IntroductionMost mountaineers have climbed once or more in their life with a mountain guide, as I have. That is why I thought it might be interesting to have a look at how this –wonderful- profession arose and how it has evolved. When someone is climbing together with a mountain guide it’s not really something were thinking of, but still it might be interesting to know who these first mountain guides were, and how mountain guiding has evolved.
As a history student I made my master dissertation about mountaineering history in the nineteenth century in the Western Alps (about the often paradoxical relationships between mountain guides and (British) mountaineers). That’s why this little bit of history only handles the history of mountain guiding in the nineteenth century (a very interesting century though) and in the Western Alps, as I’m not very familiar with the twentieth century (still working on it).
I hope it’s interesting.
A bit of history can never be bad!
If somebody has some nice old photo's in a way related to this theme, feel free to attach! Thanks.
Part I: In the beginning… (...-1821)For centuries people who needed to cross the Alps hired local people (mostly peasants) to lead them safely through this dangerous environment. Most of the time, from the early times in history till far in the 19th century, most people tried to avoid the Alps (and mountain ranges in general). Which isn’t really a surprise as many believed these mountains were inhabited by dragons and other foul creatures.
Only when it was really necessary to cross the mountains (for trade or pilgrimage) people would do this. That most people where really scared of travelling in or through the Alps can be proved by the fact that there are only very few examples of men who traveled in or through the Alps just for their pleasure, just because they liked it. One of the first men to do so was the Italian humanist Petrarca, who climbed the Mont Ventoux in the Provence (southern France) in 1336. After Petrarca some others, like Leonardo Da Vinci (15th century) or Konrad Gessner (16th century) did the same. But men like them were very rare.
As most people tried to avoid the mountains, they remained completely unknown. The Alps in the Middle Ages and the early Modern Times remained terra incongnita. This ignorance of most people had an important consequence for those who occasionally did need to cross the Alps. Because they weren’t acquainted with an environment like that they had to hire local people in order to travel safely through the mountains. Local people who did know something of the mountains where, after all, they lived in. It has to be said that these local peasants didn’t really know anything of these mountains. They only knew something about the lower mountains, the places where they came with their herds (of cows or sheeps) or where they needed to be for their profession as a lumberjack or a hunter, etc. But that wasn’t a real problem as they only needed to guide -very occasionally- people across more or less known mountain passes.
From the middle of the eighteenth century, and specially from the end of the eighteenth century, more and more people started to find their way to the Alps (in this period mostly to Chamonix). Times started to change these days. Mostly thanks to the Enlightenment more and more people changed their point of views towards the mountains. From a complete aversion to a more positive point of view. More people started to realise that the mountains weren’t just a foul and dangerous place, inhabited by dragons and demons, but that the mountains were a place of exquisite beauty, where they could come in contact with, what was called, the sublime. It was thanks to some great poets, painters and philosophers like Lord Byron, Caspar David Friedrich or Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and with them many others, that more people started to like the mountains (not necesarely for climbing them, more for just being in the mountains). It was in this time that many wealthy people, from the upper classes, did their Grand Tour, in which they traveled to the most important places of Europe, like Rome, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Paris, Geneva,… and often some Flemish, Dutch or Northern German cities. At the end of the eighteenth century this itinerary changed however slightly as the Alps (specially Chamonix) became an important part of this Grand Tour. Not only as a part of this Grand Tour, but also for other people, the Alps became a very interesting region.
Apart from these poets, philospherns and painters, scientist played an evenly important role in stimulating mountain tourism. Scientists like Bénédicte de Saussure, Louis Agassiz, James Forbes, Bernard Studer or John Tyndall. In the first place because the scientists themselves whent to the mountains, and occasionally climbing them. But secondly, because thanks to their research (on glaciology, cartography, botanica, and other mountain related scientific subjects) the Alps became better known to all. The Alps lost gradually their status of Terra Incognita.
Most people who came to Chamonix (or to other mountain villages, although that was still very rare in this period) wanted to have a look at the mighty glaciers and the immens mountain scenery, specially the enormous Mont Blanc. However, as in earlier times these people weren’t acquainted at all with hiking in the mountains, let alone hiking on a glacier. To do so, as, for example, merchants did earlier, they started to hire local peasants to guide them towards the mountains and glaciers, and sometimes even on them. It is here that the origin of the profession of mountain guides can be found. These tourists thought that the local people had a good knowledge of the mountains they lived in and for that reason they hired them. However, their knowledge, as it has been said before, wasn’t altogether good. Their knowledge didn’t go any further than the knowlegde they needed for their profession (as a hunter, a lumberjack, herdsman or farmer).
Nontheless, it was better than the knowledge of the tourists and therefore it wasn’t but normal for them to hire these local people. These local peasants were mostly happy with these tourists as they meant a boost for their otherwise precarious economical and financial situation.
Important to say is that almost all mountain tourism was concentrated in Chamonix, at the foot of the highest mountain in the Alps, the Mont Blanc (an important reason for the early succes of Chamonix). This early succes meant that Chamonix was able to build up a huge lead in their development as the capital city of mountaineering. Other important places as Zermatt or Grindelwald in Switzerland couldn’t catch up with Chamonix untill the 1850s and 1860s.
The growing number of tourists meant that more local people could earn an extra wage as some sort of mountain guide (they weren’t really mountain guides as we know them today). The more challenging tours they made were these towards (or on) the glaciers, for example the Mer de Glace. The most chalenging excursion that was made in this period was the ascent of Mont Blanc, first summited in 1786 by Paccard and Balmat (Balmat was hired by the famous Horace Bénédict de Saussure from Geneva), two local people from Chamonix. The year after De Saussure himself ascended Mont Blanc. This meant another boost for the succes of Chamonix. This succes would eventually lead to the formation of the first organisation for mountain guides: La compagnie des guides de Chamonix, in 1821.
Part II: The first step towards a more professional approach… (1821-ca. 1850)
It’s clear that around this time we can see that in Chamonix the first steps were taken towards a more professional approach of mountain guiding. An association was established to assure the quality of the tourism in Chamonix.
It’s important to say that the Compagnie des guides had some important rules, directly related to the mountaineering, besides the rules about the needed qualifications to be able to act as a guide: first there was the famous tour de rôle, which was a sort of rotation system. It meant that all guides had the same amount of opportunities to guide on certain hiking or mountaineering trips. The rates of all the possible trips offered by the Compagnie were fixed. Some of them, specially the Mont Blanc, were a lot more expensive than others (mostly because they were a lot more dangerous). For example it costed 7 Livres per person per guide for a trip to de Mer de Glace, while it costed 40 Livres per person and per guide to climb the Mont Blanc. In order to give each guide the same opportunities to guide these, financially, more attractive trips this rotation system was invented. When a tourist or alpinist came to Chamonix he wasn’t able to choose a guide. It was instead the Compagnie who assigned one or more guides (depending on which trip the tourist wanted to do) to the tourist.
