London, 1871, 1st edition. 432 pp, 23 plates, many ills, 5 maps. Original gold-decorated green cloth hardcover. Very Good+.
One of the most important books in the literature of mountaineering. The story of the 1st ascent of the Matterhorn, perhaps the most dramatic and controversial climb of the 19th century. The first edition is quite scarce, there were only 1575 copies printed.
More on the condition:
This copy looks goods on the outside. There is some minor wear on the corners, and the cloth has split some at the hinges, but the spine is bright, it is not soiled, and not stained. There is some light foxing on some pages and pages edges, but not severe, and not on the plates. Exterior is Very Good or better.
This book also contains various ephemera, collected by a former owner, and has a paste down quote on the front end paper that reads, "It is given to few men who have a finer monument these days than Edward Whymper, whose memorial stone is the Matterhorn. - Sporting Times 20.12.1911." Other ephemera are: "The First Ascent of the Matterhorn. The Narrative of "Young" Peter Taugwalder" from the Alpine Journal May 1957, "The Girdlestone And The Matterhorn Accident, 1865" by T. Graham Brown from the Alpine Journal May 1950, plus two newspaper articles from the London Times July 1960 and the Daily Telegraph July 1965 about Edward Whymper.
These binding problems are common on the book. The same binder also bound Peaks Passes and Glaciers, and used inferior fabric and inferior glue on these landmark books, and now we are paying the price. We have had perhaps 10 copies of Scrambles first edition, and almost all have loose hinges, or have already been rebound. A fine book binder can tighten it all up properly, and as the fabric is intact, the repair would be invisible.
When he first saw the Alps in 1860, Edward Whymper was a 20-year-old English wood engraver whose dream was to become an arctic explorer. Ambitious and hungry for adventure, he fell in love with the challenge the Alps presented and set out to conquer them peak by peak.
Whymper made quick work of the challenge, racking up dozens of first ascents and acquiring a reputation as one of the best in the nascent field of mountaineering. But on the Matterhorn, considered to be mountaineering’s Holy Grail at the time, Whymper met with failure again and again. On his eighth attempted ascent he finally succeeded, becoming the first man to reach its magnificent peak. The victory came at a heavy cost, however, as Whymper watched four of his companions fall to their deaths on the descent. It was a tragedy that would cast a shadow over the remainder of his life.
Published in 1871, Scrambles Amongst the Alps is Whymper’s own story of his nine years spent climbing in the Alps. One of the first books devoted to the sheer thrill of mountaineering, it is a breathtaking account of the triumph of man over mountain in a time before thermal clothing, nylon ropes, global positioning systems, and air rescues. It also offers Whymper’s controversial story of the tragedy on the Matterhorn. One of the best adventure books of all time, Scrambles Amongst the Alps is an essential classic of climbing literature by one of mountaineering’s most legendary figures.
Scrambles Amongst the Alps by Edward Whymper
In this famous book Whymper describes the nine years he spent climbing in the Alps (1860 to 1869) including his numerous attempts to climb the Matterhorn, and his successful eighth attempt, when he finally became the first man to reach the summit (a climb that claimed the lives of four of his fellow climbers). The text also offers a fascinating insight into the early history climbing and climbing techniques.
Edward Whymper (April 27, 1840–September 16, 1911), was a British climber and explorer best known for the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. Whymper was born in London on April 27, 1840 to Josiah Wood Whymper and Elizabeth Claridge being the second of eleven children. He was trained to be a wood-engraver at an early age.
In 1860, he made extensive forays into the central and western Alps to produce a series of commissioned alpine scenery sketches. Among the objects of this tour was the illustration of an unsuccessful attempt made by Professor Bonney's party to ascend Mont Pelvoux, at that time believed to be the highest peak of the Dauphiné Alps.
