A Survey of American Ascents in the Alps in the Nineteenth Century
A Survey of American Ascents in the Alps in the Nineteenth Century
ANY attempt to present the development of American mountaineering in the Alps must, of very necessity, be fragmentary. Records were inadequately kept, and much material is buried away in inaccessible press notices, diaries and Führerbücher.
We find, however, that American travel in Switzerland began at an early date. A “Native of Pennsylvania”1 wandered from Paris through Switzerland and Italy in 1801-2. A Mr. Carter (?)2 resided in parts of Switzerland and France during 1813-15. A quarter of a century before this he had been in Geneva, studying under the naturalist Charles Bonnet (Saussure’s uncle) at Genthod. Visiting Chamonix, he walked to Montenvers and registered at M. Desportes “Temple.”
James Fenimore Cooper3 toured Switzerland in 1828 and 1832, and, while at Lauterbrunnen on the first of these years, saw the flag on the summit of the Jungfrau, planted by Rohrdorf's party.
Dumas4 describes a large party of Americans on the Faulhorn in 1832, and W. A. B. Coolidge5 records the visit of his grandmother, Mrs. Brevoort, to the summit in 1835. Forbes6 mentions that on September 17, 1842, he and Auguste Balmat rescued an American traveller on the Trelaporte precipice above the Mer de Glace, who “had not shown himself generously sensible of the great effort used in his preservation.”
Among the first Americans to write a volume dealing with the Alps was the militant Presbyterian clergyman, George Barrell Cheever (1807-90), of New York, whose Wanderings of a Pilgrim in the Shadow of Mont Blanc and the Jungfrau Alp appeared in 1846.
Schirmer7 has recently summarized descriptions of Switzerland in American literature up to 1848.
It is natural that the highest peak of the Alps, Mont Blanc, should have attracted Americans as it did travellers of other nationality. Chamonix was a part of the Grand Tour, and Mont Blanc an adventure for a lifetime. Certain it is that many who reached its summit never made any other great ascent or maintained interest in mountaineering.
The largest list of American climbers, up to 1876, is preserved in M. de Catelin’s (Stephen d’Arve’s) book. Les Fastes du Mont Blanc, and is based upon Chamonix records. Between 1819 and 1876 nearly one hundred Americans attained the summit from this side. The list, however, is incomplete, some names being hopelessly misspelled, while others are incorrectly listed as Americans. It is useful nevertheless in indicating certain tendencies in a growing sport. The list follows, with such identifications and amplifications8 as I have been able to make. The name of the climber is first given in brackets exactly as it occurs in d’Arve’s list, except in the instances where it has been possible to include additional names. [J. M. T.]
1. (Howard). William Howard (1793-1834), of Baltimore, Md., University of Maryland, 1817; Adjunct Professor of Anatomy under Davidge; member of Building Committee. 1820- 21; Professor of Natural Philosophy in academic department; later in U. S. Topographical Engineers. In company with
2. (Raussler). Jeremiah Van Rensselaer (1793-1871), of New York. Yale, 1813; M.D., University of New York. 1817. Associate Lecturer on Geology, New York Athenaeum; Director, American Academy of Fine Arts; Honorary Member, Royal Society of Edinburgh.
August 12, 1819—the first American ascent; the tenth in C. E. Mathews’ list. Since Chamonix was at that time in Kingdom of Sardinia, this ascent antedates the first French ascent (Comte de Tilly, 1884).
Annals of Mont Blanc, 121; Paccard wider Balmat, 271 ; A. J., 25, 608; A. A. J., i, 327. The last two papers contain the original narratives, bibliography and portraits.
3. Dr. Harry Allen Grant; b. 1813 at Simons Island, Georgia; d. 1884 at Enfield, Connecticut. Union College, 1830; M.D., Baltimore Medical College.
Attempted ascent July 15-17, 1839, with one companion, eighteen guides and sixteen volunteers. Names are not given, but the leading guide was probably Joseph-Marie Couttet. Dr. Grant made experiments on glacial motion, and took carrier-pigeons to the Grands Mulets. On the second day they arrived at the Grand Plateau after five hours’ walking, but as mist was rising and obscuring the view they thought it not worth while to continue the ascent, and returned to Chamonix the same day.
Trumbull, Memorial History of Hartford County, Conn., 1633-1884; American Journal of Sciences and Arts, xlvi, 281 ; reprinted in The Recreation, A Gift-Book for Young Readers (London, 1845), and in Curiosities of Modern Travel: A Year-Book of Adventure (London. 1846). It is planned to reprint this narrative as a separate monograph. Despite extensive search in Connecticut archives no portrait of Dr. Grant could be found.
4. John Edward Owens, American comedian; b. Liverpool, 1824; d. near Towson, Maryland, 1836. Came to U. S. at age of three ; educated in Philadelphia, making his appearance as an actor there in 1841. Manager of Baltimore Museum, 1849; opened Brougham’s Lyceum in New York, 1852, after which he toured Europe. Attempted ascent (after August 27) 1852, but details are lacking.
