshfield."The Game of Mont Blanc". Throughout it all he returned to filling the Egyptian
Chamonix almost every
fellow but also
year. then making his first visit to Switzerland. strange to say. There can. on a tour of the Glacier des Bossons. one
guides. St. and accepted. Almost everything that he did
had some publicity value for the show which is claimed to have brought him . had once contemplated forming an Alpine club. have been few things more likely to bring Alpine climbing into disrepute than Albert Smith and his rather ostentatious showmanship. and all the attributes of a carefully
planned advertising campaign jollied up enthusiasm while Smith Hall.
and one of the animals presented to the Queen. incidentally. an invitation to become an original member of the Alpine Club revealing in his reply. being feted not only as a
public benefactor. four years later he was invited to the village so that he might conduct the
Prince of Wales.30.000. the "Mont Blanc Quadrille" and the "Chamonix Polka". who had climbed Mont Blanc in 1827. educated viewpoint of the Victorian mountaineers.ooo which he left when he died. Yet in spite of it Albert Smith received. Even such a
saw Smith's show at the age of nine. from the safe. which fortune or rather his own enthusiasm enabled him to
vacation. he did
things. Swiss costumes.
profit. was sold by the thousand while the music which drummed through the mid-i8so's included. admired the man of Mont Blanc and later wrote of him that:
He came forward just at the psychological moment when railways
had brought the Alps within the Englishman's long And.
. secure. and which certainly accounted for most of the ji8. as a direct result of Albert Smith's efforts. that he and John Auldjo. Bernard dogs were brought to London by Francois Favret. and approximating roughly to an Alpine snakes-and-ladders. he had a genuine passion for Mont Blanc.
Swiss misses. complete with rules and counters.
as he says of the Mur de la Cote:
It is difficult
too easy to laugh at Smith's sensational descriptions. Yet among the crowd there was more than one youngster who
there existed a field for adventure
looked. women who would never visit the Alps. even if they did not know. but it is possible to believe putting into the language of his public much the same thoughts
that fluttered at times across the
minds of many early climbers
. On nearer acquaintance he might revise his opinions of what he saw. He really loved the Alps. Smith
revealed to scores of
which they had never before his audience naturally consisted of men and Most of suspected. there is no chance glide like lightning from one frozen crag to
another and finally be dashed to pieces." Neither words nor situation are exactly comthat Smith was merely parable. Secondly.
"Should the foot
or the baton give way. of the summit of the Wetterhorn: our position. and its Yet without Albert Smith he Barnum-and-Bailey atmosphere.encouraged men to visit Chamonix. and the more discerning among his audiences sensed. This is his sincerity." Yet even a few years later Alfred "Wills. His eagle eyes
cerned that new world waiting to the bluster and rumbustious exaggerations of Albert Smith. could "I was almost appalled by say. its girls
planet swims into his ken". The mountains might appear to him in
Egyptian Hall with its fancy programmes. and
more important. experienced and careful climber who was to become President of the Alpine Club. hundreds and hundreds
of feet below in the horrible depths of the glacier. to agree that. Yet there is another reason for the influence which he exercised over the most unexpected of the Victorians. through the slightly distorting eyes of Smith as through magic casements. let alone climb them. that sober.
would never have disbe conquered which lay beyond
Smith helped to convert many young men to mountaineering and for this he was forgiven much. and not a few of those who did so took the next step and climbed Mont Blanc. that he had not gone to Chamonix entirely with the idea of making money. would never have felt like "that watcher of the skies when a new
a light rather different from that in national costume.
In spite of the cannons of Chamonix. All would have ridiculed it could ever be climbed alone. on "the edge of all things". Round it he built his own imaginative fortifications. Both reject the idea that the common mass can stand.
was a rather
Smith saw the mountains. Mont Blanc was the Promised Land. not clearly as Forbes had seen them. For Albert Smith.
the three ever imagined. so out of keeping both with the other mountain language of the time
and with what he appears genuinely
the idea that
. not with the eyes of genius through which Ruskin had looked at them. as it was by Frederick Morshead in 1864. a distant. in spite of Ruskin's disgust. His writing was in one way queerly comparable with that of the modern rock-climbing writers who go to the other extreme with carefully stressed understatement. epitomised by Mont Blanc. virtually inaccessible place.they pioneered their ways up what was
later to become "an easy 3 a for '. day lady Yet the real reason for Albert Smith's extravagant terms. All had to make their own individual contributions before there was much hope of mountain-climbing developing into a serious and significant method of employing one's time. the man of Mont Blanc was much nearer in spirit both to
Forbes and to the
"Don Quixote of Denmark
a sanctuary about which one might inform the crowd but about which it would be unwise to let slip too much factual information. as it were. making it not only for him but for all those who
might crowd into his display. but through a luminous golden haze of unreality. All would have been gravely offended by the idea that Mont Blanc could be ascended without guides
was by Kennedy's party in 1855.
greatness a long need. only by chance did the one area for their discoveries remaining in Europe lie above the snowline. other than
the guides. O PIONEERS
the vision. only half a century previously and only some thirty men.
be one with the vision. as the Golden Age continued during the later 1850*8. usurp the prime glory of discovery. and ensue
about the Alps
not easy to understand the lustre of the unknown that hung little more than a hundred years ago. They were mainly interested in treading into those places of which men had no knowledge. The Jungfrau and the Finsteraarhorn had.Chapter
PIONEERS. Only later. it is true. largely by trial and error. and they built up their principles of snow-craft almost as they went along. only then. they knew nothing of breaking strains. the Meyers.
. had stood upon its summit since that memorable event. not the deed. they let their ropes be held by guides.
it. did the glories of the mountain world.
mountain world whose existence was revealed in the JL forties and fifties was investigated by men who were explorers rather than mountaineers. been climbed by those redoubtable Swiss brothers. as a result of mutual intercourse and the exchange of experience. "Lights out! Lights out!"
hear the bugles and not to doubt. did the happy few develop the craft of mountaineering. as such. as a most exceptional effort.
to the throne. These explorers had a virgin innocence of the first principles of mountaineering. the
Blanc had been reached.
bugles crying faintly through it.
unknown and unmapped peaks
. but in between there lay a country. For the Victorian mountaineers. The conquest of this whole range. among a tangle of glaciers that were the longest in the whole of the Alps. later of those in the groups to the east and the west. Near by
lay such peaks as the Weisshorn. Toward the western end of this crescent lay Mont Blanc. many of
hamlet of Zermatt. lay the Dauphine south of die Romanche. which was as little known
to most Englishmen as far Cathay. although the summit had so far escaped the conquerors. and a score of minor summits. There were a number of passes across the Alps. and Eiger so plainly visible from the
northern plain of Switzerland. and
Dolent. only recently depopulated of dragons yet
lying in a great crescent only some 400 miles from their comfortable firesides. running from the Mediterranean to the peaks of Austria.
Bernina Alps as well lower groups. and whose lower summits had been reached. the Grand Combin. first of those peaks in the more central groups such as the Pennines and the range of Mont Blanc. across the deep trough of the Rhone Valley. such mountains as the Schreckhorn and the
Mallet. the Matterhorn. and. as there had been for hundreds of years. the
as well as the highest mountain in the Alps.
the east lay the Pennine Alps with Monte Rosa.
the north and north-east. Monch.of the lower peaks of Monte Rosa had been climbed.
Farther east stretched the Lepontine and the as the Dolomites and numerous smaller and
beyond the Graian Alps. one of the few mountains in the range whose ascent had been frequently attempted. rising almost from the outskirts of the village of Grindelwald. the Alps. the Dent Blanche. had much the same significance as the thin blue
haze of outer space has for the adventurers of today. went
In the far south-west. an area into which no Englishman had yet penetrated. with the Wetterhorn. lay the Bernese Oberland with the great peaks of the Jungfrau. Near foot lay Chamonix. later to become the centre for ascents not only of Mont Blanc but of a whole galaxy of fine peaks around it
as the Aiguille Verte.
It was not the first marking ascent of the mountain.
During the following few years. and the Bietschhorn fell to British climbers in the following year and so.through a number of phases. and by the increase of mountaineering among women. and the Eiger to Charles Carrington. was the only great peak in the Alps which had not been climbed. men went out to the Alps from Britain in increasing numbers. but it was the one which became best known
both through the story which Wills told to his fellow-climbers when he returned to London. the Rimpfischhorn. and the description of the ascent
which he later gave in the Wanderings. By the turn of the sixties. did the Grand Paradis. helped to make this ascent by a travelling Englishman on his honeymoon the one event which in the eyes of many people marked the creation of a
sport. by climbing in ranges beyond the Alps.
V. by which time the Meije. and the Alphubel. lasting until the turn of the century and being marked by the developMatterhorn by
ment of guideless climbing. Charles Hudson. Among the other great peaks of the Alps. by the climbing of old mountains by routes. by the development of climbing in Britain. The Wetterhorn's position in the forefront of the view from Grindelwald. The Dom in the Eastern Pennines fell in 1858 to the Rev. in 1860.M. the most important of which was the Golden Age which started with the conquest of the Wetterhorn by Alfred Wills in 1854 and ended with the ascent of the
and his party in 1865. In 1855 the highest peak of Monte Rosa was reached without guides by the Rev. and a party of young Cambridge men. in the Dauphine. a village already being visited by hundreds of travellers each year. the Grande Casse. the finest amateur of his day. whose early history is still being unravelled by scholars. and by 1865 more than a score of the major Alpine summits which had defied the native Swiss were beaten into submission by the carefully swung axes of British climbers and their guides.
of the Wetterhorn in 1854 is generally taken as the start of "sporting" climbing. Davies.
. the stream of activity was in full flood. the Aletschhorn. The Silver Age followed. Ll.
Wandering Jew and the
you laughed. Boileau de Castelnau. The first of these factors was by far the most important. The superstitious natives in the surrounding valleys (many of whom firmly believed it to be not only the highest mountain in the Alps. but no farther. Thirdly.
remarkable Frenchman. above all. hung out longest after the Matterhorn tragedy of
and it was not until 1877 that the first chapter of Alpine conquest was definitively closed with the ascent of the Meije by a
1865. that queer. they gravely shook
their heads. lovely country south of the main Alpine chain. differentiated the Alps of that distant era from the Alps of today. rash approach.
Throughout the whole of the period which began with the exploration of the 1840'$ and has continued until the present day. the men who stepped up on to them stepped into the unknown. which one might go" was a real thing psychologically for many of the Victorian mountaineers.
"The cordon up
experience with the mountains. Fourthly. there was the ameliorating cheapness of guides and porters. there has been what a Government department might call a progression of amenities throughout the Alps.
that invisible line gins
were supposed to
spirits of the damned.
of the Matterhorn in 1860] to be
a cordon drawn around it. lest the infuriated demons
heights might hurl
you to look and warned one against
vengeance for one's derision. told
yourself to see the castles and the walls. it was a typical
it was even more typical a decade earlier. and a very real and far more substantial one for the Swiss guides who travelled with them and gave them the benefit of their long
reaction even in 1860. there was a complete absence of Alpine huts.The Dauphine. of course. up to which one might go. there was the lack of what modern climbers would consider even the most elementary weight-saving equipment.
was. merely the opinion of one man the reaction of his guides to one mountain. but in the world) a of ruined spoke city on its summit wherein the spirits dwelt. First. Four things. Secondly.
the fact that porters were available to carry the straw or the shawls. the wind-proof clothing. ladders.of huts would probably be even more disconcerting of Alpine travellers. One result of this happy set of circumstances was that during the early years of the Golden Age the Alps abounded in young University men
whose means allowed them
centres lying in a great
to spend a pleasant holiday in the half-moon around the Alps. The^/te beneath the stars. breeches. there were guides at relatively cheap rates who could reconnoitre the most suitable spots for the overnight bivouac. The climbers of the 1850*8 and die i86o's were in fact
of a toughness that is rather astonishing. were were very largely those of the
British countryside. Their boots were.
difficult spots on a glacier. to pack the fuel for the fire and to carry the relative luxuries. required little equipment and an equally small amount of expert knowledge. or ice-axes specifically designed for the job.
It is doubtful if the fourth factor. heavily manufactured articles only slightly adapted to the needs of the Alps. innumerable porters on demand to carry blankets. and nylon rope. or at best beneath an overhanging rock. the uncertainty of the morrow. It is doubtful if all the porters made up for the clothes that were unsuitably designed for high altitudes or for the
fact that it
lack of boots. was the rule for the pioneers rather than the exception. there still remained the open air. ropes. It has been said that no one other than the Victorians could have withstood the cold and
Royal homes. in many cases. ever made up against contemporary standards for the
was customary to sleep in the open or in the roughest of bivouacs. and to sally
. the cheapness of man-power. had Their none.
Mountaineering. merely stout walking shoes locally hobbed. it is equally true that many would hardly be willing to follow in the steps mountain pioneers with only the equipment that was used
carried in order to cross the
of heavy wood. the awaited step into what was at best
for the mass
weight-saving equipment such as condensed foods. of course. which they occasionally pioneers
known. There were. in those early days.
of life talked of . who by no means stinted himself in the
. therefore. Following Ruskin. Kennedy. It was only rarely that one came upon such a man as the inn-
keeper below a previously uncrossed pass who replied. for almost double that time. and the lack of specialised knowledge which it was thought necessary to have. as
also allowed. The one early days. Gervais guides' monopoly with their guideless
Stephen's Regrets of a Mountaineer are well
with which one could go climbing.30 per person party broke the ascent from St. who
throughout the Oberland for ten days and guide. the of access of the Alps. and had come to the conclusion that no one would ever come in any case. and that. and
Rugby. there were the artists such as George Barnard.
Frederick Morshead are only
Wills. It male members of a
number of young married couples who spent their honeymoons on the Continent. that steady and conscientious climber from Liverpool whose record of ascents almost equals in number that of Coolidge a man. As late as 1880 Frederick Gardiner. and of for guides.
. perhaps rather surprisingly. and their respective wives. Hudson. into voyages of exploration. Barnard. that "he had carefully reflected
upon the matter. records must have abroad been who
had only 19 for his holiday. Yet in 1862 the
young John Stogdon.50 for his general expenses. he had better
when he had
known. held its price of which Mont Blanc of the ascent was exception his and Hudson until about .out. was not large. meant that a whole host of people were drawn up into the mountains who in spite
genuine interest finally remained only on the fringe of
and when they wished. and those climbers who
in 1855. for a six-week season. to combine fidelity with an occasional
rumbustious Alpine excursion. when objections to his bill were raised. who in 1841 carried out a long Alpine tour with his brother-in-law. Michael Faraday. moreover.
" It is a measure of the Victorians that he
is not surprising that.books on drawing prove."
. I have only climbed pleasure sufficiently high to obtain the views I wished to paint. mountaineering.
and probably. "and I do not know which the most exciting of the three.
My chief motive
for Alpine travel
was health [he admitted] and
can be no doubt.M. after a long day's walk of the or sketch then made should be hasty. finding
that if time
and strength were spent in climbing there was little for careful drawing." Browning. he wrote later. thirty at the welcome sound of the dinner-bell. more courageous than Ruskin. the queer Eton
master. had a genuine feeling for mountains. a man with a perceptive
yet dilettante approach to the mountains.
Although I have for many years found greatest in studying amongst the Alps.
as to its beneficial results in that respect there
could not have got through
my work at Eton
His attitude was almost that of the
Philistine. and standis
ing for Parliament".
when September arrived of civilisation. sacked through a dispute in which he expressed his own point of view at the cost of all things. of seldom sleeping in a decent
enjoying wholesome food. or forty miles. and he was one of the first men to get high among them so that he might draw them accurately. He speaks of "the awful solitude of the Alps". inheriting the knowledge of the previous ten years. typical of that outer penumbra of young attracted only superficially to the mountains.
There were many such
Oscar Browning. and
to long for the fleshpots
men who were
"I have always
maintained that the three most exciting emotions I have ever experienced have been fox-hunting.
helping to prepare the way for the men to whom the business of climbing was the main thing that mattered. in many ways
of those who were tested by mountaineering in and found wanting. Yet his interest was not that of the mountaineer. revealed himself when he admitted early that: "One became tired of living upon a knapsack." thrust aside
should add: "It
There were many such as Barnard. and never
being absolutely clean.
like the discharge of a gun far away over our heads.the lack of the decent
Some men were of sterner room
Alpine joke. and producing the effect of a fire of musketry
garnished with hard eggs and bread and cheese. made us all at once glance upwards to the top of the Trifthorn. thundered downwards from so great a height waited anxiously for some considerable time to see them
reach the snowfield below. High festival was held under the deep
blue heavens. Seller's oranges supplied the rare luxury of a we were just in the full enjoyment of the delicacy when
on those who were climbing them. round which we ranged ourselves in a circle. Close to the craggy summit hung a cloud of dust. and in a few seconds another and larger one burst forth several hundred feet lower.
distance. a goodly leg of cold mutton on its sheet of paper formed the centre.
that so often
frugality. there was a casualness about the danger. The uproar became
tremendous. and good and did. that anthology of mountain experiences which was to precede the Alpine Journal. A glance through the telescope showed that a
of rocks had commenced. not to say Substantial food and drink formed part of
the adventure. many of them University students. so we
. Passes and Glaciers. and the fragments were leaping down to ledge in a series of cascades. thousands of fragments making every variety of noise according to their size.
lack of wholesome food. manner. living was mixed with surprise that the mountains could. bottles of red wine were stuck upright in the snow.
Few passages of Alpine
provision knapsacks were emptied and used as seats [says Hinchliffj. who during the 1850'$ travelled through the Alps and employed Swiss unclimbed guides to take them up a whole host of hitherto
M. as we looked up at the wonderful wall of rocks which we had descended. like dirty smoke.
stuff. Their climbing was carried out in a hearty. literature summon up these qualities of the early days better than one in a paper which Thomas Hinchliff contributed to Peaks.
As nearly as we could estimate the 500 yards from the base of the rocks. we congratulated ourselves
of the and the hardship
were the inescapable necessities for a handful of young men. and now and then.
scattering lumps of snow into the circle. preparing to dodge
them to the
ability. evidently weighing many hundredweights. not merely an exciting and adventurous sport but the enjoyment of a new sensation that of being brought into
immediate contact with the
world". which was coming right at us
more than 20
from a mortar. and only eight years later was disabled in a shooting accident which forced him to divert his activities to less strenuous
we opened out right and left at the approach of a monster. "finds in his most difficult
excursions. we were in a tolerably secure we saw many of the blocks plunge into the snow their last fearful leap. and huge blocks began to fall so near to us that we jumped to our feet.
The incident was
more with interest than
come what might. and made a large number of minor excursions. of Mont Blanc. cried someone.
out". at the age of twentynine. one
feels. almost with a belief that such things were inevitable when one ventured into the unknown regions of the Alps. early meetings and he himself as the poacher described independent: outspoken. although he climbed both the Altels and Monte Rosa twice. He was leisurely.thought
stipulated minirnurri of eight guides but successthe ascent with half the number. He made few
spectacular expeditions. the noise grew fiercer and fiercer. for when he made the climb in 1857 he refused
Hinchliff himself. but he knew that beneath the light shed by danger and as Ruskin did not
climber might see a world very different from that
presented to the less adventurous traveller. HaxneTs party in 1820. He wandered rather than climbed.
whose wealth obviated the need of the typical early mountain-travellers on the whose explorations Alpine Club which held many of its in his chambers was founded. made the first ascent of Mont Blanc by the
Ancien Passage since the accident to Dr. climbed the Finsteraarhorn. presently much larger fragments
followed. The real lover of the mountains. It fell with a heavy thud not from us.
wonders of an unknown
the Alps in 1854. a barrister
for practising. he stressed more than once.
Barrister. in 1856. He took his wife to
Switzerland for her
so that she might. almost accidentally honeymoon ascent famous of the Wetterhorn.
shown some of
His influence on the development of climbing was due
to his "clubbability". Throughout whole of his life. in the guides. And it was Balmat who helped in the purchase of the plot of land in the Valley of Sixt where Wills built The Eagle's Nest for the wife who was to die before she crossed the threshold. and the publication.P.travel. as he said. had such confidence in Balmat that he helped to create. He dedicated
his Wanderings to
Balmat. the extent of his interest in all things pertaining to mountains. more than most men. a book which together with Wills'
Wanderings among the High Alps. the prototype
of those gentlemen whose ordinary mountain wanderings developed into genuine mountain-climband he travelled in the Alps ing. difficult mountaineering was merely one of the attractions which he found in the Alps. His experience came slowly.
many years without attempting a major peak. be
subsequent writing he dropped the word "guide" and referred to Balmat solely as friend. Wills. Judge in die Queen's Bench Division he was the man who tried Oscar Wilde he is
of importance in the Victorian mountain hierarchy for three
separate reasons. He was.
and some dangers". son of a J. his seem.
to maturity in the expansive years that preceded the Great Exhibition. secondly.
guide and friend. It was only to Balmat
much of his
he would entrust his wife on her mountain-wanderings while
he. a financially well-set-up fellow.
Wills was. one of the
first of the Alpine pioneers to and their the between guides employers that relationship forge was one of the great features of the Golden Age. what Lord Schuster has called "a new race of men'*.. In all this there is ample evidence that Wills. first. of his Summer Months among the Alps. was in many ways the laboratory specimen of
the early Victorian mountaineer.
. made some more ambitious excursion. Alfred Wills. had a decisive effect.
number of minor
Zermatt and making. spending nine weeks abroad and making a number of pleasant if unspectacular excursions the crossings of the Tschingel. a engaging from which the mountain was so readily visible. there was the ascent of the Wetterhom. of course. and the village duel out on the mountain between Wills* party played exciting and the two local Grindelwald men who finally made the ascent with him. The ascent was by no means the first of the mountain. and Theodule
time. and Wills had
been invited to meet the couple in London.
. and the story of that ascent which Wills gave to the world in the Wanderings. nor of that
peak of the Wetterhom.
We were out nine weeks [he later wrote]. everything included. Wills first visited the Alps at the age of eighteen. but one record that Wills has left casts an interesting light on the
of the day.
mountaineering point of view it was hardly an important season. much above average. combined with the spectacular and form of the peak. That
fact. however. It was. Allalin. while
University. Four years later he went back.
in 1853 that Wills
appears to have embarked with
vigour on an Alpine career. the first that was to gain any measure of notice outside the small select group of
Alpine devotees. nor even of that particular peak from that particular side.
Platte. combined to give a certain importance to the ascent which has turned the date of 1854 into that when "sporting"
mountaineering is popularly supposed to have begun. We spent no small sum in guides and carriages. where the expenditure was.Thirdly. its proximity to Grindelwald. and during it made merely the Jardin.
Interlaken. Monte Moro. one week of which was passed in Paris.
recorded ascent of the
In 1852 he went out again.
passes. Early in the year Forbes had invited Balmat to visit him at his home at Clifton. The trip
cost us less than
each. and although economical stinted ourselves in nothing.
in all graver respects
he was sure to speak and
act like a gentleman. And.
So pernicious was the system that one English mountaineer left a substantial cheque for the sufferers from a disastrous fire at Chamonix on the condition that it should remain untouched an English traveller was allowed to choose his own guide and to determine for himselfjust how many men he should take
on any particular expedition. And. however.
he might be for the project in hand. Many were was one.
was in vain
that you expostulated you had an old friend on the like the look of the guide thus fortuitously presented did not you
another had been recommended to you this had nothing to do with the matter [protested Wills].
of "Wills' meeting with Balmat in the Alps later in the same year form an interesting commentary on the Trade Union atmosphere which then permeated the guides' community at Chamonix.I
[says Wills] greatly struck
the absence of false modesty
or bashful timidity from his bearing. were mere glacier guides. The crux of the system was the rota. although he might sometimes be guilty of a conventional solecism. possibly the majority of them. impertinence and incapacity were no disqualification to the bad guide.
mediocrity. energy and
competency brought no advantage to the good guide. and doing much to channel every line of endeavour up the one "routine" peak of Mont Blanc. any climber coming to Chamonix was forced to take the man at the head of the rota. ham-stringing initiative wherever possible. invaluable were practical science Yet under the rota system such men as Balmat were lumped together on the list with the near-incompetents. on which every
registered guide the only ones allowed legally to work was duly entered. a subject
only a few. yet incapable
illiterate. It was unlikely. of which Balmat
continually contested by the Alpine Club. Superior skill. "worthy to carry a lady's shawl on the
of new or major expeditions. had fought their a than until more had passable knowledge of they way up such and to scientists as Forbes. Many of the men. that
the wit of the Victorians
first ascent.be unable to find some
The following year he was back on his honeymoon. Lauener suggested. set
knowing-looking fellow. with a cock's feather
stuck jauntily in his high-crowned hat".
Wills rose to the
bait. an expedition for which Wills had not the time. took her up the Torrenthorn. a guide who quickly explained that owing to the lateness of the season the Jungfrau
could only be tackled from the far side of the Oberland.
but I had never yet scaled any of those snowy peaks which rise in tempting grandeur above the crests of cols and the summits of the loftier passes. made a number of minor ascents.
I had crossed many a lofty col. active. If a guide were hired possibly.
weather. and then decided that before he returned to London he would make the ascent of one major peak. that the matter was possible and that the Herr might.
way of evading such scandalous regulasuch method was discovered by Wills or. I had slept on the moraine of a glacier. a ruse which enabled him to keep the guide for a season which was. travelled
valley to Grindelwald with his wife and.
beyond the jurisdiction of the Chamonix Commune and brought to Chamonix by way of a col (those being the operative words) then the traveller who arrived with him was allowed to keep his companion. as it turned out. This was Ukich Lauener. quite recommended to him by Forbes. spent a night with his wife on the Mer
de Glace so that she might see the beauties of the place. Wills had therefore arranged to meet Balmat at Sallanches and to reach Chamonix by the Col de Voza. the "tall. in any case. and wound way among many a labyrinth of profound and yawning crevasses [he wrote later]. and on the rugged mountain-
His choice fell on the Jungfrau. presumably with his tongue in his cheek.
only then did Wills suggest the Wetterhorn. a for the Wetterhorn. and Balmat suggested that they should consult a local guide. whatever might be the latter's place on the rota.
straight. The Finsteraarhorn
and the Schreckhorn were both rejected for
a tree comparable to the "flag" carried by Lauener which was in fact a great sheet of iron attached to a
12-ft. and Peter Bohren.
On the mountain. half-Way between the earth and the sky. and had climbed the lower crags during the night. at least three
times that season. Auguste Simond.
After a great shouting-match carried out across the
was learned that the two men were local chamoisAimer and his brother-in-law Ulrich KaufChristian hunters.
[he wrote later] as in the more immediate presence of had reared this tremendous pinnacle. both parties joined forces and reached the summit together. "one never knows what will happen. the mood of the party altered.
Grindelwald. the party found itself two outflanked mysterious figures. but both for the Chamoniard and for Wills there was a new wonder as they trod through the summit ridge and saw "a few yards of glittering ice at our feet. a
guide whom Balmat knew and who had happened to be in Inter-
once held a fully grown man off the and who was soon nicknamed "Samground at armVlength son". As they went higher on the mountain. as it seemed. provide physical
Wills' reactions at that
a clue to the
eering. Hearing of the attempt by Wills' party. and beneath the "majestical roof" of whose deep blue Heaven we stood.
whole inner driving force of Victorian mountain-
." Balmat warned Wills.
moment. when he broke through not a a but mental barrier raised by the unknown. poised. and then. both of whom were to win fame as guides.
after a rough bivouac. who was in charge of the party. had brought the fir-tree to place on the summit beside the iron "flag". "One must never shout on the great peaks. nine thousand feet beneath". mann. nothing between us and the green slopes of
there were: Balmat. one of whom carried being by a fir-tree on his shoulder. another Grindelwald man who had been to the plateau
the three Wetterhorn peaks
spring." The local Grindelwald men might be less impressed. mast. Ulrich Lauener. they had decided to climb the peak for the honour of their native valley. Eventually.
because they desired to explore. in the
realm of the inner
glance. who wrote Thoughts on Being at the age of thirty-three and who was renowned for his
persistent question. as Ruskin had imagined. four or of whom were associated in a whole list of important climbing expeditions during the 1 850*5. the man who was "almost of the but group a as as guide".
later. which could be seen more clearly as the century progressed. Yet the common
denominator. There were the three Smyth brothers. after the fall of Armenia and Sebastopol. on sufferance. Kennedy. S.
Alps formed the most convenient
climbed "for the exercise". and they all appear to have found in
climbing some solace from the troubles of the world that was something more important than mere escapism.
is shown in the composition of one group of men. lay outside the realm of material experience. He had a great humility. and
were clergymen. while Kennedy. Mountaineering. and then went to the Crimea where he served as Chaplain with the Forces and. seriously contemplated taking
Holy Orders. there was a whole multiplicity of contradictory reasons for the climbing carried out by the young men of Wills'
the finest mountaineer. from the bottom of the mountains. he might have said had he lived a hundred years
there. and E. They were
young men. a dissatisfaction which it was rarely possible and even more rarely expedient to express. It lay. not only of the whole whole generation. Charles Ainslie. and who was even more largely responsible great
for the conquest of the Matterhorn than was Whymper. and it is significant that three of them two of the Smyths. He spent the winter of 1852-1853 in Switzerland he was then twentyfour and reconnoitred a new route up Mont Blanc.he knew. and the
field for their exploration. went for an adventurous trip across
enclosed in a dissatisfaction
with the great material progress of the age.
Some climbed for a sight of the
majestic scenery which could not be viewed. Charles Hudson.
considerable thought to the problems which the growing knowledge of science was creating.
emotional stature. returned to
England where he was ordained.
he made the
of Mont Blanc. It gave also a sense of satisfaction
from any climb
part. Once they had reached the ability of a Hudson it was only thus that they could fairly face the facts of mountaineering life. found it necessary to remove. the third party which consisted of the
the ascent by Kennedy and guide. was always guideless climbing.approached Mount Ararat. the amateurs were
forced to stand four-square by their own judgements.
continued to climb almost every
later. from between the mountain and himself. as it were.
was not until later that guideless climbing fell into disrepute.
the guides trod carefully in the rear. to visit
year until his marriage in
Zermatt during his honeymoon 1865 when he introduced the young Douglas Hadow to the Alps and.
two Taugwalders. Returning to the Alps in 1855 he made. indeed. being more competent than any of his contemporaries.
climbed without guides in
. a few days later. largely due to the antics of the Rev.
of circumstances. was killed with him on the Matterhorn after having made the first ascent of the mountain with Lord Francis Douglas and Michael Croz (both of whom also perished). an expedition in which the guides
followed the amateurs. in the opinion of many. did the cause of climbing a
serious disservice. of just what risks could
be taken with any particular
available in reserve. but even then their inborn experience of the weather. the first ascent of the highest point of Monte Rosa. The acclaim which greeted himself of Mont Blanc was only partially due to the fact that such
climbing lifted a large financial weight from the shoulders of youthful Alpinists. with the Smyths and John Birkbeck. a book that created considerable controversy and which.
and returned to the Alps in
Whymper. Girdlestone who appears to have been protected from disaster only by exceptional luck and who published in 1870 the story of his travels in The High Alps without Guides. an event which the guides did everything
at one period. "One is much inclined to think that.
Yet nowhere did he even begin to explain those inner reasons for his obsession with mountaineering of which there are occasional
hints in his scanty writings. he described his ascent of Mont Blanc without guides in Where There's a Will There s a Way.
industry. these Hudsons. were typical of the second generation of Alpine pioneers.
two years after The Pilkingtons.
Lancashire business men. of course. men of strong character who sought in guideless
climbing and in the development of British mountaineering a relaxation from the multiple duties of a life crammed with service. wrote Captain Farrar. Cawood. and Colgrove. combined with the financial stringency imposed by post-war restrictions.
paper to Peaks. these Youngs. these
Smyths. three sturdy exponents of private enterprise. Hudson wrote but little. while the Meije. From the first ascent of Mont
.1876 by Gust. Together with Kennedy. As
it was only the experience of the Second World War.
and hard work.
