Chamonix: History of Alpinism

Chamonix Mountaineering - A Brief History

1760 - Alpinism is invented. The Genevan naturalist, Horace Bénédict de Saussure, offered a large reward to anyone who could find the way up Mont Blanc.On the 24th July he visited "Chamouny" and climbed up to the Brevent.

1786 - The first ascent of Mont Blanc. Jacques Balmat, a local crystal hunter by profession, a man with an iron will and an instinct for the mountains teamed up with a Dr. Paccard, a Chamonix doctor. On August 2, 1786 the two men left Chamonix and camped at the summit of "Montagne de la cote". At 4.00am they left for the Grand Plateau, and at 18.23 they reached the summit. Their ascent was followed by telescope from Chamonix.

1787 - Saussure to the summit. On the 1st of August at the age of 47yrs H.B. Saussure with 18 guides arrived at he summit of Mont Blanc. This was achieved after a bivouac at the Grand Plateau.

19th Century

1808 - First female ascent of Mont Blanc. By a Local Chamonix woman: Marie Paradis. 1818 - Aiguille du Midi, First ascent by A. Malczewski and Jean-Michel and five other guides on the 4th August.

1820 - The first catastrophe. A group of five guides, left for Mont Blanc. Just below the Grand Plateau an avalanche swept them into a crevasse. Only two survived. The other three bodies were discovered 41yrs later at the bottom of the Bossons Glacier.

1823 - The Chamonix guides company was established.

1857 - The Alpine Club was founded in London. The Mont Blanc and Aiguille de Midi were still the only peaks to be conquered. The Golden age of Alpine Climbing was about to begin.

1864-65 The Golden Age of Climbing. An English designer Edouard Whymper and Michel Croz a trainee guide, accomplished three 1st ascents in one week; The Col de Triolet, L'Aiguille de Treletete and the L'Aiguille d'Argentiere.

1864 - First ascent of Aiguilles d' Argentière, 15 July, A. Reilly, E. Whymper, M. Croz, M. Payot, H. Charlet.

1865 - Grandes Jorasses, 24 June, E. Whymper, C. M. Croz, C. Almer, F. Biner.

1865 - Aiguille Verte, 29 June, E. Whymper, C. Almer, F. Biner.

1871 - Aiguille du Plan, July, J. Eccles, M. and A. Payot.

1876 - Les Droites, 7 August, H. Cordier, T. Middlemore, J. Oakley, J. Jaun, A. Maurer.

1879 - First ascent of the Petit Dru, 29 August, Jean Charlet-Straton, Prosper Payot et Frederic Folliguet.

1880 - One century after the first ascent of Mont Blanc over 3000 people attempted to climb.

1881 - Aiguille du Grepon, 5 August, A. Mummery, A. Bergener, B. Venetz.

1882 - Dent du Geant, 28 July, J,-J. B. D. Maquignaz.

1887 - Grands Charmoz, 10 September, A. Mummery, A. Bergener, B. Venetz.

1897 - Les Courtes, 17 August, O. Schuster, A. Swaine.

1898 - Aiguille de Blatière, 7 August, By the Spencer couloir, S. Spencer, C. Jossi, H. Almer.

1898 - Aiguille de Triolet, 3 September J. B. Guyot, J. Brocherel, A. Rey.

20th Century

1901 - Mont Maudit, 31 July, P. Cassan, P. Kornacker.

1904 - The Charpoua refuge opened.

1938 - The Walker Spur, Grandes Jorasses, 6 August, R. Cassin, L. Esposito, U. Tizzoni.

1938 - First winter traverse of the Drus by Armand Charlet et Camille Devouassoux.

1952 - South face of the Dru, André Contamine et Michel Bastien.

1955 - Bonatti Pillar, The Dru, 22 August, Soloed by Walter Bonatti.

1957 - First winter ascent of west face of the Dru, Jean Cousy et Réné Desmaison.

1961 - Pilier central du Frêney, 29 August C. Bonnington, D. Whillans.

1962 - American Direct, The Dru, 26 July, G. Hemmings, R. Robbins.

1963 - First solo of the West face of the Dru, Réné Desmaison.

1964 - The first winter ascent of the north face by Georges Payot - Yvon Masino - Gérard Devouassoux.

1966 - A rescue on the south face of the Dru.

1967 - First ascent of the route des Guides on the N. face, Yannick Seigneur - Claude Jager - Michel Feuillerade - Jean Paul Paris.

1973 - First ascent of the north Grand Couloir on the Dru - Claude Jager et Walter Cecchinel.

1975 - First ascent of Col du Dru, Emmanuel Schmutz, Claude Tuccinardi.

1975 - The first descent of the south face of the Dru on ski's Jean-Marc Boivin.

1979 - First ascent of the route "C'est arrivé demain" Patrick Bérault - Claude et Yves Rémy 1981 - Enchainement Fou - American Direct, Jean-Marc Boivin - Patrick Bérault.

1982 - First solo ascent of the American direct on the Dru, Christophe Profit.

1980 to 1989 : Des enchainements ... Eric Escoffier - Rémy Escoffier - Daniel Lacroix - Christophe Profit - Michel Fauquet.

1982 - First ascent of the French Direct on the Dru by Christophe Profit - Michel Bruel - Hervé Sachetat - Hubert Giot.

1983 - The American Direct freed on the Dru, Thierry Renault - Pascal Etienne - Christophe Profit - Eric Escoffier.

1983 - First Winter ascent of the Leseuer route on the N. face of the Dru, Thierry Renault, Andy Parkin.

1984 - Grand Pillar d' Angle, 8 August, Direct route of Divine Providence.

1986 - First descent on snowboard of the Dru by Bruno Gouvy.

1989 - The first winter solo ascent of the Bonatti Pillar on the Dru by Alain Ghersen.

1990 - Enchainement: Directe Américaine - Walker - Intégrale de Peuterey, Alain Ghersen 1991 - First ascent of the route "Destivelle" on the West face of the Dru, Catherine destivelle.

1992 - First solo of the French Direct on the Dru, Francois Marsigny.