Smith, Story of Mont Blanc, 136; Americana Encyclopedia; Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography ; portraits in Scribner’s (1879) xviii, 321; Century Mag. (1889) xvii, 194; McClure’s (1901) xvii, 151.
5. (S.-T. Talbot, Dr.). August 26, 1854. Israel Tisdale Talbot; b. Sharon, Massachusetts, 1829; d. Boston, 1899. Homeopathic Medical College of Philadelphia, 1853; M.D., Harvard, 1854; Professor of Surgery, Boston University, 1873-76; Dean, 1878-99.
Dr. Talbot, admitting to “no little experience in mountain-climbing,” had been in the White Mountains during the summer of 1853. The ascent of Mont Blanc was a cherished idea from childhood, as he had read Saussure’s account, besides Pococke and Windham’s description of Chamonix. He obtained additional details from an interview with Dr. Hamel, whose attempted ascent in 1820 terminated disastrously.
During the summer of 1854, Talbot was in Tyrol and had but a few days to devote to Chamonix. A visit to the Jardin decided him to attempt Mont Blanc, and for his guides he selected “David Couttet, Alexander Devouassoud. François Tournet, and François Simond.” He mentions that some of the party had ice-axes. They started from the Hôtel de la Couronne with a provision list almost equal to that of Albert Smith. Talbot left his letters and papers with his friend, Mr. Beck of Boston.
A hailstorm caused some difficulty in reaching the Grands Mulets. Talbot describes the refuge, built three years before, as a “comfortable wooden building, some twenty feet long and eight feet wide, with stone walls on the outside.” Late but complete clearing allowed them to depart from the hut at 5.0 next morning, and three hours later they were on the Grand Plateau. Near the top of the Mur de la Côte, a pistol they had brought to fire on the summit fell from a guide’s knapsack and slid down the glacier. They were on top just at noon.
It was perfectly clear, and Talbot noted in the east the Righi Kulm “standing up in clear and solitary grandeur,” although he was incredulous when the guides pointed out the Gulf of Genoa. He left on the summit a part of a pebble that he had picked up on top of Mt. Washington, “a first greeting from the White Mountains—the Mont Blanc of America—to the Mont Blanc of Europe.”
At the foot of the Mur de la Côte they found two wine bottles, left by a former party, and started these, with one of their own, down the Corridor, finding them again unbroken below. The entire descent to Chamonix was accomplished in five and a half hours ; they were acclaimed with champagne, bouquets and a triumphal arch. The Commune presented Talbot with an elaborate document, signed by the guides, testifying to his courage and the rapidity of the ascent.
The text of the certificate (illustrated) is as follows:
Chamounix le vingt huit aôut mil huit cent cinquante quatre. Je soussigné Syndic de la commune de Chamounix declare d’après ma connaissance particulière et l’attestation des guides soussignés quiont accompagné le Sieur I. Tisdale Talbot Doctor of Boston Massachusetts U. S. A. a la sommité du Mont-Blanc, que son courage son intrepidité, et son sang froid dans les endroits les plus périlleux ne se sont pas démentis un seul instant. J'atteste de plus que cette ascension qui eut tien le 26 susdit mois a été exécutée avec une célérité telle qu’on en avait jamais vue. Le départ des grands mulets à la sommité (et retour au même point de depart*) s’est effectué en sept heures* en trois heures. Total dix heures. En foi de quoi nous avons signé à après.
Michel Bossoney, guide chef Pour le Syndic absent
Devouassou Alexandre, feu Pierre le vice Syndic
Couttet David, fils Arraz Simon
As if the formal certificate were not enough for Dr. Talbot, we find that the landlady of his hotel added one on her own account, which the doctor preserved:
Veuve Tairraz Hôtel de la Couronne Chamonix
By addressing you these few lines, it is to communicate you that of all the travellers who tried and who succeeded of climbing the Giant of the Alps, there was not one yet who shewed as much courage and perseverance as you did when you went off from Chamonix to undertake this dangerous voyage in a state of weather which was not at all favorable for it.
Therefore, dear Sir, it is my duty to tell you that all the strangers who stay here at Chamonix, as well as the inhabitants of this place, admire not only your courage but are pleased that your undertaking has been crowned with perfect success.
I direct myself, then, to you, Sir, as Mistress of the hotel which you honor of your presence, to communicate you our real satisfaction of your successful ascent of Mont Blanc.
May ever Providence be on your side as it was these last two days of danger.
In attendance, I remain your
Who’s Who in America; Bartol, Pictures of Europe (Boston, 1855), the narrative being contained in an appendix. It is planned to reprint this as a separate monograph.