The apogee of the guideless climbing movement came early for the Victorians. Passes and
contributed an occasional
and notes to the Alpine Journal. There had. the coin
which the Victorians bought
their leisure. been many mountain books before the mid-fifties. that great Alpine expert. that was to begin the formation
history finally ordained
of such a school. and to a second edition he added his account
of the Monte Rosa expedition. only
been climbed with
professionals. these Ramsays. and others were within measurable distance of diverting the stream of English mountaineering from the course it eventu-
took and of forming a great school of guideless English climbers". in this period of the young Hudson. This is more to be regretted because the
mountaineering during the later 1850*8
books which its
owed so much to the were exponents beginning to make available to an
ever-growing public. was climbed without guides by the
Pilkingtons and Frederick Gardiner in 1879. these Parkers. but they had been written for a restricted and almost family public. these Buxtons. the last of the great Alpine peaks to be conquered.
and intimate little journals.
of Travel. a position it would hardly
otherwise have occupied.
the Alps. later to become Vice-President and then President of the Alpine Club. They make fascinating reading.
privately produced exclusively among the friends of those who had made the ascents recorded.
Forbes' Travels through the Alps of Savoy. was at the time of Hudson's ascent of Mont Blanc one of the heads of the firm. They formed the bridgehead from which the intellectual assault could be launched.30 apiece for the ascent. but their contemporary influence was negligible. and recording in understandable detail the great reception accorded in Chamonix to those who had paid some . something like four for every five ascents of the
mountain which had been made. He not only published Hudson's book but later in 1856 made his first Alpine
bound. to mountaineering in the later 1850'$. Hinchliff 's
Summer Months among
Hudson's account of
extent. a handy little book by that mountainconnoisseur. Their circulation. a book largely for scientists. They were detailed.
books were invariably
slim. a whole succession of little pamphlets had appeared upon the scene. the publishers. illustrated by sketches or water-colours of those
who had known Mont
at least at distant range.
The mountain books of
the mid-fifties were different. That the bridgehead was built up at all was largely the result of a lucky chance which brought Hudson to Longmans. They were frequently subsidised by their
authors. recording the names and weaknesses of the guides.
defined reader. or was not. seen of the view from the summit. and. explaining what was. They gave.
well printed. honest. had contained much of interest to the general reader. telling exactly what had happened to the conquerors. Charles Packe. their reviews were in the
right places and were discussed by the right people. a lesser to ascent.Blanc. even
than large. who travelled through both the Pyrenees and the Lakes with his dogs all these books were
intended for the
so. William Longman. expensive.
had most of
unpredictable pulse of the public. like many other Englishmen.
forty-three at the time. Passes and
the Alps and
well as the publisher of a whole host of Alpine books that included Wills' sequel to the Wanderings. published year gladly He was invited to become a member of the Alpine Club.tour. most successful publishers. and in the following Hinchliff's Summer Months among the Alps. they
Longman. TyndalTs MounGlaciers. fingers on the
on their respective honeymoons. that the isolated adventures which had
followed Forbes' explorations were already being transformed
permanent background and
of a pastime with
steadily increasing body of devotees. The next move was obvious. and was one of the moving spirits in the publication of Peaks.
account by Englishmen of the remarkable area a mountain area through which. as
taineering in 1861.
. yet he was fascinated
saw in them. and his age combined with family responsibilities to prevent him from ever seriously tackling the business of mountaineering.
and Gilbert and Churchill's Dolomite Mountains.
of nature I cannot help
that. with something of the authority which belonged to the Delphic Oracle. There was no
need for any geographical location for this. perhaps sophisticated.
something In me
too deeply implanted to be rooted out. at its inception. speak. it must be admitted. to spur themselves on to further efforts. more than a hint of God about it. as it has spoken ever since. in the Victorian Age. the first organisation of its kind. The Alpine Club therefore assumed.
began in an age when it could.
The earliest suggestion that an Alpine Club should be formed came from William Mathews. NEVISON
growing interest in the new and frequently criticised occupation of climbing mountains for pleasure must. through the unique experience of its members. almost every possible claim. the calm clear assumption of superiority fitted well into the spirit of the age. unqualified by any adjective.Chapter Three
THE ALPINE CLUB
Love of mountains. a certain dictatorial Tightness to which it had. if the record of human nature stands for anything. to exchange information and. To the men who formed the club nearly a century ago the communal views which
they expressed must have seemed. been the
Great Exhibition. It had. in an Alpine context. the first of a long line of Alpinists
like the love
new. after all. have had one inevitable result. at times. The result was the Alpine Club the Alpine Club and not the London Alpine Club or the British Alpine Club. in any case.
HENRY W. It was obvious that a group of like-minded men would form themselves into a
whose members would meet at pre-arranged intervals to discuss the technical aspects of their interest. to be rather like the voice of God Himself. There
Mathews in his letter of February i. For Hort was then a Fellow of Trinity.
the Alps with his cousin. and it was natural that Mathews should
write to him. would not be possible to establish an Alpine Club.from the great Worcestershire family whose members swam into success on the crest of the Victorian wave. a typical Victorian
in his early days for sound common sense and administrative ability. and a
. F. Mathews.' say in London. in a letter to the
ecclesiastic of great mental power whose equally vigorous climbing potentialities were limited by ill-health and overwork. on nedy they thirteenth of the August they made the first English ascent of the Finsteraarhorn. on the
Mr. Finally. two of his nephews. care.
deal of useful information in a
We should thus get a good
members. he warned. together with the Rev. with a view to the publication of an annual or bi-annual volume. and C.
available to the
to the idea but feared that the dining
precedence over the information to be exchanged.
St. E. the members of which might dine together once a year.
idea of a club and
of the expedition further encouraged the formation was definitely decided upon. at the close of any Alpine tour in Switzerland or elsewhere. Fenton John Anthony Hort. That
his son. and give each other what information they could. together with Kennedy.
autumn William Mathews. W. dined at William Mathews' home. Each
to consider [said
member. He was
other men. J. a college to which a high percentage of the early climbers had belonged.
judge the possibilities.
likely that he.
John Mathews. to the President.
John Attwood-Mathews. a short account of all the undescribed excursions he had made. Hardy. The Leasowes.
Ellis. had been a friend of Mathews at Cambridge and had made a number of climbs with him.
That summer Mathews
St. should be required to furnish. and together with KenBenjamin discussed the formation of an Alpine Club. should be taken that the dinner bills were kept within
which will. retained. besides two dinners and (for all except Londoners) two double journeys to town? Granting that it
the club select. London. and it
circulated a note listing the objects is obvious from some of the
reactions to this that the original idea of a dining club which would meet once a year had already expanded considerably. Covent Garden. Circulars would also cost something. on December 22 and the Club was
formally established. But we can think of (except in
connexion with dinners. Kennedy.of Birmingham the house where the young Edward Whymper was later to tell Forbes the story of the Matterhorn accident.
At The Leasowes
dinner. though most of us would be likely to possess the best maps of districts which we meant to visit.
on his return to lists of men likely to join the Club. but I have heard no more from him. "curator". by a cartographer who knew not only that the poet Shenstone had lived there but that it was the birthplace of the Alpine Club. he quite concurred.
cannot see that a
a desirable one.
be well to have
few books and
subscriptions and guinea be gained by having to there is nothing Surely that of and "rooms". The name of the house is still seen on even the quarteroutskirts
inch Ordnance Survey maps.
under "geographical explorers" and "other guests of celebrity"?
. unable to be present at the December 22 meeting]. A few men showed little interest. as you propose. Is it not rather much to ask a guinea a year. provided
were kept within reasonable dimensions.
Kennedy had previously
of the Club. either saw personally or wrote to all those on the various lists. thing? William Mathews style wrote to me about such a club for one dinner nearly a year ago: and
what do you propose to expend guinea
would be an
excellent thing. but their annual cost ought to
these are the only necessary expenses
be something very small. perhaps.
whole Club without
a large fixed subscription.
chief point which raises doubt is the expense [wrote Hort. he was going to write to you on the subject. When he was here a few weeks ago. The rest met at Ashley's Hotel. be divided among the diners) and they might annually be divided among the
and of better knowfellowship
ledge of the mountains through literature.
men who were not active
mountaineers might be eligible for membership.
clear that. to meet in HinchlifFs chambers in Lincoln's Inn and to hold their dinners in various hotels and private rooms. rather than any one isolated effort.not want speeches from Dr.
controversy at the formation of the Club con-
of the argument that soon developed around Rule XH. The rule was finally amended so that a
candidate's general mountaineering ability and experience. His choice was not due to the prestige afforded by name for at that time he was one of the most experienced of
Alpine travellers. had crossed the main
chain forty-eight times by thirty-two different passes. Its members continued. The Club was now fully launched on the world. the Irish politician. science. of mountain climbing and mountain exploration throughout the world. Furthermore. although he had made few spectacular ascents. who
had been Under-Secretary for the Colonies in Lord Palmerston's Administration of 1855.
. in height a curious qualification top since mountaineers had soon learned that height itself was rarely a measure of difficulty. in certain cases. became the criterion. but not for
another year did it acquire permanent quarters. Livingstone or Sir Roderick Murchison? The introduction of such elements seems
likely to impair the genuineness
of the whole
In spite of such rather querulous complaints Hort became an original member and remained a member until his death in 1892. and art". and had traversed nearly 100 of the lateral passes. The objects of the Club were. was elected the first President of the Club
early in 1858. Mr. scientist and traveller. after all. defined as "the promotion of good
mountaineers. he had been travelling throughout the Alps for nearly twenty years at the time of his election.
is explained by William Longman who some twenty a short history of the club and embarked on a wrote years of mountaineering whose completion was cut short by history
his death.000 ft. John Ball. instead. it down that all candidates should have ascended to the a mountain of 13.
into a wining and dining club.
Club that he was most desirous of becoming a member. however.
dined at the Castle.
Vice-President of the club.S. "to support the credit of my country. a member of the U. full ofjokes and
and beaming with good humour. and Silenus made a funny speech. By 1861 it had reached 158. but I told him what he heard was quite true" (Great
publisher. and claims to membership were being based on "a list of literary contributions or mountain exploits". Anthony Trollope is also good fellow. has left a typical picture of an annual summer
dinner. as he has been called.
and contributions made to the geographical and topographical knowledge of mountain regions. with a large black beard. which all the contestants appear thoroughly to have enjoyed a certain civilised "clubbabiHty" remained uppermost. but into Longman's "really important society". not only as Hort had apparently feared.
[he wrote]. at the meetings of which papers were to be read. in the city of Washington.It
assumed that the Club would take the character
rather of a social gathering of a few mountaineers than of a really important society. He added that not very long since. The less ascetic side of life was by no means the "Victorian Pepys" neglected. Small cliques or groups were formed from
fairly regular intervals. Government asked him if it
were true that a club of Englishmen existed who held their meetings on the summits of the Alps.
the vicissitudes of the Club
rent. and Ellis Hardman. with the Alpine Club
We found a jolly party round William Longman. at
by fierce arguments on policy. I have transgressed the strict limits of veracity. modelled on Silenus.
but the qualification was the difficulty.
a glorious fellow. procedure. There was a call for Trollope.
Within a year. The Club was expanding. "In my anxiety". and both time and flesh were against him. Richmond. membership had risen to more than eighty. and almost everything else. and it certainly never entered into the mind of any of its founders to conceive that it would be the parent of fruitful children.
next to him. he said. each more prolific than itself.
a black-and-blue shield in between and. while the Chamois grins with serene happiness from the elevated and exalted
position which the faller vainly strove to reach! cheerful allegory!
The facts. and figures of the early members of the Alpine Club have been tabulated in a great labour of love.
history of the device on the paper is as follows [explained Moore.C. So
was Wilfrid Scawen Blunt. though rarely for a more harmful purpose than concentration on some specific Alpine problem or the gratification
of some mutual interest. mountain ranges in all parts of the world". however.time to time. he in green
the i86o's. below. and thirty-four were clergymen. L. now superseded for postcards! The man in black symbolises a waiter. the threevolume Alpine Club Register which was compiled over long years of careful research by the late A. A. Mumm. to know
little more than a passing Matthew Arnold "everyone should what they are" was a member. the
words "Curre per
A. Yorkshire. from Cawthorne.
So was Thomas Atkinson. From this Sir Arnold Lunn has abstracted figures showing that of the first 281 members of the Club those who joined it between 1857 and 1863 fifty-seven were practising barristers. a bricklayer's labourer and quarryman
who rose to fame through his architectural ability.
W. and one of the
the sole idea of the
The bloody hand
community being dining and climbing. travelled across
. with landed gentry and dons coining next with nineteen and fifteen respectively. Many of
the Club's early members.
Richard Burton was elected
(although he never completed his membership). of the Club within a club whose headed note-paper bore an embossed crest which included a black waiter on the left. a green guide on
the right. see the Alps once.'s have for years past dined together before the meetings. had
interest in mountaineering.
alpes". The falling figure is
prophetic of the fate which will not improbably befall us. one of the most enterprising and daring climbers of
first to climb in the small Caucasus]. This was true. dates. and the device is their private property. for instance. his qualification being "General travel. carving knife. that odd traveller of humble origin. twenty-three were solicitors.
the second more undefined.
Most cosmopolitan of them
Freshfield. as was natural. as the major and then the minor peaks of the Alps were climbed. clergy is even more marked. more difficult
taneously. that great Yorkshireman.
the Canadian Rockies. densely packed life. they went
to the Alps.
of definition.much of Central
Asia for the Tsar. led an expedition to the Himalaya where he was seen on occasion in grey cut-away tail-coat and
climbed in South Africa. and on his return to Britain
succeeded in maintaining a position of some public importance despite the fact that he had two wives living in Britain simul-
had little genuine interest in mounare from the total. a few of them looked farther afield for their relaxation. and Cecil Slingsby
all brought the principles of sound mountaincraft. a feat by no means Once those members who
common even today. Most of lawyers. Yet however attractive such ventures might be. their normal. explainable most the easily by example of the hardest workers among the business men and the lawyers. the greatest contrast to. the Ruwenzori. Douglas Freshfield in the Caucasus. lack of time and money prohibited
for most mountaineers.
exception to this was formed by the explorations in of Norway Cecil Slingsby. the preponderance of removed taineering and business men. the in developed Alps almost entirely by British climbers. as climbing techniques improved. more explicable by die examples of the clergymen and of the scientists. Later. It is significant that for almost all of them travel among the high
mountains was not only a pleasant relaxation but something that appeared to influence much of their lives. these were men of considerable learning and scanty leisure.
who made three
journeys to the Caucasus.
Norway. the first physical and obvious. There were two main
this. to whom they appeared as and rather exotic departures from the main sport of
Alpine climbing. to lands which knew little of such matters. and the Japanese Alps. At first. Elizabethan
. Charles Packe in the Pyrenees. Many of the Victorians climbed because they found in the mountains the greatest escape from.
outside the Bel Alp with his Wife. 1865
. Hereford George's Party on
Lawrence and Charles Pilkington and
Frederick Gardiner. in the late
of both frame and outlook, with, a name still not only known but honoured in the most unexpected of small Norwegian hamlets.
important part in the development of climbing in Britain and when, during the i88o's and 1890*8, he carried out his major Alpine campaigns they consisted largely of guideless climbs whose main attractions lay on rock rather than
Slingsby spent five seasons in Alps. Later he played an
before he visited the
His traditions, therefore, did not spring so of the Alpine pioneers as did most of his
contemporaries. With mountaineering he linked not science but art; in the mountains he saw not a laboratory but a field for new human experiences which would make every day brighter and
devoted themselves to a
necessary only to consider the record
of C. E. Mathews, a benign and much-loved Birmingham man who was an early prototype of the Club member.
that for nearly fifty years Mathews made himself felt in countless ways in the public and social life of Bir-
mingham is an understatement. With Joseph
his greatest friends,
Mathews was a founder of the National Education League. He was chairman of innumerable committees, president of innumerable societies, a Birmingham Town Councillor,
governor of schools, a leader in local
a Justice of a
the Peace, and an active and opinionated galaxy of bodies. He managed to pack
seventy-one crowded years, to become also, as well as one of the most accomplished mountaineers of his day, an expert of importance on subjects as varied as the Waterloo Campaign, the
Birmingham Water Supply, and
the detailed history of
The mountains provided the clue to this extraordinary energy. Mathews was the text-book example of the man who went
climbing to escape
not from any unpleasant
from the crowded
high standards of duty
to his shoulders.
the bivouacs or in the mountain hotels of the Alps, at the
cottage which he later acquired at Machynlleth, in North Wales, Charles Edward Mathews could slough off the responsibilities of
Birmingham. Here, he knew, was a relaxation, a safety-valve such as no other sport could possibly provide. Here, surrounded
only by amiable companions
to turn their backs
himself wished for a time
at least until
the end of the
progress which they had helped to create; surrounded, also, by that new race of men which he had helped to raise from the raw material of the guides; here Mathews and men of similar thought
were able to forget the pulsing, scrambling, gainfully employed life of England's expanding industrial empire. Mathews played an important part in creating the guides as an honourable and respected group of men. For hundreds of years
had been available for leading travellers across the easy snow passes of the Alps. Some of them had helped Hannibal, and their ancestors' ancestors had done much the same job for the men of the Middle Ages who had succeeded in keeping open the great trans-Alpine trade routes. Yet the whole virtue of these
that they could lead others across
mountains rather than
instinctively, for the nick in a skyline rather than for the ridge that led to a summit. Many were good
up them; they would look,
and brave men; many more merited Whymper's description of "pointers out of paths, and large consumers of meat and drink,
needed mountaineers such
Wills and Mathews,
Hereford George and Leslie Stephen, to raise up a certain number of Alpine peasants, to breath fire into them and to stir into them a knowledge which was eventually to make them the first mem-
of a great profession. In an unexpected way, the Alpine pioneers mixed as perfect equals with these peasants whom they hired. There was something more to it than the remark of one
guide to his employer on a mountain that: "You are master in the valley; I am master here." Reading back through the record,
catching what one can from the memories that remain, one can really believe that in this way at least some of the Victorians did
practise the theory that all men are born equal. like brothers", said the daughter of one famous
"They were just
amateur and the
he climbed regularly for more than a quarter
of a century.
I owe him a debt impossible to pay is not to say Mathews of Melchior wrote much," Anderegg, the guide with
whom he spent most of his climbing life, and whom he personally
guided round the Snowdon Horseshoe on one memorable occasion when Melchior was staying with him in his cottage in
For more than 20 seasons he
and in storm.
has rejoiced with me in happy tunes; he has nursed me when suffering from accident with a charming devotion. Year after year
have met him with keener pleasure. Year from him with a deeper regret.
after year I
Mathews' introduction to the Alps was a hearty one during the season of 1856 when with his brother, William Mathews, he ascended the Dent du Midi, was turned back by weather on Mont Blanc, and during the course of three weeks' successful climbing crossed a number of passes and climbed a number of peaks,
Monte Rosa. The following year he
returned to the Alps,
Anderegg, and embarked on
that long Alpine career that took to the mountains almost every year until the turn of the
century when, at the age of sixty-five, he was reluctantly
pelled to give up mountaineering. He had had forty seasons, climbed both the Matterhorn and the Wetterhorn three times, the
and Mont Blanc no
to the Alps for his
during the holiday attempted the Blumlisalphorn, climbed the Altels, was turned back on the south face of the Weisshorn, and
ascended the Jungfrau with Horace Walker, the Liverpool merchant who together with Mathews was to play such an
important part, nearly a quarter of a century
in the develop-
of climbing in Britain.
Mathews, the epitome of that comfortable God-fearing group of middle-class Englishmen who believed that the Almighty had
was put diem into positions of responsibility, the of critical but appalling charitable, overworked, only mildly
which large numbers of his countrymen lived. of his climbing, and of all Perhaps the most characteristic quality that is known about him, was his "clubbability". In this, as well as in his established background and his physical motives for
a considerable segment of Alpine climbing, he was typical of Club members. The ascent of a fine peak was, with Mathews,
one part of a day's adventuring in which comradeship with others, the ordered progression of the day from dawn to dusk, the shared the new experience in enjoyment of fine sights and experiences, march of life, all merged to make one civilised and the
more than Mathews
to consolidate the founda-
home on the outskirts of of climbing in Britain. With too short for enjoyment Birmingham it was natural that holidays where he climbed North in Wales, be should in the Alps spent more than 100. Idris Cader and times 100 Snowdon more than and fortune to fame It was Mathews who did so much to bring
where the road from Capel Pen-y-Gwryd, the little inn standing the summit of the Llanberis Pass and towards forks uphill Curig downhill towards the distant gleam of Llyn Gwynant. Here, in a small group 1870, he founded the "Society of Welsh Rabbits", of friends banded together to explore Snowdonia in winter, and was Mathews who played an important part in the foundation, in 1898, of the Climbers' Club, of which he was to become first
He was an honorary member of both the Yorkshire Ramblers Club and of the Rucksack Club. He was an adviser, a man of all knew, would be completely disexperience whose views, interested as well as fully informed. He was utterly reliable and much the same position as that fair, and in his later days occupied
a century later
by Geoffrey Winthrop Young.
those constant qualities of which civilisation is compounded. For the Alpine Club he might well have been a symbol, the "typical climbing man" against whose
character and record the critics
once, too, at the full,
like the folds
of a bright girdle furl I only hear
melancholy, long, withdrawing roar.
typical of that large body of Alpine Club found in the mountains the complete and
members who MATHEWS
incomparable break from the Victorian world which they had helped to create. Yet to escape into the mountains was only one incentive for the climbers of the Golden Age; the demands of
who first solved the basic problems
mountain-travel had their counterparts a decade or more later in such men as Bonney, Tuckett, Ramsay, John Ball, and Tyndall.
to help in the development of mountain-wandering
into the craft of mountain-cHmbing; some were to see the transformation of the craft into the organised sport of the twentieth
of mountaineering's Golden Age can be divided
into the amateurs and the professionals. There were those such as Francis Fox Tuckett, a man bristling with note-books and instru-
ments, an indefatigable and earnest amateur
never limited, a lucky
inclinations happily coincided.
man whose mountain and scientific And there were the professionals
boy from County Carlow, whose boy who later
Tyndall, the poor
work took him
into die mountains, the
found circumstance taking him to the mountains year after year and himself going to them for love alone. The amateurs had the mountain passion earlier in their lives than the professionals, and
the climber. and At the age
at St. Westyears as curate minster and. an extensive of books and sermons. those
and again problems returned again
to the mountains for a solution. John the Evangelist. fair age of seventy he maintained weather or bad. "without a single pause". looking to the mountains across the Mymbyr Lakes. a rather routine visit with a reading party during which he de Glace but did no serious climbing.moulded their lives to fit their inclinations. and at the age of eighty was still capable of friends called strenuous days on the what his not uncritical
hills. later in life.
. an ascent of about 4. a
Mathews. of twenty-three he made his first visit to Switzerland. At the age of sixty he walked from his
With Bonney. Well past the his regular seven miles a day. journeyed across the Mer was almost entirely his Orders He took religious service
forgot. it is his energy sidedness that astound. to have been deeper and more disturbing their
passion appears because of this fact.
Alpine His range of interests was of the
rarity. The professionals were captured unawares by the mountains. the
which might have been
man of twenty-seven who unsuccessfully tackled the Pelvoux when even its position was unknown two years before Whymper visited the Dauphin6.
hotel to the top of the Piz Languard. two years as Cambridge Preacher at the Whitehall and returned to the Alps two years
Chapel Royal. Thomas George Bonney was only eight or nine when he was that of Snowdon from first impressed by a great mountain view
the garden of the Royal Hotel at Capel Curig.
a mountain sketcher of considerable ability. To the ecclesiastics. as he proudly puts it. often in middle life. one of those preachers who remained calm and undismayed by the terrors of Darwin.
expected of that
and the writer of more than 200 separate articles.
There were. of course.800 ft.
with so many his manyand of the Victorian mountaineers. To the geologist he is one of the pioneers. It was a view that he never
remained with him for the rest of his life. an architectural artist of almost
most of them in the full-bodied many-columned fashion of the day..
following year It was in 1860 that he turned to the Dauphine. as in other parts of the Alps. the mop and the scrubbing flies.
number of passes. the inns of the Dauphine became notorious. a Manchester civil engineer who remained a member of the Alpine Club until his death in 1921 though he had not climbed since the 1860 season was not. fresh meat can only be obtained at rare intervals.
luxuries. With the spread of mountaineering in the sixties. the bread and wine are equally sour.
cretins. and the beds
It is hardly possible to conceive the squalid the in which people live. The atlases.
the printed information available. the broom.
entomological vivaria. fleas. their dark dismal huts swarming with misery and other vermin.
"given to the pleasure
derived from the beauties of nature
have been seldom or never seen by others". published seven
years earlier. the auberges filthy. driven there
interested in the
is. and there is little doubt that they were far more ill-kempt than those of the rest of the Alps.
feeble. while the most reliable map of the country had been made was that of Bourcet which had been comwhich
in days when the presence of was first being seriously disputed. however. did not recognise the existence of mountains in
of France. Off this.
and refuse of a meal are gnawed by dogs. and returned the to climb the Altels and Monte Rosa. comprised ments Bonney.
it. and are left there to
parts are stunted. became of problems high climbing. Bonney's
. the bones
upon form an osseous
the floor to be
brecia. Bonney's description of what faced him and his party consisting of the ubiquitous William Mathews and John Clarke Hawkshaw. everything
of the poorest kind.
the great high road from Grenoble to Brian^on there is fair at one or two places [he said].
and only man
vile". so very untrue of the
a century ago
dragons in the Alps
of the Alps in the days of the pioneers.after his first visit.
and appear to be stupid and almost
London. to almost every part of the Alps. as it was two days later on Monte Viso.
10. This had been still further enclosed with a rough wall of
loose stones. Bonney won
vaguely thought to be the highest peak in the Dauphin^. they had been told of a rough hut on the mountain in which they could bivouac.
First a Lecturer in
he became increasingly aware of the vast number of scientific problems which could be solved in the laboratory of the Alps far more easily and conveniently than elsewhere. finally going to Zermatt over the Theodule and
spending the rest of his holiday in the Zermatt area. Geology at St. then. to sloped gradually
five or six. Bonney had been untroubled." he quietly explained. and had rested so as to form a shelter under one of its sides. however. "I chose the iron bedstead. when Bonney
filthy. a Professor century. and thus a sort of kennel
was made. the other was
and took the filthy bed. In 1860.
a huge mass of rock that had in former times fallen down from the above. One of the beds looked relatively trim. In the morning his companion found that while he had been wracked with insects.
the fact that in
he made about
useful. about nine or ten and four feet about high at the entrance. one of the greatest British experts on the group. and Bonney moved south to Turin with Hawkshaw.
There was the time. for a quarter of a of Geology at University College.
They tossed a coin. he
recalls. Finally the guide
Mont Pelvoux. John's.
when he and a companion had the choice of two beds in a very small inn.000
extent of his wanderings
as it was he returned again and again in the following years until he finally became.. they don't breed them/' On the mountains one was apt to have similarly unpleasant and his companions set out to surprises. whence by down about two feet at the other end. His
took him. with Tuckett and Coolidge. The remoteness of the Dauphine fascinated Bonney
later to fascinate others. the party was turned back by bad weather. six
of them above
and crossed more than 170
of a professional
taineer. made a number of glacier excursions. as well as of the Alpine Guide] Ball was not only politician and amateur scientist but. as might have been expected from a Catholic. which the mountains offered. which comin 1845 to press on with his crossing of the Schwartzhim pelled thor. a prominent Catholic.
these things. a gentleman of leisure. Like Bonney. more of a mounresponsible than Coolidge for the
encyclopaedic approach to the Alps.
Thereafter he travelled in the Alps almost every year until his
. he said
saw the Alps from the Col de la later. of the Alpine Journal. twelve years later. He climbed the RifFelhorn. rather than any scientific urgency. yet the
man even more
than Bonney. had had so great an
his entire life. It was possibly in 1845. which impelled on to the summit of the Pelmo. the Alpine Club's first President. It was the interest of making a
scientists. then returned to Zermatt and made the first passage of the
Schwartzthor. The creator of Peaks.
was the same reason. on which he finally led his incompetent guide across the
pass. Nicholas. chiefly engaged in the double task of spent exploring the remarkable vegetation of the Valley of St. Passes and Glaciers
and. through that. the year in which he was called to the Irish Bar. he yet had a genuine love of pioneering work which went far beyond his note-taking needs. He combined ing might some at time Zermatt. in the
passage. Ball was first influenced by mountains at the
Faucille. and of observing the movement of the two nearest glaciers. treading the familiar path from University to Bar and then devoting himself
to those useful pursuits in
which men of less time and
could not indulge. that Ball first appreciated how well mountain-wanderbe with his scientific observations.
was. begirt with noteways typical books. one of the first great Dolomite peaks to be climbed.
of nine when he
Perhaps nothing. While in many of the Victorian amateur scientist. He was. was John Ball. almost alone among the early British mountaineers.
a pocket klinometer.
were planned with eyes on than mountaineering records is well illustrated
so strange that
was Ball who was asked to fill the Presidency of the Alpine Club in 1858. may be carried in suitable pockets. his administrative ability.
have given him a
ascents as fine as that
of any of his
contemporaries. a process which might. leather cup. strong glass. had he adopted
it. however. but travelling rather than " climbing. along with a note-book and a
sketch-book. with a strap to keep all
measuring tape. and matches. especially as the Club at that time represented a
. covering their whole breadth by
his excursions. to be diluted with water or snow.
1863. complete the accoutrement. even more
position in the world. having a fold for writing-paper. a tin box for plants. is an article that hot sunshine.death in 1889. A flask with strong cold tea.
that Ball's journeys
list.. gaining knowledge of a whole area rather than workascents
fitted into his
ing out" any one valley.
To my knapsack [he observed] is strapped a stout piece of rope about thirty feet long. the last. a veil. spare cord. with a Scotch plaid and umbrella. an office left vacant when the Committee had been elected.
A couple of thermometers. a description which cannot be very dissimilar from that of most scientists of the time who carried their amateur
researches into the Alps. His
and prevent anything from swinging loosely in awkward places. has taught
to appreciate. and a Rater's compass with prismatic eye-piece. though often scoffed at. a good operaI find more readily available than a telescope. Ball has left a description of how he travelled and what he took with him. a geological hammer of a form available for occasional use as an ice-axe. and his retirement from politics early in 1858 which gave him the time to devote to
a pleasant hobby-horse. all combined to make him an ideal man for the post. etc. and spectacles. he had crossed the main Alpine chain forty-eight
and had in addition traversed which at that time was unique.
plan for fresh botanical or geological observations.
Unlike the books of most travellers. under Ball's editorship.