Apart from the rotation system, the Compganie des guides decided about the number of guides a tourist was obliged to take. Tourists weren’t free to choose the number of guides of which they thought it would be sufficient. The number was fixed by the Compagnie. To give an example. Even in 1872 the Compagnie des guides de Chamonix still proclaimed the following: ‘Pour l’ascension au Mont-Blanc et pour un voyageur, le guide-chef fournira trois guides au moins ou deux guides et un porteur; pour deux voyageurs, quatre guides ou bien trois guides et deux porteurs, en augmentant d’un guide par chaque voyageur en sus.’ An important consequence was that the cost to climb for example Mont Blanc, could raise quiet high rather quickly.
Finally the Compagnie had a monopoly in the Chamonix-Mont Blanc region regarding to mountain guiding. Foreign guides, in the first place Swiss guides, weren’t allowed to guide tourists or alpinists in this region.
Rules like these were at first very useful, in the first place because it provided equal chances for all guides, it created some equality amongst them. Later, specially from the 1850s onwards, things started to change, when the disadvantages of this system came up.
We’ve said that in this period the first steps were taken towards a more professional approach of mountain guiding. However, some remarks need to be made here. In this period, from the beginning until the middle of the nineteenth century, it’s not yet possible to speak of a real professionalization. A start towards it was made in the first half of the nineteenth century but the real professionalization took place only in the second half of the nineteenth century. Not least because of the growing influence, the growing dominance of the British in the Alps in the 1850s and 1860s. It was mainly due to these British alpinists that the profession of mountain guides became more and more professional. Thanks to the British climbing elite, more and more mountain guides were able to develop their climbing skills to a level much higher than it was before, gradually surpassing their predecessors.
‘It needed mountaineers such as Wills and Mathews, as the Rev. Hereford George and Leslie Stephen, to raise up a certain number of Alpine peasants, to breath fire into them and to stir them a knowledge which was eventually to make them the first members of a great profession.’
But that development wasn’t really started in this period. As in the period prior to this one, mountain guides weren’t real mountain guides. They remained in the first place farmers, herdsmen, lumberjacks, hunters,… who, occasionally, guided some tourists on smaller mountains, nearby glaciers or on simple hiking trips. Even the guides (or porters, etc.) who served in the Compagnie des guides in Chamonix weren’t guiding all the time. Only a small amount of time was spent by them in the mountains guiding tourists or climbers. For them it was only a small, albeit a financially important one, secondary occupation. Due to the fact that they didn’t spent much time climbing, the level of their climbing abilities wasn’t altogether high, on the contrary. But, on the other hand, they didn’t really felt the need of improving themselves. Mostly because they only guided on rather easy tours, often only hiking tours. Mountain guides were primarily focused on the middle mountains. In this period only a few tougher mountains were scaled. Like Triglav in 1778, Mont Blanc in 1786, Grossglockner in 1800 or the Ortler in 1804, the Jungfrau in 1811, Breithorn (1813), Finsteraarhorn (1829), Aiguilles d’Arves (1839),… Between 1786 and 1854 only twelve peaks higher than 4000 meter were climbed. Only to say that most mountain guides didn’t undertake more difficult, tougher climbs. Just a handful of guides got the opportunity to do so. Therefore, most guides didn’t felt the need of improving themselves to much, or to put a large amount of time in improving their skills, while they had a lot of other work to do. It was only later, when the British came, that more guides felt the need of improving themselves, or that they got more opportunities for improving.
In this period most guides had another purpose than just leading their clients on different mountains or climbing trips. Most tourists saw their guides more like servants than independent mountain guides, more servants than equals (socially). The main activities for mountain guides in this period were carrying the luggage of the tourists, carrying all the food, drinking, materials,… cutting steps in the snow/ice, clearing the paths, cooking, putting up tents, supporting their clients (sometimes this went even that far that guides almost needed to carry their tourists), etc. They worked more as servants than as real mountain guides. Most of the time they weren’t really hired for their climbing abilities, but more in order to support the tourist. Tourists, specially those from the aristocracy and the rich industrials wanted to hike or climb in comfort. This was one of the reasons why the Compagnie des guides de Chamonix decided that for most tours they organized more than one guide had to be taken by the tourist. Only later, when more and more tougher climbs were done, this changed. Although most guides kept doing tours like that (simple hiking tours, smaller mountains, and glaciers). Only a small amount of mountain guides were able to do some real mountain climbing. Most guides remained simple glacier guides (Gletscherführer), mule-drivers (Maultierführer) or porters (Personen- or Packträger) and ‘porteurs à chaise’.
A situation like this, with a rather limited professionalization, continued until the 1850s. But from then on this situation changed rather quickly. It was the start of the Alpine Golden Age, the time when British alpinists dominated the Alps. And it was mostly thanks to them that some mountain guides, not all guides, got more and more professional, and, very important, their climbing skills improved rapidly.
At this point a small remark has to be made about the alpinists themselves: until the 1850s-1860s most real mountaineers were scientists. Or they did at least to some degree scientifical research in the mountains. The reason therefore, was that climbing mountains was only accepted when it was in the service of science. Being in the mountains was okay for most people, and many tourists really enjoyed being there, but climbing mountains was just a bridge to far. Climbing just for pleasure wasn’t granted much approval by most people. Most non-mountaineers believed that ‘Any failure to record a multitude of fact, figures, and dates, would be a back sliding in social and moral duty.’ And when some mountaineers did climb without a scientifcal purpose reactions like these weren’t rare: ‘They blame us for having risked our own lives in an entreprise without aim or purpose, and for now holding out to others any inducement to tread in our footsteps; and they estingly intimate that we must be prepared to defend ourselves in the Criminal Court against a charge of manslaughter.’ Only from the 1860s onwards climbing for climbing became more accepted, although even up till now many don’t or can’t understand why people go on climbing mountains.
Finally we can add here another important function of the Compagnie des guides de Chamonix (and other mountain guiding associations). This function isn’t directly related to mountaineering, but is has to do with social insurance. As it became clear that mountain guiding wasn’t really the safest profession, local authorities (first in Chamonix, later elsewhere) saw the need to create some sort of social insurance in order to support injured or sick mountain guides, or to support the families of perished mountain guides. ‘In some way one could say that the Compagnie des guides de Chamonix invented social insurance.’ Later other associations and from the 1860s the different Alpine Clubs, would take this over. For example the Österreichischer Alpenverein obliged everyone who wanted to hire a mountain guide to pay a small sum which was used to support injured guides or the families of perished guides. Besides it was used to be able to give mountain guides a decent wage. It was said that only when a mountain guide earned a decent wage he could exercise his job thoroughly.