6. (Heard, Georges). August 17, 1855. George W. Heard, who later changed his name to George Farley Heard ; b. Ipswich, Massachusetts. 1837 ; studied at Harvard for a short time, but was advised to go south for his health. Later, attended university at Geneva, Switzerland, during which period he made the ascent of Mont Blanc. He then became connected with the management of the firm of Augustine Heard and Co., with mercantile interests in China. His ascent in 1855 was followed in 1857 by a second ascent, made with his brother, Augustine. George Heard died in 1875, on board S. S. “Anadye,” in the Red Sea, and was buried at Suez. In 1855 he was the youngest man ever to have attained the summit of Mont Blanc, and was also the first American to attain the summit twice.
The American Alpine Club possesses George Heard’s manuscript accounts, which it is planned to publish as separate monographs, as well as his certificates of ascent. Certificate No. 88, signed by Cachat, Zacharie; Couttet, Jean; Cachat, Julien; Couttet, Jean Michel and Guide-chef Balmat. Heard’s companion on the 1855 ascent was a young Eton boy, Kyrle Alfred Chapman. See Times, September 9, 1855.
7. (Houlesworth, Th.). August 18, 1855. No information, but as G. Heard lists a Thomas Houldsworth (Scot) on August 5. 1856, d’Arve’s entry as American may be an error.
8. (Hidd, James). September 24, 1855. No information. For similar name see No. 12. Wilkinson (1866) lists James Kidd twice.
9. (Bulwer, James). September 25, 1855. Accompanied by Sorgent, C.
James Benjamin Bulwer (1820-99) and Charles Sargent made an almost successful attempt to ascend the mountain August 25-27, 1852, and apparently returned to complete their effort three years later. They were, however. Englishmen, and d'Arve is incorrect in listing them as Americans. Bulwer later became a member of A. C.
A. C. R., i, 57; Bulwer, Extracts from My Journal (Norwich, 1853). The frontispiece of the latter book is said to be Bulwer’s portrait.
10. (Fairbanck, Henry). Henry Fairbanks (1830-1918), of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Dartmouth, 1853 ; Andover Theological Seminary; Professor of Natural Philosophy, Dartmouth, 1860-65. Clergyman-inventor. Co-inventor of the Fairbanks scales.
Henry Fairbanks and his sister, Charlotte, crossed the Gemmi and arrived at Chamonix in time to witness the celebration attendant upon the return of Richard Forman and his daughter from their ascent of August 1, 1856. Fairbanks and his sister decided to accompany the next party as far as the Grands Mulets, and, on the next day, August 5, Fairbanks was so desirous of making the ascent that he set out behind the first party with four additional guides (Michel Ambroise Frasserand, Louis Simond, François Favret and Pierre Ducros), leaving his sister at the Grands Mulets. The round trip from the Grands Mulets was made without incident in nine hours, and the descent continued to Chamonix. After their arrival, for which cannon were fired, they witnessed the return of the local people who had made the first ascent of the S. face of the Aig. du Midi on that day.
Fairbanks revisited Chamonix in 1891 with his wife and two of their children, finding his name as the one hundredth in the register of those who had made the ascent. This appears to have been the fifth complete American ascent.
Who’s Who in America; Dictionary of American Biography. A descriptive letter written by Charlotte Fairbanks appears in the present Journal, p. 353.
11. (Morrison, A.-M.). July 20, 1857. G. Heard, on the back of his own certificate of ascent, notes that this was A. M. Morrison, Worcester, Massachusetts, who accompanied
12. (Kidd, James). July 20, 1857. Note similarity of name to No. 8. G. Heard notes that this was James Kent Stone, Brookline. Massachusetts. Stone (1840-1921) graduated from Harvard in 1861, and became “Father Fidelis.” He was the first American to become a member of A. C. (1860), and the first to have ascents in more than one district to his credit. This disposes of the statement by Mumm (A.C.R.) that all of Stone’s ascents were made in 1860.
A.C.R., i, 313; A.J., 32, 226; 34, 334.
13. (Dana, W.-Hophon), of Boston. August 27, 1857. According to G. Heard this was S. W. Dana, who accompanied
14. (Steyvesant, Le Noy), of New York. August 27, 1857. Le Roy Stuyvesant.
15. (Heard, George). September 5, 1857. See No. 6. Certificate No. 112, signed by Frasserand, Pierre Auguste; Michel Paccard ; Simond, Jean Michel; Simond, Julien; Couttet, François; Couttet, Jean; Guide-chef Bossoney. His second ascent, accompanied by his brother
16. (Heard, Aug.). Augustine Heard (1827-1905), of Washington. Born at Ipswich, Massachusetts; after graduation from Harvard in 1847 went to China in mercantile pursuits, returning to the U. S. in 1857. U. S. Minister to Korea, 1890-93. His ascent of Mont Blanc was made with the preceding (No. 15), September 5, 1857.
Who’s Who in America.
17. (Murray, Andreys). August 9, 1859. Possibly Andrew Murray (1812-78), Scots botanist.