What would you
say to bringing out an annual volume. there
occasion to stuff their articles with additional matter taken out of would be room for small contributions to science. the writers would have no
libraries. There was also not only Ball's Alpine record but the feeling that his particular brand of knowledge would enrich the
did from his practice in the orderly. and illustrated
Club. imperfectly understood.pastime whose aims and ideals were. In November. in which there were recorded many of the
near-legendary exploits of the pioneers. more and a fifth edition was issued in the following year. People of limited information are apt to record facts which are either akeady well known and familiar to men of science.
you should adopt
but in that department especially I the idea and undertake the
stricter restraint than most book-writing over themselves. Passes and Glaciers. with an aim that was more
than Alpine. A little previous communication with the writers might sometimes convert a loose statement into a useful fact.
volumes. fair proportion of them are capable of writing an intelligible and even interesting
account of what they have done and seen. or else wanting in the needful precision
and accuracy. and their success
impression that a "regular market"
. at the best.
was born the germ
of Excursions by Members of the Alpine Club. and secure of a large sale. of facts. Ball wrote to William Longman.
appeared in 1862.500 copies. there that developed into Peaks.
especially Natural History. The first series. of interest in the Alps and elsewhere. Kennedy. but with limited materials neither reasonable nor desirable that each should write a book. I should say that
such a volume would be generally interesting. arising
tourists who leave England every year. was published
early in 1859. that
are nearly or quite unknown to the reading public. S. By the end of the year it had gone through four editions totalling 2. made up of contributions of travellers? If carefully selected. The Club had not presentation long to wait.
etiquette. an indication
that Tuckett's scientific interest
was well tempered with the
for pioneer work. that 'record of mountain adventure and scientific observation" that has remained the weightiest if not
matters of Alpine history. Ball
had pointed out to a meeting of the Club that there no guide-book for mountaineers that dealt with the whole chain of the Alps. they were as nothing compared with the lasting effect of Ball's Alpine Guide. became
Sacred Works. who was in a vast number of cases able to tally the
and figures against his own experience. "Ball". and
in the earnest vigour with which he carried out his campaigns. Second only to Ball in the extent of his Alpine wanderings. As early
as 1861. and edited by Ball. topography. Guide
Western Alps (1863). Guide to the Central Alps (1864) and Eastern Alps (1868). and the eventual publication of his great trilogy. unaltered. in his encyclopaedic and scientific approach to the mountains. and the volumes of the Alpine Journal itself. No less than 57 new expeditions were included in these figures. their information being sifted. was regularly consulted until its rewriting and reissue by Coolidge
one of the
end of the century. running his complicated and exten-
sive business. Scores of helpers were co-opted
into the work. The next year there followed the Alpine Journal. the Bristol Quaker and business man
between 1856 and 1874 climbed 165 peaks.
trusteeships. 84 of them important summits.existed for chronicles
of Alpine exploration. Passes.
were the benefits which the publication of such material
accorded the climbers of the mid-sixties.
busy with an cxecutorship and sundry
. together with Peaks. he packed an astonishing amount of work into every day. The result was his commission to produce such a guide.
Like Mathews. Discussing one of his mountain campaigns with
for nearly a
month they once wrote one another
every other day he mentions in passing that he is writing thirty or forty letters a day. and crossed some 376 passes. checked. was Francis Fox Tuckett. and one which.
He was a sight to see [said Hort in 1861]. but a scientific occupation*' is reputed to have been the gist of
Forbes' exhortation. "if there were any ozone that afternoon on that arete. and found it to be 175 degrees below zero. and a wonderful apparatus. and dates." Professor Tyndall. Passes and Glaciers invoked contributions ponderous Leslie Stephen's mock-heroic account of an ascent of the Gabelso. for a long rambling tour. whatever else he
did in the Alps. impedimenta even in the early days of "sporting" mountaineering.Switzerland as a child Tuckett returned in 1854. and Tuckett's to Peaks. "As to ozone. for boiling water at great heights. being hung from head to foot with "notions" in the strictest sense of the word. of age twenty." said Stephen. the scientists discovered the tempera-
ture by the amount of cold on their fingers. and the majority of his journeys were made with all the equipment necessary for detailed observation and recording.
great axe-head and a huge rope and thermometers.
horn. He bristled with instruments. Two years later he met Forbes and was imbued by him with the need for contributing to the body of scientific knowledge.
Tuckett followed the advice. their height was so great that the mercury in the barometer sunk out of sight. They
may have been
why all this conglomeration of scientific The answer is that there were still men. figures. "Make mountaineering not merely a recreation.
a sense of proportion was needed. several of
them being inventions of his own.
On this famous climb. for the thermometer was broken. who
easy to ask
genuinely considered that any failure to record a multitude of facts. first for scientific and then
for culinary purposes. ozone must be a greater fool than I take it to be. he had two barometers. was needed. and his deep pockets were filled with a series of elaborately organised notebooks and pencils ready both for making the pleasing panoramas which graced his records and for their detailed annotation. pot within pot. would be a back-sliding in social and
moral duty. for whom the Alpine Club rules
. a sypsieometer.
and only refusing the Presidency of the Alpine Club because he felt
that residence in or near
essential to the job. ream upon ream of
and money. planting his getting his one. Maurice and St.
Tuckett had at
. Tyndall was taken to the mountains by the practical business of earning his own living and to him men like
Tuckett must have been rather ponderous dilettantes. Lazarus
for his scientific and geographical investigations in the Alps. or more.
rather ponderous one must imagine.
resigned in protest after Stephen's bantering speech. and
arrested as a spy on the Austrian frontier in three years later as a Panslavist agitator.
Information Tuckett certainly did gather. year after year. climbing with most of the mountaineers of the day. winning from the King of Italy the Order of St. and with Tyndall. There was the famous time beneath the Eiger when his party escaped destruction beneath
an avalanche by a matter of
for Life. preceded him.
and iSyo's he returned. however charming their character might be and however useful might be
the vast gathering of information
on which they lavished so much
an escape described in
1866. thermometers carefully on peaks and passes where they could be consulted. Tuckett yet ventured in his measured stride on the verge of more narrow escapes than most of his more
adventurous contemporaries.had been
he might become Vice-President. both during his own high mountain excursions and on the less strenuous tours which he made in middle life with his sisters. first ascent per season. hardiness. thinking the barbs meant for him. while. in fact. his fiery All three believed that it was the moral duty of contemporary.
one thing in common both with Forbes.
There was. he finished by taking cover on the Roche Melon in
a chapel which was almost immediately partially destroyed by
lightning. in 1875.
Slow. and their readings taken. right
end of his
his final expedition
season of hard climbing. less reason for Stephen to jibe at Tyndall than at Tuckett. to the Alps. with an almost Germanic lack of humour. by later travellers.
the mountaineer. while conferring
upon the body the soundness and
healthful exercise of both. for they were both his life's-work and
bread-and-butter. Herein consisted the fascination of the Alps for me. he explained the fact with a clarity which itself explains the motives of Mathews and his kind and took the argument one step farther. I got
through amazingly cheap". the
man moving up
new kingdoms. Tyndall took observations seriously. Tyndall remaining. years separated their births but in social background
beliefs. his whole life conditioned by a wealthy
and conservative family background.
Tuckett in a rather shame-faced sort of way. Even in their religious beliefs. repudiating
guides. and found among them refuge and recovery from the work and the worry which acts with far deadlier corrosion on the brain than real
of London. What is more.
I have returned to them every year [Tyndall wrote of the Alps]. offering their problems to one and their grandeur to the other. Forbes had
found a certain pleasure outside these observations. the
wished for no
stone to be raised above his grave. Forbes feeling the principles of the Church as governing his everyday habits and
actions in a
equip himself mentally and physically for carrying out the maximum number of useful scientific observations.
the purity necessary to the
belief in this dual function
of mountains was almost the
only thing that Forbes and Tyndall had in common. the between Forbes and Tyndall was striking.
Forbes belonged to the eighteenth century and Tyndall to the nineteenth. and sleeping when possible in the where nobody could detect my accent. saw the Alps for the first time on a "Grand Tour" that was almost part of the social round. Tyndall saw them first on the student's walking tour of 1849 of " which he later said that trusting to my legs and stick. eating bread
Yet without a hint of inconsistency he admitted the glory of climbing for its own unscientific sake. Forbes.
his efforts. they appealed at once to thought and feeling.
might be questioned only with care. the immortal Tartarin of Alphonse Daudet was
Rigi-Kulm. Much of TyndalTs importance to the Victorian mountaineers and their development lay just in this fact. Zug. massive as a citadel. arriving
the mountains appeared under such a sky.
Heidelberg three fashion he retained until that true later in the fifty-mile-a-day days late in life.
holiday walking tour in 1849 took
German university make his one unavailing denouncement of the
him from the town of Marburg (where von Papen
Nazis). rather similarly. thirty years later. In Heidelberg he decided. Both had a good back-
ground of what the Victorians called substantial worth. glazed an observatory. whose religious doubts might be deplored. through
Zurich. the attraction which they afterwards exercised upon me had not yet begun to act/' What is more. and Arth to the Rigi. wherein for a day and a night a crowd of sun-worshipping tourists is located". to "see
September 19 he marched south. it failed to act even when he came within sight of the Alps.
that he theories
unassailable.In spite of all these differences it was Tyndall who occupied in the mountaineering world of the i86o's the pre-eminent position that Forbes had occupied a decade earlier. as he wrote later. but whose interest in the new sport of mountain-climbing was an inexplicable fact that must be accepted
as the idiosyncrasy
of an intellectual heavyweight
whom it would
be unwise to
cross. In those days it a pleasure to me to saunter along the roads enjoying such snatches of scenery as were thus attainable. merely a cloudy mountain noted
to be surprised
hotel. both could only with danger be accused of rashness or imprudence. the notorious Rigi where. and the journalist who wrote the famous leading article in The Times
"Is it life? Is
must have had some
Tyndall would open
against the attack.
. I knew not the distant
mountains. perhaps because of his unfortunate approach. For Tyndall it was.
hawing by H. Willink G.14
Ulrich Aimer saving
1880 Employers on the Ober Gabelhorn.
one of his
He continued farther into Switzerland, saw the Rhone Glacier, had an awkward scramble to the Grimsel after he had lost his way, crossed the Little Scheidegg where he saw the avalanches on the Jungfrau, and then turned back for home. "The distant aspect
of the Alps appeared to be far more glorious than the nearer view", he commented, in an almost Ruskinian manner that was enough to show that he had not, by then, been intrigued by
at first hand.
seven years later when, following problems posed by the cleavage of he to in the hope of being able to answer went Switzerland slates,
his interest in the
His conversion was not to
the questions by investigating the glaciers. The journey was made with Professor Huxley, and Tyndall proudly recalls that he
received his alpenstock from the hands of Dr. Hooker, in the garden of the Pension Ober, at Interlaken. Thence, he set out on
a tour that included
the Guggi, the
the Unteraar and the
Lower Grindelwald, from which it
all his later
might well be claimed that there was to spring occupation with mountaineering.
interest in the subject appears to
have gone through
the era of scientific enquiry that began to change in 1859; and there was an era of the great expeditions which followed 1859, many of them still linked to
enquiries but planned also with the
possible that TyndalTs love
of the Alps was born in 1856, ramble with Huxley. His description of what
the exceedingly grand scene
the Little Scheidegg
The upper air [he said] exhibited a wild commotion which we did not experience; clouds were driven wildly against the flanks of the Eiger, the Jungfrau thundered behind, while in front of us a magnificent
rainbow, fixing one of its arms in the valley of Grindelwald and, throwing the other right over the Wetterhorn, clasped the mountain in its embrace. Through the jagged apertures in the
clouds, floods of golden light were poured down the sides of the the slopes were innumerable chalets, glistening in the mountain.
their mellow bells; ^nbeams, herds browsing peacefully and shaking into woods, or crowded the of the blackness while pine-trees, contrasted and over clusters forcibly in valley, scattered alps
This was the description not only of the scientist but of the and it was hardly surprising that embryo mountain-enthusiast the following year, by this time greatly Tyndall went back involved in the glacier argument and already at loggerheads with Forbes. He stayed at the Montanvert for six weeks, taking
Forbes had done, crossed the Col du Geant, and
Mont Blanc with a boy. to have he Once got among the mountains, Tyndall appears almost and form entirely alien to shown a sense for hill scenery as soon, he Almost the rest of his life, inclinations, and aptitudes.
mountain adventures, many of which developed a love of daring of Monte Rosa in 1858 with merely ascent his such as solitary would have been as supplies sandwich a bottle of tea and a ham
rashness in the case
of any man less competent. The competence showed itself immediately Tyndall took to serious climbing, and from the later 1850*8 his record is a peculiar mixture of high ascents which would have been "pure" mountain ascents in the case of any other man but which were, in his case,
carried out largely for scientific motives,
and of hit-and-thrust which equalled those of any member of the Alpine
In 1858 he climbed the Finsteraarhorn to
from its summit while Ramsay made comparable measurements from the Rhone Valley, thousands of feet lower. The following
of Mont Blanc with Sir Alfred year he made his famous ascent Wills and August Balmat, during which the latter placed imsummit-snow and nearly lost portant scientific instruments in the
hands by frost-bite in doing so. When Tyndall returned to England at the end of the season he* persuaded the Royal Society to vote a grant of money to Balmat in recognition of his services
time Tyndall had
the mountain, during
made yet another ascent of which he spent twenty hours on the
All these ascents could have been justified adjuncts to his scientific enquiries. Like Forbes he
by Tyndall as was investigat-
ing the glaciers. Like other scientists he was concerning himself with the properties of air, of light, of sound, and he could claim
many of his
made on high mountains.
Yet in 1860 Tyndall actually tried to climb the Matterhorn, realise just what this meant it is necessary to remember how Albert Smith had been assailed for climbing Mont Blanc, a mountain higher than the Matterhorn and therefore, according to
the current theory, far more worth while so far as scientists were If there were no new facts to be found on Mont
Blanc there were certainly none of scientific importance, at to be found on the Matterhorn. Yet least Tyndall went at it
almost bull-headed, discarding
much of his scientific shroud and standing up, unashamedly, as one who wished to step beyond that "cordon up to which one might go". What is more, he
succeeded in reaching a height of 13,000 ft., a height considerably beyond that which men had yet reached on the mountain.
Tyndall, the scientist at the height of his energy and fame he was just forty at the time was beginning to enjoy mountaineer-
year he went to the Alps with one idea in his of climbing the Weisshorn, then one of the "last
problems" of the Alps. He did so successfully, with Johann Joseph Bennen, the enigmatic Valais guide who almost reluctantly
accompanied him on the great enterprise. From then onwards Tyndall lived as a mountaineer in his own right, unsupported
by scientific necessities. He was already making climbs far more difficult than those tackled by such men as Forbes or, for that matter, by any man in mere search of scientific data. He was moved by the spirit of combat and risk that the mountains offered him; from the position of a man who carefully
exploited the mountains for their scientific value, he had marched in a few strides to the other end of the calendar. There is a touch of the "death-or-glory" boys about some of
the stones flew thick and fast between us
of Bennen on the Old Weisthor in 1862]. Once an ugly it but Bennen made right at me; I might, perhaps, have dodged lump saw it coming, turned, caught it on the handle of his axe as a cricketer
catches a ball, and thus deflected
surmise from his record, a
man who was
titillated by danger, and across all his worthy, learned, and there is drawn the shadow of essentially dull scientific record
another man, the man whom duty prevented him from being on more than isolated occasions. He would, says an eye-witness,
heels from the highest delight picnic parties by hanging from his trees to be found. In the Alps, where the little Marjelensee bordered the great Aletsch Glacier, he would jump on to the
nearest miniature icebergs and balance on them until they finally his stray visits to Cornwall gave him the inevitable cold bath.
he would sometimes be found clambering with unexpected interest up some of those northern cliffs which have since
exercised the ingenuity
of both the Climbers' Club and the
He was, parallel with his stern, calculating scientific exterior, a genuine mountain adventurer, seeing in small rocks as well as in great mountains the challenge of physical matter. At the height
fame he was the only man other than Whymper would one day be climbed. The frill story of his efforts to justify the belief can be pieced together only from his Hours of Exercise in the Alps and from Whymper's Scrambles. The two men clashed, as might have been expected. Had either Tyndall or Whymper had less similar mountain ambitions, they might have joined forces in the early i86o's as Whymper was later to join forces with Hudson and have climbed the mountain before that fatal day in 1865 that
believed that the Matterhorn
of the Matterhorn which his actions are revealing of his impetuous, tenacious, yet analytic character. For it was Tyndall who after the accident of 1865 seriously suggested the fantastic scheme of having himself lowered down tie Matterhorn precipices
was, Tyndall stood
story, a position in
by some 2,000
ft. of rope in an effort to find Lord Francis undiscovered body. And it was Tyndali who in 1868 Douglas' made the first traverse and the seventh ascent of the Matterhorn,
climbing the mountain from Breuil, in
Italy, and descending to Zcrmatt in Switzerland. Thus, he made few high Alpine ascents. Overwork, illness, and marriage, all contributed. Yet so soon as he had the funds he
on the Lusgen Alp near the Bel Alp, the ugly Villa Lusgen from which he might look across the Rhone Valley to what he considered was the most beautiful view in the Alps. He spent much of his time at Hindhead, where his house, the first to mar
that lovely spot, still looks down the Happy Valley to the distant gap in the South Downs where the nick of the highroad crosses
the last barrier to Portsmouth and the
He loved the beauty he
there, however disturbing might be the emotions which it aroused.
TyndalTs relations with mountains, other than those
is some feeling that he them an from awareness of life and death that he would gained otherwise have missed. He thought the danger worth while. They were, for him it seemed, an educator whose value was almost as
are astringently scientific, there
great as that of science. They enabled him to enjoy life more, to put more into it and to take more out. Had he approved the
word, Tyndali might almost have claimed that the mountains were a religion. For many Victorian scientists it appears that they were a substitute for something which their own religion had
failed to give
impact which these discoveries had on the mind
. placed the beginnings of man's history at least
discoveries in the
enquiry some hundreds of millenia back.
illuminated one particular aspect of science. Joan Evans. This aspect was archaeology. It was an age in which all was being challenged with a wealth of apparent religious belief evidence that had not been seen for some considerable time. and leave the thorny rods.
just possible before the date laid
belief. break Although It is something to have hungered once as those who have ate the bread ofgods. or the story of man's past. made by Boucher de Perthes a and confirmed by reputable if unofficial British commission of in 1859.
the specialised craftsmen of the Alpine age in which JL Club worked out the details of their sport was something more than an age of religious belief. and they involved the whole basis of
on which many Victorian mountaineers had founded They were the result not only of the onward stumble of science in general. have done as we have done. There were questionings.Chapter Five
have wept as we have wept. It was to consider the theories of the earth's creation eons
down in the Bible and yet still keep a hold on The problem became altogether more difficult when the
Valley. the stars which never see the sun.
when all men something to have watched. K. has well described the
of Victorian man.
slept. in Time and Chance.
to have smelt the mystic rose. Must
G. but of the growing knowledge that
it brought a new proportion into man's view of the cosmos. The clergy found that their guides.
tremendous pinnacle". that was only comparable with the change of proportion
brought about by the Renaissance discovery of a
not to be wondered
at that this attack
belief. It was. Whymper himself. feeling "as in
typical. . those well-tried mountain friends. put down the escape to what he called a "long chain of providential arrangements due surely to Him who guides and protects us day by day". troubled with doubts throughout his lifetime. or that the scientists did
so to prove to themselves that their revelations had not really The thinkers of the period did not really climb life. It added vast stretches
of time to those ages which even the most anthropocentric philosopher must consider. and even
. to reassure themselves about an after-life. should
have had an equally disturbing and on those at whose beliefs it
of the scientists as well was all. then as now.did
The establishment of the existence of palaeolithic man [she says] more than add chapters to human history.
because they witnessed in the mountains some newly seen yet constant physical phenomena in a changing world. The scientists
among them were only too
well aware of the fallacy disguised by the phrase "the everlasting hills". illuminated. . was
So was Charles Hudson. as of the clergymen which was suddenly being lifted away from
directed. and justified by their physical experiences in the mountains. still believed in many
mystic goings-on that had little to do with Christianity.
would be presumptuous
to claim that
many of the
who went mountaineering did so. even indirectly.
John Birkbeck's escape on the Col de Miage he was only nineteen when he slid some i . Wills on the Wetterhorn. some satisfying reinforcement
to their beliefs. during their mountain excursions. Yet the blunt truth is that many deeply religious men did find. found their sense of God
and most obvious reason for
mountaineers. it destroyed the conventional chronology of Church and University.800 ft.
though might both on those who made
University regulations being what they were.
Yet even when such
are taken into account. such as
prosper in an academic Hereford George. that the clergy should play an important
part in its development. such as George. They were felt and experienced. were not written
the pioneers as a matter of conventional form. propelled speed during It was natural. like Leslie Stephen.
found that neither the taking of Holy Orders nor the minor work of a small parish necessarily involved any thundering or militant
work of protestations. resigned Holy
Orders as their opinion of the world developed and as they stepped more clearly out into it. of course. just period up into the hills. the
those wishing to Orders. For the
not climb to demonstrate
courage they were not so good at organised games. Many of them did. who devoted his talents largely to military history and mountainclimbing. it
editor of the Alpine Journal. and those feelings and experiences were doubly deep because of the doubts which had. Some.
shot forward with such jethalf the second of the nineteenth century. The references to God and His near Presence. Many. regular as they are in the Alpine literature of the day. revel in the toughening and heroic business of climbing difficult mountains. Many were not clergy as one would use the word today. Without their impetus. others. But they
in the care-
folly self-edited Scrambles at least
some shadow of
Matterhorn accident two
great crosses hung in the sky before the eyes of the horrified survivors. for a while.
nub not have would mountaineering
the impinging of science on religious of the matter. flitted
across the mind. did their physical or because
most emotional hardly a
man. diluting it where necessary by the use of suitable guides. such as
Coolidge. never held even a curacy.
A few. were ordained
were about to
the ladder of success. therefore. more obviously than most.
that the clergy illuminate better than what it was that drove men of the
any other single group.
and so was the future Canon Lightfoot.
who in Britain discovered the "ordinary" Rock and who in Switzerland was the first to
summit of the Matterhorn. A. more than a quarter were clergymen.
who took Holy Orders
It is difficult
cover any aspect of Victorian climbing in which some
not play an important part. who achieved either fame or notoriety according to one's point of view for his advocacy of guideless climbing. Of the suggested members of the Alpine Club who replied favourably to Kennedy's circular which he issued after the "Leasowes" meeting.
they were religious flyweights and
. and a number of other clerics whose interest in the Club's activities eventually waned. Llewellyn Davies. provide something that no other pastime did
that almost indefinable quality really was. It was something that reassured the clergy among whom so enthusiastic of the mountaineers many period were counted.
on the Matterhorn. can best be inferred from the fact that the serious thinkers appreciated it
years after the end of his editorship.
two Smyths had been among the first of the Holy Orders who during the 1850'$ had helped to sport of mountaineering. The Rev. ordained until after the end of his editorship.might have taken equal
any of a dozen other dangerous
pursuits. the second was Leslie Stephen who relinquished
was a moral of the body.
quality. It was a satisfaction It was a window through
of the mind
Holy Orders three fourth was the Rev. The first editor of the Alpine Journal was George who was not. Julius Elliott. They chose mountaineering for the simple reason that it could. For
which man saw his own justification. Hort was among them. B. all these were typical of the clergymen who
recreation. It was something which in some inexplicable way restored his dignity and confidence and belief in life. and did. So was Hardy.
W. Yet however great their
ability. of course. was the
and then return home. Blanc. Gervais at the foot of Mt.. to demonstrate the fact that profound religions study mixed well with high Alpine travel. thereby avoiding the extortions of Chamonix. and a fortnight in the snow regions of the Bernese Oberland and Finsteraarhorn being dreamed of).
. Ruskin claims the credit for what he calls "the first sun-portrait ever taken of the Matterhorn and
up Mt. He made his first. and after only this later with most ambitious slight experience returned two years
plans. Blanc himself
a dead secret)
new route. crossing and recrossing the main chain
reach Zermatt. and then spend
some two or
that region. and G. John Ellerton. (the ascent of the Jungfrau and then make all haste to St. Lightfoot has made not up his mind how much farther he will accompany us
before diverging to Germany. five-week. It was on this visit to the Alps that Hort first tried his hand at mountain photography. in 1849. ending at the
Grimsel. where we expect to find Hawkins and perhaps Ames or Watson. but at all events Hawkins and myself talk of moving eastward. one of his oldest friends] have agreed to rendezvous at Luzern July ipth. Joad. etc.Hort and Lightfoot. he made the eighth ascent of the Jungfrau and was turned back by weather three times on the St. both of them among the leading Biblical scholars of the day. Rosa and
other of the highest
points (mostly unexplored hitherto) as we can manage.
and thence ascend Mt.
carrying a bulky full-plate camera on many of his climbs but his failing to achieve results through waiting too long to
as far as I
know of any
Swiss mountain whatever".
wrote to the Rev. spend a week in training among the peaks of Uri. tour in the Alps in 1854 at the age of twenty-six. I hope we shall find it an expedition to be remembered. Hort was the more important of the two in both the academic and the mountaineering sense.
develop of the early climbers had done their imperfect best to take Alpine photographs. Gervais route up Mont Blanc which had then been ascended only by Hudson and Kennedy's party the previous year. The carried about a photographic tent for use on their
climbs in the mid-fifties.
As it turned out.
and Kennedy for part of their guideless ascent of Mont Blanc number of photographs. made three photographic journeys to the summit of Mont Blanc in 1861. in the iSyo's. having joined the Alpine Club. with a record both on the mountains and in the sphere of Alpine organisation quite equal to the
reputation he later acquired as an historian. And there Mrs. more than most of the climbers. axes. a portrait photographer of some standing. developing tent. complete with wife. spending
five days at the
Grands Mulets on
trip. George. Cole met in the Val Anzasca in 1858. one of which was used
as the basis for the frontispiece
of Where There $ a Will There's a was the unnamed English colonel whom Way. crossed the Monchjoch and climbed Mont Blanc. In 1865 he planned and led the ambitious tour through the Oberland made by three ladies and six men. And. And he then. Soon afterwards. He first visited Switzerland at the age of twenty-two and taken on a minor glacier expedition by Leslie Stephen. He served on a special committee which was set up by the Alpine Club to lay down standards for ropes. With red beard and great height.
. taking with him Ernest Edwardes. including the first ascent of the Jungfiau from the Wengern Alp and the first ascent of the Gross-Nesthorn. threw
himself with tremendous fervour into the conquest of the Alps* unclimbed peaks and uncrossed passes.
Hereford Brooke George made his family tour of the Oberland in 1865.
returned the following year. and 1863. and mule for carrying the photographic equipment. The following year he
became the editor of the newly founded Alpine Journal. "looked the part". he founded the Oxford Alpine Club. in between the minor excursions made for the benefit of the photographer and of the ladies. Bisson. 1862. and he devoted what leisure he had not only to the major problems of Alpine travel but also to the most minor details of equipment. he was massive and confident both of mind and of body. and alpenstocks. that good results above the snowline were achieved by any British mountaineer. the Frenchman. he took part in a number of major climbs. and organised largely with an eye on the photographic possibilities.in 1855.
gigantic size and awful
merely on our
in the Alps. discovered in the Alps some revelation curiously similar to that found by Stephen who after taking Holy Orders changed his
views. And. Familiarity with the wonders of the Alps is among the best means of originating and deepening such impressions. the more clearly do we perceive that above
the supreme will of the Almighty lawgiver [he wrote]. The
attraction was. therefore. and has led individual Englishmen to penetrate the wildest recesses of every Continent. they speak to man of his littleness and his
ephemeral existence. or an outburst of revolutionary passions. but that sense
of awe-struck humility which befits such petty creatures
half-Jingoist. they should suggest not sheer misanthropy. that love of action for its
sake. And. as they did to Byron.Mountains and mountaineering had captured George's interest and imagination.
The deeper we penetrate into the arcana of nature. had.
Both George and Stephen had been educated.
The climbing spirit
form of that
Yet this was not the only explanation from the young man who was to take Holy Orders two years later. with a fullness that was alien to most of his fellows. into
. ceased to regard himself as a clergyman. and profoundly disturbed many of his friends by his An Agnostics Apology. restless energy. as they did to his teacher Rousseau. which has made England the great coloniser of the world.
infers. so as to discern "the law within the law". in fact. George explained carefully just why this was so. they rouse us from the placid content in which
we may be lapped when contemplating the fat fields which we have conquered and the rivers which we have forced to run according to
our notions of convenience. of exploring the earth and subduing it.
to produce an effect not but also upon the moral
ethereal. who was about to enter the Church. to Stephen:
represent the indomitable force of nature to which we are forced to adapt ourselves. like the love of all kindred pursuits. The mountains.
in the late iSyo's
Edward Davidson and
eering had for the
at the heart
religiously inclined of the mid-Victorian years. Hardy. at the age of twenty-three.
by two diametrically opposed theories of Alpine appreciation. it is a treat to read such a book"). and embarked on his meteoric Alpine career. they both felt rather like man who needed "sometimes to know
nothing and to feel nothing. for it made Stephen unique in at least one respect. clergyman turned agnostic. and during which he made a number of high ascents. as he also admitted. By this time he had been subjected to two influences.
same year made
his first visit to die Alps. and could explain their beauties to others.
until the following year that the mountains began to influence him. his guide and lifelong friend. Two years later he spent a in the Mont Blanc area. as that attraction lies at the root of its meteoric just expansion between 1850 and 1880. that he met Kennedy. Stephen
was yet a deeply religious man throughout his whole life. a new belief for the one he had rejected. From the start of his climbing career he was therefore deeply
in a great degree by the had. but that he marvellous world". The result was of considerable significance to the Alpine world.
from setting out on expeditions were invariably difficult. I am inclined to think it unanswerable".M.
. He had come under
the spell of the Alps themselves. "In any case. He was ordained in 1855. completely useless. including that
yet he could also gain equal joy
V. Stephen appears to have created. from his experiences in the mountains.
eloquence of Modern Painters".their
brand of humility. judged by the standards of the Ruskinians. a
scrambling holiday in Bavaria. Disturbed as he was by Darwin in a way that Hort never was ("In spite of difficulties. The 1858 campaign was a six-week tour during which Stephen first met Melchior Anderegg. and the
who kept his belief. frequently dangerous and. and Hinchliff at
Zurich. and he been infected with the Alpine fever by reading Wills' Wanderings.
could sup in
measure off the most glorious sights that the offer. and ascended the Col du Geant.
"In truth. Yet Stephen's retreat from Christianity was unlike that of many
Finally. and who was always proud to have walked the fifty miles from Cambridge to
London in twelve hours to
attend an Alpine Club dinner. eight seasons Stephen strode up and across the Alps. his being
others. he of form God.of Monte Rosa. any three-quarters of a century ago. taking part in a score of first ascents any one of which would have placed him among the most accomplished mountaineers of the day. the first complete ascent of Mont Blanc from St.
another eight years
mountains were limited by the 120
." he later wrote. from organising University clubs to pamphleteering. The first ascent of the Schreckhorn and of Monte Delia Disgrazia. but rather that I was relieved of a cumbrous burden.
personal actions continued almost exactly along those broad lines of conduct that are followed by most Christians. Gervais. cogitating on his religious commitments.
both of which took place in the
his activities in the
a vigorous. the first these are passage of the Jungfraujoch and of the Viescherjoch only a few of the great courses he accomplished in an almost
manner during the
he relinquished Holy Orders and began writing the long series of essays later collected as An Agnostic's Apology. after his change of heart and his marriage. but something that hardly warrants the word agnosticism.
the dominating personality in the Alpine Dining Club. forty-mile-a~day man who covered the country "like compasses over a small-scale map". During the
first spent in the mountains he ceased to believe." More curiously. in 1875. The great years commenced in 1859. whose crest was described by Moore. it is difficult not to believe that what happened was the transmutation of his beliefs into some-
years that he
thing different. Reading today what Stephen wrote felt. He was occupied like most of his
contemporaries. throughout the whole of his early Alpine career. in a score of different jobs from electioneering to
writing. The doubts had begun in 1862 when he had first refused to take part in Chapel services. and he was. "I did not feel that the solid was ground giving way beneath my feet. something non-Christian.
fears of his wife. and. literature. yet by far the greater part of his holidays were taken up with excursions of minor
importance. with the exception of Whymper's
in the literal sense. President of the Alpine Club. "Those quaint old poles". he wrote to Lord Conway. and of Mont Mallet "that child of my old age" as he called it and the first passage of the Col des Hirondelles. after the death of his wife it was to the newly developing sport of winter mountaineering rather than to more
orthodox climbing that he devoted himself. his book which was published in 1871 and told of his most famous ascents. had not only a lasting influence but a finish beside which almost
other Alpine books that men could then buy had the polish of a crusty loaf. He made the first ascent of the Cima di Ball. It explained an attitude to life. It had one quality which all the others. which the Oxford Dictionary defines
esteemed for beauty of form or emotional effect". was not merely the best-written
book of Alpine climbing that had been published. The
Playground of Europe. notably lacked. Work overtook him like night falling on a traveller hurrying for home. editor of the Alpine Journal."