Despite this good intentions, this form of social insurance didn’t always work perfect. In most cases the compensations guides got when they were unable to work due to injury weren’t sufficient for a decent living. This was even more the case for the families who had lost their breadwinner. Throughout the 19th century most of these families depended largely on charity on behalf of other mountaineers. There are many examples to give. For example John Tyndall made sure ‘A sum of money was collected in England for Bennen’s mother and sisters.’ Or Alfred Wills as President of the Alpine Club organized a collection for the family of Michel Croz after he died on the Matterhorn in 1865. The Club Alpin Français did the same for the two guides Devouassoux who died in 1885 in a mountain accident. It’s clear that this social insurance didn’t work perfectly. In Chamonix this was installed much earlier than elsewhere, but even here (see the example of Michel Croz) this didn’t always worked as well as people wanted. Only at the end of the nineteenth century it got rapidly better with this social insurance. But, one has to keep in mind that this social insurance system for mountain guides was organized a long time before a similar system was organized for most people (first of all workers) elsewhere in Europa (or in the world).
Part III: And then the British came… (from the 1850s till the 1880s)From the 1850s onwards more and more British alpinists found there way to the Alps. Rather quickly and for various reasons these British climbers gained a dominant position in the Alps. This period (1850s-1860s) most climbers were British: ‘A Courmayeur, Vallée d’Aoste entre Mont Blanc et Cervin, le nom généralique d’anglais désigne tout amateur de grimpade.’
This inflow of British alpinists would have some major consequences on mountaineering in general, but more specific, they had a large influence on the profession of mountain guides.
More alpinists came to the Alps to, successfully, attack almost all still unclimbed mountains. To give an example of the enthusiasm of these British climbers to scale all these mountains, between 1854 and 1865, 31 4000ers were first ascended by British alpinists. Only 4 4000m peaks were climbed by mountaineers of other nations. Not only new mountains were climbed, mountains who had been scaled before were climbed again, and often repeatedly. An example: Between 1852 and 1857 Mont Blanc has been climbed 64 time, 60 times by British alpinists. This time would become known as the Alpine Golden Age (ca. 1850-1865). And so British mountaineers became, by far, the dominant force in the Alps. This British supremacy has been expressed very well by the Swiss Gottlieb Studer:
‘Ja, es ist diese abenteuerliche Reiselust fast zur Mode geworden und die Unerschrocken Söhne Albions geben hierin den anderen Nationen das vorleuchtende Beispiel. Gelingt es doch den Schweizer Kaum, ein bisher von ihm noch für unbetreten gehaltenes Gletscherjoch oder eine neue Alpenspitze zu besteigen, ohne aus dem Mundes seines Führers zu vernehmen, er habe einaml schon einen Engländer dahin begleitet.’
But one could ask: how could this British dominance have influenced the development of mountain guiding? And in what ways?
These British climbers excersised influence on mountain guides/guiding in multiple manners. Starting with the most important, British mountaineers (specially the elite alpinists, like Leslie Stephen, Sir Alfred Wills, Edward Whymper, John Tyndal, Edward S. Kennedy, the Matthews family, Tuckett, Hereford George, T.W. Hinchcliff, Anthony Horst, William Longman, etc., etc.) stimulated many mountain guides to improve themselves, to work on and develop their climbing (as well as human/moral) capacities. It were climbers like these who wanted to climb peaks previously untrodden, where no men had been before. In order to do so, these guides (like Melchior Anderegg, Michel Croz, Johann J. Bennen, Ulrich Lauener, Auguste Balmat, Christian Almer, Devouassoud, Franz Andenmatten and many others) needed to start climbing on a level much higher then before. If they didn’t they would lose their, passionate, clients/partners, which would affecte their financial situation quiet hard. Thanks to those British climbers they were able to earn more money, which was very welcome in those poor mountain valleys in the Alps. Besides, by climbing with those British, these guides started, more and more, to climb because of the climbing itself. Not only for the money, but because they started to like the climbing itself, just as their clients/partners did. Beside, they started to really like their clients, or better partners. Around this time the phenomenon of the Belles-amitiés, the seil-/bergkameradschaft was formed. Equal relations, or even real friendships arose at this time.
So we can say that thanks to more driven alpinists (mostly British) many guides were stimulated to improve and develop their skills.
Secondly the establishement of the Alpine Club in 1857 influenced the professionalization of mountain guiding profoundly. Not directly, rather indirect.
The Alpine Club was the first association for mountaineers. The idea for the establishment of the Alpine Club first came from William Matthews in 1857: ‘I want you to consider whether it would not be possible to establish an Alpine Club, the members of which might dine together once a year, say in London, and give each other what information they could.’ The Alpine club didn’t had anything to do with mountain guides, but it was the example for other alpine clubs who were founded in the Alps in the decades after 1857. For example the Austrian Alpine Club in 1862 (Österreichischer Alpenverein (OAV)), the Swiss Alpine Club in 1863 ‘Schweizer Alpenclub/Club Alpin Suisse (SAC/CAS)), also in 1863 the Italian Alpine Club (Club Alpino Italiano (CAI)), the German Alpine Club (Deutscher Alpenverein (DAV)) in 1869 and the French (Club Alpin Français(CAF)) in 1874. These Associations were based on the Alpine Club, but with one major difference: they did have a lot to do with mountain guiding. Gradually they would start to organize the profession of mountain guides, by organising mountain guide trainings in order to assure the qualities of the guides, by working with official mountain guide qualifications (certificates) granted after passing these courses, by handing over Führerbücher/Livrets de guides to licensed guides (as a way to check on guides),…
In Switzerland things were a bit different. There, the Cantonal authorities were in large part responsible for organizing and controlling the Swiss mountain guides. They handed out the different certificates to future mountain guides. Different certificates for different sorts of guides. More specifically three types: Besteigungsführer (real mountain guides), Maultierführer (mule drivers) and Personen- or Gepäckführer (porters or porteurs à chaise). Furthermore, they made sure mountain guides had the right qualifications to exercise their profession and they were responsible to check regularly all mountain guides to make sure they had these qualifications. They set the rates for mountain excursions, climbs and hikes and they decides about the minimum number of porters a tourist had to hire: for example, for a normal person four guides had to be hired. Men who were a bit heavy or overweight people needed to take six porters.
