Triumph and Tragedy – The Life of Edward Whymper

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The th anniversary of that first ascent will be the focus of various events in Zermatt this summer. It takes place from 9 July to 29 August in an open-air theatre up at metres; tickets can be booked online here. Cheers, Donald. Name required. Email required.

Remembering the Triumph and Tragedy Atop the Matterhorn

Leave this field empty. And eating lots of chocolate. The result was Swiss Watching, the book that became a bestseller.


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  • Designed by Global Solutions Inc. Edward Whymper, the social climber April 27, , 2 Comments He was the man who conquered the Matterhorn, and lived to tell the tale. Whymper plaque in Zermatt. Related Posts. In and , Edward Whymper organised expeditions to Greenland where he explored the interior and the coastline.

    Early Alpine visits

    In he visited Ecuador and completed a first ascent of Chimborazo 6,m and slept on the active crater rim of Cotopaxi 5,m. It was during his later expeditions that Whymper began carrying-out scientific investigations such as studying the effects of altitude upon humans and collecting flora, fauna and fossil specimens. He wrote about his climbing and mountain discoveries and became a notable public speaker.

    Severed rope recalls Matterhorn's first ascent - The Local

    His most famous book is the classic Scrambles Amongst the Alps. Edward continued to visit the Alps for more leisurely excursions in his later years. He married when he was 66 to a woman called Edith, who was just It soon became an unhappy union and only lasted four years; they had one daughter, Ethel.

    Edward Whymper will be remembered for his mountaineering skills, endurance and resourcefulness while exploring and climbing during these pioneering times in the Alps and beyond.

    Testament to his mountaineering talent are his many successful Alpine and South American first ascents. His determination that led to the Matterhorn being climbed for the first time and the tragedy that followed has become climbing folklore; that ascent was the final piece in the jigsaw of climbing all of the major Alpine peaks, ending the period known as the Golden Age of Mountaineering. On hearing the cries of the falling men, Whymper and his two local guides had just an instant to brace themselves before the force of the accident broke the rope tying them to the falling climbers.

    They passed from our sight uninjured, disappeared one by one, and fell from precipice to precipice. The Matterhorn accident was one of the deadliest mountaineering catastrophes of the 19th century, sparking a wide debate about mountaineering, masculinity and empire. Whymper was the unlikely leader of a climbing team that had been formed only days earlier.

    This engraver from south London had laid siege to the Matterhorn since , climbing on its southern Italian ridges by himself or with guides. Whymper felt betrayed. By chance, though, he met Lord Francis Douglas, the amiable, year-old younger brother of the Marquess of Queensberry. He was travelling with Douglas Hadow, an year-old climbing novice, and Michel Croz, a well-known French guide who had previously climbed with Whymper. Since the mids, many an Alpine summit had felt the scrape of British hobnailed boots attempting first ascents, but the 4,metre 14,ft Matterhorn remained unconquered.

    The race to be first was on. Unexpectedly, the team discovered that the Swiss slopes formed a natural staircase up which Whymper clambered with mounting excitement.

    Triumph & Tragedy - Part 1

    Beneath the highest pinnacle, Whymper unroped himself and raced to the top. Had they beaten the Italians? The snow was untrodden.

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    Laughing with joy, the climbers spotted the Italians below, mere dots on the ridge. There was no mistake about it this time. The Italians turned and fled. At the summit, Croz tied his shirt to a tent-pole, creating an impromptu flag visible from all directions.

    Whymper sketched the panoramic view and chipped off a piece of rock as a souvenir. After building a pile of stones and leaving their names in a bottle, the group began the descent, led by Croz.

    Severed rope recalls Matterhorn's first ascent

    At a crucial moment, though, Hadow slipped and knocked him over, and Hudson and Douglas were yanked off their feet. From the moment the rope broke, it was impossible to save those below. Whymper and the two Taugwalders made the sorrowful descent to Zermatt, from where rescuers left to search for survivors.