18. (Coovent, Anthony). August 27, 1859. No information, except that the ascent took place on the same day as that of
19. (Huton-Farras). August 27, 1859. Wilkinson (1866) states that Henry, Huton and Farras were three different individuals.
20. (Stanley-Smith, H.). July 18, 1860. A. L. Mumm believed this to be a pseudonym for James Kent Stone (“Father Fidelis”), but this is incorrect unless Stone made more than one ascent of Mont Blanc. (See No. 12.) In 1860, Stone made ascents in the Oberland with Leslie Stephen.
21. (Burny, W.). August 8, 1861. No information.
22. Unknown. August 11, 1861. Listed thus by Wilkinson (1866).
23. (Kley, D.-E.). August 24, 1861. No information.
24. (Peuman, Charles). August 27, 1861. Charles Penniman.
25. (Allendkoc, Richard). August 28, 1861. Wilkinson gives the name as Altendkse.
26. (Hamilton Lockwood). August 4, 1862. Listed thus by Wilkinson ; recorded in d’Arve’s list as an Englishman.
27. (Weid. Georges W.). July 22, 1865. Probably a duplication of No. 35.
28. (Sebright. John). July 24, 1865. No information.
29. (Fay). September 4, 1865. Joseph Story Fay, Jr. (1847-1912), of Boston; took special law course at Harvard, graduating in 1870.
His son, Mr. Prescott Fay, has presented to the American Alpine Club the alpenstock used in 1865, on which the following names were burned : St. Gotthard, Brünig, Abendberg. Grindelwald, Wengernalp, Mürren, Staubbach, Faulhorn, Gr. Scheideck, Reichenbach, Giessbach, Forclaz, Tete-noire. Chamonix, Montanvert, Mer de Glace, Brevent, Flegere. Cas (cade) du Dard, Aiguille de la Gliere, Col du Geant, Montfriuti, Col de Ferret, Buet, Pi(e)rre Berard, Pierre Pointue, Grands Mulets, Mont Blanc, Col du Tour, Col de Voz(a). The ascent was made in company with
30. (Prickard, Arthur-O.). September 4, 1865. Mr. Prickard (A. C. R., ii, 272) is not an American, although so listed by d’Arve, as shown by the following letter from England, December 6, 1932 :
“Thank you very much for your reminder of a pleasant episode in 1865, of which I have no written record. I cannot claim the honour of American citizenship but as glad to have been associated with one in Mr. Fay. a very young man as I remember him, and a most agreeable companion. I cannot recall any personal trait except that once, probably during the night at the Grands Mulets, he broke into song of a more or less melodious character, but very loud, as to his resolution to ‘live or die with Dixie.’ I thought of him as a Northerner (the Civil War was then at an end) but cannot remember his State.”
Mr. Prescott Fay adds: “My father was in the habit of singing ‘Dixie’ at that time and my eldest brother thinks it was characteristic of him to burst into song suddenly. As a child, years later of course, I can remember his singing some of his old favorite songs spontaneously, so I think the incident described by Mr. Prickard is a very good clue.”
One of the guides of this party, which included two other Englishmen, was Pierre Simon Benoit, of Argentière.
31. (Fay). September 5, 1865. No information, but probably a duplication of the above (No. 29).
32. (Cobb, Gerard-François). September 5, 1865. Gerard Francis Cobb (1838-1904), Trinity College. Oxford. Accompanied by (Donaldson, Rawlins). W. D. Rawlins, later Yice-Provost of Eton. Accompanied by (Baxter-Towsend, Richard). Richard Baxter Townsend.
These were Englishmen, guided by François Devouassoud (A.J., 31, 201), and d’Arve is incorrect in listing them as Americans.
33. (Esherwood, John). September 6, 1865. No information.
34. (Coolidye, F.-J.). September 7, 1865. Possibly Joseph Franklin Coolidge (18?-65) ; M.D., Harvard, 1862.
35. (Weld, Georg.-W.). September 22, 1865. Probably George Walker Weld (18?-1905) ; Harvard, 1865. Note similarity of name to No. 27. The ascent was made with
36. (Sierce, W.). September 22, 1865. Probably George Winslow Pierce; Harvard, 1864.
37. (Earle. Sem.-Joseph). September 28, 1865. No information.
38. (Miss Brevoort). October 2, 1865. Meta Claudia Brevoort (d. 1876), aunt of W. A. B. Coolidge and the first American woman to ascend Mont Blanc.
C.A.F. Ann., xxvi, 273.
39. (Curtis, C.-S.). July 18, 1866. No information.
40. (Howard, Payson-Arnold). September 5, 1866. Howard Payson Arnold, listed by d’Arve as an Englishman, was an American who, for two years prior to his ascent, had been European correspondent of the Boston Post.