In Switzerland most affairs were arranged by the cantonal authorities. In other countries, in Italy, France, Germany or Austria most of these affairs came under the responsibilities of the different alpine associations. In these countries local, regional or national authorities weren’t as much involved as in Switzerland.
The Alpine Club had another effect on the professionalization of mountain guiding: it was thanks to clubs like these that mountaineering became better known to, and importantly more accepted by most people. Although the Alpine Club was a very small association with only few members it had a major impact of the number of (British) people travelling to the Alps (appendix I). The Alps became better known to more and more people. The Alpine club and many of its members where gifted writers. They wrote many and many books and magazines about the Alps and mountaineering (see references), which meant to many people the stimulus to actually go to the Alps. This increasing number of tourists/alpinists meant a boost for mounatin guiding. More people coming to the Alps meant an increasing demand for mountain guides. Not only mountain guides, but many other people found there way into tourism (as a hotel manager, a restaurant keeper, as a mule driver or a porter or as a mountain guide). At first this development didn’t had a very positiv effect on the qualities of many mountain guides:
‘It must be admitted that the enormous increase in the number of travelers has tended to lower the moral scale of the guides as a class. It is desirable the cantonal authorities would require each guide to furnish himself with a legal certificate of his character and qualifications, and that the names of these certificated guides, with tariffs of charges, be exhibited on the walls of the hotels; by these means the traveler would be exposed to no risk in his selection, whilst the standard of the men generally would rise to its former level.’
After the establishment of the different alpine associations this started to change. These certificates Baedecker speaks of, were introduced, tariffs were fixed, trainings were installed, and mountain guiding became more and more professionalized. And so more and more tourists and mountaineers where able to hire competent guides (regarding their climbing skills as well as their moral capacities).
A remark has to be made here. The professionalization of mountain guiding got more and more underway these days, but it still wasn’t all perfect. There are still enough examples to give of climbers who hired –what they thought were- bad, incompetent guides. Around this time there was a huge gap between the level of mountain guiding in the well known ditricts like Zermatt, Grindelwald, Saas-Fee, Interlaken or Chamonix and less known districts like the Dauphiné or the Val d’Aosta. Mid-19th century travel stories, guidebooks or diaries of mountaineers often refer to the low quality of mountain guiding (and tourism in general) in these regions: ‘We had taken a guide from La Bérarde [Dauphiné], and the man, as is common in those parts, was almost useless.’ Or: ‘Anyone, however, meditating an assault on the Premiero peaks [South Tirol] must either go alone or bring guides from more satisfactory districts.’ But even in the more developed regions not all guides were as good as one would hope, like in this example in Chamonix: ‘But we had bad guides, who, as we had found the day before, were afraid of any glacier they were not familiar with... Despite our remonstrances, they insisted upon conducting us by a route full of peril, across the vast tract of boulders and débris...’ Or in Switzerland: ‘The most singular characteristic of my guides was, perhaps, their conversational power. … I may as well say at once that I found one of them, Johann Zügler, to be a good mountaineer. Of the others, the less said the better.’
Criticism on Chamonix guides wasn’t exceptional. Many British alpinists (specially the more gifted climbers) often criticized guides hired in Chamonix, but even more their criticism was aimed at the Compagnie des guides de Chamonix in general. The reasons for their criticism can be found in the rules of the Compagnie, of which I have spoken earlier. Many of the elite mountaineers didn’t agree with the rotation system: ‘A member of our party left a cheque for the sufferers [of a great fire in the 1850s in Chamonix], on condition that it should remain untouched until an English traveller should be at liberty to choose his own guide, and to determine for himself the number he required.’ Specially when they wanted to make bigger excursions, when they wanted to scale larger and tougher mountains they wanted someone they knew  , or someone of whom they had heard of (in a positive sense). They needed a mountain guide, or some mountain guides whereupon they could trust. In Chamonix, thanks to the rotation system, this wasn’t possible. Instead of the mountaineer, it was the Compagnie who would pick one or more guides for the alpinist. A rule that often caused frustration on behalf of the mountaineers. Even on a higher level these frustrations were noticeable. Under pressure of the Alpine Club and the S.A.C./C.A.S. the Compagnie would eventually abolish this rotation system, but only in 1879 when they stated: ‘Les voyageurs sont libres dans le choix de leurs guides; à défaut de choix, les guides font leur service à tour de rôle.’
This rotation system had the great advantage of creating equality among mountain guides, but it had one major disadvantage: it often created incompetent guides. Not incompetent overall, but more or less incompetent on certain types of terrain. Some guides will prefer climbing on ice or snow, while others might prefer rocks. Due to the rotation system the guides weren’t able to choose their clients. When a client wanted to do some rock climbing it was perfectly possible that he would get an ice or snow specialist, with insufficient rock climbing skills. This often caused frustration on behalf of the client as well as of the guide himself: ‘Were they (the guides) all equally excellent, this [rotation system] would not be a great hardship, but the contrary is the fact: and none grumble at the system so much as the really first-rate guides of whom there are plenty at Chamonix, who find themselves put on a level with men scarcely more fit for their duties than so many railway porters.’
Many first rate mountain guides could often only undertake some easier excursions or hikes. Thanks to this rotation system they weren’t able to develop their mountaineering skills as well as many Swiss guides, who didn’t knew such restrictions. While other less competent guides where often assigned to tougher excursions. Therefore it doesn’t need to be surprising that quiet a lot mountaineers regularly spoke rather bad about their mountain guides of Chamonix.
Another source of frustration for many alpinists, as well as for the Alpine Club and mountain guides from other districts was the monopoly on mountain guiding of the Compagnie des guides de Chamonix in the Chamonix-Mont Blanc region. Before the 1860s guides who weren’t affiliated to the Compagnie were not allowed to guide anyone in the region. For many mountaineers this meant that when they wanted to scale mountains in the Mont Blanc region with their, for example, Swiss guide(s) they weren’t allowed and they were obliged to hire local guides. Only later this rule was made less stricts and after ca. 1860 foreign guides were allowed, albeit not always evenly benevolent, as this example shows very clear: ‘Furious on hearing about the ascent made by “outsiders” [more specific: Edward Whymper, Almer and Biner] on their much tried mountain [Aiguille Verte (4221m)]. They refused to believe it, and when Whymper’s party descended to the village three gendarmes had to be summoned to quell a near riot.’