. not only by the force of his personality and the doughtiness of his deeds. "reminded me of some of the pleasantest days of my life. Yet until the last he retained an affection for all the memories that were summoned up by the two old ice-axes he gave to the Alpine Club
few months before his death. Stephen spread his influence over the mountain world not only by his energy. on whose shoulders was felling something of Stephen's mantle at the turn of the century. but also by his ability to write. It was.
Scrambles. Stephen did not climb on into old age.
habit. enthusiastic. if not the of the whole astonishing group.
can change us though they die to save!
the stately if somewhat ponderous procession of Victorian JLJL. slightly figure who was to provide its climax.
that reading runs so shall
do. It was not that there existed. the sum of all our past. for nearly a century.
of our years and dower But here we have
Prepared long since our garland or our grave For. astounded. might almost have been dismissed by the one word "trade". was to cast over it a rather sultry shadow of
doom. first and last. it was merely that few men of the
less. shall he cast
In one addition. and who was
to remain. our own unworthiness. victory at the last. Or.Chapter Six
Act. at that hour. a
controversial. judged by the standards of those who formed the bulk
of Alpine Club members. He was an artist-engraver. man who had learned the business in his father's Lambeth works and who. thought and passion.
the most written-about. for the first time. mountaineers gathered numbers there suddenly burst upon it the and brash young. the test Of our sole unbacked competence and power
to the limit
or beyond. figure
His name was Edward Whymper. THE MAN WITH THE CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER
in earnest or in
(But the stakes are
Will spring on us. any distinction of class or money. as such.
trading layer of society
had the opportunity was the
ascents. At the age of twenty. and
. had long nourished an ambition for Arctic travel Here. before setting out for a long tour on behalf of his father's business. however. in some subtle way. of radio
V. They have become more than the climax of the Golden Age of mountaineering.
a whole plays. day was
climbed the peak. The young Whymper. which was then in course of preparation. was one of those mountains which it was especially desired to illustrate in the volume. whose imagination had earlier been aroused by the search for Franklin which had stirred the mid1850*5.
direct reason for his
to the Alps and. how attempt followed attempt
until. and how. The Pelvoux in the Dauphine.
to prepare a series
he well reasoned. the epitome of all mountain-climbing. in the snow and ice regions of the Alps he might
learn something of the problems he
to overcome. for the speed with rocketed into the most distinguished parts of the
Alpine firmament.M. after the turned into night by the disaster
of the seven members of the party all become something more than the facts in a
which has moved thousands of men and women who have never climbed a mountain and never wished to do so. he was asked by William Longman
Passes and Glaciers
of sketches for the coming volume of Peaks. how some
drew him back
the following year
when he made
attempt to climb the unclimbed
whose remarkable form he had not even noted when he had first walked up the valley to Zermatt. it was added. They have become.
story of what happened during the following five years is the young among the most famous of all adventure stories. indirectly. books.
moment of triumph. a moral to those who would argue against the pastime and an inspiration to those who maintain that it leads
not only to higher but also to formed the subject of films.
man made his first Alpine tour almost as a business trip.
"trade". in 1865.
better things. was the chance for serving at least a nearapprenticeship.
He gladly accepted Longman's commission.
must be admitted. and energy enabled him to climb and climb well. and Hort says of Whymper: "He was
resolved to do the Matterhorn. 1865. and it is just those two peaks which excited his imagination. stamina. He had been in touch with Girdlestone."
Whymper had to climb the Matterhorn
it. it was then only the Matterhorn that was really important. It must be wondered whether he ever understood any of
them. He saw mountains clearly and withit
out qualification as a challenge to man's supremacy.
appreciated that his long limbs.
for the sheer
not when he first saw wonder of its form appears to have passed him by. in this large lump of stone was an object that had so far defied the progress
he heard rumours that the Weisshorn had been climbed his interest in it abated.
been told about the events of that
There are two reasons for this enduring interest in Whymper and the main event of his life. who had himself been with Whymper only a few days before the accident. He climbed. when that was done. Here. the attraction of which would remain even were there not. to give up mountaineering.
The mountain had not been climbed. Whymper climbed for none of the mixed moral reasons that moved his contemporaries. a lingering
suspicion. neither had the Weisshorn. the second in the character of its conqueror. to this a suspicion that all has not even yet day. So far as he was concerned. One lies in the story of the Matterhorn itself. for a reason entirely the reverse of those
which affected most of the men who formed the Alpine Club. and equally resolved.wealth of learned papers debating the minutiae of the case. This single-mindedness is underlined in a letter which Hort wrote to his wife from
Switzerland on August i.
clear in the
fourth chapter of the to the Matterhorn.
day in 1865 when the that he "sharp-eyed lad ran into the Monte Rosa Hotel saying had seen an avalanche on the Matterhorn" an awful avalanche whose import only those on the mountain then knew. and whatever
else he might put into his mountain training. because there were no more new great mountains to be conquered.
It is this sense of inevitable doom. with Carrel. It is true that on the bare facts as told by
it. summer of 1865 so that they were trying to climb the mountain. there For him eyes.
There might never have plans which matured in the
A dozen events might have intervened but. sixth. Events
marched steadily forward and as he made his second. Hudson. and sets the stage for the final scene. Whymper's former guide. who climbed to prove man's supremacy. as much as the story of the accident itself. gives Whymper time
to hurry across the Theodule Pass.of the age in which he
conquered. marking a deep contrast not only in the things that he did but also in the kind of man into which he was developing.
experience increased. as a matter
had to be
was hardly a happy one and from the moment of the decision tragedy of Whymper's story somehow appears inevitable. but looked at the world through different case.
succeeded in climbing the mountain.
The accident formed a watershed in Whymper's life. planned to do was "never glad confident morning again".
This is heightened by the fact that Whymper's philosophy. Many men who had sought some mystic
revelation in the mountains continued. one cannot
they were likely.
been the plans of a party of Italians.
to have crossed twenty-five was a young age at which
it. which drove him up and on to the mountain.
ing the Scrambles. not
in any only gave up high climbing after the accident as he had. spreading over a whole life
from the moment that Whymper decides that the mountain shall be his and his alone. third. even after friends
Whymper. and Lord Francis Douglas. fifth. while his party was on
a dividing line.
lived. did not quite stand up to the accident. When it might have been ascended by other parties and Tyndall's was one that nearly did
Fate steps in with upraised hand. she brings the Italian expedition to Breuil at the right moment. which gives a certain tragic dignity to Whymper's story. fourth. brings up Hadow. and seventh
attempts to climb the mountain. not only to climb but to and relatives had preach the value of the hills.
and to Chamonix. as Hort
suggested. and of all impatient authority.
Whymper's first tour of the Alps was a seven-week affair which him to the Oberland. The Matterhorn had been the only major mountain on
which he had teen repeatedly repulsed. all joy had gone from the business and life was darker and more empty because of it. destined to be unique. It
were no more new
certain that the first fine
had not been transmuted into the calmer but more
abiding emotion which lights the middle and later life of so many mountaineers.
failed to get to the Jardin. and arrived at the Montanvert as the The same afternoon. instead. to
. the place he was to take in the select Alpine circle would be an important one. he adds. and. in spite of the fact that he had an approach to climbing very different from that of his contemporaries. After the publication of the Scrambles he was Vice-President. It was typical that when he arrived at Chamonix and found the Mer de Glace closed to tourists for the visit of the Emperor Napoleon. in spite of his naturally dour and unfriendly nature. active. he should have scrambled above
mountain-scrambling. acquired the passion for
in 1860 took
He was agile. It
was. and he achieved one of his early ambitions by visiting Greenland. some of them alone. It may be. His reputation had grown season by season. He went to the Andes. audacious. to Zermatt. and it must have seemed that in spite of his background.
The next year he went back
with one main aim. After the accident a cloud seemed to hang over everything that he did. Yet nothing except the business of earning a living appears to have moved him as climbing moved him between the ages of twenty and twenty-five. crossed a number of passes. outwitted the guards.
and very nearly succeeded in breakto the Alps
ing a leg. that the passion died when great mountains to be conquered". in
fact. as he said. He made a number of minor ascents. Imperial party was
leaving.Until that day in 1865 everything had gone relatively well with him. It is true that he became a member of the Alpine Club Committee for two years.
roughly the route by which the mountain was eventually climbed five years later. "the cock of the valley".
In 1860 Bennen. a barrister who had
been climbing since the mid-i85O*s.132 ft.
made with him
of the peak and
then. a prominent feature 12. together with Jeanuncle of Jean-Antoine and Professor Tyndall. and whose ambition it was to make the ascent
honour of his native valley. the Parkers had renewed their attempts from the Zermatt side. In 1860. He met Reginald Macdonald. after ten days' wandering. the majority of mountaineers still considered that it was not only inaccessible but that it would remain so.650 ft. As usual. up the mountain. but had climbed only slightly beyond the point they had reached the
previous year. below the southern slopes of the Matterhorn. where the great tunnel was in course of construction.
tackled the Matterhorn
without guides from Zermatt.
inexperienced guide but without Carrel. had reconnoitred the Matterhorn in 1859 with Bennen.
had climbed some 300 ft.
Sparks flew. crossed the Mont Cenis. the Italian guide who regarded the Matterhorn as his own domain.
It was on this occasion that he had his first meeting with JeanAntoine Carrel. the "well-made resolute-looking fellow with
a certain defiant air". In 1861. Whymper succeeded. and 2. so far as they went. and
. Liverpool business men whose promise of
meteoric Alpine careers came to
little. a guide from the Valais. Carrel himself had made tentative attempts with other men from his little village of Breuil. following. and made his first
attempt on the Matterhorn. and had
Italy for the
eventually reached the "Chimney". Francis Vaughan Hawkins. and one of the few other than Carrel who believed that the mountain
would one day be climbed. By 1861 there had been more than one attempt on the Matterhorn. the three Parker brothers. This was the position
arrived at Breuil with
an unnamed guide and negotiated for die services of Carrel. beyond the "Chimney".climb
Mont Pelvoux which had been unsuccessfully attempted the previous year by Bonney and his party. a young clerk in the
Colonial Office. below the summit.
to a height of about 1 3 . both with Macdonald. up to that spot where he had previously used the iron spike of his axe to cut in the living rock
on the mountain. a fifth attempt on the mountain the same year and was only prevented from making yet another by the cantankerous argument which broke out between himself and Professor
his fourth attempt on the Matteran attempt made alone. and
the following season he returned to Switzerland earlier than before. the idea of Alpine conquest as deeply engraved on his mind as Carrel's cross had been cut into
initials. completed a of the Matterhorn. Carrel climbed higher.
the rock of the Matterhorn. an attempt which was halted by bad weather.light of a bivouac watched two figures creep and Carrel his uncle stealing a march on the foreigners and past to that the first ascent should be made not only ensure trying
from the evening
but also by Italians.
a later dispute about another illustration in the book. It was possibly from that that the scales tipped over. tration whose suggestion of a near-vertical drop of 200
Alpine Club. Whymper returned to England. He made his second and
The following year. a cross. was speaking to a number of Englishmen in the dining-room of
and the rough design of a tiara.
Whymper again visited his old battle-
attempted the Dent d'H6rens. and then carried
out the sixth attempt on the Matterhorn.
field in the Pennines. and then made
the subject of a famous illustration in the Scrambles. during the first days of July. the Bishop of Oxford.400 ft.
1863. this occasion Whymper was turned back
below the "Chim-
ney". ascended the Grand Tournalin by making the first ascent of the North-West arete. that what had been a desire first on the summit of the Matterhorn became an almost
pathological obsession with Whymper.
It was on this occasion that Wilberforce. and one during which he climbed past the points reached by earlier explorers. During the descent he sustained the dramatic fall which
up Monte Rosa.
passage of the highest peak Col de la Pilatte. With Moore and Horace Walker he left St. experienced men in the persons of Moore and Walker. and I am afraid that bets were freely offered and taken as to whether the
Bishop was correct. that
very day. it was led by Croz and Christian
. and between the middle and end of June made an elaborate series of magnificent first ascents and des Aiguilles d'Arves. and of more mature mountaineers.
time. it is true.the Hotel
and referred to the Matter-
fortnight. the passages. He designed his own form of grappling iron which could be slung high above the climber in the hope that it might gain a grip on some rock or
protuberance above a
perhaps the genuine pre-
cursor of a delicate climb
"Rope-Wall" on the Milestone Buttress of Tryfaen in North Wales. a tour in whose
mountaineers have followed with admiration not
unmixed with wonder.
"Whymper had achieved something of a reputation by this He was relentless in his assault on rocks. he used every device which his ingenuity could invent. making one of his attempts upon the mountain. were the principal incidents in the amazing
were expeditions which had excited the interest of more experienced. the remote ascent of little village lying in the heart of the Dauphine. therefore.
in Zermatt. He would bar no artifice in his single-minded intention of getting to the top of whatever mountain he chose to
attack. more than adequately equipped when he out for his great tour of the Dauphine in 1864. All these
Whymper's party contained.
was. He devised the Whymper Tent. Michel in the Arc Valley. the first peak passage of the Breche de la Meije by which a passage was forced from La Grave on the Route Napoleon to La Berarde. the first the first the in and the the Ecrins. The first crossing of the Col of the ascent of the south first Aiguilles de la Sausse. of older. and he had none of the
which existed even then for artificial aids.
Arrived on the summit without having encountered any of the major difficulties which had been feared the party of four amateurs and three guides saw the Italian
hundreds of feet below.
On the morning of Thursday the
Hadow. of the mountain. one ofwhom finally stayed with the party until the summit was reached. Whymper and Lord Francis Douglas linked parties with Hudson and Hadow and decided to make a combined attack on the mountain from
with. the Aiguille de Trelatete. two of the greatest guides then
to believe that the driving force
story of the Matterhorn accident has been told and re-told in extensive detail.
At Zermatt they encountered Hudson. his former guide. and with From Moore and Adams-Reilly continued to add to his collection of "firsts" Mont Dolent. being as ill-tempered as the demand. Italian. Almost on the spur of the moment. reputation whom he had met near Breuil.
him demanding just
let the sport take its
to Chamonix. as porters.
passages of the
Col de Triolet and
following fateful year began in the same way.
touched. was about to lead an Italian party in an attempt to reach the summit of the Matterhorn from the Italian side. urging. Hudson. as well as the the Morning Pass.
thirteenth. The British party shouted down. and finally getting his own way when the others might
from Whymper. it seems. the party
out for the mountain
Whymper. Taugwalder's two sons. and it is only necessary to recapitulate the bare
bones of the matter.
largely extra effort. and considerable athletic. and the Aiguille
the Dauphine. and. occasion might cajoling.
Then. Whymper went
d'Argenti&re. on the southern. with first notably of the Grand Cornier and the Aiguille Verte and success sprouting from almost every venture that Whymper
he arrived at Zermatt with Lord Francis Douglas. ordering. as guides. Lord
Douglas. Croz and "old" Peter
own course. waved
. Whymper knew that Carrel. on July
12. who was accompanied by Michel Croz and a young man named Hadow whom Hudson was escorting on his first visit to the Alps. a climber of some mountaineering.Aimer.
to the Italians.
This was the disaster whose news swept across Europe and
. Lord Francis Douglas. From the moment the rope broke. Croz turned to guide Hadow's feet into
appears to have slipped to have knocked Croz and although from the position where he was standing firm. Whymper and his party moved off from the summit with Croz leading.
the best positions the rocks. and the combined weight of the three men pulled off Lord Francis Douglas. but the rope broke
mid-way between Taugwalder and Lord Francis Douglas. remained on the summit for a few minutes longer than their companions. Some way below the summit the two joined themselves on to the already lengthy rope of five men. and
planted ourselves as firmly as the rocks would permit [says Whymper in the Scrambles] . then roped together with Whymper in front. There
followed an hour of
on the summit. old Peter. already deeply exhausted by the climb.
and even prized out loose boulders which went
to ensure that those
crashing down the steep face. it was impossible to help them.
although in the circumstances they must have been difficult enough. The slabs were dangerous but not inherently difficult. what Whymper himself has described as "one crowded hour of glorious life".
We held. disappearing one by one. For a few seconds we saw our unfortunate companions sliding downwards on their backs. So perished our comrades. The rope was taut between us. of seeing the old peaks from a new and triumphant angle. A few hundred feet down they reached the steepest part of their route. Whymper.000 feet in height. At one point. Their combined weight pulled Hudson from the rocks. and tie
jerk came on us both as on one man. Behind Croz came the young Hadow. and "youn g" Peter Taugwalder who was to be last man on the rope. They passed from our sight uninjured. and fell from precipice to precipice on to the Matterhorngletscher below. a distance of nearly 4. Hudson.
this is still
heard Croz's exclamation. endeavouring to save themselves. and then the elder Taugwalder. in an effort below should know of their defeat. and spreading out their hands.
might have told about the early stages Any one of these things might have
turned the Matterhorn accident into a talking-point. almost inevitably it appears in retrospect. The first.
Hudson was known
in the small circle of climbers as possibly the his time. All these facts combined to make the Matterhorn accident a
matter over which climbing
argue interminably. an
endless puzzle of theories and formulae and speculations in there was enough technical information available to
. to set back the of mountaineering by a whole generation of men. was acquiring a reputation though he had virtually no mountain
background. Lord Francis Douglas. even
for athletic endurance even
age of nineteen. together. they turned it into the talking-point on which any argument
against the practice
of mountain-climbing might conveniently
be hung. sport There are many factors which combined to give the Matterhorn accident and which still combine to give it a unique interest and fascination. It
peculiar but easily explainable coincidence that three different types and qualities of ropes were used to link the party together. Secondly and in some ways even
in the words of Captain Farrar.
some interesting technical details of the was an unusual if not unique practice for seven men to be climbing on one rope on a mountain of this difficulty. was a man who had a golden future opening out before
to the Continent at least he represented the dying of the English milord.whose impact was. There were the international repercussions aroused by the obvious rivalry between the British
frequently scandalous and invariably ill-informed
was not telling of the fateful
descent. they were no ordinary travellers. there was the
In addition. built themselves up to the tragic climax. Croz was one of the greatest guides. was the way in which
were the circumstances of the four men
who fell to their deaths.
Hadow. of course. there were
descent. young but already experienced. the inclusion in the party of Hadow was a matter for which Hudson has been criticised more than once.
He had sealed up the bag in which he had the remains of the rope.debate
bounds yet going for ever. Yet it seems clear that for some reason possibly the wish to shield one of the six other members of the party Whymper did not readily reveal all the details of the accident. that he finally wrote a
account for The Times. was really needed of he would give a private report of
Zermatt for Interlaken. Catherine's his College. on at least one of which he did not take my advice. I was the first person to whom he gave a full account of what really took place. was visited by Whymper on
return to England immediately after the accident. That account. that the full story of the Mattergenerally accepted disaster has been pieced together with the possible exception
which was published
of minor and unimportant details. with The Times. automatically held at Zermatt until the the accident had been held. He came to see me
Cambridge. He came to consult me on two questions of casuistry. a Fellow and Lecturer at St. informed Whymper. regarded the
outcry with a contemptuous disdain that is readily understandHe had given a short account of the affair to the English
chaplain at Zermatt who. although he agreed that the affair to the Alpine Club. dated August 7.
As Whymper had got into the way of consulting me about matters other than Alpine [he wrote later]. and learned of the had caused. and then returned to England. felt
him. Nothing more. was persuaded there to prepare an account of the accident for use by the Swiss and Italian Alpine Clubs. Cambridge in 1865. Bishop Browne. was substantially the same as that con-
tained in the Scrambles.
in every country in Europe commented upon the accident in their feature or their leader columns. Of was the outcry which the accident general importance
aroused. from at Haslemere. He
six years later.
sensation that the accident
he had returned home. The Times
of mountain-climbing in general: "But
Government enquiry on
Whatever the truth. The end of the rope would have retained some sign of the cutting.
Then he comes
happened Pie says] that Whymper was the last man in the party and could not actually see Hadow's slip and Croz' overthrow by him. and
the story. All the Year Round. in fact. and Cowell the repeated story to me. as was Ruskin who knew the Alpine glory entirely from below.
right rope but not the broken end.
did. but two or three strands of the rope might have been
severed beforehand without anyone knowing. then the Grand Old Man of climband threw more light on the ing. told me not many years ago that he was the only living man who knew the truth about the accident and that the knowledge
perish with him. omitting some things which he had
told to Cowell. possibly those elucidated when Captain Farrar succeeded in obtaining publication of the evidence given at the Court of
Enquiry held in Zermatt after the accident.
Bishop of Bristol. Browne. added a footnote to Browne once queer question of the rope. The prophets of disaster appeared to have been justified. However. as the rope. Oscar Browning says that he went straight to John Co well. The end engraved
not the one where the breakage occurred. G. the Secretary of the Alpine Club. who in his turn became President of the Alpine Club. the Matterhorn accident flung its shadow across the Victorian scene as no other had done. The next morning Whymper's narrative appeared in The Times. some years after the publication of these proceedings Lord Conway of Allington. "I was in London that day. though not in The Times' been made to him by the Taugwalders on the latter
. "The late Dr."
These "things omitted"
been the threats which
had of the descent. then
alleged in the Scrambles. seek
more than one
returned to England in 1865. F.It
might at first be thought that the reference is merely to minor
matters. They may have been merely minor details part of interest to mountaineers but of no significance to the general story of the Matterhorn accident.
In his Middle Fifties
rewriting.M. the author seemed to take a grim delight in disappointing the public. two years later. and the Matterhorn [which] contributed about as much to the advancement of science as would a club of who
themselves. It was an astonishing book. and rewriting yet again. in 1871. swung his interests
of the Matterhorn. In 1869 he revisited the Alps. a mixture of naive amateur writing and inspired phrases.
Whymper himself exhibited little
from mountain-climbing to the more scientific investigation of the Alps. but also that the accident had given knowing the rest of the world a stick with which to beat them.edited
by Charles Dickens spoke
through Dickens' mouth.
V. In the year following the accident he returned to the Alps to investigate the theory and structure of glaciers. the Eiger.
technical failings. through which. in spite of its it was a real book in which a man revealed
. finally published twelve
years after his travels through them. but did little more than cross the Col du Lautaret and revisit the Mont Cenis tunnel.
was an astonishing book because. of firstclass descriptive reporting and dull slabs that might have been inserted as examples of what to avoid.
Throughout these years there had been persistent rumours that Whymper's book was about to appear but. At last.
society for the scaling
young gentlemen should undertake to bestride all the weathercocks of all the cathedral spires of the United Kingdom. glumly and in silence. as The Times was later to say of his volume on the Andes. suffered tragedy. knowing that they were in largely their own right attitude to climbing. and set steadily to work on the laborious task of writing. the one great book of his life which was to even more sure than give him an
emotion. so shocked were they by the so much did four lives then mean.
of such heights as the Schreckhorn. he made a journey on the first train to traverse the
line. of scientific comments and
purple patches. there appeared Scrambles
Alps in the Years 1860-1869. In 1867 he achieved his ambition of exploring Greenland.
whose mountain prose. The Scrambles was first produced by Murray at the round Victorian sum of a guinea. in a way that few photographs
can ever hope to do. even be a normal one. and pirated in other languages from one end of the Continent to the other. and appendices that included for the first time for popular reading the results of the
in 1893. slightly abridged. a fourth years later.
of the book does not lie only in the peculiar fascination it tells. For a whole segment
of the only
informed public. The book was translated into French and German. A third. and that
late in life
was for ever altering and amendhe admitted to Coolidge
mistakes. and its second edition appeared two out in 1879. a book. with photographs. yet for thousands of men and women this stern-lipped sombre young man of few words was the survivor
He might not
. maps. the man.
these things the book yet remained one man's record of the influence that mountains had had on him.himself.
Zermatt inquest on the accident. It is true that Whymper wrote and rewrote every line innumerable times. it is true that he wrote fresh
some of the
and excised some of
earlier material. moreover. And in 1936 there carne the new edition from Murray. have acknowledged their debt to
one of the hundreds
aroused their interest in the mountains.
and whose power
as strong as it
fifths of a century ago. can compare with Stephen's.
having Frank Smythe
alone. It held and retained the affection
not only of most mountaineers but of whole generations of Lord Schuster. The Scrambles consolidated
position as a national
be the typical mountaineer. It has an honest artlessness that summons that up the story picture of Whymper. he might not figure.
eering for the rest of his life.
true that he
ing and correcting. almost potential climbers. in
which one can
hear the thunder
falling rocks. came
and a fifth in 1900. A shilling edition with photographs instead of the original illustrations appeared in the blue-bound Nelson library in 1908.
In 1879 Whymper left England for the Andes of
cultivated the solitude
suggesting that the latter "might say
. travelled extensively through the high mountains of Ecuador. just as were almost all the other mountain tasks that he tackled throughout his life.
visit. Some modified version of the old feelings blazed up at least once more. then Prince of Wales. the Alpine Club held a meeting at the Royal Institution where Whymper lectured to an audience that included Edward VII. He went back
Matterhorn again and made the seventy-sixth ascent of the
peak with his old friend Jean-Antoine Carrel as guide. Two years later he again visited the mountain. as a tackled the mountain bull-in-a-china-shop fashion.
aim being to discover how men might live and move The expedition. the journeys were overshadowed by his dependence on the Canadian Pacific which had commissioned him for the task.
life. On his return. had he youth. or more friendly. new ascents on the first of these and
opened up much new country. In 1872. he made a solitary and rather rambling visit to Greenland.M. which he organised and ran almost entirely by himself. and there is little reason to believe that he would have been any happier had his relations with his fellow men been more frequent.
of the Matterhorn.000 ft. Significantly.
last major mountain explorarecord which lacked all hint of rather but an accurate tion. of the in the fire which had blazed up parts
was the record of Whymper's
but although he made some
Rockies three times in the early ipoo's. and one cannot help wonderhad not begun to cast over ing if by this time the Matterhorn
spell which had been ineffective when. duly received the vote of thanks moved by His Royal Highness. and departed to start work
at great altitudes. was a complete success. He made the first and then the second ascent of Chimborazo. turgid Scrambles. and spent more than thirty nights above 14. he wrote to Coolidge
shortly before the third
V. He did not entirely give up mountaineering.in
at last found his lonely niche of the position.
either in mountain records or in those which dealt with the sociable
meetings of climbers.
to occur with the frequency which one might expect. the country on his Alpine experiences. paid especial tribute in his Andes book to the help which C. He had. lecturing up and down literally.something in a suggestive way about the want of a book upon the Rocky Mountains of Canada". almost on the fruits of his explorations. and dhin-skinned when it came to criticism. This must have been all the more galling to his sense of perspective since he knew that he was. telling and re-telling the Matterhorn story. Mathews. however.
Yet the cold-shouldering which
appears to have
suffered throughout the greater part of his life was not due either to the Matterhorn accident or to his upbringing. "I have been
his friend for twenty-five years". It was simply
was an unclubbable
of man. caused his lecture agent to write to Mathews
and bid him discontinue the use of the title "Scrambles in the Alps" for the talks which Mathews was giving to what were virtually small groups of friends and acquaintances. writing for the popular magazines. was lecturing on his own experiences in the Alps lecturing almost entirely to small local societies to whom he
willingly volunteered his time and his energies.
he wrote in amazement to
Lord Conway. Whymper. in
kindly way. Mathews. for instance. jealous of his position. so soon as he learned of this. a hardly amiable fellow
who would go to considerable lengths to ensure that he gained the maximum financial reward for any effort which he expended. audiences which he drew to lectures left no doubt about that. During the latter years of his life Whymper lived. could hardly understand the action. E. The most famous of all his disputes
. for most
forty years of his
life. the most famous of all living mountaineers. Mathews had in his typically generous way
given him in obtaining the necessary official facilities. He was argumentative. and encouraging in every possible way the sale of the two guide-books which he later wrote on the history and topography of Chamonix and Zermatt.
On one side was the enormous precipice facing the Pelvoux. story to give colour to his account of the Ecrins brewed The trouble was immediately up by both sides with
considerable and obvious glee. Whymper wrote to Coolidge. in publication Whymper's an obituary notice on Christian Aimer contributed to the Year-
The incident passed without comment for more than
book of the Swiss Alpine Club. Coolidge reaffirmed his statement. were descending from the
summit of the
whose first ascent they had just made. accompanied by pkce Christian Aimer and Michel Croz. advanced cautiously to the edge on hands and knees. which is not far from perpendicular. on the other a slope exceeding 50 degrees.concerned "Aimer's Jump". turned his head and looked at us. and peered over. shown by Whymper in the Scrambles in a dramatic full-page illustration. jump across on to an unstable block on the other side. of after the a of century Then. In this position he gazed down for some moments. and then.
We were on the very edge of the arete. jumped. a jump that has passed into Alpine the subject of a libel suit.
this picture to
book Aimer [said
Whymper. without a word. if we wanted to pass the notch. the Swiss
. and Aimer. who was leading. Coolidge re-described the incident and added a footnote. The Alpine Club. The rock swayed as he came down upon it. his care was by no means unnecessary. went the implication. Aimer. and that we must. We learned was no means of getting down. was described by him thus:
Ecrins. It was decided that it should be done. A deep notch brought us to an abrupt halt. but
it certainly did not show hope or joy. but he clutched a large mass with both
arms and brought himself to anchor. in all earnest. His face may have expressed apprehension
or alarm. for the rocks had broken away from under us unexpectedly several times.
After publication of this
the explosive note] who then assured me. It had taken history and almost became when in 1864 Whymper and his party.
a quarter book. had invented the whole "jump"
a larger extent of rope than usual. that he had never done such a thing and would never have been able to do it.
Whymper asked for." Finally. And who on earth We exaggerate?
in those early days ever expected the minute criticism to which nowadays Alpine matters are. as
often imagined. the only other
Whymper's party then living.
should use some
What more natural than that a clever draughtsman little incident to make a sensational picture and are all human. an 'alien' living in a foreign land." to the libel threat. Walker agreed with Whymper's version. Remember he became a noted man through the Matterhorn affair. and was refused. perpetually at
. Neither nor had much
of either. invented the incident [he said]. exposed? God help all those early authors and I thank
dry. and Whymper
thereupon threatened a libel action.
too useful a
save in the eyes of A. Coolidge added:
trouble to catch me. Coolidge refused to withdraw his statement and wrote to Tuckett who "was trying to
play mediator between the two men and being soundly criticised by both: "If he worries me much more he wilier that only be
turned out of all foreign A. in the fierce light of completed knowledge. a special meeting of the
which the matter might be thrashed out. were all drawn into the argument.C. and was expected
to be sensational.
the libel threat
The fairest summing-up of the whole incident came a few years
later in a letter
from Captain Farrar to Coolidge. for a paragraph published in a foreign land.
I do not think W. He was writing his first book. and Horace Walker.
very few and
literary efforts are
written with a determination to
make them deadly
true if deadly
was an apt comment on an argument that might.Alpine Club. have been solved with a little common sense any and a little courtesy.'s.C. Yet Whymper was
not. Whymper dropped
and circulated to all members of the Alpine Club a sixteen-page booklet which included a reproduction of the contested illustration and a generous selection of the letters that had followed the outbreak of the argument. which was looked for by the public. between' other two men.
between them. In the fourth edition. He the morning of September 3.
then in his seventies.loggerlieads with the scholar. "Shall walk up. to have been a good deal of confession between the two of them. It would be interesting to speculate on what passed between the
unsteady hand. Early in the new century Whymper was again writing to Coolidge.
seems likely that in spite of their notorious feuds they bore one another little permanent ill-will. Some were printers* blunders. in the hot summer of 1911. The friendship even recovered from the discussion of Aimer's Leap. I
have endeavoured to
out. warning Coolidge
seen the passage of so much seen the sport of climbing transformed Alpine history. written in a quavering
when to expect him. sending from Geneva and Zermatt a series of cards."
Finally. he did come. and take my chance as to finding a room. great many corrections
(too numerous to be pointed out). in fact. had
extensive literature. his home in Grindelwald. not order rooms in advance.
himself freely admitting to have denied in public. in detail so much of his work* The two men
at times affectionately
death in 1911. others were author's faults.
come. The extensive corresponIt
dence between them suggests.
In the second edition [of the Scrambles] several illustrations added."