Arnold mentions the tendency of Alpine Club members at that time to transfer their allegiance from Chamonix to Zermatt. His companions were British—C. Douglas and A. H. Lassen. They were joined at Pierre Pointue by a Frenchman, who wore a blue cloth suit of latest style, dainty cravat and vest, black hat, brown kid gloves and boots of thin calf-skin. He carried a small copy of Rousseau’s Émile, bound in green and gold. Arnold and the two Englishmen were equipped with plenty of underclothing, nailed shoes, mittens, worsted helmets, leggings, veils, blue glasses and alpenstocks. He describes the new edifice of two wooden rooms called the Grand Hotel Imperial des Grands Mulets. Its furnishings consisted of three bedsteads and four mattresses, a table, a rusty stove, five pine stools and some straw. There were also ten iron cups and spoons, six or seven earthen platters and tin pail.
Shortly after starting, next morning, the Frenchman gave out, and Arnold, with the guide to whom he was roped, proceeded alone, the Englishman being roped with guides in another group. Leaving the Grands Mulets at 2.30, they ascended by the Corridor and the Mur de la Côte, reaching the summit at 10. Twenty minutes were spent there, Arnold describing the “Gulf of Genoa and the dark blue of the Mediterranean” as part of the view. They reached the Grands Mulets once more at 1.30 and Chamonix at 5.0, being received with champagne and firing of cannon.
Arnold, The Great Exhibition (New York, 1868).
41. (Wilkinson, Dudley-P.). September 14, 1866. [Same name, Yale, 1897.] Ascent made with his brother
42. (Wilkinson, John). September 14, 1866. [? John Wilkinson (1821-91), author of Narrative of a Blockade Runner (New York, 1877).]
A letter, dated Berne, September 23, 1866, printed in the Syracuse (N. Y.) Journal, is reprinted in the (?Boston) Evening Transcript of November 8, 1866. It was written by an “enterprising young American …. accompanied by his younger brother.” They ascended Monte Rosa with the two [Peter] Taugwalds and “at once engaged them to meet us in Chamouny to guide us up Mont Blanc …. the son had made the ascent of Mont Blanc twice in ’66, the father never.” Bad weather held them back for several days and finally the two guides were paid off and dismissed. But an Englishman, “who was anxious to take his family of young ladies up to the Grands Mulets, at once engaged the guides, as well as two other Zermatt guides who happened to be there, and invited the brothers Wilkinson to join the party. Fourteen in all, they reached the Grands Mulets in eight hours on September 12 and returned to Chamonix. There the Wilkinsons decided to take advantage of the improved weather, re-engaged the Taugwalds, had themselves photographed and went back next afternoon to the Grands Mulets.
Starting at 2.45 a. m. on September 14, the four reached the summit at half-past eight by way of the Corridor and the Mur de la Côte. Descent to Grands Mulets took three hours. On their arrival in Chamonix the hotels were decorated with French and American flags, cannon and champagne forming the usual climax. This appears to be the first American ascent in which Swiss guides took part.
J. Wilkinson copied from the record of the Guide-Chef the names of the Americans who had made the ascent :
11. Mr. Howard, July 10, 1809; Mr. Rensselaer, July 10, 1809.
71. Dr. G. Talbot, August 25, 1854.
88. George W. Heard, August 16, 1855.
96. James Kidd, September 23, 1855.
102. Henry Fairbanks, August 4, 1856.
110. A. W. Morrison, July 19, 1857.
111. James Kidd, July 19, 1857.
119. H. W. Dana, Boston, August 26, 1857.
118. LeRoy Stuyvesant, New York, August 26, 1857.
120. George W. Heard, September 4, 1857.
122. Auguste Heard. September 4, 1857.
156. Andrew Murray, August 8, 1859.
158. Anthony Covrent, August 26, 1859.
159. Henry-Huton-Farras, August 25, 1859. (Three different individuals.)
187. W. Burney, August 7, 1861.
188. Unknown, August 11, 1861.
200. D. E. Kley, August 23, 1861.
205. Charles Penniman, August 26, 1861.
206. Richard Altendske, August 27, 1861.
224. Hamilton Lockwood, August 4, 1862.
322. M. Fay, August 4, 1865.
326. F. T. Coolidge, August 6, 1865.
336. Geo. W. Weld, August 21, 1865; W. Pierce. August 21, 1865. 341. Miss Brevoort, October 2, 1865.
346. C. Curtis, July 17, 1866.
349. H. P. Arnold, September 4, 1866.
353. D. P. Wilkinson, September 14, 1866; John Wilkinson, September 14, 1866.
43. (Johnson, Warner-J.). September 15, 1866. Identification uncertain (John Warren Johnson; Harvard, 1876. Warren Johnson; Bowdoin, 1854].
44. (Buel, Oliver-P.). October 4, 1866. Probably Oliver Prince Buel; Williams, 1859. Ascent made with
45. (Lesroy, Mac-lean). October 4. 1866. Identification uncertain, but possibly Henry Wykoff Le Roy; Williams, 1867.
