Memorial to Dr. Paccard
At the International Congress of Alpinism, held in Chamonix during August, 1932, there was unveiled a bronze portrait medallion of Dr. Michel Gabriel Paccard, who, in company with Jacques Balmat, made the first ascent of Mont Blanc, in 1786.
The project was instigated by several American members of the French Alpine Club, and while it never became official business of the American Alpine Club, the following members contributed : Burr, Comstock. Gilmour, Hall, Hickson, Ladd, Linton, Mallinckrodt, Montagnier, Schwab, Thorington and Waterman. Unofficial contributions were also made by the A. C., S. A. C. and C. A. I., the C. A. F. making up the small balance required.
Arrangements were in the hands of Mr. H. F. Montagnier, who represented the American Alpine Club at the Congress. The medallion was executed by the French sculptor, Paul Sylvestre, and cast by the firm of M. Susses frères, of Paris. The design is based on the youthful profile portrait by Bacler d’Albe.
The placing of this tablet on the wall of the Hotel de Ville at Chamonix does belated justice to Dr. Paccard, whose cooperation in the ascent was overshadowed by Balmat’s attempt, abetted by Bourrit, to secure all credit for himself ; and by the twisted publicity given later by press-agent Alexandre Dumas. The controversy carried on by Alpine historians for over a century was ably summarized in Dübi’s Paccard wider Balmat, in which the doctor is placed on an equal footing with the peasant in achieving the conquest of the great mountain.
Balmat is already commemorated at Chamonix : by the medallion before the churchyard, and by the statue in which he is pointing the way to de Saussure.
At the Paccard celebration, on August 28th, the official unveiling took place before the Mayor of Chamonix ; General Dosse, Governor of Lyon, and commanding the 14th Army Corps ; M. Raymond de Saussure; the 7th Battalion of Chasseurs Alpins; and a large gathering of delegates and spectators. H. E. Signor
Bobba, representing the C. A. I. opened the proceedings, and was followed by Dr. Dübi, for the S. A. C.; M. Escarra, President of the C. A. F. ; and the Mayor of Chamonix, the latter announcing that the street of Chamonix, leading toward Les Bossons had been named Rue du Docteur Paccard.
Thus an enduring and untruthful legend is laid at rest.
J. M. T.