An extra reason for contesting this monopoly (by individual climbers as well as by the Alpine Club and S.A.C.) was because the Compagnie offered only a small, not very challenging number of excursions and climbs. As from the 1850s onwards more climbers tried to scale the more tougher mountains, this rule made it impossible to climb the tougher mountains in the Chamonix district. On top, local guides didn’t had the opportunities to improve their climbing skills by climbing new mountains as they weren’t included in the program of the Compagnie:
‘The Chamonix guides became more accustomed to well-known glacier expeditions than to attempts on the unclimbed peaks which flanked the glaciers, more accustomed to ice than to rock. They guided travellers the majority of whom made no pretence of feeling any joy among the mountains, which they visited, as they would often stress, entirely for the data on the unknown physical world which they could gather there. And, above else, they were cribbed and confined by the regulations of the corporations which made initiative worthless and their careers often a set of routine expeditions within the confines of their own valley. When a man such as Balmat, or later Michel Croz, developed into an exceptional guide, he did so only by going against the traditions of his own people. No such limitations hampered the Oberland men.’
Therefore there skills remained rather limited and their knowledge on other mountain ranges was almost nonexistent: ‘He [Michel Croz] is the only Chamounix guide who is acquainted with them [Mont Pelvoux, Grande Casse,…] and the local guides are worse than useless.’
Mountain guides in Chamonix who really wanted to excel in their profession hadn’t got another option than to oppose these rules and the Compagnie in general, like for example Michel Croz and Auguste Balmat. They saw that the only way of improving themselves and to close the gap on many famous Swiss guides, was to ignore these rules. Only then something could be done against ‘the dead level of mediocrity’ which was so characteristic for many Chamonix guides.
An important consequence of all this was that the lead, regarding mountain guiding, the Compagnie had established in earlier years was now strongly diminishing. More and more Swiss guides took the lead when it came to mountaineering skills, which meant that an increasing number of alpinists and tourists went to Switzerland instead of going to Chamonix, the old capital of mountaineering. Only few Chamonix guides were able to catch up with those famous Swiss guides (Melchior Anderegg, Christian Almer, Bennen, Jakob Anderegg, Ulrich Lauener, etc.). Not surprisingly it were those guides who opposed themselves against the Compagnie like Michel Croz and Auguste Balmat. Conclusion, despite the professionalization of mountain guiding, not all mountain guides were as professional.
To counter the danger of hiring bad guides some measures were taken by the Alpine Club, as well as by the other alpine associations. The alpine associations countered it by obliging mountain guides to use their Führerbuch. Every client of the guide was obliged to write something down about his guide. Thus future clients could have a look in these Führerbücher to get a view on the capacities (climbing skills as well as moral capacities) of that guide before they would hire the guide. Some examples: ‘… In height, courage, skill & prudence I have never met his equal.’ (John Tyndall on his guide Bennen) Or Alfred F. Mummery on his favourite guide Burgener: ‘In every instance he has shown himself most daring, determined & with all prudent, no better guide or cheerier compagnion could be desired.’ ‘… I have much pleasure in adding my testimony to his excellence as a guide to those of my friends…’ J.J. Tuckett on Michel Croz. And a final example of J.J. Tuckett on Ulrich Lauener: ‘I can most sincerely say that I part with great regret from this excellent fellow & first-rate mountaineer whom I can confidently recommend whether for easy …(?) or long glacier excursions.’
In Britain the Alpine Club tried to do the same by making lists of guides. These lists were kept by the Alpine Club and members could write something down about a particular mountain guide. When somebody else had the purpose of hiring a certain guide he could take a look at these lists first to make sure his choice for that guide was the right one. For example Leslie Stephen wrote in one of those lists about Jacob Anderegg (cousin of the famous Melchior Anderegg): ‘He has shown himself a firstrate guide during the seasons of 1864-1865 and is acquainted with the Oberland, Chamouni, Zermatt & other districts.’ Or H.B. George on Johann Baumann: ‘… is the best man I know in his native place [Grindelwald], after Christian Almer. … He is a very good step-cutter, and will carry an immense load willingly.’ Motivations or remarks like these could prevent climbers or tourists of hiring incompetent mountain guides.
Some final remarksFirst of all, it’s mentioned before, most guides in the nineteenth century remained simple Gletscherführer (guides for glacier tours) or guides on rather easy excursions, or mule drivers and porters or porteurs à chaise. Porters, mule drivers and porteurs à chaise remained a large group within mountain tourism. For many mountain guides this was the first step to become a real mountain guide later. Many of the well known mountain guides started their mountaineering career as a porter or mule driver: ‘Im Sommer 1923 ging Ulrich als Träger in die Berge, um eine weitere Bescheinigung für die anmeldung zum Bergführerskurs zu bekommen.’
Although this situation changed firmly during the second half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. Thanks to better and stricter regulations it became harder to obtain an official mountain guiding certificate or permit. For example, before being admit on a mountain guide course it was necessary to present a record of mountaineering achievements. This was a reason why many future guides started their career as a porter or mule driver, in order to gain some mountaineering experience. Thanks to these stricter regulations and better courses most mountain guides became more and more professional and more and more competent, regarding real mountain climbing. Courses consisting of a practical part and a theoretical part, where future guides were learned about geography, reading maps, first aid, rescue, regulation regarding mountain guiding, etc. It has to be said that in comparison to today’s courses these weren’t on the same level, but when compared to the middle of the nineteenth century these courses were a huge improvement. Thanks to these changes the average mountain guide at the beginning of twentieth century was more competent for guiding tourists and mountaineers in the mountains then their counterparts of the middle of the nineteenth century, when the professionalization of mountain guiding started.
A second and most important remark is that during almost the entire nineteenth century practically all alpinists climbed with mountain guides. Guideless climbing was in this time almost ‘not done’. There are some examples of mountaineers who climbed without guides, but they were very rare. For example E. S. Kennedy and Charles Hudson climbed Mont Blanc in 1856 without guides , John Tyndall climbed Monte Rosa on his own in 1858, Edward Whymper tried it, unsuccessfully, on his own on the Matterhorn in 1862 and the Parker Brothers (Alfred, Charles en Sandbach) scaled the Finsteraarhorn without guides in 1865. But examples like these were very rare until the 1880s-1890s. Only from then onwards guideless climbing became more and more popular (specially in the Eastern Alps were more and more Austrian and German climbers started to climb without guides (mostly because they didn’t had the money for hiring guides). But before the 1880s it was only normal to climb with guides. There was some sort of taboo around guideless climbing. The few people who actually climbed without guides didn’t get much sympathy from other climbers, let alone mountain guides and the indigenous people, as the Parker Brothers experienced when they set off for the Matterhorn ‘without an encouraging word from anyone, on an enterprise apparently regarded by others of a rash or dubious nature.’