46. (Johnson, J.-A.). July 11, 1867. Identification uncertain [J. A. Johnson (1829-?), U. S. Representative in 1870].
47. (Copcutt). August 19, 1867. No information.
48. (Bishop, David-W.). September 7, 1867. Possibly David Bishop (1824-76); Rutgers, 1843; A.M., 1846. Ascent made with his (?) brother
49. (Alston, Bishop). September 7, 1867. T. Alston Bishop (d. 1880), of New York. Member of A.C. in 1871. Made a second ascent of Mont Blanc, August 20, 1872, d’Arve being incorrect in listing him as an Englishman.
A.C.R., ii, 23; C.A.F. (1880), 622; C.A.I.. xiii, 583.
50. (Hockle, W.-H.). August 3, 1868. No information.
51. (Edward, J.). August 7. 1868. No information, except that ascent was made on the same day as that of
52. (Chase, B.-Harrington). August 7, 1868. No information.
53. (Coolidge, P.). July 6, 1869. Rev. W. A. B. Coolidge (1850-1926) ; member of A. C. in 1870. This was the first descent by the Bosses route.
A.C.R., ii, 54; A.J., 38, 278; C.A.F. Ann, (1895), 10.
54. (M. H.). July 19, 1869. No information.
55. (Buchanan, Winthrop). August 4, 1869. No information, except that ascent took place on same day as that of
56. (Weeks, Robert). August 4, 1869. Possibly Robert K. Weeks; Yale, 1862.
57. (Whiting, Walter-B.), of New York. July 5, 1870. No information except that the ascent was made with
58. (Lewis, William-F.). July 5, 1870. William Fisher Lewis (1846-1908), of Philadelphia. Partial student at University of Pennsylvania, leaving at close of sophomore year. Merchant ; 1861, active service with Co. A, 1st reg., res. brig, militia of Pa. ; 1863, 32nd volunteer infantry of Pa.
U. P. Register, August, 1908; U. P. memorabilia file (obit. and
59. (Kandall, John-C.). September 6, 1870. John C. Randall, of Quincy, Mass. In company with
60. (Jos.-B. Bean). September 6, 1870. Joseph B. Bean, of Baltimore. Both of these men succumbed in the catastrophe due to bad weather and poor guiding which overtook the large party on this date.
Annals of Mont Blanc, 233; Durier, 447; A.J., 2, 80; 5. 189, 196;
Anglo-American Times, October 22, 1870.
61. (Colgate, C. M.), of New York. July 4, 1872. Ascent made with
62. (Morse, R.-C.). July 4, 1872. Richard C. Morse, of New York. No information, other than Durier’s mentioning that this party celebrated Independence Day on the summit.
63. (Rane, John-T.), of New York. July 28, 1872. No information, except that the ascent was made on the same day as that of
64. (Graham-Gardiner-S.), of New York. July 28, 1872. No information.
65. (Davenport, W.). August 10, 1872. No information.
66. T. Alston Bishop, of New York. August 20, 1872. Bishop’s second ascent (see No. 51). D’Arve is incorrect in listing him as an Englishman, and it is possible that the same error applies to John Hadley, who made the ascent on the same day.
Ascent made on the same day as that of
67. (Bauer, Seraph.). August 20, 1872. No information.
68. (Whitewright-Suart, W.), of New York. September 10. 1872. William Whitewright Stuart (? Stewart), who left New York and settled in Barcelona. Ascent made on the same day as that of
69. (Withington, Charles-S.). September 10, 1872. Probably Charles Sumner Withington; Princeton, 1869; A.M. 1871; Columbia, LL.B., 1872.
70. (Reuce, général). September 12, 1872. No information. Name not in Register of the Army} 1815-79. Possibly Maj. Genl. (vols.) Elliott Warren Rice—retd. 1865; d. 1887.
Heitman, Historical Register of the U. S. Army, 1789-1889.
71. (Clapp, R.-P.). September 13, 1872. Probably Robert Parker Clapp; Harvard, 1879; LL.B., 1862. Ascent made on the same day as that of
72. (Freuk-Learned). September 13, 1872. No information.
73. (Clarence, Rev. Burel), of New York. September 14, 1872. No information.
74. (Storron, James-J.). July 4, 1873. James Jackson Storrow; Harvard, 1857; d. 1897.
75. (Elliot, W.). July 18, 1873. Possibly William Henry Elliot; Harvard, 1872; LL.B., 1876.
76. (Talmadge van Rensselaer, J.). July 30, 1873. Janies Tallmadge Van Rensselaer (18?-1899), of New York. Harvard, LL.B., 1867.
77. (Terry, R.), of New York. August 5, 1873. Probably Roderick Terry; Yale, 1870; College of New Jersey, DD., 1882.