Whymper. and Coolidge was inviting him to the Chalet Montana. a pastime with its own clubs and traditions and
two men who. the village to which he had moved in
1896. in fact.
in the old style. If none
can be had. and for nearly a day conqueror and chronicler of the Alps talked together. and the text was revised. of the few into a pastime attracting its from the quiet passion thousands. that each may really have enjoyed the occasional practise of an engagement with someone
. ten years his junior.
then to Geneva and on to Chamonix where he took a room.
Coolidge toward evening. that
each may have felt some sympathy for who had as few friends as himself. travelled to Zermatt. He fell ill. and was dead within a few
days. refused all aid.
.as irascible as himself.
I reach the shade
lover's door. Yet neither the
developing so vigorously. nor the accident on the descent. THE BOSWELL OF THE ALPS
I seek and desire as the wind
travels the plain
J"T"lHE ascent of the Matterhorn. might easily have brought to an end the driving force behind the sport of climbing which was
It might easily have stultified.
life. permanently crippled the advance of climbing.
of the mountain. The reason for the continuation and ultimate resurgence of mountaineering after 1865 lay simply in the one fact that men did find in it something more satisfying than mere physical
. with the exception of the Meije in the Dauphine. of course. growing interest in mountain-climbing for hope the peak was. the last great unclimbed summit of the Alps. even if it had not been accomJL panied by tragedy.Chapter Seven
COOLIDGE. beyond the of salvation.
rest. The fearful accident which befell the conquerors an accident which in the eyes of many was caused by die just and avenging finger of Fate wiping its relentless finger down the slate did. cast a gloom over the years which immediately followed.
On that occasion the boy sent back to his mother
W. in one of his periodic disputes with the Alpine Club was breathing fire and destruction on anyone who dared print his name in the Alpine Journal he had not only been editor of the Journal for ten years. ever became a mountaineer at all. The best example of this was that most peculiar of all
A.conquest. Yet. Coolidge." This alert. A horrible distance. so could a large number of Victorians see. born near New York in 1850 and brought to Europe by his aunt because of his poor health. beyond the
disaster. a member of the Club Committee. as it would be to discuss the Bible without mentioning God". a whole
work waiting to be done. and where they fell. leaning to plumpness even in early years. Just as a Christian can understand a resurrection beyond the grave. Farrar was making no overstatement. short as he was both of stature and of breath. it was of Coolidge that Captain Farrar once said that "it would be as ridiculous for a man to speak of Alpine matters without mentioning the name of Coolidge. who first visited Switzerland mountaineers. slightly pampered. Miss Meta Brevoort. was an occupation or even a belief which
manner of unexpected demands in a man.
from Zermatt the carefully engraved note-paper of the hotel on which the Matterhorn was shown. into the most dominating of Alpine personalities. It satisfy of a scholar who even satisfy the intellectual demands might could see. in the August of 1865 at the age of fifteen with his aunt. He was short. he had a rare facility for picking up and nurturing whatever disease was in range. and
continuing rightness about mountaineering. B. while even as a youth his sight was so bad that a breaking of the binocle through which he looked at great Alpine views was a major disaster. For at that time when Coolidge. adding that "the two dots you see on the picture represent where they (the victims) fell from. in the unploughed field of Alpine history. during the succeeding fifty years. and rather precocious child whom emotional bad luck and an iron will were to transform. It is somewhat surprising that Coolidge. communicative correspondent was a weak.
The bare facts of Coolidge' s life suggest that he was a man cast in no normal mould. as he grew whole aim and object of his life. a woman with whom all his early Alpine wanderings were made.
remarkable not only for what he did.700 mountaineering expeditions. and whose early death injected a sullen bitterness into his life which never completely left him. he was ordained in 1882. On one occasion he condemned a whole book because the author had
one wrong accent. that no one had yet applied of the Alps and their conquest by man. including 600 grandes courses*.
the greatest Alpine historian that the world had ever
to the history
Coolidge had realised. for twelve years. edited the first great series of climbing guides to the Alps. Brought as a boy to Europe. but for
. outside Oxford. and later Librarian of Magdalen. he did
and pointed out with scorn a number of minor errors which had made. filling this lacuna in
older. Remedying this
defect. he was refused a passport both by Britain and by the United
was proud to boast of himself as "the first displaced person". an alpine journal decided that Coolidge was the only man alive who had the knowledge to review it adequately. guides. and criticised in a detail and with an accuracy that made comment difficult. with Lord Conway. Due to his mother's bad health he was put in the care of his aunt. held the honorary curacy of South Hinksey. he never
returned to the United States and when. with whom he existed on terms whose intimacy it is a little difficult to understand. His standards were
high and inflexible. When one of his own learned volumes appeared. Junior Dean. during the First World War. the same
scholarly scrutiny and investigation which had been lavished on so many other obscure and esoteric subjects. A Fellow. scrutinised. their enforcement almost pathological. and in 1896 retired to Grindelwald where he became
"the sage" and later a legend within his
man's knowledge became. books. early in life. He had
become known. he had. He had made more than 1. he had published score upon score of articles.an honorary member of the Club for yet another decade. and notes in which every
of the Alps was listed.
He was a willing hero-worand can be little doubt that it was his abnormal there shipper affection for her which drove him up into the heights. who ascended the Cima di Jazzi. the period which
started in 1870
Dauphine. they were back again. crossed the Theodule and the Col du
The young nephew who
with his aunt. largely if metaphorically at the end of her ice-axe. looked on with scarcely disguised contempt by the world of ordinary travellers. On the second occasion they had engaged Christian Aimer. 1865. strophe of July 14. Her presence gave him.
crossed the Strahlegg Pass in 1865 Herr Baedeker "the passing guide-book gentleman". Coolidge climbed continuously and strenuously for most of his
active Hfe. all knowing each other personally.
been employed before the Coolidge
. a guide then at the
height of his fame. shunning the to do so). divide into four parts. particularly amongst English Few in numbers. He
the domination. first. secondly. public as far as possible (and in those days it was possible
they went about under a sort of dark shade. it appears.
his first visit to the
And there is
the last long period
which started when Coolidge moved to Grindelwald in 1896 and which ended only with his death in 1926.
was happy about
In 1867 and 1868.
For there was. There is the period of semi-bibliographical exploration
that followed her death in 1876.
Coolidge being then a boy who lacked any overwhelming There is.
interest in the mountains.
and for the
fact that his
climbing enthusiasm arose
did.it. and the factors and events which forced
austere but almost predestined path. a period during which he travelled on major expeditions through the Alps with his aunt. the period of early Alpine wanderings with Miss Brevoort. There is. drew from her enthusiasm for the Alpine world some unfiltered essence that was to dominate his life.
added by both nature and events. a
sort of palsy that
cause after that frightful cataclimbers.
His career. a new confidence which his own physical disabilities must have made doubly pleasant.
-'v'. Coolidge to his Mother following his first visit to Zermatt
A Letter from W. A.^
List Tschingel. B. and (left) the Printed of her Peaks and Passes
the links between the
Aimer family and Coolidge were
half a century.the Finsteraarhorn as planned.du Dromedaire.
unwittingly making the first known descent by the Bosses.
the following year that Coolidge. and then with requests for advice on half a hundred mountain matters from bootmakers to
V. first appears a climber.
He can't speak a word of either French or English. They the Finsteraarhorn and the Eiger.
Aimer turned up before
time. cautiously at first. broken the news of the "Dame" to him. and very
addition. who was to accompany him and his aunt on so many Alpine excursions. and on their repulse attempted from the latter Coolidge was presented with the immortal dog
Tschingel. a man. the companion. who had been unable to tackle who had therefore released his earlier than was guide expected. Coolidge
to last for
aunt were to begin their serious mountaineering together. He had not only served an apprenticeship on
time but had seen that apprenticeship
acknowledged. They made a whole series of first-class ascents. His son
Christian) had. immediately unpacked the dictionary and went to work talking. the master. and a planner fully formed. 9
. Notes to the Alpine Journal had been accepted and in February he had been elected a member of the Club.
Under Aimer. I suppose.
walk with us what and how we could man with an honest intelligent face. now twenty. The following year they climbed Mont Blanc. Coolidge had
the age of seventeen. out of the chrysalis. for he expressed no astonishment but sensibly remarked that he
The master was
engagement by Hereford George.M. he had three things of great value to any man wishing to attempt mountaineering in the heroic manner. and the task. and
by the end of the season had already begun to found that legend of "the young American who climbs with his aunt and his dog". They climbed the Wetterhorn. nor yet understand [Miss Brevoort wrote to her sister].
The meeting was an important
one. all in his own right.
swamping Tuckett with letters." says Coolidge. for advice on what appears to have been his first literary
project. was in those days in much the same condition as that in which Bonney had found it a decade
previously. writing to him in 1876.
to the firmly established gentleman who early in 1870 invited young man down to his house near Bristol. sometimes twenty or more a month and asking.
He received a somewhat cold reply.
his senior. twenty-five years woman of great determination and some eccentricity
something ironically amusing about the young Coolidge chided against the possibility of making "the almost being
whose detection was later to become his speciality. Coolidge's task. Coolidge had his aunt. as he saw it in the early seventies. a
companion. surprisingly maybe.
of mountains 10. then at Oxford. Coolidge was undeterred by Tuckett's coolness and throughout the winter of 1869-1870 there continued a flow of almost daily letters from the enthusiastic youth. towards the end of 1869. many dozens of them new. an ideal companion for her ambitious nephew. the elder man had become what Coolidge called his "Alpine godfather" by proposing him for the Club and guiding him through the necessary formalities which membership entailed.
upwards would doubtless be interesting but immense labour [Tuckett pointed out] and. Coolidge had been an enthusiastic.
ft. where he was subsequently to make more than 250 ascents.
compiler to the risk of being taken to task for the almost invisible mistakes which questions of priority invariably involve. was the exploration of the Dauphine. who made
first serious suggestions that Everest might be attempted. It was she.He had gratefully borrowed equipment which Tuckett had generously offered. finally.
aneroids. "but I believe it was ambition.
not to say persistent admirer. "I am not quite sure
what it was that made us choose Dauphine our battleground. This last great
what must have been one of the
of unclimbed peaks in Europe.
Whymper. had suddenly become master himself He rises.
The choice of area might have been different had he been born even ten years earlier. It is interesting to compare Whymper and Coolidge.
though rather curious
age of twenty had lived in Concord. and being mastered by. mountaineering was
beginning to justify itself All as a respectable occupation for the eminent Victorians. after years of travelling with.
Coolidge. both reaching their own predetermined ends. the aftermath carried out were during Coolidge's early campaigns
of the great accident. Paris.
moment. There was one far more significant difference in
the Alpine worlds in
which they made
their debuts. There was also the different social difference which would not have been
of the two men.
confirm that a peak was unclimbed than it was to make the ascent. the Alps shrunk immeasurably. a
so noticeable today. It was not only that by Coolidge's day it was frequently more
unique accomplishments. his aunt. and Oxford.
engravers. Even Lambeth and lodgings in included they have a slightly more proletarian ring than those of
young boy who
Guernsey. The Ultima Thule of the earlier Alpine world had become the "new centre" of Coolidge's day. almost
circle. the artist from the
won the respect of the small circle of men who climbed
. by this time. while Whymper was capturing virgin peaks with an ease
Europe again.There was a whole world to explore there and that was enough for us/* There was.
out on his
Longman. both stepping on to the Alpine stage at the age of twenty.
Mr. yet one becoming the most famous of all mountaineers while the other remained. an "us" about the matter. in spite of
never to be
unknown outside a limited The backgrounds to their lives were entirely different. But during the decade which began in 1860. and he was therefore driven south of the arc into the queer rough land that he was to make peculiarly his own.
that his great Alpine career really begins to
yet he had the essential background. both paid a dear penalty for success. and Walker had
campaign. when Coolidge wrote of the Meije his writing trembled. servants. as it rarely did. and the letters of their later years suggest how both of them had their regrets Coolidge that he had not been born a little earlier. he must
have appeared a rather unusual specimen to his London friends. and Baillie-Groh-
man.regularly. He was an American. and often insupportable
he alone could be
Yet if there were these differences of circumstance between the two men. For each.
year. it is true. the permanent confidence of the man who will never have to work for his living.
1870. and at times. toretracing at least some of the parts journey which Whymper.
however. Freshfield. one great peak had a fascination which was almost that of the supernatural. Both Coolidge and Whymper would have preferred life to treat them differently. Coolidge dropped naturally into that leisured society of carriages. there were also similarities of character and ambition which probably lay at the root of the persistent guerrilla war between them a war interlarded with long periods of friendfirst on the ship. to be first was the great affair mountain or first in the recording of its definitive history. and he took his place easily and without surprise in the calm assured world of such men as Conway. he never became one of them. constant. Whymper that he had not been born into a family which would have given him the background to meet Coolidge's certain. and the accident on the Matterhorn which so affected Whymper's life was only a swifter example of that retribution which overtook slowly Coolidge as his Alpine studies divorced him
for the Matterhorn. the few for most of whom money was rarely a worry. on the verge of inspiration. and select musical evenings. Tuckett. bringing to his sentences a hint of that troublesome longing that Edward
more surely. Moore.
. coming events
Coolidge's decision to devote the opening
no shadow upon weeks of his Alpine
as many men have done since. With each. both men same mould.
"grosse hollandische-amerikanische Miss" but was.
already a veteran in her own quiet way. It was a queer trio which drove through the streets from Mrs.
ponderous in the thick
vehemently that she was not. The third member of the party was the small bitch Tschingel. a and voluminous clothes with which she ceaselessly experimented but which she was unable to convert Coolidge once complained satisfactorily to mountaineering. Except for Coolidge's axe Miss Brevoort never carried one. In die minor hall of fame which the Victorian mountaineers built for themselves. and created about him an air which would have been theatrical had it not been for the man himself.
make a total of sixty-six major
climbs.made through the Dauphine number of the peaks which
preferring the long
wooden baton which one associates with the early prints of Mont Blanc it would have been difficult to identify them as mountaineers. She
six years earlier. whose tall figure. on the conBoth writers appear to have been tall".
casual writer. together with Miss Brevoort. and both of them had read Bonney's Outline Sketches in the High Alps of Dauphin^. the complete contrast to Martin Conway. flowing hair. he had gained a brief glimpse of Moore's Alps in 1864.
Miss Brevoort was slow-moving and.
Coolidge seemed even less of a mountaineer than his aunt. then only privately printed.
it must be imagined. as
about 100 minor ones. the beau ideal of a slightly later period. Tschingel deserves a place of her
own. There was little else that dealt with mountaineering in the area the Scrambles was not published until 1871 and when Coolidge set out from his mother's home in Paris in the summer of 1870 he had justifiable hopes of starting a career as a genuine pioneer. she did form the
. "slight and
Coolidge's house to take their places in die express to the South. trary. and fine moustachios
combined with his dual reputation as an art critic and a mountaineer.
their hurried passage
in climbing a had left tin-
He had borrowed
the original sketches
which Tuckett had made of the area in 1862.
followed up his ascent of Mont Blanc in 1837 with a slim pamphlet describing the experience.
and would make an effort to run very fast and then drop. be taken into the Tschingel was by no means the first dog to ice-world of the Alps. He evinced many tokens of surprise by frequently
staring about him. one of the earliest of Alpine writers. it
course. and who says that the guide wanted to take the dog. the dog was a trouble.
He was Henry
Atkinson who. and was the first dog that ever reached the top of Mont Blanc. though the guide protested had ordered it to be tied up [says Barnard]. Michael Balmat. and she was to become. and a tail curling stiffly over the back. travelled in the mountains for six years with his dog. the only "Honorary Lady member of the Alpine Club". finding the snow cold. he got between their legs. and we stopped he tried to lie down on our feet.
seems likely that this was the animal described by George Barnard. chicken bones disappeared with an amazing rapidity. but he did not appear to suffer from
thirst. the artist who copied an account from one of Longman's
privately printed books. a kind distinguished by a very pointed nose. Yet it was
to an Englishman to take a dog
was almost demanded at the time. and bothered them. With regard to his appetite. sharp black eyes. Marc-Theodore Bourrit. In it he gives one of the first descriptions of what a dog thought of the upper
climb. He was what is called a Spitz dog. Well. De Saussure invariably travelled with his. The mountain atmosphere had an extraordinary effect on this dog.legendary
trio. which accompanied us the whole day. He was much
after we quitted the Grand Plateau. and they were obliged to throw him over all the crevasses.
As he went up.
It was a little dog [he says] which belonged to one of the guides. but that permission was refused by his party who thought it would be a nuisance.
it soon overtook them. as Miss Brevoort proudly termed her.
with Coolidge and his aunt. and little is known of the first few months
The following September. and curiously enough as he came down his
as usual. German and the dialect of the Canton Valais in Switzerland. Miss Brevoort stubbornly continued
canine climber was the little dog who accompanied on many of his Alpine travels in the i86o's and who Kennedy ascent of the 13. and very large brown eyes. however.
the mountaineering dogs of which records have surYet vived are faint shadows compared with the incomparable
for nine glorious seasons rollicked across the Alps
a bull terrier. Her favourite drinks on
mountain were very human
red wine or
although she understood English. liked the look of the small dog. she never responded to French.
Europe when she
Tschingel was born in the spring of 1865.500 ft. the made She disliked some of the hard snow slopes.
him on foot. Aiguille Verte with her master. and she had a brown silky coat with white breast.
and join him he did
cut in a steep icetogether with the dog who trotted up steps of all the admiration the and "excited the meet to party slope he trotted in which up the spectators by the unconcerned way the sex of the animal was one that was slope". stomach. till at last it hung down as straight as a broomstick. a large beagle.behind
gradually got straighter and straighter. and induced her
Coolidge always maintained that this was due to her decided views about the Franco-PrussianWar which in 1870 involved her
in an arduous journey across Britain with her owners. Kennedy reported. stockings and muzzle. Tschingel has been variously described
bloodhound. She was I foot 7 inches high. Aimer was on his way
to join George. but persevered on to the top and then went to sleep on a rucksack
admired the view. The mistake about
to only tardily corrected. she was frisking of her home when Christian Aimer passed by. in a small village in the Bernese Oberland. No Spitz dog's tail was ever before known to uncurl. bought her for ten francs.
long after the animal had produced more than thirty puppies. an
many other dogs. Tschingel was taken to and from the Alps in a specially built
On the mountains themselves.
and when she returned from the
. travelling except the most difficult climbs. she usually trotted one of the party.
Tschingel certainly went
way on her own four
to cross a very rotten-looking and pretty
long snow bridge. Her paws sometimes bled. and
there the story of her mountaineering
Three years later. Tschingel named after the first glacier pass that she
was taken back
to the guide's
home in Grindelwald. but that did not appear to worry her. back by bad weather on the appointment he was only him a present of Tschingel. and on at least one occasion helped to find the way home when the guide had lost it. and she then became physically linked to the people on either side of her. for it had always been suspected that the dog which went with the Atkinson party might have broken the rules and been
carried for a short distance.
Tschingel climbed the Jungfrau. and.
she was particularly good at finding her way across thickly crevassed glaciers. however. special leather boots which Coolidge
travelling box. but by stretching a rope along it and going one by one (Tschingel was tied and walked along it alone quite solemnly)
got safely over. and his aunt were turned Coolidge
comes up through the Writing to her sister of
the party once crossed
which some scientists explain by the
fact that a dog's super-
sensitive nose can "scent" the old air that
the end of Aimer's engagement with George in the autumn 1865. Miss Brevoort explains the Grindelwald Glacier and adds:
In one place. and she kicked off the had made for her. to lessen Coolidge's diseighteen at the time Aimer made
year she began her main the with Coolidge party on all Alpine wanderings.speak of Tschingel as "he".
known summits. Sometimes a rope would be looped along through her workaday collar.
might well have ended. and a number of other wellbut Mont Blanc was probably her most famous
and Albert. in 1920
. at the Chalet Montana. Grindelwald.
later. although Coolidge had great plans for her to do so in 1876. be left for another year?
the great American climber and Alpine historian.
career. Dear Will.
the decision. immensely proud of herself [Miss Brevoort wrote to her The next day. her coat grew white.
am at present in great
that I feel her loss very deeply. with its little silver medallions recording all the peaks she had climbed. Miss Brevoort needed quite a lot of convincing. E.
was some forty years
Coolidge never forgot her and when. Coolidge decided that it was kinder to have her put away. that finally.
Tschingel never climbed the Matterhorn.
As Tschingel grew old.M. "I can't bear to think
of his doing this without seeing him do it. and as to our going to Zermatt it's not to be thought of.summit
honour. Tschingel. and the passes she had crossed. was in another. including all the guides. Finally in 1879.
drawing-room she held a kind of state reception which was attended by several hundred persons. But although she no longer climbed.
the matter rest for that season. so much more a companion than a mere dog She was Mathews]. But. she implied. she agreed.
Tschingers death that Coolidge was visited in his Grindelwald home by Dr. she became almost and her teeth dropped out. lying luxuriously on a sofa in the hotel sister]. in spite of your economy. she still sometimes wore her Sunday-best collar. with Tschingel. Monroe Thorington. she added.
in 1875 a special
She trotted into the village with her head erect and her tail wagging. it was a black Newfoundland as
dissimilar as possible
from Tschingel. nearly half a century he had another dog. l6l 10 V. he was in one part of the Alps and Miss Brevoort. When his idea matured. The night after he had
blind." Could it not. Tschingel died in her sleep before the kitchen
affliction at the death of my dear old dog took which place on June 16 [Coolidge wrote to C.
and against the
I supplied you with the which you have paid but little attention. 1868. Schreckhorn before her. The gift of T. She did not make the ist ascent of the Jungfrau from the N.
life. At least two other ladies (Fraulein Brunner of Berne and Miss Walker) had been up
numerous mistakes offact
in this short article. on this slope of the Kl.and later
not in Aimer's house
which she never visited. Scheidegg.
printed authentic facts.
The whole Torrenthorn story is a She never saw T. while at the moment of T. was made by Aimer to me. though her family came thence to New York about 1700.
myth so far as regards my aunt's presence there. on the Torrenthorn. His letter to one gentleman who had rashly published a short history of the dog without checking with the Master was typical not only of his attitude to Tschingel but of the whole latter half
In mid. and took place at a chalet a litde above the Hotel at Alpiglen. Tschingel walked from Kippel up the Torrenthorn. here.He had his man show me about [Dr. There
on a hook was Tschingel's collar with the litde bangles shining in the sun. but Coolidge managed something
resembling a smile. My aunt was not a "grosse hollandische-amerikanische Miss". and then in H. My aunt did not meet T. Not a word was said. She was slight and tall. and was not carried. Eiger.'s ascent she was with me near Zermatt. It was to console me for a failure on the Eiger (due to verglas on the rocks). but the first by a woman. as Coolidge gathered around himself the and glory of an Alpine expert. just when I was leaving he pointed to the door.. not the 3rd. Thorington once said]. a peak which T. never climbed till 1871.
. She made the ist ladys ascent of the Silberhorn. with us. And then. du Grd. to
the Gr. The Blumlisalphorn was the first snow peak climbed (1868) by T. The ascent of the Diablerets was in 1870. while she never lived in Holland in her life. which she never climbed in all her life. he was as meticulous impedimenta about the record of Tschingel as of that of any human being.
have only just had time to look at your article on my dog Tschingel [he said] and write at once to protest very strongly against the remarks you have made as regards my dear aunt. our ascent having been the third ever made (Baedeker in 1863 and Hornby and Philpott in 1865 were our only predecessors on the peak).
and her son Bello
was born before we ever saw her in 1868 for the first time. 1876. 14. made the fifth ascent of the Dent Blanche. which went to her heart and killed her on the I9th Dec. They climbed the Pelvoux. In 1870. the first ascent of the Ailefroide. and the of the Ecrins which Whymper had climbed for the
time only six years previously. 1876. and it was quite unnecessary to invent new ones. and made a number of other less important ascents before
returning to England via the tortuous and inconvenient route necessitated by the Franco-Prussian War. All the true facts as to
T. then drove south by carriage across the frontier to Courmayeur. but a man from Plan des lies.
whence Coolidge made the second ascent of Mont Blanc by the Brenva route. and journeys to London where his presence in any dispute then brewing could be used to better effect.
this justified testiness appears to
have clouded the
young Coolidge's mind
out with Miss Brevoort for the
great Dauphine campaign of 1870. It was
six years during
a satisfying and rather pleasant existence. They met Christian Aimer and his son. Nine or ten months of the year were divided between work at Oxford where he became a Fellow of Magdalen in 1875 visits to his aunt's establishment at Dorking. attempted the Weisshorn. watched with anxious eyes through a telescope by Miss Brevoort.
greatly regret that you should have taken so little trouble in this matter. are given in the 2 pamphlets I lent you. almost insulated 163
the former being joyfully recognised by Tschingel to the pleasure of all and together made the first ascent of the
peak of the Meije. when she was attacked
rheumatic fever. My aunt was perfectly well in 1876 in Switzerland. and it was to which he built up the foundation of his unique experience.
be followed for the next
had been set. was with us all summer. Aimer was not our guide on the Diablerets.not in 1872. and would certainly not have sanctioned the appearance of the article had I seen it before publication. They joined forces again. Their achievements were remarkable. T. climbed the Dom. That is not the right way to write
history. Surrey. and continued so until Dec.
and Miss Brevoort
of climbs together.
. famous because although signed by Coolidge it was in fact written by Miss Brevoort. in general. excluded by her sex from
both the Alpine Club and
minor ranges and recounted the previous day's Tschingel.
climbed with both
occasion and convenience
. as compensation. One famous paper in the unexpected result of the campaign was the
the Night Alpine Journal which described "A Day Bietschhorn". for them to separate in order to carry out any individual plans which they might have made. to the Dauphine again. stayed with Miss Brevoort. they started the fashion for
winter climbing by visiting the Oberland and making the first winter ascents of the Wetterhorn and the Jungfrau.scholarship and
the outer world
away from Miss Brevoort. the first lady's traverse of the peak from Zermatt to Breuil.
inconveniently intruded on his ideas
. but gaining. and. and to keep in touch with one another by an almost daily series of letters which
exploits. Miss Brevoort losing the first lady's ascent of the
Matterhorn to Lucy Walker. There came a to the Mont Blanc range in 1875 and in the following year
another winter campaign in the Alps during which three unsuccessful attempts were made to climb Mont Blanc for the first
time at that season
and a three-month summer campaign that
ranged along the Alps from the Dauphine to the Dolomites. Early in 1874.
in that case Russia
come forward and
there will be an European war. a man of his own age. an appetiser
for yet another visit to Dauphine later in the year. invariably the
years that he began his acquaintance with Arthur Fairbanks. the following year. when Dolomite plan must go to the wall". In 1871 Coolidge and Miss Brevoort visited the Oberland and the Pennines. Throughout all these expeditions in the early 1870'$.
generally climbed only with Aimers. although it was during these
Coolidge. and with his lifelong friend Frederick
following year they again went to the Oberland after only a brief visit to the Dauphine.
steadily he began to withdraw himself more closely into University
life. Coolidge continued to travel abroad each year without her life she was Tschingel now. ready-made. to the wish of one whose memory was dear to him. Coolidge's life altered. In 1882 he took Holy Orders which gave effect. One was his dislike of having to carry out parochial work.
After the death of Miss Brevoort. he admitted. at the same time. The question of whether the
. He had only to do so to satisfy an academic longing and. Then in December 1876. he said. Only two things worried him in entering the Church. With Meta Brevoort gone.
and into the academic problems of Alpine history which
were to be his solace for two lonely decades in Britain. keep alive in his mind a whole series of memories from happier days. and
he began to build into formidable proportions his considerable fame as an Alpine historiographer. His interest in mountains did not diminish. Her death
create in Coolidge an abnormal affection for the he raised her shadow. an intellectual field into his emotions could be driven without too much risk of
disaster. he realised that no one had yet applied to mountains and mountaineering the technique of the historian. world would never again be quite the same place. to the amassing of knowledge for its own sake. continued to increase his akeady vast number of ascents. the second was what he referred to as one circumstance in his own life which made him
wish for the grace of Orders. simultaneously. came her sudden
death. It was obvious that he preferred the companionship of Miss Brevoort.
Coolidge never quite recovered.
Circumstances provided. for during the last three years of
for the restless journeyings which he carried out. it illuminated the wherein Alps way in which the mountains might carry out a dual emotional and
mind of a man suitably placed by circumhad been Coolidge inordinately fond of his aunt and with her death he was driven back on himself.
intellectual task in the
stance. it changed emphasis more and more towards the solution of slightly and veered historical problems.demanded.
that "in his one-sidedness. when his were opinions challenged. an overwhelming fear of showing his emotions. a post which brought him into touch. Coolidge's opponent in one of the most bitter of Alpine controversies. He had little sense of proportion. "I personally cannot forgive
him". and even dear old souls who wanted a
period.. The original sketch was drawn by that austere autocrat. on die luggage Davidson inscribed
obviously a group of climbing friends on their
. the newspapers.. savagery. This shows railway porters manhandling the baggage and impedimenta of what is
way to the Alps. and bitterness he was
medieval". Sir Edward Davidson.
easy to cross. He once filled pages on the question of whether or not there should be an accent over the word chalet. the fact that he never tried seriously to communicate to the world the knowledge which he possessed.
In 1880 he became editor of the Alpine Journal in succession to Douglas Freshfield. wrote one climber. as one critic expressed it.
quiet holiday in Switzerland.original route
particular Alpine ridge went left or right rock pinnacle would involve him for weeks particular in a heated and much-enjoyed argument with whomsoever was
enough to challenge his view. topographers. as is shown by the volume of the Badminton
library that deals with mountaineering. and
frequently into conflict. "for . and the result was that for those beyond the small circle of Alpine enthusiasts his writings were slightly repellent with unexplained facts and figures. and
small illustration which appears in the
wrote to Coolidge for advice. with the leading mountaineers of the
His fame was already such that not only experienced mountaineers but also embryonic climbers. in extenso. or when he imagined that he was the butt of some sly joke that he scarcely comprehended. and most
correctly. courteously. Even the enthusiasts were not always happy.
annoying thing of all for
Coolidge's accuracy was questioned. mapmakers. but was content to fling it out in a disorderly
mess. only then did he really rise in his anger and show.
D. contributing more than 200 articles to one edition of the work. W. he had revised Murray's Switzerland.
W. and. from "the fiery lamb" he was gradually transformed into "the sage of Grindelwald".
he put a tag with the request of the editor. village.
feared a libel
finally altered to
A. F. he had become
the Alpine contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. not to virulent.000 volumes. Here. an erudite. field). He had no particular love of either Britain or the British mountains he had
no interest either in the British hills. pouglas FreshC. B. and I am sure that
too severe demands upon the general reader.
think [Stephen continued in a letter to Coolidge] a conclusively proved one point viz. J. though I admit
that the task
would not be
a light one. (William Martin Conway). J. and of half a
dozen other popular encyclopaediae. letters). not making pleasure. M.C.
to entice him. the Chalet Montana. unreadable.
have. B. a most charming book might be put together.
Coolidge had always suffered from bad health. C. A. of Coolidge's opponents. your speciality guidebook.
Coolidge had already justified the writer of The Times obituary
who described him as an adept in the gentle art of making enemies and a man who regarded a hatchet as an instrument not for
burying but for
use. He had produced Swiss Travel and Swiss Guide-Books. Earlier. volume in which Leslie Stephen found "a great deal of interesting
parrot cage perched
on A. in the
Alpine library of some 15. B. You could do it admirably. first taking
which the Pilkingtons tried and in 1896 he moved from up residence with the Aimers
and then renting
house. and. J. D.
used often to think that a book enabling one to look on
a few historical associations to Alpine sites would greatly add to the if done with discretion i. that you should write "special" Even in my case die in being history. flying from the
W.'s luggage. T. about whom he wrote another Butler. At the
suit. It was here that his best and most scholarly work was done.