Almost all alpinists were clear on this matter: climbing mountains meant hiring –competent- mountain guides as Leslie Stephen points out clearly in his book ‘The Playground of Europa’: ‘Meanwhile I will only delay my narrative to denounce one other heresy – that, namely, which asserts that guides are a nuisance.’ An important reason for this necessity was ‘that practical knowlegde which long residence among the mountains can alone impart, and in the possession of which our best English climbers fall far behind their guides.’
Even on minor excursions most alpinists and tourists hired one or more mountain guides. At this time it was the normal thing to do. A quick look on some mid-19th century guide books makes this attitude clear: ‘The services of a Guide are needful when the traveler is about to plunge into the recesses of the mountains on foot. … He may be said to be indispensable in ascending very lofty mountains, in exploring glaciers, and in crossing the minor passes of the Alps…’ according to John Murray’s famous guide book ‘A hand book for travelers in Switzerland.’ Or according to karl Baedecker: ‘For the more difficult and dangerous routes, however, guides are absolutely indispensable, and they will be found to be, as a class, intelligent and respectable men, well versed in their duties, and acquainted with the people and resources of the country.’
Not surprisingly guideless climbing couldn’t count on much sympathy on behalf of most tourists and alpinists, as well as on behalf of mountain guides. Even later, when guideless climbing became more established, many, specially British mountaineers and mountain guides kept on to condemn this new sort of climbing, as did for example W.A.B. Coolidge.
But before the end of the nineteenth century climbing with guides was the rule, and exceptions on that unwritten rule were rather rare.
A final remark is about the influence of the British. During the 1850s and 1860s they were the dominant force in the Alps (specially the Western Alps). Due to various reasons (meanly political and economically) other nations, like the Swiss, French or Austrians didn’t focus on mountaineering. This situation would only change from the 1870s onwards. From then onwards the dominant position of the British would strongly diminish and other nations would take their place.
ConclusionBetween the guides hired by the early tourists at the end of the eighteenth century and the mountain guides who were active between the 1860s and the 1880s there was an enormous gap. These first guides were still more herdsmen or hunters than real mountain guides, with only few mountaineering skills. Only several decades later things started to change when, around the middle of the nineteenth century, more and more -British- tourists and mountaineers started to visit the Alps. They urged the existing mountain guides to improve themselves in order to attract tourists and alpinists. This growing demand for mountain guides made it clear that their was a need of finding a way to guarantee the qualities and skills of the different sorts of mountain guides. It was the time when the different alpine associations were established, with the Alpine Club being the example for the others. More and more these associations got hold on the profession of mountain guiding which meant a real boost for the professionalization of mountain guiding. A process that wasn’t finished at all at the time this historical overview ends. This process continued towards the end of the nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth century. Vastly influenced by some major changes that occurred from the end of the nineteenth century on: first of all there was the growing number of guideless climbers, secondly the number of long engagements diminished strongly. Specially during the ‘Golden Age of Alpinism’ many mountaineers engaged one or more mountain guides for longer spells. Engagements of several weeks weren’t exceptionally at all. However, from the end of the nineteenth century onwards this did became rather exceptional. The third and latest important change was the beginning of skiing. This made it possible for the first time that mountain guides were mountain guides all year round and not just during the summer months. These, and other, changes changed the outlook of mountain guiding again profoundly.
Endnotes1 ‘Auch die einheimischen selbst kannten in der Regel das Gebirge nicht weiter, als ihr Beruf als Jäger, Hirte oder Holzarbeiter sie eben führte. Für die Gebirgsbewohner hatte die Bergwelt nur so weit Interesse, als schöne “Böden” oder Nutzbringender Wald vorhanden war.’ (translation: ‘The indigenous people themselves usually didn’t knew the mountains no more than for their profession as a hunter, herdsman or lumberjack. The inhabitants weren’t interested in their mountains but for fertile soils and profitable woods.’) Gidl A., ‘Die Städter entdecken die Alpen’, p. 17.
2 Mountain tourism is said to be ‘invented’ by two British tourists named Windham and Pococke. They came to Chamonix to have a look at the glaciers around the middle of the eighteenth century.
3 It has to be said that the number of people travelling to the Alps in this period was still very small. But still, it was an important change in comparison with the complete aversion people had earlier towards the mountains.
4 ‘Die Bergreisenden “kauften” die Kompetenzen der Älpler –Kompetenzen, die diese für ihre Lebensweise in den Bergen notwendeigerweise hatten erwerben müssen.’ (Translation: ‘Moutain travellers ‘bought’ the competences of the indigenous people –competences they had to acquire for their lifestyle.’) Scharfe M., ‘Berg-Sucht: eine Kulturgeschichte des frühen Alpinismus 1750-1850’, Wenen, Böhlau, 2007, p. 34.
5 For a detailed report of this climb (and other climbs by De Saussure): De Saussure H.B., ‘Voyages dans les Alpes: Précédes d’un essai sur l’histoire naturelle des environs de Genève.’, Neufcahteaux, 1803, pp. 474.
6 For a more detailed report of this accident, see: http://www.chamonix-guides.com/pages_stat_en/presentation_en.html
7 One of the first places in Switzerland were an association like the Compagnie des guides de Chamonix was established was Zermatt in 1845. Other famous places like Grindelwald didn’t saw such an association before 1856. In Pontresina (close to St-Moritz) it took until 1861 and the Dauphiné in France only in 1875, when the STD, Société des Touristes du Dauphiné was established. Coolidge W.A.B., ‘Les Alpes dans la nature et dans l’histoire’, pp. 335-336. And Bourdeau P., ‘Les sociétés alpines et le tourisme en Haut-Dauphiné de 1874 à 1974: formes de leur action et rôle dans le développement touristique: rapport de recherche’, Lyon, Université de Lyon, 1984, pp. 99.
8 Club Alpin Français, established in 1874. The C.A.F. were responsible for regulations regarding mountain guiding. Published in: Règlement des guides de Chamonix, 1879 (article 33), Bulletin du CAF 2ème Trimestre, 1879, pp. 59-62. (Translation: ‘For the ascent of Mont Blanc the guide-chef will assigne at least tree guides, or two guides and a porter per traveler; for two travelers, four guides or three guides and two porters. For every extra traveler another guide will be assigned.)
9 Clark R. ‘The Victorian Mountaineers’, Londen, B. T. Batsford Ltd., 1953, pp. 88-89.
10 Chaubet D., ‘Histoire de la Compagnie des guides de Chamonix’, p. 52.
11 Trevor B., ‘When the Alps vast their Spell: Mountaineers of the Alpine Golden Age’, Glasgow, The In Pinn, 2004, Appendix: Alpine first ascents.