78. (Parker, Charles-W.), of Chicago. August 15, 1873. No information, except that the ascent was made on the same day as that of
79. (Hoehn, G.), of New York. August 15, 1873. No information.
80. (Fox, J.-M.). August 29, 1873. Joseph Mickle Fox (1853-1918), of Philadelphia. Attorney; Haverford, 1873.
The American Alpine Club possesses a portrait of Mr. Fox, as well as his certificate of ascent (No. 520), signed by the guides François Cachat, Simond Joseph fils de Louis, Simond Mederic, Guide-chef Balmat.
81. (Ayer, James-B.). July 7, 1874. James Bourne Ayer (1848-1910), of Boston. Harvard, 1869; M.D., 1873.
Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, clxii, 692 (obit.). His son possesses the certificate of ascent, which was made with
82. (Moseley, W.-O.-J.-). July 7, 1874. William Oxnard Moseley, Jr. (1848-79), of Boston. Harvard, 1869; M.D., 1873. Member of A. C. in 1877. Killed while descending the Matterhorn.
A.C.R., iii, 208; Ostalpen, ii, 362; Rey, Matterhorn, 318; N.A.P. (obit.), x, 141; A.J., 9, 372; Pioneers, 259.
83. (Ritchie, John). July 14, 1874. John Ritchie II; Harvard, 1861. Never in business; frequently travelled in Europe; second wife a native of Dresden. He died in 1919. Ascent made with his friends
84. (Rand, William-H.). July 14, 1874. William Henry Rand. Formerly of Rand and Avery, of Boston; went to Chicago and became the Rand of Rand, McNally. About 1874 his family lived in Vevey. Ascent made with his son
85. (Rand, Charles E.). July 14, 1874. Stated by d’Arve to have been but fifteen years of age at the time. He died in 1928.
No portraits could be found in Rand, McNally archives.
86. (Wild, Chat.-E.). August 21, 1874. No information, except that the ascent was made on the same day as that of
87. (Calderon-Carlisle). August 21, 1874. No information [? Ignacio Caldéron (1846-19?), Bolivian minister to U. S.; lecturer at Harvard], except that ascent was made on the same day as that of
88. (Russel-John-W.). August 21, 1874. No information.
89. (Daland). August 25, 1874. The rarity of this family name led to the discovery that the man was Tucker Daland, of Boston; Harvard, 1873; LL.B., 1876. Mr. Daland wrote on November 13, 1932:
“Yours of Nov. 9 and a letter from my son have stirred up a very old affair. I never thought that my ascent of Mont Blanc was a very important matter, but I find that I have preserved the Certificat d’Ascension which I think I shall send to you some day. It is numbered 26, but it does not seem possible that I was the 26th person to ever go up that easy mountain.
I know nothing about any Americans going up just previous; but a fortnight or so later, I met two Harvard friends in Geneva—Wendell Goodwin and Amory Hodges of Harvard ’74—and advised them to take the same trip that I did and they did so.
My going up was quite accidental. Two Englishmen (names on certif.) asked me to join them, and I consented; thinking that if they could manage it, I could also. There was no risk in it, as the snow was in perfect condition, and no danger from avalanches.
On the way down we stopped a little while at the hut (Grands Mulets) and I met two other Englishmen named Dent who had been up the mountain that same day [not in d’Arve’s list]. The elder Dent was I believe, President of the English Alpine Club [not until 1887] at that time. They asked me to join them in a trip over the Col du Géant and on over the Col St. Théodule to Zermatt which I did ; and then we went up Monte Rosa. Both Col du Géant and Monte Rosa were much more of a climb than Mont Blanc, but neither was a first class climb.
This is about all the Swiss mountaineering I ever did except a few minor mountain excursions rather than climbs; but I am glad to have it to look back on.”
Mr. Daland’s son states that they climbed the Zugspitze together in 1904. Mr. Daland has since presented the certificate and his portrait to the American Alpine Club. The certificate is numbered (for some unexplainable reason) 26, bears the names of his British companions, Cafral and Melvil, and is signed by Couttet, Joseph ; Simond, Auguste, and Guide-chef Simond.
90. (Wludul-Gordiom). September 8, 1874. Wendell Goodwin (18?-98) ; Harvard, 1874. In company with
91. (Amony, G. Hodges). September 8, 1874. Amory Glazier Hodges (18?-19?) ; Harvard, 1874.
The identification of the two preceding names is made certain by Mr. Daland’s letter (see No. 89).
2. (Curtis, Joseph, de), of Boston. July 31, 1875. [?Joseph Henry Curtis (1841-).].
93. (King. Roland). August 26, 1875. No information.
94. (Pickman, L.). August 28. 1875. Dudley Leavitt Pickman ; Harvard. 1873. Some Mountain Views (1933). In company with
95. Edward Silsbee. August 28. 1875. Uncle of preceding. Not listed by d’Arve. Mr. Silsbee at the time was fifty-two years of age.