B. (A. (Clinton Dent). or in the Himalayas Oxford to Grindelwald. say scurrilous. among he became a legend.e.
produced Guide to
by friends and
acquaintances. many precedents for similar disputes Coolidge had resigned from his post as editor
of Murray when John Murray refused to print Coolidge's libellous note on an Alpine hotel. he
major works. The first was a new edition of Ball's Western Alps. Coolidge had taken on Ball in 1893 but illness.
and on the amount of editorial authority that Coolidge should have over them. but before his move to Grindelwald he had contributed many of the 220 items in the bibliography of his writings which he later had privately
printed. 307 of text.
Although Coolidge was to be made an honorary member of an honorary membership which he resigned the break of 1899 six years later following yet another dispute
the Club in 1904
residence there. 62 of notes on the appendices. a book whose character can be gathered from the fact that it contained 190
Christian Aimer. and a 29-page index. the monumental Josias Simler et les Origines de FAlpinisme jusquob 1600. Four years later there came The Alps in Nature and History. There were arguments about how the revision of Ball which by the 1890*5 was seriously
out of date
should be handled. it had become life itself. 130 of notes. With their help he produced. a volume in
for the first time
began to interpolate some
. conspired to delay
The next year he resigned publication of the volume until 1898. 327 of appendices. a publication over which he had
quarrelled with the Alpine Club for years. in 1904. There were. after all. about
who the helpers should be. rarely going into the village of Grindelwald yet succeeding in quarrelling with
somehow knowing most of the worked with and for his library of Coolidge village gossip books that overflowed into the corridors and rooms of his house. Cared for by Albert his manservant. and his residence abroad.
underlined his divorce from Britain and his thirty-year Alpine history had become more than the
passion of his life.
At Grindelwald. and
pages of introduction.Coolidge glossed over the charm. from the Alpine Club after a dispute over the second volume of
failed to get his pass-
and became both "the
without a country" and "the
displaced person". if possible.
and in a letter to a friend discussing the matter he described the collection. which was insured for
if you ever
to this place [Grindelwald].
look in on me.
as a free legacy. as I wished disposal has given certain portions of it to be kept together. and these were finally published.
me a good deal of trouble.
Coolidge argued. It
rooms of the
wooden house which
inhabit. sworn allegiance to the Queen once when he became a Fellow of Magdalen and yet
port. the Swiss History portions. and
figures. leaping at the chance of taking umbrage. with various Alpine curiosities. dates. in the early 1920'$. the President. he considered giving
at least a portion
Rylands Library in Manchester. Tuckett. he pointed out. in thanking him for the offer. It represents particularly the Alpine and the accumulations of 50 years. he
was thinking again.
. to the Alpine
Club of London
V. and examine my library of 16. First.
when he took Holy
Orders. In 1907 he had offered the Alpine portion of it to the Alpine Club. The British refused. replied furiously and suggested that the offer had been turned down. I first offered
the Alpine portion.M. a practice Studies four years later. on the grounds that he had not spent the previous few years in Britain and therefore lacked a residence qualification. Now.
During the latter years of the war he began editing the vast diaries of his old friend.of
his own reminiscences. as A Pioneer in the High Alps.
Coolidge. In every other
he expanded in Alpine way Coolidge remained the same unemotional recording-machine of facts.
broke out in 1914 he applied for a British passport he no longer qualified for U. he had. for I am now yij years of age. Coolidge was by this time thinking of the future. in 1920. what worried him most was the fate of the great library which he had built up over the years. had not unnaturally suggested that
the offer should be put in legal form.000.S.000 volumes.
for his grave in Grindelwald churchyard he had a curiosity value.
not think any English expert is capable of valuing. The Bodleian desired to purchase the Alpine and Swiss history portions. he belonged to the past that had existed before the cult of mountains had begun. but not a whole section of the library.
for his great labours he
would have no doubt been considered a
quarrelsome old devil. As it was. gave him such a claim to universal
recognition that any foibles were willingly accepted [said one mountaineer who had crossed swords with him more than once]. on a very old and intimate Liverpool friend. As the coffin was lowered into
. up the gentle rise to the little church beneath the shadow of the Wetterhorn.on the strange ground that I could give certain books. women. expended without stint for the benefit of mountaineers of the world. as I did not feel that my literary activity was yet ended and required that it should be valued by an English expert. So I fell back. occasionally loosening the winter snow still lying on the heights.
More of his
would have been
present at the funeral
not been for the General Strike. as to the Alpine portion. So I had to look around. rather older than I was
but unluckily he died in 1919!
was bequeathed to the Swiss Alpine Club. but insisted on an immediate purchase (this was before the war). Almost until the end he was visited by old Alpine friends from Britain who would call and be received by him. past the English
church where Coolidge had preached
more than once. to which I could not consent. the whole of Grindelwald turned out.
His great knowledge. at the southern end of the
village. to which I could not consent for I do
refused. Coolidge died in 1926. and children standing in
the keen air of the lovely spring day or following the cortege as it wound from the Chalet Montana. Almost until the end he was still sending out his famous yellow postcards. For the people of
Finally. either badly typed or inscribed in a small spidery writing with pertinent comments on some Alpine controversy. the Swiss history portion. men. and then be shown round his library. The sun shone brilliantly. at any rate.
a last tribute from the mountains at
whose significance Coolidge might openly have scoffed bet Ms which he would have privately considered no more
doe. pouring off the cliffs of the Eiger.the grave there came the distant rumble of an avalanche.
two women had climbed Mont Blanc Maria Paradis in 1809 and Henriette d'Angeville in 1838 but both ascents were exceptional events. an eighteen-year-old peasant girl who owned a small stall near the foot of the mountain. the "thwarted maiden lady in her been called. seeking. she implored They humanely ignored her request. was of different metal. between them Miss Brevoort and Miss Walter account for most of the important climbs made
by women during
the i86o's. seek an equal peak
How can we
Where we can walk with God?
ANON. "She goes
we do and
and go on yourselves".
With head on high she
A youthful. the first being made for
and the second for the notoriety which it gave. dragged her to the top.
forties" as she has
attraction to mountain-climb-
so influenced Coolidge's whole life. and brought her safely back to Chamonix.
She followed the example of Lucy Walker. Maria. did not enjoy the ascent.
MISS ing had
maid. where she arrived in poor condition.
into a crevasse
her guides. all with her performance that on
. said one of her guides.
Before their day. another remarkable woman who was the daughter of one enthusiastic Liverpool
climber and the
sister of another. was one of the to make any number of serious high Alpine climbs.
eyes alight for distant height
a male protector. Cole. a belief which was expressed until well past the turn of the century.C/s
king of the Riffel". and even solitary ones. Fresh-
mother of Douglas Freshfield.
In days gone by [she wrote to Coolidge would not speak to us.
pioneering journeys through the Dolomites. both travelled around and across the Alps during the iSso's. There were also the two unknown ladies "past the noon of life". and Mrs. Mrs. In the following decade
of Gilbert and Churchill accompanied the party which
1850'$. Her dress. saying as they did so: "Now. in which she of a long-skirted garment which
wore over brightly checkered peg-top trousers. Now. The second was the problem of
clothes. whom Mrs. for its publicity value rather than its
utility. Mademoiselle. but then two together must be pleasanter than one alone. you shall go one higher than
Blanc. The wives of George Barnard and Michael Faraday went with their husbands on a leisurely tour of the Oberland in 1841. Two things combined to hinder the growth of mountainclimbing among women. though no one was
The male two famous
Sesiajoch into Italy solitary guide lost the
was well described by Ellen Pigeon." Being a staunch Royalist. one of in 1869 made the first crossing of the and took charge of the party when their
way. when you must have guides. to go unattended
we got on very well. one must assume.
so impertinent as "the to lady climbers. Cole met in Aosta after they had just crossed the Mont Blanc range with a single guide. an outfit chosen. and Mrs. Wills was taken for a night on the Mer de Glace while on her honeymoon. and
. and then despatched a carrier
pigeon with the news of her
number of women began
through the less-known parts of the Alps even though
they did not make any major ascents. she drank a bumper of champagne to the Comte de Paris.reaching the summit they lifted her on their shoulders. are accustomed people were the first. I think. One was the belief that it was not a womanly occupation.
sent out a frantic S.S. Aloof.
on and off" school grew throughout the
years. can be slipped off and on in a
A riding skirt.
Every lady engaged on an Alpine journey should have a dress of light woollen material. Lady Bentinck.
A skirt was invariably considered necessary for appearances when
leaving or arriving at an Alpine inn or hotel. to the required height. when traversing the Zinal Rothhorn. such as carmelite or alpaca which.
as late as 1879. highly critical of innovation. My mother on my behalf when my grand aunt. which
moment. Some of the first advice came from Mrs. Small rings should be sewn inside the seam of the dress. without a body." scandalising
faced the music
The second thing which hampered the development of climbing among women was the question of dress. does not look utterly forlorn when it has once been wetted and dried [she advised]. and
was Mrs. the feeling against
the remarkable thrice-married strong. Aubrey le Blond.
however. Legal who between 1875 and his retirement from active mountaineering nearly forty years later. Permanent to the Adviser Foreign Office for more than thirty years. who remembered on approaching Zinal that she
considerable opposition. and a cord passed through them. E. he held opinions on the propriety of women on the mountains that may well be imagined even though they have nowhere been
recorded. and Mrs. of the first woman's the founder woman who was climbing club
in Britain. distinguished. "Stop her climbing mountains.
also invaluable. the ends of which should be knotted together
in such a
may be drawn up
had to struggle hard for my freedom [she says]. in the case of bad weather.RiflfeT was Sir W. Aubrey le Blond.
and to the
of more than one narrow ridge. breeches or their equivalent were essential to the conquest of certain mountain
obstacles. She is all London and looks like a Red Indian.O. Davidson.
discardable skirt theory could bring
penalties. climbed the Riffelhorn above Zermatt
"The king of the
of them unsuccessfully. she asked a young man. During the following
Lucy Walker made ninety-eight expeditions. She had arrived at the Schwarenbach Inn with her family. mostly in the company of
years. her father.
She "aspired" to the mountains." It was the beginning of replied a long and increasingly friendly association. ever been in doubt. too. Lucy Walker was typical of the new race of women which the
Miss Brevoort. I have had to baste up both dress and skirt.
than the other occupabrought her into contact
with nature. Lucy Walker
was twenty-eight at the time." Yet Meta Brevoort' s model. and records that: "My dress plan.
Lucy Walker knew that climbing was tions in which ladies could indulge. or Melchior Anderegg. In the self-assured way in which she made her early ascents. Miss Lucy Walker.
who on at least one occasion was driven to the was use of trousers. and exaltation. would have been assured by the fact
and brother were ardent devotees of the
that her father
sport. darkly ringletted young woman. where she could
famous guide. Her first glimpse of that world came in 1859. has failed. he with dignity. Drawing himself up to his full height. and was forced most of her day's route. she
them by an inexpressible attraction whose tightness.
her brother. it gave her contacts with a world of people different from those she normally
knew. to the edge of a new world. beauty. perpetually experimenting. wearing on the mountains a white print dress whose shape she carefully had "renewed" whenever an expedition was finished. with its combination of excitement. and was told by her father that Melchior Anderegg was the best guide for the expedition. amply fashioned and kindly.
her skirt on the far side of the mountain. apparently a porter. never used the subterfuge of men's clothes. "I am Anderegg. it gave her the illusion of danger which had almost been removed from the world in which she moved. wished to make the ascent of the Altels. a spectacled. Outside the inn. and descending snow slopes the snow enters the rings and stuffs up the hem and makes me heavy and wet.
she enjoyed the reputation of once having played a salmon from sunrise to
sundown. a spinster
On the mountains
she took nothing to eat except sponge-cake
and champagne or sometimes asti both wines which she found ideal in combating the slight mountain-sickness from which she suffered throughout the whole of her climbing career. "No". She did not ride. "I said. bowed. Miss Lloyd. was
a famous local sportswoman. stout. He came up to her. mainto travel thus even taining with perfect reason that she preferred
if it did slightly limit her climbing. Until 1873. "You said that no woman could manage it".
well-known mountaineer after her he replied. she
. with drink and sandwiches. 'No lady'/'
of the peak. brought up at Nantgwyllt in
mid-Wales. Miss Lewis-Lloyd's most constant companion on the mountains was a character remarkable at any time. Short. after which the local population the battle. or even walk with any particular enthusiasm. a great house which was swamped
built to create the water-supply for
Birmingham. and jovial. were Emmeline Lewis-Lloyd and Miss Straton.
After he had
left. a remarkable couple who invariably travelled on the mountains together.
Miss Lloyd casually asked his name.
was told. he escorted her back to her hotel where he was apparently known to
staff. and appears rarely to have been surprised at any turn
take. One evening she was completing a scramble in the snow above Gressoney when there solitary the a figure which seemed to be that of a distance in appeared local chamois-hunter.
and she was always pleased to explain why she had not climbed one particular summit. discussing the mountains. her only outdoor exercise other than climbing being the gentle one of
the few women who climbed during the same years did Lucy Walker.
to regale her in
She enters into early mountaineering quite confident and selfassured. and began to
which events might
talk with her in perfect English. a certain woman climber had said
Her views were
strong.adventures she consistently refused to dress like a man.
Two OF THE LATER VICTORIAN WOMEN
and the banner of emancipation flying high. Miss Straton later proudly recorded. who achieved the remarkable feat. Of their two sons. then in the Alps where she made four ascents of Mont Blanc married him and settled happily in a small home near Chamonix where she spent the rest of her life.
the Matterhorn as early
is so closely linked with of Coolidge. the other at the age of eleven and a half.
V. Neither. a mountaineer who gave up plans Himalayan exploring when he married.000
married her Alpine guide and
lived happily with him for the rest of her life.
the party drank the customary bumper of champagne. many of them
She appears to he where had been Nantgwyllt. needed special help. and she appears to have had
Miss Brevoort.M. It seems unlikely that they were moved by the mountains in quite the same way
Lucy Walker and Meta Brevoort. Early in her Alpine career she climbed Mont Blanc with two guides and Madame Sylvain-Couttet.4. and a typical picture of
given by John Stogdon. a banned song in those days of the Second Empire. She travelled with him in the Pyrenees. She was neither strong nor unwomanly. one was later to climb Mont Blanc at the age of thirteen. Miss Straton.
. Arthur Fairbanks. Coolidge was studyis
ing at the Bel Alp and Miss Brevoort was invited to join a party that included Stogdon and the Rev. following which the four danced a quadrille in the bright sun
and sang the "Marseillaise". courage. whose Alpine story
for figuring in colourful and rather startling incidents. the wife of one of them. determination.
attracted to mountaineering largely because they felt it wrong that any pastime should be reserved for the male sex alone. was brought up in a Paris convent school. although they had attempted
as 1869. first visited the Alps in 1861
age of twenty-three.
tackled the situation with energy. brought by Miss Lloyd to work as a groom for a year. Both Miss Straton and Miss Lewis-Lloyd appear to have been
have met him
company of Jean
Charlet of Chamonix.endowed with . She was a woman of immense vitality. but it was not until four years later that she began a long series of Alpine excursions.
Francis Walker. Miss Brevoort. with him. but I thought we should never have got her up again. Both women had nearly been preceded by Felicite Carrel. as loyalty bade him. a feat for which she had everything ready in 1871.
guide not the great Carrel who four years earlier had reached to within 350 ft. and Frederick Gardiner. Plans were quickly formed. her father. She was ready for anything.
her hopes continually deferred
In 1876 there came the chance of attempting the peak for which she had mortgaged considerable emotional energy. having unsuccessfully attempted the mountain from the Italian side in 1869.
of cut knuckles. She gave it up so that Coolidge should have more money for climbing
. of which we could see no end. Miss Brevoort. was too broad for her to jump.
had gone back year by bad weather. One crevasse. One of these was to be the first woman to ascend the Matterhorn.
was a tragedy of Miss Brevoort's life that her two greatest Alpine ambitions were both frustrated.
However. Together with Coolidge. possibly more than anyelse on the to be first woman on top of the Meije earth. who a few days after the Walkers' ascent made
daughter of an
of the mountain by ascending from Zermatt and descending the southern side into Italy. and.
after year. where
he knew that the Walkers could be found. She desired. and on July 21 he led Lucy Walker. was greeted with the news
that "the young lady has just come down from the Matterhorn". she had made the ascent of one of the lower peaks in 1870.Her courage and exuberant enjoyment doubled our pleasure [he recalled years later]. she
it. paid her out some forty feet. You
can't get a direct pull. to the summit. thing
in the Dauphine. had one ambition even stronger than that of making the first woman's ascent of the Matterhorn. arriving in Zermatt a few days later. of the summit with a party which climbed the Italian ridge. but
she jumped at
rash proposal that we should let her down into it she could find a ledge to stand on. One of her guides
incautiously mentioned the plans to Melchior Anderegg who immediately hurried off to Zermatt.
Miss Brevoort was dead. short.in the
she. The most remarkable of the
of the Aiguille
de Bionnassay and the traverse of the East arte. green-eyed.
after her seventeenth birthday carried
age of sixteen and a few months out her first campaign in
where she climbed the Piz Languard and the Piz
Corvatsch. the guides said of her. hoping to make the first ascent in her name.
Alas. was preceded in 1877 by Boileau de Castelnau. to think
of all the others who will be coming. and of the who may succeed [she wrote]. her eyes on the expenses. eyes by either man or woman. a young Frenchman. she was.
Coolidge from the Oberland came
heart. Later in the same season
she heard that an
Englishwoman whose name no one knew was first ascent on the Meije. but it was not until 1888 that Kathleen Richardson.
During the following eleven seasons she completed n6grandes and sixty minor ascents. the
legendary Miss Richardson
as the French called her. She hurried south to
. Give my love to all my dear friends now in your sight and specially to that glorious Meije
and ask her to keep herself for me. Coolidge made the second ascent the following year. and she walks like a devil".
She was on the Hornli
the Engadine. Miss Richardson was the antithesis of the typical woman climber of the period. Her nephew. in fact. Brown-haired. tough and indefatigable. "She does not eat. a route often attempted and considered impossible. remained in the Oberland. was to make of the peak by a lady. six of them being first ascents by any mountaineer. another fourteen of them first ascents by a
Within a few months of having written the letter. Slender. looking rather like a piece
of carefully kept Dresden china. frail-looking. she was the most remarkable of the women mountaineers who immediately followed Miss
Brevoort's generation. There was news that others had their carefully the on then still unclimbed Meije.
Le Blond helped to found. One
most generally remembered
Mrs. You take the Aiguille
d'Arves. made the ascent of Mont Blanc almost by accident. For years she thought
with a courier and another developed hysteria whenever her mistress was late in returning from a climb. the famous French Alpinist who nearly killed Frenchwoman's the when d'Arves on the Central Aiguille
crashed down on Miss Richardson's dislodged a stone which head.
Miss Richardson. and showed her
she later wrote that she
owed "a supreme debt of
for knocking gratitude to the mountains
only right that she should travel in the mountains with her ladies' maid. climbing the
mountain in a single day from La Berarde. having changed places with her friend. only to find that the Englishwoman was herself.
. "You go first. I have the Meije. and for season after season she visited Norway. the son of her favourite guide. then pushed her ahead with the words. Born of a wealthy Irish family. making there a series of first ascents almost comparable
to that of Cecil Slingsby."
Miss Richardson's day. was attracted by the mountains. habit too much. Maths Tutor at Girton and a later President
Club which Mrs. did she dispense with
that she took it for granted that women should climb.
killed in the Alps. She justified die rumour that had gone before her. women climbers had become of the most remarkable among increasingly numerous. waited for Mile Paillon to reach her. and should do so on equal terms with men.the Dauphine. Her importance was
she had frequently climbed. and a man with
women. When the couple were within a few yards of the summit. she first visited Switzerland because of her poor health. When Roman Imboden. Only when one had eloped
of conventionality". however.
Maud Meyer. she
was compelled to give up mountaineering in the Alps. Aubrey le Blond. Many of Miss Richardson's climbs were made with Mile Mary her comPaillon.
and in London's growing traffic.
fit. She replied that she
it. like Maud
For some years she had been bicycling all over London to her various mathematical coaching appointments [says a surviving
of the dangers of this procedure. and by their devoted interest in mountains through years of hard work. it
as well die that
and there was a spice of excitement about entirely her responsibility. a reflection of the earlier Victorian male mountaineers whom they resemble so much. and you might as any other.
Davidson who had so criticised the Pigeons.she represented the last struggle of the Victorian woman climber freeing herself from the prejudice of the past. and was apparently unrebuked by. relative].
E. Mrs. Le Blond did not die until 1934.
her remarkable record carried on not only into the Edwardian but into the Georgian era. Both women showed by the multiplicity of their interests. by their courage.
Both women are symbols of the triumph achieved when women on the mountains were first judged equally with men
Miss Meyer met.
Her death was
in keeping. Everybody warned her at her age. whose record included more than a hundred expeditions each of them neatly recorded in an edition of
Nature and History continued climbing high mountains until eighteen months before her death at the age of
W. leaving behind her a memory of tremendous accomplishments and more than half a dozen books in which she exhorted her fellows up into the
this land. South of the Border. initiated its members with due a 3. The
Highland Mountain Club of Lochgoilhead. these airs. of course. or June 's long-lighted days?
was in the i88o's that the activities of Cecil Slingsby and of a small handful of other enthusiasts began to form the corpus of knowledge and tradition around which climbing in
grow. found pleasure on the British hills before the Victorian Alpinists devoted themselves to the matter.
Club.ooo-footer whose ascent was the
utilised the services
of for entry. started in 1875 as a section of the Perthshire Society of Natural
History. was founded in Glasgow in 1866 for those who wanted "to climb the Cobbler and whatever other worthy hill can be reached in the course of a Saturday
in 1815. The Perthshire Mountain Club.Chapter Nine
can match our changeful Northern
Black with December snows unshed or pearled with August haze
clanging arch of steel-grey March. those folk
came Mathews' "Society of Welsh
. The Cobbler
whose main purpose was the of encouragement mountain-climbing. had been founded by the then Lord Inverclyde in 1849. which in 1911 offered financial help to the Scottish
Mountaineering Club for the publication of its guide-books. that sea.
at the top
of a cairn-master and of a bard
a specially written poem. the
club in Britain
expedition from Glasgow". which held its annual meetings on Midsummer Day to climb a local hill and to carry
there "certain festivities".
were the crystallisation of a process which had begun in the middle of the century. Sir
Henry Ponsonby. her
wrote to Mr. but it not true that after the Matterhorn accident she attempted to
have climbing forbidden. as upon its very definite and simple grounds. mountain-climbing (and be it remembered that Snowdon has its victims as well as the Matterhorn) is more destructive than various other pursuits in the way of recreation which perhaps have no justification to plead so respectable as that which may be alleged on behalf of mountain expeditions.
whole. but viewing it.
the Yorkshire Ramblers' Club in
formation Cecil Slingsby played such a prominent part.
not one of wisdom or unwisdom.
angels. Gladstone. descending over a dangerous place from the Matterhorn and falling over a
precipice". It was only after three serious accidents in the of 1882 that she made any move. But I doubt the possibility of any interference.
and the others which sprang up in the 1890'$.
I do not wonder Pie said] that the Queen's sympathetic feelings have again been excited by the accidents. had begun
upon the local fell-walkers. on the Alps. 1882. even by her Majesty. she merely made a note of the fact in her diary "four poor Englishmen including a brother of Lord
Queensberry have lost their lives in Switzerland. so grave in character. I see no
action. with a
prospect of advantage. The question. when the enthusiasm of the earlier Alpine climbers.
generally taken of her reaction to mountain-climbing. and so accumulated during recent weeks.
Then on August
appears to have been suggested that no action be taken.
she can say anything to mark her disapproval of the dangerous Alpine excursions which this year have occasioned so much loss
. taking a casual week-end in North Wales or the Lakes. The Queen herself was not without
to use his own expression. no neck-tie. the fine rock-snout Glas.Yet
the mass of mankind. "to follow the skyline". in a similar manner. to reach the Grands Mulets on Mont Blanc in 1864. his shirt-collar unbuttoned. he would then descend the other side of the mountain towards Beddgelert.
This clergyman described
says. without hat or covering of any sort for the head. His object was. Picture to yourself a tall man. who had fallen in love with the Cairngorms.
a linen spencer of the same complexion. until eight p.m. for instance.
shown by her Leaves from
had a genuine Journal of Our Life She allowed Prince delight in the glories of the mountains. dressed in a pair of dingy slop trousers. and was generally on his legs from about
nine a. Arthur. Duke of Connaught. about 52 years of age. regardless of the weather. he
possessed of a most extraordinary mania for climbing mountains. that thrusts itself out into
men. until he reached the summit. yet
make more understandable in
comments were not made known at the time. even though she did not allow him to continue to the summit and become the youngest person he was then 14 who had attained it. how he could keep up such violent daily exercise without any refreshment
. Little of this was "mountaineerthe Highlands that she
ing". rather slightly built. that queer unidentified figure was named the Parson's Nose. when not so familiar with the locality. he availed himself of the services of a guide. of a wiry. seven or eight feet in length. spare habit. although occasionally.m. and you may perhaps be able to form some idea
of the strange grotesque figure we have endeavoured to describe.
by John Henry
was. had ascended Lochnagar and many other peaks surrounding Balmoral on
pony. He most frequently performed his excursions alone.
between the "Alpinists" and the local
Many of these fell-walkers and hill-wanderers were formidable
There was. The most extraordinary thing was. in his hand. For Queen was the monarch who had
a special performance of Albert Smith's "Mont Blanc". with
an enormous alpenstock or climbing pole. He would follow up these rambles de die in diem.
Cecil Slingsby, in 1876, at the age of 27
whatever during the period he was among the mountains. To prevent thirst, he carried a small pebble in his mouth; and Harry Owen, the guide, assured us that he never saw him partake of anything to
even a cup of cold water, while on an excursion. have several times met him on his return to the inn (Pen-yGwryd), drenched with perspiration, and whilst his dinner was being
eat or drink, not
at gentle exercise (staff in hand), to
like a race-horse after a "breather"
to partaking of his repast in fine weather generally al fresco exhibiting not the least apparent fatigue. He was a man of very
two or three glasses of sherry were the extent of he avoided smoking and he would be up early in the morning performing his ablutions for several hours. He appeared to have no other object in climbing to the wild mountemperate habits;
tain-tops than merely (as he said) to behold the wonderful of the Almighty.
What the cHmbing parson was to Wales, Frederick Bowring was to the Lakes. Both men broke away from the tradition of making only certain set and "popular" ascents although Bowring climbed Great Gable more than a hundred times and both provided a nucleus of non-professional local knowledge on which the Alpine Club men of the sixties and seventies could draw. Bowring, who was born in 1823 and did not die until 1918, must have been as striking a figure as the climbing parson. And, like him, Bowring climbed and walked with great vigour and precision when he was nearing the age of sixty.
His long legs were clad in thick trousers; his fine head (which a strikingly resembled that of the poet Tennyson) was covered with
the wide brim of which had been reduced to limpness by of securing it in windy weather by means of an immense
usual coat bore
blue kerchief tied under his chin.
modern for him and his
huge pockets which contained,
The "Norfolk" jacket was too somewhat bunchy tails with as a minimum, maps, compass,
sandwiches, and the afore-mentioned blue a bandana, gloves, large grey woollen comforter, and several books, besides abundant materials for smoking. In his hand was a stout
six-foot fell-pole slip on rocks.
with a forked
which he thought less
and possibly the most eccentric of all these early was the Rev. James Jackson. A tall, bearded character who had served with the British forces during the early Napoleonic wars and then, relinquishing this career for the Church, he had served in a variety of incumbencies throughout the North of England, and astounded his congregations almost as much by his egotistical verses as by his prodigious feats of
walking. In his sixty-ninth year, he walked forty-six miles in fourteen and a half hours, followed this up two days later with fifty-six
miles in eighteen hours, and, after another miles in less than twenty hours.
His character is best shown by the incident of the weather-cock his church steeple at Rivington. When steeplejacks refused
to go up to it to carry out a repair, Jackson himself swarmed up the spire and commemorated the incident with a ditty which
has not heard of Steeple Jack That lion-hearted Saxon?
Though I'm not he, he was my For I am Steeple Jackson!
one of the most persistent fell-ramblers and -scramblers, although for years he believed that the Pillar was inaccessible. Then he read an account in a local paper of how
Westmorland brothers and their sister Kate had climbed top. This was too much for Steeple Jackson, even though he was then seventy-nine. Thus, on May 31, 1875, he
clambered to the
top alone, carrying a rope and wearing Arrived on the summit, he deposited the rehe had brought home from Loretto a Victorian
on Alpine peaks and inscription which he proudly described as "written without specs". He immediately dubbed himself the "Patriarch of the Pillarites", nominated a friend as "Patriarch Presumptive", and commemorated the event
version of the contemporary crosses recorded his ascent in a Greek
your mind you will fix I make the Pillar my
in 1 9 7, p, 6,
I was born
a nimble old boy.
he was eighty-two, he set out with the intention of making his second ascent of the Pillar; after two days' absence, he was found in Great Doup, the hollow near by, having apparently
mistaken his position in the mist and plunged 300
to his death.
On a piece of paper in his pocket,
which he had planned
wrapped and put into leave on the summit, were his
elephantine properties are mine
For I can bend
pick up pin or plack: year the Pillar Rock I climb Four score and two's the howdah on my back.
was merely a rather was just such men who helped to acquire the considerable body of knowledge which was available by the i88o's; knowledge used by those men with experience of the Alps who during ruminating strolls on the hills cast enquiring glances at the gullies which might, in heavy snow, provide them with a few hundred feet of sport. Charles Packe, that pioneer of the Pyrenees and the author of a guide to the range that is still so readable, was scrambling about the Lakeland fells invariably with his Pyrenean mountain dogs as early as 1850 and a few years later was camping and sleepingstandards, Jackson
Judged by modern
out on them in his home-designed sleeping-bags. In the late 1850*5, he introduced John Ball, Hinchliff, and William Longman
fells and the hills of North Wales, and his and rambling scrambling tours continued for fifty years until within a few years of his death at the age of seventy. Leslie Stephen, the Rev. Julius Elliott, who made the second ascent of the Matterhorn from Zermatt before being killed on the Schreckhorn by an unwary and unroped jump, and C. A. O. Baumgartner, are only three of the many climbers from the Alps who made early ascents of the Pillar Rock. Stephen climbed
to both the Lakeland
ascending a chimney near Gurnard's Head. Norman Collie. that "the British hills afford endless opportunities for the gratification of our climbing instincts and for the cultivation of all those faculties. made the first ascent of Gust's Gully on Great End
in the Lakes. one finds Professor Tyndall. In Scotland it was such men as Horace Walker. and after the party had bought rake-handles at fourpence each and had converted them into alpenstocks. habits. gangling and prehensile. Grove. famous Alpine climbers. Macdonald. and Tuckett among the regular week-enders.
These enthusiasts from the Alps
found. Slingsby. while the following year no less than twenty Alpine Club members accompanied by one of the most famous lady mountaineers of the time.
. in North Wales. on those granite cliff-faces to which the Climbers'
Club have recently issued a new guide-book.wherever and whenever he could. who were to make so many of the pioneer ascents in Skye and on Ben Nevis. The following morning they set out for Snowdon.
Huxley and Mr. three middle-aged gentlemen. tramping through the thick snow on what must have appeared in those days a rather crazy
Christmas adventure. In Wales. and would have come more slowly still had it not been for an article which
Professor Tyndall contributed to the Saturday Review in 1861.
who gradually took over from Badminton volume on "Moun-
taineering" later put it. veteran of the famous first ascent of the Brenva Ridge of Mont Blanc. Moore. The revelation came slowly.