Whymper successfully completed the ascent of Mont Pelvoux in 1861, the first of a series of expeditions that threw much light on the topography of an area at that time very imperfectly mapped. From the summit of Mont Pelvoux, Whymper discovered that it was overtopped by a neighbouring peak, subsequently named the Barre des Écrins, which, before the annexation of Savoy added Mont Blanc to the possessions of France, was the highest point in the French Alps. Whymper climbed the Barre des Écrins in 1864. The years 1861 to 1865 were filled with a number of new expeditions in the Mont Blanc massif and the Pennine Alps, among them the first ascents of the Aiguille d'Argentière and Mont Dolent in 1864, and the Aiguille Verte, the Grand Cornier and Pointe Whymper on the Grandes Jorasses in 1865. That year he also made the first crossing of the Moming Pass. According to his own words, his only failure was on the west ridge of the Dent d'Hérens in 1863.
Professor John Tyndall and Whymper emulated each other in determined attempts to reach the summit of the Matterhorn by the south-western, or Italian, ridge. In 1865 Whymper, who had failed eight times already, attempted unsuccessfully to climb a couloir on the south-east face with Michel Croz. After Croz left for a prior engagement with Charles Hudson, Whymper failed to secure the services of Val Tournanche guide Jean Antoine Carrel, and instead planned on trying the eastern face with Lord Francis Douglas and the two Zermatt guides, Peter Taugwalder father and son.
Whymper was convinced that its precipitous appearance when viewed from Zermatt was an optical illusion, and that the dip of the strata, which on the Italian side formed a continuous series of overhangs, should make the opposite side a natural staircase. This party of four was joined by Hudson and Croz, and the inexperienced Douglas Hadow. Their attempt by what is now the normal route, the Hörnli ridge, met with success on July 14, 1865, only days before an Italian party. However, on the descent, four members of the party (Croz, Douglas, Hadow and Hudson) slipped and were killed, the rope between them and the three surviving members of the party snapped as they slid. A controversy ensued as to whether the rope had actually been cut, but a formal investigation could not find any proof. The account of his attempts on the Matterhorn occupies the greater part of his book, Scrambles amongst the Alps (1871), in which the illustrations are engraved by Whymper himself.
Whymper's 1865 campaign had been planned to test his route-finding skills in preparation for an expedition to Greenland in 1867. The exploration in Greenland resulted in an important collection of fossil plants, which were described by Professor Heer and deposited in the British Museum. Whymper's report was published in the report of the British Association of 1869. Though hampered by a lack of supplies and an epidemic among the local people, he proved that the interior could be explored by the use of suitably constructed sledges, and thus contributed an important advance to Arctic exploration. Another expedition in 1872 was devoted to a survey of the coastline.
Whymper next organised an expedition to Ecuador, designed primarily to collect data for the study of altitude sickness and the effect of reduced pressure on the human body. His chief guide was Jean-Antoine Carrel, who later died from exhaustion on the Matterhorn after bringing his employers into safety through a snowstorm. During 1880, Whymper made two ascents of Chimborazo (6,267m), also claiming the first ascent. He spent a night on the summit of Cotopaxi and made first ascents of half a dozen other great peaks.
In 1892, he published the results of his journey in a volume entitled Travels amongst the Great Andes of the Equator. His observations on altitude sickness led him to conclude that it was caused by a reduction in atmospheric pressure, which lessens the value of inhaled air, and by expansion of the air or gas within the body, causing pressure upon the internal organs. The effects produced by gas expansion may be temporary and dissipate when equilibrium has been restored between the internal and external pressure.
The publication of his work was recognized on the part of the Royal Geographical Society by the award of the Patron's medal. His experiences in South America having convinced him of certain serious errors in the readings of aneroid barometers at high altitudes, he published a work entitled How to Use the Aneroid Barometer and succeeded in introducing important improvements in their construction. He afterwards published two guide books to Zermatt and Chamonix.
In the early 1900's, Whymper visited the Canadian Rockies several times and made arrangements with the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to promote the Canadian Rockies and the railway in his talks in Europe and Asia. In exchange, the CPR agreed to pay transportation costs for himself and his four guides.
