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New for 2017 Services Calendar History Chamonix 1865 Layout of valley

A CELEBRATION OF THE GOLDEN AGE OF MOUNTAINEERING AND ITS HERITAGE TODAY


The Golden Age of mountaineering reached its climax in 1865 and was immortalized by 65 first ascents across the Alps from Mont-Blanc to the Dolomites.

Seven first ascents were made in the Mont-Blanc Massif, and not least the Grandes Jorasses, the Aiguille Verte and the remarkable Brenva spur which opened a new and difficult route on Mont-Blanc, heralding the beginning of a new climbing era.

From June to September 2015, the Chamonix Mont-Blanc Valley honoured the guides, alpinists and photo- graphers of the Golden Age through a rich programme of exhibitions, events and excursions.

  Wolf Inc

ALPINISM AND GUIDECRAFT


During the Golden Age of Alpinism, mountaineers and their guides travelled the length and breadth of the Alps, covering immense distances on foot, crossing new passes and conquering virgin summits. Then, as now, Chamonix was a vibrant base camp! Many lifelong bonds developed between the pioneers and their outstanding guides : Alfred Wills and Auguste Balmat, Edward Whymper and Michel Croz, Douglas Freshfield and François Devouassoud, Adolphus Moore and Jakob Anderegg…. This celebration is as much about friendship as endeavour.


MICHEL CROZ: 1830-1865


In 1859, Michel Croz was in the very front rank of guides then available for difficult mountain excursions. His list of first ascents was most impressive and his campaigns with Whymper in 1864 and 1865, prior to the terrible accident on the Matterhorn remain in the annals of mountaineering. Whymper said of Croz “Places where you and I would toil and sweat and yet be freezing cold, were bagatelles to him and it was only when he got above the range of ordinary mortals, and was required to employ his magnificent strength and to draw upon his unsurpassed knowledge of ice and snow, that he could be said to be really and truly happy”.

 

EDWARD WHYMPER: 1840-1911


In 1860, at the age of 20, Whymper’s skill as an engraver won him a commission to visit the Alps, where he met illustrious members of the Alpine Club and was inspired by their tales. Whymper is best known for his will to conquer the Matterhorn, perhaps considered as the greatest prize of the Golden Age. His memoir, “Scrambles Amongst the Alps” is regarded as one of the classics of climbing history. Whymper’s “scrambles” in South America and Greenland are lesser known, but he never ceased exploring. His sketches, engravings and later photography made a tremendous contribution to mountain art and knowledge. Whymper died in Chamonix in 1911.

  Ecole Italienne Pizzaioli

THE MATTERHORN ACCIDENT


On 14th July 1865, victory on the much coveted Matterhorn rapidly turned to tragedy with the terrible accident that marked the end of a heroic and carefree period. Three Englishmen and Chamonix guide Michel Croz lost their lives when the rope broke on the descent. The Matterhorn tragedy provoked public outcry at the perceived folly of mountaineering and led to calls for it to be banned. Yet the disaster also increased interest in the new sport!

  Ecole Italienne Pizzaioli

THE ALPINE CLUB


From the 1850’s, a small elite of British mountaineering enthusiasts, spent their summer holidays “scrambling in the Alps”! The names of E.S. Kennedy, John Ball, Leslie Stephen, Judge A Wills, W Mathews, Tyndall and Tuckett are closely associated with this period. In 1857 they founded the World’s first Alpine Club. Members were encouraged to describe their climbs and to immortalise alpine landscapes. Today, the Alpine Club Library possesses the most comprehensive collection of mountaineering literature and a remarkable collection of paintings, engravings and photographs.

 

  Epicerie du Midi





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