Tainted by the city air [he wrote] and with gases not natural to the atmosphere of London. they finally reached
arrived at Bethesda with Professor
Capel Curig. In 1879 an Alpine Club meeting was held at Capel Curig. over a period of years. the all of them Pilkingtons. and there is at least one record of him. and virtues.
form the art of mountaineering". Busk. and Solly. I gladly chimed in with the proposal of an experienced friend to live four clear days at Christmas on
Welsh mutton and mountain
in England. G. there was apparent a subtle but
change in the records. such
Slingsby or Hastings or Solly. Here was enthusiasm for the British hills which would have sounded extravagant from any climber of those days. to Wales.and ice-
appeared to devote almost as much time and attention to the Lakes. Jones who went abroad
only rarely and whose main
to be found climbing in Britain. which was
found on the British crags. such as Haskett-Smith. Not only had he ascended Mont Blanc three times. on the Matterhorn (the highest point then gained) and had earned a reputation among the Alpine fraternity for a daring that hardly matched the view slow-dying sternly supported by
Tyndall himself that men climbed mountains merely to carry out scientific observations. not so much of this article itself. the view he said. so did the
to be basic reasons
which drove men up
into the hills
divorced from the weighty problems that had troubled the
. and Wales.000 ft. Simultaneously.
interests. "would bear comparison with the splendours of the Alps themselves". was a steady growth of climbing. who climbed in Britain for a number of seasons
Yet the man's enthusiasm was kindled by the Welsh hills just as it had been in the Alps. there is to be sensed a change of emphasis in the reasons for which most men went mountaineering. but he had reached
13. Scotland. by men from the Alps who even a few years earlier would have scorned the suggestion that Britain contained
anything comparable to the Alps. As climbing in Britain became more surely divorced from climbing in the Alps during the last quarter of the century. The result.
There were some. let alone from the dispassionate Tyndall.Tyndall was at this time an experienced mountaineer. And there finally developed such climbers as Archer-Thomson and O. but of the interest which it aroused.
before visiting the Alps at all. or to Scotland. From the i88o's onwards. mainly rock-climbing
was concentrated on the opposed to snow. On the summit of Snowdon. as they did to the mountains
There was an increasing influx of young men.
even if the national cake still failed to provide every British worker with all that he wanted. There is no particular reason to link these two developments of the i88o's the growth of British mountaineering and the decrease in importance of those spiritual problems that epitomised the Victorian hey-day. the son of a great fell-walker
who had sketched
early as 1828.
thought of the age arose out of the circumstances of the no less true of the second than it was of the first half of
the Victorian era. and that. There might still be worries about the problems posed by the scientists. but the first awful impact of Darwin had passed.
And. and. simultaneously. matters both temporal were far easier than they had been two decades spiritual earlier. the most extravagant dreams of the optimists had been more than realised. a dour Keswick estate agent.thinkers of a decade or so earlier.
Robinson himself did not start climbing until 1882. those men who might have been driven to the Alps did find in the British hills some satisfaction similar to that which the earlier climbers had found in the Alps and in such greater ranges as
later visited. got its second breath. by the i88o's. There is no reason to believe that the
British hills gave something less necessary than that exultation given by the Alps to Frederic Harrison when he wrote in praise
of Alpine climbing: "We need sometimes that poetry should be not droned into our ears. was John Wilson Robinson. Materially. as it were. there had been no revolution.
Typical of the transition period during which the rambles of the fell-walkers were being replaced by the more ambitious
adventures of the experienced Alpinists. but flashed into our senses." Yet it is a fact that the problems decreased. the young lawyer who played the most important part of all in the development of climbing in Britain during the latter quarter of the last
century. and the Church had. when he made his first ascent of the Pillar. and it was about the same year that he first met Haskett-Smith. yet there seemed little reason to believe that this happy state was not round a nearby corner.
the latter of which he knew
any other range outside Britain. a total of seventy miles. one of those rare things. Haskett-Smith. made the first ascent of Pavey Ark Gully. and his he once
walked over the principal summits of the Lakes. explored Deep Ghyll.
interested himself in the
of philology. Just as Coolidge was uninterested in any range other than the Alps. He made one visit to the Alps. a man for whom the Alps and the Pyrenees. and Winthrop Young says that his only serious quarrel was when a fellowmember of the Alpine Club.
which combined with
such a place in the story of British climbing. a legend in
well. P. so was Robinson disinterested in the or
1877 and 1903 he
solely climbing Robinson's most constant companion in Britain was W.
favour. climbed the Matterhorn. gained not only during his walks on the fells. but during the day-to-day routine of his business. 1859. while between
nearly forty ascents of Great Gable. pottered around in a genial way.
fells. which impressed him in a routine way. thinking he was bestowing a
Trinity. "the father of British mountaineering".
to the British mountains
spent nine weeks at Wasdale Head in the Lakes. in twenty-four hours the amount of climbing that he accomplished was astonishing. found a new
. Even when one considers his luck in living so close to the hills. and ladies taking between
to the top during this period.
and Lincoln's Inn. and became. and thereafter concentrated on in Britain. He ascended the Pillar 101 times between 1882 and 1906.the combination. typical
Thereafter he departed from the did not practise at the Bar. like Coolidge.
days slightly quizzically and rather defiantly. Born in he had a neat trim record of the times Eton. Robinson brought his great local knowledge.
conventions. and also made ascents of Scawfell Pinnacle.
and explored the whole area for climbable routes without. "a slender pinnacle of rock. however.
feeling as small as a
Between the upper and lower blocks. that he found himself alone. and on most other areas of rock which
are today laced with routes. year after year. He had seen the Needle first on a misty day in the early i88o's.
of the mountain
later] was to get two or three of the summit by seeing whether anything thrown up could be induced to lodge. standing out against the background of cloud without a sign of any other rock near it. He pioneered first ascents of Scawfell. until the turn of the century.
most intimately connected. It is. Doe Crag. In 1 884 he returned to the Lakes and continued his explorations there as he was to do. with the Napes Needle. one consented to stay.high-level traverse across the north face of Great Gable. and
My first care
stones and test the flatness
thereby encouraged a milestone. having had any more experience of mountains or mountaineering than had been gained from a stroll through the Pyrenees with Charles Packe during the previous year. If it did." It was not until 1886. and
appearing to shoot up for 200-300 ft. He has described in an early number of the Journal of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club of Great Britain. how he came to make the historic first ascent. it should
be noted. the slender and spectacular pillar of rock standing out from the Napes Ridges. about five feet up. It
seemed best to work up
right. and would hold out hopes of the edge being found not too much rounded to afford a good grip for the fingers. in the gap which separates the
Needle from the ridges which
it. however." period. on the Napes Ridges. there is a ragged horizontal chink large enough to admit the toes. but the trouble is to raise the body without intermediate footholds. that would be an indication of a moderately flat top. that
"Of course". and in the late afternoon.
me to start.
where the corner
. Out of three missiles.
he adds in what is a revealing comment on the "no ropes or other illegitimate means were resorted to. on Great Gable.
P. Haskett-Sniitli in his
The "Stable-door Traverse" at Wastdale Head
foot of this side there appeared to my great joy a protuberance which. had visited the Lakes on a walking-tour and climbed the Pillar with
no more knowledge of mountaineering than could be gleaned from the pages of Prior's Guide.
my handkerchief fluttering in
The Needle was not climbed again for three years and then were made within a few months. my next was one of wonder whether getting down again would not prove far more
Gently and cautiously transferring
getting up. it first that here was window. a chatty little book that broke
V. not smooth and rounded as it might have been. A lady. displayed illustrated to O. and a few months later an illustrated article on the Needle appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette.M. a technical student in London at the time. the well-known photoa photograph of it in his shop grapher in the Strand. For anyone in a standing at the corner it is easy to shuffle the feet sideways to the position other end of the chink.
feeling with the toes for the protuberance provided an anxious moment. Jones. the possibilities offered by British mountains and hills. looked as if it might
prove slippery. but was placed in the precise spot where it would be most useful in shortening the formidable stretch up to the top
my weight. though
must be confessed
was an undoubted
satisfaction to stand
once more on solid ground below and look up
the breeze. Spooner. Miss
hanging over the deep
a rather "nervy*' proceeding. climbed it in 1890. My first thought on reaching the top was one of regret that my friends should have missed by a few hours such a day's climbing. In 1890 Jones. soon spread.
The fame of the spectacular spire of rock.
enough. the most photogenic in the country. being covered with a lichenous growth. and it
a typical specimen of the second generation of British climbers. 1 reached up hand and at last was able to feel the edge and prove it to be. but die rest went easily
Hanging by the hands. three new things and all good [he had just made the first ascent of the Ennerdale face of Great Gable and the first continuous descent of the Needle Ridge]. where it is found that the side of the
block facing outwards
less vertical. G.projects a
little. but a flat and satisfactory grip.
and he would be of
importance in the gradual expansion of mountaineering towards the end of the century if he had done nothing more than write
. but all his enjoyment and all his important climbing was concentrated on
Norway. Jones glanced in Spooner's window."
Such was a typical result of Haskett-Smith's discovery.
before an admiring audience of many hundreds ranged around the Dress Circle.
pinnacle. looked at the tiny figures of climbers in the photograph and passed the usual uninformed remarks.
Needle. Bystanders. Easter had come round and I found myself on the top of the
time. and for the first
of the Needle. This is the top storey". The photograph of the Needle which was itself later taken as the emblem of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club became a symbol of the new adventures to be found not beyond the Channel but
itself. the Alps. being led up to Chorley. walking down the Strand in London.
Haskett-Smith not only "created" climbing in Britain. "a copy of the Needle hung in my room. oppressed with the flatness of people and things in general as he it. then President of the Fell and Rock. in the Pyrenees. he immediately shouted back.
summit by Lord
his anniversary ascent. a typical response from a man who devoted much of his life to the curiosities of words. and even the Andes. the rocky bay on the Napes from which the Needle
stands out in
apparent inaccessibility. Spain.
As Haskett-Smith sat down on the uppermost block. adds Jones.
then seventy-four." "There is no other story.
year. in a fortnight. Perhaps the most
Haskett-Smith.new ground by
features. and to useless but interesting branches of knowledge. "That evening". to outlandish facts. he also took the first step in its popularisation.
climbed in Scotland and Wales. he noted. but the magic of its outline
there are seven "regular" routes up the still holds. the Rockies. a voice from the crowd below urged him to "Tell us a story.
recorded either in the Alpine Journal or in one of the many records of private exploration that
were published. but impermanent. It is true that there
had been.000 copies of the late J. with the 120. "For years past".
as there still
is. Ball's Alpine Guide was merely one of the
short cuts to Alpinism that had been making the way even easier for young men wishing to take up climbing. one. E.
position of British rock-climbing intelligence
the recipient. since the early i88o's. the demand.
When the first of Haskett-Smith's volumes appeared in 1894. Haskett-Smith's were therefore the first to break the unwritten law that accounts of climbs in Britain should be passed down only by word of mouth so that information would be graded according to the experience of
if privately. in
fact. "there has
been a remarkably rapid increase in the number of men who climb for climbing's sake within the bounds of the British Isles. Barford's Climbing in
." It was for them that the little red-bound books were intended.
This state of affairs was a happy.
a feeling that the
tions should not
be given too bright a limelight. yet so far as the of new expeditions and ascents were concerned great majority
they had been.
alone are no index of the influence exerted
Haskett-Smith's guides after their quiet explosion on the Victorian
and the mid-193 o's. Q.000 copies each.
a striking comparison they sold only some 3. a
primer for the embryonic mountaineers who might otherwise "have missed their vocation because they were in the position of the prudent individual who would not go into the water until after he had learned to swim".and have published the two slim red-backed volumes of Climbing
in the British Isles.
scene. said Haskett-Smith in his preface. The first climbers' log-book had appeared at Wastdale Head only four years earlier. at least in sufficient
was a little no printed information had appeared in 1884 when two articles on the subject were published in All the Year Round. climbers had been describing their Alpine exploits in print for nearly half a century.
the turn of the century mountaineering in Britain. approach that technical efficiency which had previously been die prerogative of the Alpine
guide. to began.
achieve a proficiency impossible for those whose climbing was limited to a few weeks or perhaps months every year. ultimately. and not necessarily linked with. Some of these have continued the tradition of mild humour with which Haskett-Smith laced
most of his descriptions.
deal with the
most minor routes up the most
inconspicuous boulders. for the whole shelf-loads of detailed climbing-guides
CX G. by constant practise. the had grown into a lusty plant. The mountains at the end of the street could
never be quite the same
sea. It was a sport which grew enormously as the century drew to its close and which was different in two
important ways from mountaineering
had been thought of
practised during the previous half-century. the hills lost something of their mystery.
which lay beyond the
posed topographical problems even though the solution of these was no longer hindered by the presence of dragons.
off-shoot of Victorian Alpinism. as something distinct from. climbing
in the Alps or elsewhere.Britain
sold within a few years of its publication half a roughly century later. none have contained such a wealth of detail about the less technical but more human aspects of
the sport. Yet it is not too much to claim that "Haskett-Smith" opened the floodgates which the pioneers had slowly begun to move. for the lavishly illustrated volumes of the Abraham brothers and.
The relative nearness of the mountains to the climbers' homes had two major results. The volumes paved the way for
Jones' more detailed Climbing in the English Lake District.
publication of "Haskett-Smith'' underlined the fact that climbing in Britain now existed as a sport in its own right. In the first place. Thus
on British hills towards the end of the centuryon rocks at least.
in a foreign land
relatively close to the
important was the fact that climbers living so mountains could.
is sixties still existed.An
was. grim and challenging. however.
Many of the
brought about the growth of mountaineering in the fifties and Their presence.
Lord Conway of Allington.
as the pioneers had seen it. George Barnard. Coleman. Ruskin had been the most prominent of them but there had also been Elizah Walton. T.
ivith brief thanksgiving
Whatever Gods may be
lives for ever. well versed in the craft.
Just as the earlier mountaineers
process of getting
their instruments in the right place at the right the craft of travel above the creating only incidentally
in order that the exquisite mountain view.
rise up never. and in his pocket the money to indulge it. E. G.
jLJL nineteenth century there had been many for whom the beauty of the heights had been one of the main.Chapter Ten
CONWAY. if one of the
most elusive. From fear and hope set free
ridge viewed end-on with peculiar perspective. was to approach the Alps with what was basically an artist's
outlook. Yet it was not until Conway arrived upon the scene with the full flourish of a connoisseur's knowledge that an active mountaineer. and H. attractions offered by the Alps. THE VICTORIAN
From too much love of living. Willink. That even the weariest river
That dead men
to sea. the panorama seen. with eyes of wonder. should separately
or together form a part of each day's journeying. with all the minutiae of the sport at his finger-tips.
against such occasional and minor matters.
was lucky in
his position in life. His planning of an expedition to the most distant but ranges of the world was usually a question not of money of time. he came of age after the first great mountain problems had been solved.
art. into the
enviable position which he enjoyed throughout the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
his parents. devote himself to those in
history. the feeling that an important part of each expedition was in fact a search for some ne. virtually underwriting whatever loss might ensue. he
reached the top of Snowdon for the first time and found himself too small to add a stone to the cairn. of all the Victorian mountaineers.
artist. There were few amateurs of the period who could plan. with no offence.writings there comes the same impression.
and few things
so good. And. It was perhaps significant that when. This is not entirely true.
would have been nothing
man himself. as a child. of "my artist".
and it is easy to claim that the more obviously inherited features of his life were responsible for his success. D. as
it. true that he can have seen little financial profit from some
but he had a background to cushion
his larger expeditions.
which combined to ease William Lord Conway of Allington. A. played
their respective parts. topography. as Conway planned./ facet of the Alpine world which could be viewed with the
eyes not only of the climber but of the
to say that everything
turned. in the
There is nothing whole of Alpine
There were many
Martin Conway. who accompanied him to the Himalayas and illustrated a number of his books. He could write. to
employ another amateur the late Oscar Eckenstein as a professional guide on a lengthy journey to India. and when his plan for a whole series of climbing guides had been rejected by the Alpine Club he was quite prepared to embark on the task himself. Born in 1856. if
not to gold yet at least to a not unprofitable venture. he could. his cousin's butler did so
for him. MacCormick.
R. One of the most important.
He had made the ascent of the Breithorn in 1872. was the study of mountain history and topography that by the later seventies was beginning
draw poor Coolidge ever more surely and irretrievably into clutches. Conway.
most of the Victorian climbers. He goes neither carefully nor cautiously and can write with real relief of finding himself after some escapade as "suddenly in the world of living people with a future to look forward to as well And. Thereafter. life just as surely as they ruled that of the Alpine guide.omance
thank heaven. that the blue kills really are blue. climbing frequently either with George he had known as a boy at Repton. that what one beholds is in its essence actually as beautiful as from above it
so long as that delusion
lasts. he was tough. An almost
Conway most nearly approached the
medieval chivalry and other-worldliness appeared to govern his life.
lurks the Perfect Place. however. at the age of sixteen but it was only in 1876.
to the explainable facts
mountains were concerned he was the incurable and it is not too much to claim that they ruled his Romantic.
same mysterious charm
that belonged to that one [he wrote some after sixty years having first seen the view from the Malvern Beacon].
vistas. that his serious climbing started. always kept history in its place
as a servant. Almost every aspect of the mountain world interested him. he returned to
the Alps year after year. It is is "laden with the very spirit of romance".Martin
Elizabethan ideal of man". an aspect which appears surprising
to anyone surveying the whole man.
. His mind was the equal of his six-foot stature: his humility to the confidence with which he would tackle the most difficult or abstruse Alpine problem. when he first visited the Engadine.
"the cold air" which
a past to remember". an Irish doctor
or with Penhall
who was later killed on
the Wetterhorn. and it was natural that in the untrodden mountains of distant
ranges he should see
life. The delusion that somewhere. far off in the blue distance. Scriven.
century. and it was here that Conway. like many others. been climbed and recorded in some obscure publication. do you imagine such five years to whom the next in turn would up say people
book would be
Coolidge lived for such requests. and an offer to read the proofs.routes up previously climbed mountains were the order of the day. It was an error that Conway did not intend to repeat. suggestions. Conway records that "only once did we
venture on a
new way up Monte
Rosa. in fact.
six years his senior
was natural that he would ask advice from and the newly appointed editor of
to Coolidge. He was only twenty-four. at his own publishing cost if need be. As a result there appeared in 1881 the record of ascents around Zermatt. a "liberal
order of copies". for a single half-crown the Zermatt
fund of historical information. and
Coolidge. After two seasons at Zermatt with Scriven.
presented. He had been a member of the Alpine Club for
only three years.
vanguard of many hundreds between the two men during the next half-
I have recently been constructing a small pocket-book for mountaineers dealing with the Zermatt mountains [he said]. Do you think that such a commodity is wanted? and do you approve of the proposed flap-pocket-book form? It appears that the cost of
that 500 publication of 500 copies would be ^50. even such and
cross-checking might not be conclusive. By return there went to Conway a four-point list of comments.
the Alpine Journal. a handy volume which would save climbers from
similar errors in the future. in the flap-pocket-book form. He was then at
from the Alps
He was only half-certain of the need for the book.
V. which to our disgust
afterwards proved to be not new but only unrecorded". intent on providing. A hard day's work the among journals of the various European Alpine Clubs was often needed to ensure that a proposed "new" route had not. ran into difficulties. the
6d. that was done to make it necessary to buy both parts." The continuing enquiry into Alpine
was part of the nothing else. studies as a rising art connoisseur. he says in the pre-typewriter days. however. sub-routes. if
scholar's duty. I decided that they
book. Conway had proposed to the
Alpine Club that they should allow him to publish it "as the part of an A. although when these had finally gone the second-hand price of the book
the dozens of
whose pages one may today
find the faces
Coolidge.. "The easy approaches of ecstatic enthusiasm were passed".
When the price of it rose to a pound.
of the worldly-wise facade which
habitually erected. hundred upon hundred of them. The Club. and I had acquired a great deal of information.
probably with an eye on the republication of "Ball". Four years after publication. was only a beginning. more than 100 copies still remained in the hands of the publishers. Publication
explained in the preface. and demi-semi sub-routes. I decided to print a new edition [Conway later wrote].P. sales lagged. that ancestor of
little volumes in of the Alps crosshatched with routes. Even at 2s. Conway mulled over the idea with Coolidge and between them they built up the skeleton of the series on which they subsequently worked for years and which was published
nearly killed with piled-up details").C.. their writing sandwiched between work as a prospective M. preparing for its reissue. he explains. rejected the scheme.
did. That was issued in two parts. Moreover.
more accurately the reasons for his continuing interest in the guide. an East half and a West. "The region of serious investigation and study had now to be traversed. Guide to the High Alps". and a whole wealth of public and private duties ("This is my 40th letter today". part of a
traverse. as they had been willing climber any to pay a pound for a second-hand first edition.Pocket-Book.
extending over many of the years.
over-annotated volumes should be
into two. was all for claiming would break the publishing agreement and lay the way open for
. It was Conway who
had Coolidge's "honorarium" of five pounds per volume doubled. was the agreeable but cautious. in a letter marked "very particularly and extremely and altogether especially private". Fisher Unwin. Don't threaten him. which was to give the Alpine world the volumes
the line that could best be taken. first. It was Conway.
that such a move breathing blood and fire. for election to which he is a
candidate. story of the guides
pedantic but academically justified argument on Coolidge's part. case prospective troubles. it was a beautiful example. of and in of a longer volume than usual. Only a publisher
Conway and Coolidge's Climbers' Guides. but send him your and he'll take it all right.
warned and advised his collaborator. especially if you just send him the short Lepontine Vol. typical of the operation. Coolidge's reputation
might be had gone
before him. who smoothed out the ferocious argument that arose when Unwin proposed that one of Coolidge's unwieldy.
unreadability. Don't forewarn Kim. after suitable preparation by Conway. and general unmanageability of what prepared in the way of copy.
T. It's only a question of management. of sweet reasonableness on Conway's.
As a gentle exercise in the art of twisting the arm. if things get stiff at any time I will ask TFU to lunch at the Savile. anxious
that the first contact
between Unwin and
Coolidge should take place with
as possible. as well as worried
possible length. "the buffer in the matter" as he describes himself.
TFU down lightly [he advised].
Conway. let him have the first the of MS first and let that be in type part
volume or two we
before he sees the last part or knows how long it will be.
Coolidge. Say you have borrowed a few pages from that to add to the other as soon as he has put his
Freshfield was forced by circumstances to withdraw. The plan had been roughly formed in 1890 and had matured during the following year.
thought. The hundreds of letters dealing with each volume that passed between the
two men during
of genesis form an indication ofjust
how much work was involved. however. Conway had already begun
realise that while the mountains might satisfy demands.
uneasy with a
desire that not all the excitement
The outcome was his first great tour of a exploration. Freshfield and Mummery. and finally persuaded Coolidge to agree. By the early nineties. Syria. journey that was to take him and his companions higher than man had ever been before. Cyprus.
in Britain. Short travels in Egypt.
he wrote of another publishing proposal for mountain books. pointed out that Unwin could not do the economically impossible. justified Coolidge's idea of a grasping publisher "I doubt if the publication of these volumes will ever repay me".
the greatest glaciers of the world. that
of mountain-climbing were
so different as to preclude
after a friendly pilot-run in the Graians. while Conway and
Mummery realised. incidentally. and Turkey had awakened what even in later
he called the romance of the East. can have so little
Unwin. the Alps themselves suggested something better in the greater ranges beyond Europe. and performing their devotions in those monumental attitudes wherewith Islam has endowed the
world. and undiluted brain-
sweat was lavished on the Conway-Coolidge guides. he
dissatisfied. Few men."
An astonishing amount of time.legal action. were to accompany Conway.
I found it wonderful [he says] to be in the midst of a people not ashamed to acknowledge God by publicly praying wherever they happened to be at the hour of prayer.
Conway acted as mediator. "and yet I love the mountains so well that I am much interested
in them. it was at
the Karakoram. Greece.
first intended. deep into the heart of
As it was. He
He was by nature
was also a competent blacksmith. Mine is at the service of any
ruefully admitted later
chooses to apply for it. a good carpenter. for the expedition. succeeded in leading surveyor. It was a sensible decision and later events proved that a similar trial between Conway and Oscar Eckenstein.
Society. a smattering of Hindustani. As guide.
In his own more rough-hewn way he must have been uncommonly
Conway himself. he could speak English. a litde Spanish and (when in India). "he did not come with me beyond Nagar". who had been asked to join the party and who was to have come in a semi-professional
capacity might have proved equally useful.. on this journey to the Karakoram. difficulties arose with Eckenstein. MacCormick. and Lt. With him. a useful all round man with his hands. I never knew a man with
hospitable mind. Conway brought A. half a hundred other things. Conway had Matthias Zurbruggen of Macugnaga of whom he later wrote:
ambitious of attainment. but leading climber. and the British Association. that queer friend of Aleister
Crowley. D. and a most accomplished craftsman with axe and rope on the mountain-side. a point at which the
expedition had not truly begun. the artist of the expedition.. German. Italian. He was everlastingly picking up information of one kind and another.
and. . He desired to acquire of knowledge and every sort of skill that he could come by. the Royal Society. nor one better gifted
by nature with
of scholarship. all contributed to the costs of the expedition
The Royal Geographical
were considerably he commented greater than had been expected. as
says in his sole reference to Eckenstein in the
lengthy record of the expedition which he subsequently wrote. Ultimately. French." was considerable. and
. Bruce. "Experience". "had to be purchased.
one of the first men to believe that Everest could be climbed. in which
not only leader and organiser. and as General Bruce the leader of the first full-scale expedition to Everest in 1922.any likelihood of ideal co-operation on a major enterprise. on his return.
major reconnaissance of a great Asian
Freshfield did for the Caucasus. so near had he been to finding what he sought.carrying out the
glacier. He came back to
Britain perhaps more profoundly dissatisfied than ever. He reached the summit of the 23. It was an almost revolutionary idea. "played out"."
has been said.ooo-ft.
Romance almost became a reality Pie writes of his experiences in the great Biafo Valley]. touched as it were the skirts of their garments.
the intimate topography of a great knot of high mountains that had not before been seen by Europeans. Every day had to mount up to a new prospect for the morrow. but never quite. it the Himalaya to Europe. Every day had to see not only an accomplisha but vista whose ment. and certainly a good one in an age when the
Alps were. Pioneer Peak. Conway had more than once tried to press on to 216
Conway did for man who brought
surveyed the Hispar and Baltoro Glaciers. for many years. in the recurrent phrase.
the Himalaya". new. He won a knighthood for the work. Climbing
was something different and more spiritually adventurous than this for Conway. opening-out prospect had lain unrcvealed until the last possible moment. The gods were very near at hand. a violent and sometimes unpopular protagonist of the ex-centrist theory of Alpinism. of something lacking. and in 1894 he
did not believe that a
comfortably in an
Alpine hotel and then climb
the peaks within range.
grew minor dream which had occupied many of his thoughts throughout the long years of Alpine research with Coolidge his traverse of the "Alps from End to End'*.
Back in Britain he took up
the threads dropped
by the successful
unsatisfied. In pursuing it. The secret was almost disclosed. then the greatest height attained by man. Conway had been. He
throughout the months.
young man of
independent means. the veil never entirely
withdrawn. Yet even at the
culminating moments of these strenuous dream-days there
lingered the sense of incompleteness.
To this end. Wanderers who had not climbed at least one mountain and crossed one pass in
at least one-quarter
of the groups.
Conway had had
I have long thought [he wrote to Coolidge in 1893] that it would be a good thing to get a young member of the Club into training as an Alpine literature expert. an idea which he had once
band.. I don't know about what. solitary person. The area of each group
should be traversed from end to end. two of the Ghurkas who had been with him in the Himalayas. but I shall bring in my "Alpine Wanderers' Section of the A. newly married. and wants to do something..
be a life-member
had not dittoed in
others to cease to be
start.C. a club
propounded to Coolidge. and during which he was to climb twenty-one peaks and thirty-nine passes with Zurbruggen.
I am going to read the Xmas paper to A. I mean to make him a kind of sub-editor of the "Alpine Journal" [he was then in charge of the Journal].ooom." proposal. and no one
sd. A peak to be at least 3. a mere run into the edge of a group and out again must not count.5oom unless special reasons for admitting a lower one.
great ideas for Fitzgerald. I want the Alps divided into groups. a keen collector Edward
and reader of Alpine books. .
if properly trained
and might grow into a good editor
. and no man should be allowed to join the A.C. and a
Edward Fitzgerald who accompanied with his two guides. a pass 2. I think I have found the manHe is aged 22.
and see what you think of him. is a man of means and leisure. to receive and answer letters. I shall make him go and call on you at Oxford when you come
home and you will
then be able to
scholarly notions.a reluctant Alpine Club his idea of a small within a club. No life-member to be able to qualify with less than 6 years of
of them he passed during the journey he began in the summer of 1894. has done several years climbing.
divided the Alps into nearly thirty groups. The division into groups is not for scientific purposes but intended to spread a man's travels. [he said}. etc.
He is a very retiring.
He returned to Britain. the Nordend of Monte Rosa. Mont Blanc. and water.
plunge into the unknown. Perhaps set of sensations.
been a wise thing to consolidate. the unexpected
Spitzbergen might provide a different
pointed the way.
all his affairs. he might find the answer to those problems which he was still seeking. have
. he in which careful the and of for way feeling Alpine history. he was the author of four books which had brought him. if no great financial reward.
Conway's journey took him from the Col di Tenda western end of the Alps to Monte Viso. and might well have been expected to settle down in enjoyment of his reputation. unsuccessfully contested Bath. It might. the first ascent and passage
of what Conway gallantly named the Piz Ghurka and the Gurkha Pass. at least an enviable renown. and into Austria and the Gross Glockner and the
I was riding along the bank of the was misty and the water had been
Early one morning [he says]
. the Jungfrau. partially satisfied at least. with both hands.of his suggestion was typical of Conway's good nature. He was nearly forty.
he received a short contribution for
the Alpine Journal dealing with Spitzbergen. He had been knighted as a result
of his Himalayan journey he had a growing reputation as an art connoisseur. Perhaps it might even be a country where. a different
collection of landscapes. to let the unknown obscurity.
rest in its
have never sought to be wise [he wrote
later]. For most people there was little lustre or romance or opportunity about the place. Then the vague ideas were
crystallised. to get away from everyday and go forth as student or adventurer into subjects or regions where it seems to me at the moment that the unattained
but always to round of
attainable. in close contact with land. sea. the
unexperienced might be
He dropped it
For Fitzgerald. He
continued to think of Spitzbergen. his friends must have felt.
was a great opportunity. Conway was not that sort of man.
Lord Conway of Allington
trying to exhort his readers up into
Reading Conway one has the impression of a all that he saw and translating the vision. were the hills of Edge Island. leaning against a gale till all the nearer hills and up Up were disclosed.
Spitsbergen. At that
the fates decided for
expeditions carried out in
1896 and 1897. and
the remotest of presently purple. however. on both he added immeasurably to the knowledge of a virtually unknown and unmapped country one-third the size
of the whole British Isles. to my friends in camp. into such a form that all other men might
the mountains. he evinced no wish to convert. too. In one important way.frozen over.
There is his description of an evening when the of Spitzbergen was still in the balance. Aghard Bay just beyond the glacier was and dotted over with speckles and streaks of sparkling in sunlight was water ice. perhaps.
these. The blue. he differed from most of the
other climbers of his period. I went.
them ablaze with yellow light. When lo! the eastern sea with Edge Island rising out of it and the iceI yelled down pack stretching away to a remote and clear horizon. and he had an enthusiasm for all that he did that bubbled over into his writing. on a grander scale. I rose above the ice-wall which proved to be the side of the snout of a at last I could look over it and beyond great glacier [he says]. He was not. then climbed higher and higher and saw to even greater distances. might arctic visions fashion themselves.
. he had a unique facility for taking descriptive writing to the nearest possible fringe of the purple patch. He did more than add to knowledge. Conway had the facility for recording and interpreting
so that it was readily understandable to the nonmind. domes of snow from which the big glacier
V. almost by accident. Thus.
the second he
the pioneer crossing of first ascent of a number
it. blue. like most of them.
Climbing the hill above camp the moment it was pitched.
The sheet of ice was broken up and the sun was penetrating the mist and glittering on the ice. The tender evanescent beauty of the scene took sudden possession of me.
view not merely worth seeing. it it is typical of Conway. if I were known to have accomplished in a week that was supposed to have taken Fitzgerald's party several months.
halted. on a long. he
Matthias using. Conway reached the final after infinite trouble.
the master. young the mountain the on had himselfbeen previous year while Conway
Zurbruggen. that of be harmful for the prestige book. When. Conway
returned to Britain early in 1899 and
years later took
summer he was
off again. incidentally.
than most incidents. and not a little danger.
book had not been published
time of my ascent
and I believe correctly.