12 Most mountain guides were lower class men, while most tourists were upper class, or upper middle class men. These tourists saw their mountain guides, certainly in this period, and most of all the aristocracy and the rich industrials, as members of the lower classes. They looked and treated them more like they did with servants, workers and peasants. Often they looked down at them or they simply despised these lower class mountain guides. Only later, from the 1850s onwards, when more and more middle class British climbers came to the Alps, this started to change. These British climbers saw their guides more as equals then members of the lower classes, and they treated them likewise, as equals. Off course there were a lot of exceptions regarding this subject, but in general these were the kind of relations that existed between tourists/climbers and mountain guides. Relations that could be called rather paradoxical. Several members of the Alpine club admit that they act differently when being together with lower class members in Britain or when they are together with similar lower class people in the mountains, i.e. mountain guides: ‘There is a bond of union between the guide and his employer which seems to remove the former in some degree from his ordinary sphere. Dangers and difficulties shared, and the exchange of thoughts and opinions, which must result from days and sometimes weeks of companionship, wonderfully diminish, for the time, at least, the gulf that exists, socially, between them; …’ (From: George H.B. (ed.), '‘The Alpine Journal: A Record of Mountain Adventure and Scientific observations. By members of the Alpine Club.’, Londen, Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, & Green, Vol. I, 1864, p. 44.) Van Loocke K., ‘Geld, vriendschap en sociale tegenstellingen: Een onderzoek naar de paradoxale relaties tussen gidsen en alpinisten in de 19de eeuw.’, master dissertation, Ghent University, 2010, pp. 201.
13 Gesetz, Reglement & Tarif für den Fürherdienst im Canton Wallis’, p. 13.
14 Clark R., ‘The Victorian Mountaineers’, p. 99.
15 Hudson C. en Kennedy E. S., ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way: an ascent of Mont Blanc, by a new route and
without guides’, Londen, Spottiswoode & Co., 1856, p. VII.
16 ‘En quelque sorte la Compagnie inventa la sécurité sociale.’ Gendrault J., ‘Voyage chez les guides de Chamonix’, in: Relief, 3, 1995, p. 6.
17 Gidl A., ‘Die Städter entdecken die Alpen’, p. 166.
18 Tyndall J., ‘New Fragments’, p. 442.
19 Trevor B., ‘When the Alps cast their spell: Mountaineers of the Alpine Golden Age’, p. 29.
20 In 1885 the guides Devouassoux (two brothers) perished on the Col des Courtes. Published in: ‘Souscription Devauossoux’, in: Bulletin du CAF, 1885, p. 293.
21 Gidl A., ‘Die Städter entdecken die Alpen’, p. 166.
22 Chamson M., ‘le roman de la montagne’, p. 154. Vertaling: Courmayeur, Val d’Aosta, between Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, the name Englishman assigns all amateur-climbers.
23 Grupp P., ‘Faszination Berg’, p. 59. In comparison, before 1850 Mont Blanc has only been scaled 33 times.
24 Grupp P., ‘Faszination Berg’, p. 59. Footnote 27, p. 236 (Translation: ‘Yes, this want for adventurous traveling has become almost a fashion trend and the dauntless Albions serve as a bright example for other nations. It’s almost impossible for a Swiss to climb a glacier pass or a mountaintop, which he thought was previously untrodden or unclimbed, without hearing from his guide, he has already guided an Englishman there.’)
25 Van Loocke K., ‘Geld, vriendschap en sociale tegenstellingen: Een onderzoek naar de paradoxale relaties tussen gidsen en alpinisten in de 19de eeuw.’, pp. 201.
26 Letters relating to formation of alpine Club, Alpine Club Archives. ‘I want you to consider whether it would not be possible to establish an Alpine Club, the members of which might dine together once a year, say in London, and give each other what information they could.’ ‘Letters relating to formation of Alpine Club: 1857-1858’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/B65.
The first twelf members of the Alpine Club were: William Matthews, Edward Matthews, St. John matthews, E.
S. Kennedy, E. J. Shepherd, Alfred Wills, Henry Trower, Rev. Isaac Taylor, William Longman, T. W. Hinchcliff, C.
Ainslie en E. L. Ames. Uit Band G., ‘Summit: 150 years of the Alpine Club’, Collins, 2006, p. 13.
27 Some guiding associations were established before these Alpine Clubs, like in Zermatt, Chamonix and Grindelwald, but it was only when these national associations took control over mountain guiding that a real professionalization took place.
28 ‘Gesetz, Reglement & Tarif für den Führerdienst im Canton Wallis’, Lausanne 1870, pp. 64.
29 About the rates, tarifs, for excursions and climbs: ‘Die Bezahlung für die Führer und die Reitthiere zu den verschiedenen Kursen ist durch den hier nachfolgenden allgemeinen Tarif bestimmt.’ (Translation: ‘the payment for mountain guides and horses and mules for the different excursions is fixed by the following general rates/tariffs.’) ‘Gesetz, Reglement & Tarif für den Führerdienst im Canton Wallis’, Lausanne 1870, Article 22, p. 19.
30 ‘Gesetz, Reglement & Tarif für den Führerdienst im Canton Wallis’, Article 17, p. 9.
31 Baedeker K., ‘Switzerland with the neighbouring Lakes of Northern Italy, Savoy and the adjacent districts of
Piedmint, Lombardy and the Tyrol. Handbook for travellers.’, Londen, Williams & Norgate, 1863, p. XXIX.
(translated from German)
32 Bonney T. G., ‘The Alpine regions of Switzerland’, Cambridge, Deighton, Bell, and Co., 1868, p. 177.
33 Wills A., ‘Wandering Among the High Alps’, p. 85.
34 Stephen L., ‘The Playground of Europe’, p. 3.
35 Forbes J., ‘Travels through the Alps’, p. 512.
36 Many of the better known mountaineers from this era preferred to climb as often as possible with the same guide. It was the time of the Belles amities between guides and mountaineers. For example John Tyndall preferred climbing with Bennen, Alfred Wills mostly climbed with Auguste Balmat, Leslie Stephen with Melchior Anderegg, Edward Whymper with Michel Croz, Geoffry W. Young mostly climbed with Josef Knubel, A.W. Moore with Christian Almer, Alfred F. Mummery and Alexander Burgener,… Between many of these alpinists and guides real friendships existed. Therefore they didn’t agree with the rotation system of the Compagnie des guides de Chamonix. It has to be said that the mentioned mountaineers and guides didn’t only climb with each other. The guides as well as the mountaineers climbed with other people. But when it was possible they would prefer to climb together.