In 1901, Whymper and his four guides made the first ascents of Mount Whymper and Stanley Peak in the Vermillion Pass area of the Canadian Rockies (although it is generally acknowledged that the guides did the climbs while Whymper remained in camp emptying whisky bottles, which he piled up to such a height that the guides call the pile of bottleds 'Mount Whymper.')
On September 16, 1911, Whymper died at the age of 71, shortly after another climb in the Alps. He refused medical attention to the point of very death by locking his hotel door. He is buried in Chamonix, France. The cemeteries in Chamoinix and Zermatt are well worth visiting, as many well known climbers are buried in both places, and the gravestones or often engraved with ice axes, and sometimes the climber's real ice axe has been attached to the granite grave stone.
The Matterhorn (German) or Cervino (Italian), (French: Mont Cervin or Le Cervin) is perhaps the most familiar mountain in the European Alps. On the border between Switzerland and Italy, it towers over the Swiss village of Zermatt and the Italian village Breuil-Cervinia in the Val Tournanche. The mountain derives its name from the German words Matte, meaning meadow, and Horn, which means peak.
The Matterhorn has four faces, facing the four compass points, the north face overlooking the Zmutt Valley, the south face Breuil-Cervinia, the east and west faces looking towards the Gornergrat and the Dent d'Hérens,respectively, with the north and south faces meeting to form a shorteast-west summit ridge. The faces are steep, and only small patches of snow and ice cling to them; regular avalanches send the snow down to accumulate on the glaciers at the base of each face. The Hörnli ridge of the northeast (in the center of the view from Zermatt) is the usual climbing route.
The Matterhorn was climbed later than most of the main mountains of the Alps, not because of its technical difficulty, but because of the fear it inspired in early mountaineers. The first serious attempts began around 1857,mostly from the Italian side; but despite appearances, the southernroutes are harder, and parties repeatedly found themselves on difficult rock and had to turn back.
It was not until 14 July 1865, after several failed attempts and some nationalistically motivated backstabbing, that the party of Edward Whymper, Charles Hudson, Lord Francis Douglas, and Douglas Robert Hadow was able to reach the summit, along with Michel Crozand the two Peter Taugwalders (father and son). The party tried theHörnli route and found it considerably easier than expected. On thedescent, Hadow slipped, knocking Croz off his feet, and dragging Hudsonand Douglas with him. rope connecting them to the other three menbroke; the four fell to their deaths on the Matterhorn Glacier 1,400metres (4,600 ft) below. The bodies of all but Douglas were laterfound, and are buried in the Zermatt churchyard. Whymper's ascent isconsidered to be the last of the golden age of alpinism.
Three days later, on 17 July,a party led by Jean-Antoine Carrel reached the summit from the Italianside. Julius Elliott made the second ascent from the Zermatt side, in 1868, and in the same year John Tyndall traversed the summit, together with J. J. Maquinaz and J. P. Maquinaz. In 1871, Lucy Walker became the first woman to stand on top of the mountain, followed a few weeks later by her rival Meta Brevoort.
Today, all ridges and faces of the Matterhorn have been ascended in all seasons, and mountain guides take a large number of people up the Hörnli route each summer. By modern standards, the climb is fairly difficult (AD Difficulty rating), but not hard for skilled mountaineers. There are fixed ropes on parts of the route to help. Still, because of the scale of the climb and inherent dangers, inexperience, falling rocks, and over crowded routes, several climbers die each year. The usual pattern is to take the Schwarzsee cable car up from Zermatt, hike up to the Hörnli-hütte (elev. 3,260 m/10,695 ft), a large stone building at the base of the main ridge, and spend the night. The next day the climber rises at 3:30 am, so as to reach the summit and descend before the regular afternoon clouds and storms come in.
Other routes on the mountain include the Italian ridge, first ascent by Jean-Antoine Carrel and Jean-Baptiste Bich on 17 July 1865), the Zmutt ridge (first ascent by Albert F. Mummery, Alexander Burgener, J. Petrus and A. Gentinetta on 3 September 1879) and the north face route, one of the six classic north faces in the Alps (first ascent by Franz and Toni Schmid on 31 July–1 August 1931).