The limb of a rainbow was standing upon the ice. That turned he which to almost of seems. the type of
gerald. an expert on half a dozen aspects of the island
a specimen of prose
history. I thought.
The account of what happened on Aconcagua shows. rambling journey. Fitzof whom man Conway had had great hopes. for he had become.descended. wandering almost disconof the Divine" as he called his last tentedly. rather more expensive tban usual. labour. maybe "in search
book. his hand. during which he made the first ascent of Illimani and an ascent of Aconcagua.
was only later that Conway learned that Fitzgerald. it was soon shown. that it would [he explained later]. but well worth having
see. this time to South
America. everything he did turn his hand to innumerable subjects is shown by the record after his return from Spitzbergen. the
man that Conway was. to have believed was and former generally guide Conway's reached the top. who had apparently had not taken his training seriously enough. just at the point of issue. therefore.
From Aconcagua. one must imagine. broken down on the upper slopes of the mountain and had
ascent to be
travelled south to Tierra del Fuego.
large a fraction
of life over one or the next that is the greatest field of
must not spend too
will escape us.
Each book of
that in turn
we open we must one
daughter. was the
Here. the experiences of the mountains had proved that there were. he was to become President of the Alpine Club and of the Ligue pour la Conservation de la Suisse which pittoresque fought the Matterhorn railway scheme. Conway had gone to the mountains for the same reason that most other Victorian climbers had.his official farewell to
mountaineering by ascending the Breithorn was her first climb. He had gone to discover some indication that man was something more than the six-foot body that contained
him. as it had been his some twenty-nine years earlier. He was to become an
He was just forty-seven.
For Conway. the mountaineering past. There was a certain formalised. probing more deeply. Yet after the age of forty-seven his climbs were those on a few holiday peaks. and
new methods of
as for so
many of his
companions. to discover whether or not he formed an essential part of an understandable universe. and when his death came in 1937 he was the last
survivor of the heroic age.
Conway was to fill illustrious positions in the Royal GeographiSociety.
many fields of knowledge
all. the mountains had performed their function. and Freshfield. to a lesser or greater
degree. For all of us there are many kinds ofjoy as yet unexperienced. they had served the purpose for which he believed them to exist. almost artificial ending to his association with active mountaineering.
gone to them.
they were. seeking more carefully. only The explanation is more simple than one might at first imagine. for
V. For Conway. He outlived Coolidge. after
scientists. which we shall be called from halfread. a link with. than some of the others. All save the last. born before the formation of the Alpine Club.
real glory. that. half pilgrims. they
stride into the darkness with a confidence found in the Alps. half conquerors.
. that they yet might find some all-embracing belief that
hoping had eluded both them and the age through which they had
120 Aiguille d'Argentiere. 218
Ancien Passage. 165-166. 162 Baillie-Grohman. Matthew. 164. 53
Ames. 175 Ararat. 163.. Christian. 164. Henry. An. 146. 176
. 98. 167. 52. 157. 26. Herr. 166. 137. 212. 141-142. 47 Aiguille Verte. 46. 68. 26. son of Tschingel. 91. 105. 194 Alphubel. 113. 122
Arves. 148. 197. 27. 46. 73 Albert. Cima di.
193. 203 Alpine history. 26. 203
John. 115. 89. 195
Argentiere. Lady. 212. 121. The. Henriette d'. 76. 64-65. 168. 168. 38. 188 Bel Alp. 174-175 Ankogel. 23. 139. Prince (Duke of Connaught). 126. 134-137. 171. 217. Mont Blanc. 83. 126. 130
Bavaria. 75. 58. 168. 203
Arnold. 21. 72. 54
Austria. 93. Auguste. E. 156 Balmoral. 48. 71. 188. 39. E. 42. 48. 206 Mrs. John. 93.. 55. 147
"Avalanche. C. 156.
Aconcagua. 95. Aiguille Armenia. 175
Baumgartner. 120 Alpine Guide. 121
Ball. 54. 91. 182. 98. A.203. 184 Col des. 67. 203.. no. 218
AUalin Pass. 162. Coolidge's manservant. Melchior. 216 Barford. 108 Aletschhorn. 162-163. 168. 16. 119
Alpine Journal. 63. 38. 188 Atkinson. 96-97. 173
Baedeker. Aiguilles d*. 83 Arolla. Prince. 14
129. 129 Ailefroide. 128. 6 Register. 120. 167
Young". 32 Baltoro Glacier.
Members. 171. 168-171. 184 Col des. Col des. 83-84 Auldjo.
211. 191. Q. 27. 25. 163. 98.
"Aimer's Leap". 37. 95. 73
Barnard. 31. J.
L. 163 Ainslie. 16. 38. 66. 37. 223 Committee. 105. 54. 124. 96. 95. The. 113. 45
and History. Mount. 171 Alp Lusgen.
Aletsch Glacier. 144 Alpenstocks. 23. 21. 67.
Aghard Bay. 47. 164. 6 1 Alpiglen. 158. Charles. 139. 130
Aiguille du Moine. 38. II Bello. 15 Andes. 151. 67
Alpine Studies. O. 158 Atkinson.
"Christian. 130. 148-
151. 89. 204. 62. 207..
168. 112. 177. Johann Joseph. 46. 162 Alpine Club.
24. 154 Ball. Val. George. 194 Bentinck. 48. 129 Ascent of Mont Blanc.INDEX
heavy type denote
the figure numbers of the illustrations
brothers. 24. 140. 121. 127 Ben Nevis. 217. 157 Aiguilles de la Sausse.
in 1864. 183 Aiguille de Trelatete. 194. 141-142. 30. 53. 133." 39 Avalanches. 164. 116. 119. 72. 77. 31 Artists. 36. 151-152. 115. 109. 40. 74
134. 42. The. 61 All the Year Round. 64-65. io<5. 130 Aiguilles d'Arves. 156. 95~98. 124. 107-108.
Balmat. Albert. 115 Aosta. 24. 208 Alpine huts. 61 Alfred. Thomas. 47 Arthur. 222 Adams-ReiUy. 69 Aimer. 129 Aiguille de Biormassay. 122. Prince Consort. 99. 24. 83
Alpine Dining Club. 151. 202 Angeville. 20
Bennen. 81. 181. 42. 44. Louis. 69-70. 2l8
Beddgelert. 78-90. 23. 1 06
Michael. 141. 70. 50. 115. 221 Agnostic's Apology. 58. no-iii Anderegg.
90. 151. Wilfrid Scawen. 119. Yeats. 41 Brianfon. 75-76. 134
Col de la Pilatte. 74. F. 195. 176 Coleman. 110-121. Marc-Theodore. 75
Cader Idris. 215
Brockedon. 55. 40
Cairngorms. 24. 163. 43
British Association. 21. 44* 58.
161. 188 Climbers' Club.
71. 172 Bohren. 27. 194
of. 163. Glacier des.
47. 31 Brenva Ridge. 19 Browne. Joseph. Lt. 19
Brown. John Henry. 164. 57. 175. 128 Carrington. 48
Chamonix. 126. William.
Jean-Antoine. 6 1 Castelnau. 62. Mont. 23. 128. 172 Chamberlain. 87. 155.
Mrs. 181.. 44.
Connaught. 72 Bonney. Sir Richard. Mrs. 18. 9^-94. 25-26
Bourcet. 152. 203 Climbing in the English Lake District. in Col de Voza. 19. Fratilein. 140. 223
Bremble. Jean. 115. 206
Colgrove. 202 Chronicles of St. Meta. 208.
Bernina Alps. 42. I55-I58. Sir David. 183
Cambridge University. see also Rocky Mountains Capel Curig. 130. 175. 37. 73. Bernard. 194 Beverlcy. 130. 114. 121
di Jazzi. Charles. Peter.
39. 155 Bosses du Dromadaire.
106. 48. 38. 64. 120 ascent by A. Frederick. 129. 92.. 165 Cliffe. 19. 194 Bieuil. La.
Felicite". 115 Blanc. 27. Mont. 16. 188 Cobbler Club. Wethered). 89. 162 Buet. 216
Bietschhorn. 21-22. Matterhorn. Duke
. Blumlisalphom. 146-149. 186 Col de la FauciUe. 65. 87
75. 162-165. 5*-53. 129 Col des Hirondelles. Mrs. 127. Mrs.. 133
<5l. A. 44. 35-36 Cima di Ball. 164 Brevoort. Aubrey le. 114.
Canadian Pacific Railway. 19
61. 162 Blunt.
175. 53 Biafo Valley. 106. see Le Blond. 127.
54. 23 Burton. 43. John.
5O. 89. 174-175. 167 Byron.. Oscar. A.
37. Hand's party. 119. 116
133. 43 Col du Sellar.
i8i. 108. 144.
52. Miss. 203-204 Climbing in the British Isles. 127. E. 129 Col deMiagc. 17. 216 Cawood. 43. 194
Breithorn. 151. 127. 73. 93
218. Bishop of Bristol.
26. 125. 67. 177. in Bisson. 95
Chimborazo.J. 43 Cairngorm Club. 109. 83 Bodleian Library. 174. 92. i<5i. T. 134
Bruce. 139 Jean-Jacques. 49 Blond. 204 Cnicht. 58-59. 90. 23. 31 ascent from St. 20. 49-50. 5<5. 156. 84. 129 Col des Aiguilles de la Sausse. 49. 84.
174. William. G. 137 Chalet Montana. 69. 184 Bernese Oberknd. 183 Birkbeck. 58 Bethesda. 27. 125. 126. 38. A.
5<5. 139 "Chimney". 155. 121 Col di Tenda. (later General). 188
71. 83 Butler.. Thomas George. 129 Breche de Roland. 148
Cirque de Gavarnie. 54 "Botherhead" (Rev.
140. 139 Canadian Rockies. Smith. 127. 218 Col du Gant.9
first ascent. 55. 152.
Campbell. 90. 184. 191 Breche de la Meije. H. 95. 75 Cenis. 46. 164 Bionnassay. 181. 74. John de. 19. 151 Bossons.
Climbing in Britain. 127.Brarde. Boileau de.. 128
Carrel. 175. Lord.
195 first guideless ascent. 43
tragedy of Dr. 148 Col du Lautaret.
41. Browning. 215 Brunner. 183 Caucasus. 16. 79. 71 Col des Aiguilles d'Arves. 70. 156 Bowring. 54. 164. 64. Gervais. 91. 137 Col du Says. 54
Charier. Aiguille de. 107 climbed by women. 115. 174. 194. 158. 69. 115.
165 Dolent. 58. 147. Julius. 184
Favret. 100-102. 30. 25 Doe Crag. 8
Ecuador. 43. 61. 164. 48. 139
Eckenstein. 207. Cirque de. 30. 208 Ennerdale Face.
64. 137 Dictionary of National Biography. 3<5-37. 71. 58. de
Diablerets. 130132 Dragons. 155. iio-m
Everest. 74. 54. 162-163 Dickens. 202 Dromadaire. 223
Mrs. 36. 130 Dolomites. David.
141-144. 61. 19. 25. Douglas.Conway. 20.
25. 164. Arthur.
Encyclopaedia Britannica. 181. 67. 193
Co well. see Castlenau. 142. 121. 77. I55-I5<5. 29. B.
W. 54. 201 Evans. 132.
40. 119. see Le Ge*ant. 123
Freshfield. 44. 128 Dent du Midi. 145. 47. 43 G6ant. 94.
58. 38. John.
Eagle's Nest. 71. 154.. 52. 163 Deep Ghyll. 40-48. 54
Edward. 58. Mont.
138. 69. 140. 25 General Strike. 164. 66. 162.55
Mont Blanc Exhibition. 92. 50 Gavarnie. Charles G. 151. 53. 214. 47
134. Sylvain-. 194
Gaiter Club. 213-214.28
Letter to his mother. 93. 129. 23 Corvatsch Pass. 95. Monte. 163
35. 79. 164. 197
Edward. 109. 26. 167.
Garrick Club. 27. 16 Franco-Prussian War. 84. 73 Crowley. Col du. 163
Conway and Coolidge's
Coolidge. 134. 217. Francois.
Evolena. 28. 64 Mrs. 183. 24. 148. 157-1^3. 94. James David.
112. Joan. 49. 182. 107 Fortunatus. 64. 148 Gemmi Pass. Michael. 48.
Mount. 31. 223.
113. 173 Elan Dam. 120
maps. Charles. 43. 113 De Bremble. 76
182. 95. 39 Couttet. 76. j Henriette d
Edinburgh Philosophical Journal. Henriette. 98. 41 Edinburgh University. 182. 174. Lord Francis. 51 Forbes. Michael. 181
Eiger.205. Clifton. C. John. Captain. 93
Couttet. G&nt. 163. John. 137. 212. 24. 151. 198 Fell-walkers. de Delia Disgrazia. 69. 186
"Game of Mont
and Rock Climbing Club. 54. 113.
thesis. 167 Engadine. 54
Egypt. 70. Bosses du. 106. Sir
75. 215 Croz. 47 Couttet. 129. Alphonse. 181
Faraday. 167 Dent d'H&ens. 20..
Island. 58. Cachat le. 134.. 105. William Martin. 61. 188-193. 130.
Saussure. 175 Dom. 145-173. 206-224. Aleister. 123. Dr. 17.. The. 146
Cyprus. 93 Davidson.
25. 214 Egyptian Hall. Boileau. 27. 115
Courmayeur. 141. 151
Davies. Ernest. 43. 102 Dauphine* Alps. 157. 92. 129. 154. Great Gable. 215 Ecrins. 31 De Castelnau. 211. 125. 197. 27 Dress Circle. 202 Journal of the. 198 Dogs. 5<>. 50. Oscar. 139 Edwardes. 24. 99. 208. 40-41 Edward VII.
Gust's Gully. too.
53. Napes Needle. 166-167. 217-218. 46. 185.
Climbers' Guides. 58. 196 Financial aspect of mountaineering. 166. 25. 26. 74. 119. 178 Ellerton. 89 Dent Blanche. formerly Prince of Wales. see Saussure. 222 Floyd. 216. 151
. A. 106. 214
Farrar. 50. Joseph Marie. Llewellyn.
la. 106. 62. 185.
Daudet. B. 93.
Frederick. 43. 57. 215
Cwm Glas. 183. 68.
Geologists. 22. 102 H&rens.. 157. 147. 182.
Gladstone. 76. W. 50 Joad. 186 Alpine Club. 194
guides. 74. 98 Guide to the Eastern Alps.
Innsbruck. 80-81. 105. 19. 47. Chamonix.
George. 214. 201-202.
Golden Age of mountaineering. 20 Hirondelles. 95. 105. 67. 51. 82 Hardy. 158. Hereford Brooke. 113. 62. 216. 96.. 119. John
Hill-wanderers. 148. 207 Inn conditions in Switzerland. 133
Jackson. Dent d'. 20. 16. 79. 123
Grahame. 49 Imboden. 178 Grimsel. 74.
74. 154 Gross Glockner. 125.
48. 217. 25. 63. 62.
113. 21. 183. 16
Guides. 188 Goitrous peasants. Lord. 67 Hardman. 72. 49. 81. 95. J. 126
Jazzi. 218 Gross-Nesthorn. 17. 98. 114-115
Library. Douglas. 16. 23. 45-47. 127-128. 21. 109 Hindu Kush. 57. 69. 99. 119
61. 151. 216. 98 Guide to the Western Alps. 70-71. 126. 98. 63. 96. 39.. P. 57. 181. 167. 130-132. 212-214 Guide-chef. 28. 113. 188
Himalayas. 198. 61. 187 Glyders. 20. 64. 149. Fentonjohn Anthony. 216
Hooker. 73-76. 19. 29-30. 43. The.
Girdlestone. 76. 64. 195. 162
Hornli. 168. 74-75. 195 Hawkins. 158. 77. 105. 164. 74 Highland Mountain Club. 130 Grand Paradis. 175. William. 218 HinchlifF. 46 Hours of Exercise in the Alps. 137. 108.
58. 26-27. 105 Grohman. 67-68. 44. 12 Lower. 43. 161. 115 Grove. 58 Grand Cornier. Frederic.
H9. 203204. 54. 204. Cranford. 20. 66. 105 Guide books.
Clarke. 168. Douglas. 52 "Hotel des Neuchatelois". 41
Hastings. Roman. 20. 167. 114. 93. 127
17. 130-132. 183 Hort. 115-119. 184 India.
87. 79. 93-94
niirnani. Mrs. Thomas. 137.
di. 41. 27. 155
Grindelwald Glacier. 68. Geoffrey. La. 88. 108
Hudson. Dr. 171. 68.
Gurnard's Head.. 58. 105. 107. F. 207. 39. 133
158. 44. 158. 50. 61
Grands Mulcts. Francis Vaughan. 114. 151. Baillie-. 55. Alpine. 42. 191. 5 Huts. 147.
222 London News. 129. 52. 66. 193 Great End. 196. 171
. 72. 44. 26. 24. 27
202-204. 47. 128 Grande Casse. 114 Grimsel Hospice. 46 Grindelwald.Geological Society. 59. 33
Japanese Alps.. 61 Grand tour. 107108. 201 Great St. 72. 217. 56. 58. 121 Hispar Glacier. 128 High Alps without Guides. 126. 105 Hornby. 139. 28 Guide to the Central Alps. 3 1
Grave. Glacier de Bossons. 194 Great Gable. 84 Jardin. 64. James. 158.
66. 69. 181. 197. G. Ellis. 197-201. 194 Guggi. Rev. 201 Ennerdale Face.. 167.
in. 129 Greenland. 221
Hamel. 23. 192-193. Col des. 45-47. 186
Hawkshaw. 59. Manchester. 46. 101 Grand Tournalin. William. 174. 94
Huxley. 91. 74. 54. 93 Gressoney. 31 Great Doup. Bernard Pass. 215. 82. 124. 69
Pass. 113. 125. 28 base for Wetterhorn. 124 Glaciers. 69.. 126. 42. 115. 196 Haskett-Smith. 17. 88-89. 168
Guideless mountaineering. 63* 68. 76. 144. 16. 126
H6tel des Londres. 105. 92
163. 94 Heidelberg. 139 Grenoble. 211. 95.
129 Modern Painters. 37. 106. 30-31. 47. Mont Cenis. Cachat. Chamonix. 39
Le Blond. 17. 26
16. 97. 163. A. 16. H3. 8990. 79-80. 154. 145. 89. 58.
Climbing of Great Britain. 58 Miage. 142. 194 Macugnaga. Mount. 45. 175. 54 "Mont Blanc Quadrille". 164. 29. William.
6l 62. 83. 75 Meije. 93 Marburg. 129
Languard Pass. 128. 129. 50. 92. 71. 102
Marjelensee. 38 Josias Simler et les Origines de I* Alpinisms jusqu'ou 1600. 53. 223 climbed from Breuil. 123-124. see Mallet. 186 Lochnagar. 27. 56. 53 Lepontine Alps. 109
76. 214. 208 "Man of Mont Blanc"
Glace. 76. Tryfaen. 153. 26.
123. Dent du 89 Milestone Buttress. see Viso. Emmeline. 168 Journal of the Fell and Rock Club
Man in the Moon. 182. 125 climbed from Zermatt. 119
Moel Hebog. Sir Arnold. 194
Pass. 21. 130. 109. see Delia Dis-
Monte Monte Moro Pass. 25. Smith). 146. 41. 23. 44. 34
9. see Cenis. Game of". 20. 201
187. 75. 201
17. The. 119. 75. 183 Lauener. 58.
58. Col du. Lunn. 89
Monchjoch. 178-181.. Aiguille du. 123-124. 126. 143. 113 Leaves from Journal of Our Life in the Highlands. Mrs. 38. 178-181. 105. 91. 207. 215 Macdonald. 156
Delia Disgrazia. 107. 79
lady's ascent. 114. Edward Shirley. John Attwood. 41. 26. 193. A. 74.Jones. 154. 153. 197. 113. 17. 43. 64 Mount Ararat. 62. 79 Charles Edward. 69 Monte Rosa. 187 Meije. Monte Monte Viso. Mont Mont Mallet. 71.
198. see Rosa. 47. 114. 25 Lewis-Lloyd. 80. Emmeline Lewis-. 140. 90 Lochgoilhead. see Dolent. W. 204. 215 Mount Keen.
97. 49-56. 52
Meyers. 195. Miss.
Mont Blanc. 193
81-82. of the Belgians. 48. Mont "Mont Blanc. Monte Moore. 182 guideless ascent. 54 "Mont Blanc Sideshow". 43. 195. 37. 162. 158. Villa. 29. 25.. 188
18 Meyer. Canon. 43
tragedy and first ascent. 108-109. 127.
161. 139. 138. 145.
Marmolata. 102.. 83 Lusgen Alp. see Bknc. 107. 188. 74 Mount Everest. 184 Ladies' Alpine Club. Reginald. 92. 129. 46. 109
Lusgen. 113. 191. Jun. Ukich. 195. 127. 162 Koecher. Mont Mont Pelvoux. 101. 79. 69. 182-184 guideless ascent. 140. 164. publishers. 130-137. 32 London University. Ulrica. 58 Leukerbad. 25. D. 78-80. in Midi. 57. 126
Longmans. 29 Llyn Gwynant. 92. 130 Monch. 42 Kennedy. 98. Monte. 113. 58. G.
130. 197. 89. 62. 114 Llanberis Pass. Breche de la. Maud.
Leopold I. 49 Maps. 19. 41
Leasowes. 115. 84-85. 108-109. 137. 24. 71. 69 Morshead. 198 Jungfrau. 193. 61. 188 Moine. 215 Kaufmarm. 73. 120. 79. 215
Mallet. 46. The. 120
Jura. see Pelvoux. 161. 218
grazia. Frederick. H6tel de. 128. 48. Mont
Langkofel. Mont Mont Dolent. 186
Jungfraujoch. O. 74. 43. 90 Lloyd. 74-75
La Grave. 29 Lightfoot. 43 Mathews. 89. 115
Longman. 125-126. 129. 30.. 76-77. Benjamin St. 87-88. 201-202. H4. 112. Aubrey. 93 William. Col de. 47
Morning Pass. 72 Keen. 94 Londres. 184-185 Le G6ant. 80. 129 Lake District. 64. 73. 24. 157
La B6rarde. 115. 72 Lautaret.
Rhone Valley. 75. 20. 89. The. Sir Henry. 127 Parson's Nose.
Photography. T. 198. 92. 49 Peel.
27. 49. 123 Peasants ofChamouni. 163
Playground of Europe.
5<5. 66. 215. 162
Bernard dogs. 50. 202. 120 St. 90 Ruskin. 114-115
Pigeon. 95 Pelvoux. 64 Rhone Glacier. 67. 106. no Perthshire Mountain Club. 92. 163 Pen-y-Gwryd. The". 61. 113. 197 Peaks. John. 196-197. 30-40. 43 Pennine Alps. 87 Needle.
83. 41. 218 Piz Languard. 26. 47 Riffelhorn. 100 Railways in Switzerland. 67.. 47. 38 St. 61. 105
St. 116 Route Napol6on. 99. 123. A. 76. Mont. 20. 120. 114. Kathleen. 176 Rigi. Jean-Jacques. John Wilson. 19. Boucher de. 171
Mnmm. William Edward. 178. 186-205 Mountaineering in 1861. 93. 188
"Patriarch of the Pillarites"
(J. 187 Porters.
Nagar. 51. 129.
Romanche Valley. 43. 58. 24. 77. 48. 75.
187. 49. 126 National Education League. John. 95
Sala. 45. 5 Owen.
Rimpfischhorn. 17. 196. A. 62. "Rope Wall". 139. 63. 128. 5 1
134. Passes and Glaciers. 183-184 Rirlelberg. 84. 218
The Rev. 77 Mountaineering technique. 73. 175.
Nicholas Valley. Charles. 183 Plan des ties. 75. Great. 167. 215 Nantgwyllt. 6r Robinson. 194
Mountaineering clothes. 106
North Wales. 127.
Gully. 194. 201
Paradis. Napes. Ellen. 155 "Overland Mail. 192-193. 96. Mary. 31 St. 43 Roland. 152 Mountaineering in Britain. I93> 198 Paillon. 216 Piz Corvatsch. 84-87. 184 Pall Mall Gazette. 95. 106 Rousseau. 129 Royal Geographical Society. 91. 62. Jean de Maurienne. 42. 198-201. 202
Napes Needle. 223 Royal Institution. Gervais. Sir Robert. 129
Philips. 58. 198-201. Col de la. 46
Life. Hotel des". 191 Oxford Alpine Club. 202
Old Weisthor. Breche de. 185 Pilatte. 121
214-215 Murray. 164 Perthes. 65. 74. 49
Pyrenees. 168 Mymbyr Lakes. 193.
Pioneer Peak. 184. 194.
20. 87. 84. The. 100 Rocky Mountains. 167. Maria. 99. 181.
Regrets of a Mountaineer. 223
Ramsay. 94. 176-177 equipment. Charles and Lawrence. 198
Napoleon. 211. 20.
97-98. 186 Perthshire Society of Natural History. 30. 63. Monte. see Canadian Rockies Rodier. L. Michael in the Arc Valley. 193. 215 Rucksack Club. 36 Royal Society. 128. 61. 141. 19. 191. 129
"Neuchatelois. 54 Bernard Pass. 44. 175. 76. 39 Roche Melon. 109 Richardson. 132
Pilkington. 62. 63.
Pelmo. 106. 202 Napes Ridges. 201-202
Ponsonby. 114. Joseph. 197. 2 Ruwenzori Mountains. 71
Sackville-West. 57. 90. 114. 64. A. 201 Pioneer in the High Alps. 44. 181
W. 188. Harry. 206. 75. 30. 75. 95. 52-53
guideless ascent. 183 Piz Ghurka. 89. 163
Packe. 147. Francis. 105. 130 Prior's Guide. 108 Outline Sketches in the High Alps of 1
phine . 115.Mountaineering. 13 Pillar Rock.
17.. 121. 211 Seatree..
Madame. 99-100.. 73 Thun. 125. 68. 95. 37 Society of Welsh Rabbits. 69. 39 Summer Months among
Alps. 139.Saturday Review. de. 94. 29. 128. 137. 41. 202 Scottish Mountaineering Club. 37. 138
Tschingel Pass. Albert. 194. Frank. 197. 116-121. 143. 88. 141-142.
W. 194. 47
Sty Head. 94. 218-222 Spooner. 195. 42. 43 Se"miond. 127. George. 31. 105 Scheuchzer. 36 Siddons. 126. 148 Straton. 47. $4. 134
Syria. 64. 76 Trelate'te. 36. 9i. 102. 36. Fisher. 26-27
Skye. 194. 184. 31. 72
Simplon. 69 approach to mountaineering. 77. Dr. 99. 139 Travels among the Alps of Savoy..
Peter (young). 32. 23. 58. 101-109. 69 Tuckett. 99-ioo.
Solly. 124. 115
Valgaudemar. 161-162 Tlioughts on Being. 194 Sausse. Haskett-. 202
Godfrey Allan. 222
Tilman. Col du. 89
90. 201. I5 * 6
V6non Valley. 91. 94
Snowdon. 194. 156
Horseshoe. 113. T. 165. . 16. 82 Trou de Toro. 172 Swiss mountaineers. 157-163. 95
di. 62. Archer-. 196. 181
21. 155. 131
Spitzbergen. 52. 36 Time and Chance. 53 Strahlegg Pass. 33. 195. 61
Trollope. 40. 74. 142. The. 61. 35. 19. 167
Slade. 131. I55~I5<5. 23. Scotland. 45. 17. 178-181. Aiguille de.
Sylvain-Couttet. H. 155 Scriven. 198 Scheidcgg. 91. 29. 73. 36. 129 Tschingel. 45
Sixt Valley. 43 Vallouise. 27 Schreckhorn.
Stogdon. 26. 43. 98101. 25
Val Anzasca. 134. 208. 6 1 Swiss Travel and Swiss Guide-Books. 44. 75. 58. 43 Scawfell Pinnacle. . 38. 188. 100. 27 Sesiajoch. 193-194. Mrs. 41 Silberhorn. John. 162 Silver Age of mountaineering. 195 Thorington. The. Prof. W. 73 Sellar. Francis Fox. 133. 214
Stelvio. J. 134. 39 Sebastopol. 195
University students. 91-109. 21. Anthony. 167
Switzerland. 115. 35 Smith. 164.
P. 148 Thomson. . 76.
Turkey. 74. 94. 23. 125. 186-187
"Soaped pole" jibe. 71. 171. Alpine. 44 Valparaiso. 71. Josias. 25.
128. 133. 48. 27-28. i<58
Tenda. 36. 125. 162. 181-182
la. 195. 44. 27
brothers. 24. 24. 92. 29. The. 130
Spirit of Travel. 194 Turin. 195. 36. 194. 42. John. 167. 175 Shipton. Miss. 141. 77
Superstitions. 48. 43
Smith. 130. 19
Travels amongst the Great Andes. 218 The"odule Pass. 50 Tierra del Fuego. 137. 197-201. Peter
Scrambles amongst the Alps. 49~5 <5 > I0 7
188. 186. Monroe. 133.
Smythe. 84-87. 66 Unteraar Glacier. 102
Taugwalder. 162 Little. 195. 187. 177 Schwartzthor. 193 Schwareubach. 120. 105 Unwin. 186
Tartarin on the Alps. 162
Simond. 25 Tiarraz. 84 Spain. Cecil. 90. 138. 151-1 5 2 ^54.
Scientists. Studer. 108. 3$. 213-214
Swiss Alpine Club. M.
Story of Mont Blanc. 20. 45. George. Leslie. 30. Eric. 40. Frederick. 40-48. 19. 222
Torrenthom. 112. 58. 151. no
Times.. Auguste. Col des Aiguilles de
"4. 61. 124. 163. 206
Wanderings among the High Alps. 27. 197. 139
76. 141 Yorkshire Ramblers' Club. 162. H. 177-178. 176. 178 Queen.
Zurbruggen. 134. 102. 68. 133. 109. 20. 61. 174. 68 Willink. 71
75. 17. 19.
123. 215. 25. 188.. 181.
119. 126. 164. 218 Voza. Old. afterwards
30. 105. 112. 69. 61. 88. 162.
in. Prince of. 106. 77.
Victor-Emmanuel. 43. 142. 53. 164. 25-26 Wetterhorn. 202. 58. 115
Young. 90. 217. 77. 54. 108 "Wengern Alp. 30. Oscar.
Mrs. 153-154. Bishop of Oxford. 38. 194. 109 Viso. 24. 80. 144. 123-124. 146. 138. 19. 108. 68. 71-72. 119
. 182 Walton. Francis. 3. 211. 122-144. 89. 84-85. Col de. 163
Weisthor. 48. 129 Wilberforce. 55. 17.
West. 129. 162. 94. 47. 192
Zermatt. 89. Rev. 48. 187
Wastdale Head. 192
brothers. 121. 45. 182 Horace..
36. G. Matthias. 40 Weisshorn. 203. 140. Sir Alfred.
Whymper. 74. 111-112. 61. 151. 102
by Wills. Geoffrey Winthrop.
55. Elizah.. 94. 61.
Viescherjoch. 128-129 Wilde. 68-73. 107-108. 20. 194 Lucy. 172. 58.
Walker. 74. 62. 89. 58. Edward.
There's a Will There's a
Way. 120 Villa Lusgen. 130-137
43. 161. 211-212 Zinal Rothhorn.
Zermatt Pocket Book. 69. 25. 53. 73. 175 Women mountaineers. 92. 154. 184.
Matterhorn tragedy. 88. William Edward Sackville-. 222
Zurich. 51 Westmorland. Kate. Monte. 90. 195.
VII. 206 Wills. 176 Zug.
Year-book of the Swiss Alpine Club. 25. 187. 57. 64. 95. see also "Wales.