37 Chaubet D., ‘Histoire de la compagnie des guides de Chamonix’, pp. 76-79.
38 Règlement des guides de Chamonix, 1879 (article 21), published in: Bulletin du CAF 2ème Trimestre, 1879, pp. 59-62. (Translation: travellers are free in the choice of their guides; when they don’t have a preference, guides will offer their services based on the rotation system.)
39 Clark R., ‘The Early Alpine Guides’, p. 74.
40 Trevor B., ‘When the Alps cast their spell: Mountaineers of the Alpine Golden Age’, p. 150.
41 Wills A., ‘Wandering Among the High Alps’, p.57.
42 ‘Original Furhrerbucher: Michel Croz: 1857-1862’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/K51.
43 Clark R., ‘The Early Alpine Guides’, p. 79.
44 ‘Der Führer soll auf der Reise stets sein Büchlein bei sich haben und selbes jedesmal vorweisen, wenn er von einem Beamten oder Angestellten dazu aufgefordert wird.’ (Translation: ‘The mountain guide has to have his Führerbuch always with him, and he has to present it himself when he is urged to do so by an official or a clerk.’) ‘Gesetz, Reglement & Tarif für den Fürherdienst im Canton Wallis’, Lausanne, 1870, p. 15.
45 ‘Original Furhrerbucher: Johann Joseph Bennen: 1857-1863’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/K15.
46 ‘Original Furhrerbucher: Alexander Burgener: 1882-1909’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/K9.
47 ‘Original Furhrerbucher: Michel Croz: 1857-1862’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/K51.
48 ‘Original Furhrerbucher: Ulrich Lauener: 1856-1892’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/K30.
49 ‘List of Guides, c. 1866’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/C88.
50 ‘List of Guides, c. 1866’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/C88.
51 ‘Mais seuls quelques-uns, les Andermatten, Les Taugwalder, les Burgener, Les Anderegg (pour ne citer que des noms de guides suisses) marquent leur époque par un série de conqûetes. Les autres jouent plutôt le rôl d’accompagnateur touristiques en montagnes.’ Demaurex B. and Bailly A., ‘Profession: guide de montagne’, in: Les Alpes, Genève, 1, 1986, p.51.
52 Lanz H. And De Meester L., ‘Ulrich Inderbinen: Ich bin so alt wie das Jahrhundert’, Rotten Verlags AG, Visp, 2009, p. 117. In the summer of 1923 Ulrich went into the mountains, to get another certificate for the admission to the mountain guide course.
53 Lanz H. And De Meester L., ‘Ulrich Inderbinen: Ich bin so alt wie das Jahrhundert’, pp. 120-121.
54 This climb was subject for the book ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’ of Hudson and Kennedy, published in 1856. This climb of Mont Blanc without guides was performed by Hudson and Kennedy Together with Charles Ainsley, Grenville and Christopher Smyth. Kennedy en Hudson would climb in 1865 the Aiguille Verte without guides. (Hudson C. en Kennedy E. S., ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’, London, Spottiswoode & Co., 1856, pp. 95.)
55 Trevor B., ‘When the Alps cast their spell: Mountaineers of the Alpine Golden Age’, p. 168.
56 Stephen L., ‘The Playground of Europe’, pp. 13-14.
57 Tyndall J., ‘New Fragments’, Londen, Longmans, Green, 1892, p. 457.
58 Murray J., ‘A hand book for travelers in Switzerland, Savoy and Piemont’, Londen, Murray, 1838, p. XVII.
59 Baedeker K., ‘Switzerland with the neighbouring Lakes of Northern Italy, Savoy and the adjacent districts of Piedmint, Lombardy and the Tyrol. Handbook for travellers.’, Londen, Williams & Norgate, 1863, p. XXVII-XXVIII.
60 ‘... la vantardise de beaucoup de sans guides, et leur habitude de représenter telle ou telle ascension comme ridiculement facile, ne peut manquer d’influencer d’autres jeunes téméraines avec les conséquences que l’on sait. C’est pourquoi nous avons déclaré très regrettable la mode des ascensions sans guides dans la haute montagne, lorsqu’ elles sont entreprises par des amateurs non-qualifiés. Si l’on n’y met un frein, cette mode peut avoir pour l’alpinisme sérieux des conséquences irréparables et jeter à nouveau sur lui la défaveur et la suspicion qui le paralysèrent après la catastrophe de 1865 [During the first ascent of the Matterhorn].’
Translation: ‘… the boast of many guideless climbers, and their habit to suggest one or another ascent as ridiculously easy, can not but influence young daredevils, with the known consequences. That’s why we have told we find this trend to climb without guides in the mountains regrettable, specially when these climbs are done by not-qualified amateurs. F we don’t put a halt to this phenomena, this development on mountaineering could have irreparable consequences, and people will look at it once again with disgrace and suspicion, like after the 1865 disaster [on the Matterhorn].’)
From Coolidge W.A.B., ‘Les Alpes dans la nature et dans l’histoire’, p. 327.
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- Führerbücher (Chronologisch gerangschikt)
- ‘Original Furhrerbucher: Ulrich Lauener: 1856-1892’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/K30.
- ‘Original Furhrerbucher: Michel Croz: 1857-1862’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/K51.
- ‘Original Furhrerbucher: Johann Joseph Bennen: 1857-1863’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/K15.
- ‘Original Furhrerbucher: Peter Knubel: 1863-1872’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/K1.
- ‘Original Furhrerbucher: Jakob Anderegg: 1865-1878’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/K44.
- ‘Original Furhrerbucher: Alexander Burgener: 1882-1909’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/K9.
- ‘Original Furhrerbucher: Peter Knubel: 1882-1911’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/K4.
- ‘Original Furhrerbucher: Franz Lochmatter: 1899-1933’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/K26.
- Davidson W. E., ‘Long Vacation Rambles in 1873, 1874, 1875’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/C24-C39, 1922/D1/1-4.
- Harford D., ‘A Mountaineering Pilgrimage: 1893-1898’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/c117, pp. 32.
- Moore, ‘A Journal of a Tour in Switzerland, 1863’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/C67, p. 24.
- Other sources
- Bennet C. S., ‘The Golden Age of Mountaineering: 1850-1870’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/C146 , 1950.
- ‘Letters relating to formation of Alpine Club: 1857-1858’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/B65.
- ‘List of Guides, c. 1866’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/C88.
- ‘MS Lectures: J. Birkbeck; E.S. Kennedy; Wm Mathews: 1860-1861’, Alpine Club Archives, 1922/C14.
- Règlement des guides de Chamonix, 1879 (artikel 33) (verschenen in: Bulletin du CAF 2ème Trimestre, 1879, pp. 59-62.).
- ‘Souscription Devauossoux’, in: Bulletin du CAF, 1885, p, 293.