96. (Jones, Horatio-M.). September 3. 1875. No information.
97. Henry Remsen Whitehouse (1857-19?), of New York. Ascent made in 1875, but exact date unknown. Not in d’Arve’s list. Member of A. C. in 1876.
A.C.R., ii, 359; S.A.C. (1875); C.A.F. (1878); A.J., 32, 115.
D’Arve’s list goes no further than 1876, and nothing is to be gained by tracing additional American ascents. One, however, should note the two following:
Mrs. G. Marke. Killed by falling into crevasse on Grand Plateau, Mont Blanc, August 2, 1870.
Annals of Mont Blanc, 233; Durier, 443; d’Arve, 277; Echo des Alpes (1870).
Howard A. Riegel (1875-98), of Philadelphia. Killed on Mont Blanc, July 14. 1898.
His sister wrote on January 5, 1933, as follows:
“Howard Riegel was born in Philadelphia on Dec. 5, 1875. Educated in the Friends School in Philadelphia; Andover, Mass., and at the Public Schools in Geneva, Switzerland. From the age of fifteen, he took keen delight in the study of geography, map drawing and the excursions Swiss boys make into the mountains with their masters. He climbed many of the Alps both in French and German Switzerland and spent much time in the Bernese Oberland.
His first ascent was successfully made from Chamonix, returning by the same route. His second ascent, also from Chamonix, but by another route, was made early in July, 1898 (I shall send you the exact date later). He slept in a refuge near the top. where he left a record in the log book and descended to Courmayeur, Italy, where he talked with many of the guides and whence he wrote to his family then in Frascati, Italy. He told the chief guide at Courmayeur that he intended returning over another shoulder. The guide, with whom I afterward talked, begged him not to go unaccompanied as the climb was a dangerous one and the trail badly marked. He started back on July 12, 1898, in time to reach a refuge before sunset. When he was within a comparatively short distance of the hut the trail forked, he took the more distinct one, which proved to be a chamois trail, and found himself on a high ledge of rock about 1000 ft. above the refuge. It is surmised that he went to the edge to look for the hut, laying down his axe and knapsack and was blown over by a very strong wind that was blowing at the time. He fell in deep snow, asphyxiated. He was found by a French lawyer from Lyons, who sent one of his guides to Courmayeur to get help. While the French party was waiting for the return of their guide, my brother’s axe, knapsack and cap were blown down from the ledge. He is buried in the cemetery at Courmayeur. If I can find it, I will gladly send you the map on which he traced both routes.’’
Annals of Mont Blanc, 243, 323; Whymper, Chamonix, 62; Revue Alpin (1898), 249.
If from the foregoing list one excepts the incomplete, doubtful (possible duplications) and those where nationality is not certainly American, one must exclude Nos. 3, 4, 7, 9, 17, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32, leaving 94 Americans who reached the summit of Mont Blanc prior to 1877.
We shall next consider those whose enthusiasm for mountaineering led them to make ascents of additional, less famous peaks, and in other areas. For this a topographical basis is the most satisfactory arrangement and has been followed.
(To be concluded with Part II)
1 Native of Pennsylvania. Travels from Paris through Switzerland and Italy in the years 1801 to 1802. London, 1808.
2 Carter (?). Letters from Switzerland and France. London, 1821.
3 Cooper, J. F. Excursions in Switzerland. London, 1836.
4 Dumas, A. Impressions de Voyage. Paris, 1841.
5 Coolidge, W. A. B. Swiss Travel and Swiss Guide-Books. London, 1889.
6 Forbes, J. D. Travels through the Alps. Edinburgh, 1843.
7 Schirmer, G. Die Schweis im Spiegel Englischer und Amerikanischer Literatur bis 1848. Leipzig, 1929.
8 Bibliographic note: In addition to the references given I have gone through, in the attempt to identify names, the following :
A. L. A. Portrait Index.
Catalogue of the Library of Congress.
William and Mary College: General Catalogue, 1660-1874.
General Catalogue of Bowdoin College, 1794-1894.
Catalogue of Rutgers College, 1766-1916.
Students of the University of Virginia (to 1878).
General Catalogue of Dartmouth College, 1796-1900.
Columbia College Catalogue, 1754-1876.
Williams College General Catalogue, 1795-1890.
Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates of Yale University, 1701-1895.
Quinquennial Catalogue of Harvard University, 1636-1915.
University of Pennsylvania Biographical Catalogue, 1749-1893.
Princeton University Catalogue, 1746-1906.
Catalogue of Amherst College, 1821-1909.
Matriculate Catalogue, Haverford College, 1833-1900.
I desire to acknowledge the assistance of Kenneth A. Henderson and the late Henry F. Montagnier in connection with this paper, which is now printed by request of the Publication Committee. H. F. M. suggested that, for someone favorably situated, a consultation of the files of the Abeille de Chamonix would doubtless yield additional information on American ascents during the ’60s and ’70s.