American Entries in the Travellers' Book of the Grand Mulets, 1861-75
American Entries in the Travellers’ Book of the Grands Mulets, 1861-75
J. Monroe Thorington
IN 1943 the American Alpine Club published the writer’s Early American Ascents in the Alps, which recorded many ascents of Mont Blanc in the 19th century. This was supplemented by two notes in the American Alpine Journal1 and two papers dealing with the misadventure of 1870.2 These writings covered almost all that was known of American activity abroad before 1890.
When the writer was in Chamonix in 1949, M. Paul Payot showed him the Travellers’ Book of the Grands Mulets (Livre des Grands Mulets), and he has since made the contents available on microfilm. There are 425 quarto pages, with an estimated 2500 entries by climbers of many nationalities. Almost 100 entries are by Americans who either visited the Grands Mulets as an end in itself or attempted—usually with success—the ascent of Mont Blanc. The volume is destined by M. Payot to be an exhibit in the reconstituted Alpine Museum of Chamonix, under the auspices of the Paris-Chamonix Section of the C.A.F. The American material is herewith presented through his courtesy. M. Payot intends to publish the French material in a separate communication. The English entries have been referred to the Alpine Club (London).
For the first time one can see the actual signatures of the climbers and correct some of the names mutilated in the printed French lists. It now appears also that the French lists are incomplete, for the records of the Grands Mulets show four hitherto unknown American ascents (38a, 49a, 58a, 60a). The notations, as one might expect, are of unequal interest. The early Americans were not true mountaineers; their sole desire, in most instances, was to reach the summit of Mont Blanc. Times and weather conditions dominate the entries, with occasional remarks, some far from complimentary, on the quarters and fare at the Grands Mulets. There is scarcely an instance in which the actual route to the summit is stated, and one can only assume that the earlier routes were by the Corridor and the later ones by the Bosses. Even Coolidge, in 1869, failed to realize that he had made the first descent by the Bosses route.
C. and J. Vallot, in notes appended to Durier’s Mont Blanc (7th ed., 1923) give the fastest ascents known to them: amateur, M. Lucien Tignol, 13 September 1898 (Grands Mulets, 7.30; summit, 12.20; Grands Mulets, 3.10); professional, Alfred Couttet, 20 August 1910 (Grands Mulets, 2.30; summit, 7.25; Grands Mulets, 9.30). While it is not probable that the early Americans were interested in speed, they were at least in good condition; and it seems strange that, with the Grands Mulets entries available, the Vallots made no mention of Whiting and Lewis, 16 July 1870 (summit, 4.00 P.M.; Grands Mulets, 6.00 P.M.), and J. J. Storrow, 4 July 1873 (Grands Mulets, 1.50; summit, 6.45; Grand Mulets, 9.30). The first of these parties descended from the summit to the Grand Mulets in two hours; the second made the ascent in four hours and 55 minutes, and the round trip from the Grands Mulets (including halts) in seven hours and 40 minutes.
There are no entries for the two accidents of 1870 (Marke and Randall-Bean); but M. Payot has sent also the procès-verbal on the former, showing that Mr. and Mrs. Marke were British. This fatality did not involve Americans.
The serial numbers prefixed to entries correspond with or supplement those used for records of ascents in Early American Ascents. All unnumbered entries have to do either with the Grands Mulets alone or with incomplete ascents. Editorial notes are enclosed in square brackets. Identifications previously made are not repeated.
21. Wm. Barney, N.Y., U.S.A. [8 Aug. 1861. Signature only. W. B.: Harvard, A.B., 1859, A.M., 1864; N.Y.U., LL.B., 1865.]
[22. No entry.]
Aug. 24, 1861. Dr. Eckley, Boston, U.S., ascended Mont Blanc with three guides. [Probably Arthur Amory Eckley: Harvard, 1856; d. 1870. Three members of this family registered at Cascade du Dard on Aug. 31st.]
27 August, 1861. Left Chamonix at 10.15 and arrived at the Grands Mulets at 4 P.M. (considered excellent time, weather magnificent,
not a cloud), conducted by the following guides: Pierre Bohren, Casper Keller (Bernois), Simond Pierre Amedet, & Balmat Michel [one of Dr. Martin Barry’s guides in 1834]. A most magnificent sunset at 7 P.M., and started for Mont Blanc with the above guides at 2.25 and reached the summit at 8.15, the weather most magnificent all the way but very cold. Returned to the Grands Mulets at 11.15, making the descent in about two hours and a quarter. Left for Chamonix at one o’clock.
Charles R. Penniman, New York, U.S.A. [C.R.P. registered at Cascade du Dard on Aug. 28th on his descent, apparently meeting his parents there.]
August 28th, 1862 [not 1861]. Started from Chamonix at 8 o’clock and arrived at the Grands Mulets at 4 o’clock & left here 29th at 1.30A.M., starting for the summit at which I arrived at 9.35; left at 10.15,arrived here at 12.16, being 2 hours & 1 minute on the descent. I had as my guide François Couttet and 1 porter.
Richard A. Handeworthe [No place of origin. This, however, is the only entry in any way corresponding to the “Allendkoc” of the French lists.]
[26. Lockwood. No entry.]
1863 [no date]. Wm. L. Matson, U.S.A. [Spent night.]
July 31st, 1864. Walter Jerome, New York.
August 15, 1864. W. Mulligan, New York; Geo. D. Bayard, America.
July 11, 1865. A. E. Fisher, Boston, Mass. Left Chamonix at 8 o’clock; arrived here 2 o’clock 25 minutes. Very little fatigued.
[27. Weld. No entry.]
Sept. 11–12 [not July 24], 1865. Sir John and Lady Sebright, England. [Not an American party.]
Sept. 1st & 2nd . Arrived here & next day went up Mont Blanc. Weather very windy & misty but cleared just as we got to the top at 11.30 & gave us a view of all the surrounding summits. Guides Joseph Simond [and one other, name illegible].
Joseph Story Fay
[J.S.F. registered at Cascade du Dard, Aug. 23rd.]
31. [Not a duplication of 29.] Mr. and Mrs. R. S. Fay, U.S.A. Sept. 4-5, 1865. Mrs. Fay spent the night upon the rock. Mr. Fay ascended Mont Blanc, leaving the Mulets at 1.00 A.M. and reaching the summit at 8.30. Guides François Couttet, F. Devouassoud. [Robert Sullivan Fay, great-uncle of S. Prescott Fay, A.A.C. Joseph Story Fay was R.S.F.’s young nephew, travelling with him.]
Sept. 4, 1865. Arrived here at 12.30 o’clock, a beautiful clear day, and splendid view. After a hearty lunch started down again.
N. W. Dodge, Wm. K. Sheffield, New York, U.S.A.
September 6th, 1865. John N. Isherwood, St. John’s College, Oxford. [Not an American.]
September 6th, 1865. [The signature appears to be T.J. rather than F. J. Coolidge, but no particulars are given.]
[35, 36. Weld, Pierce. No entry.]
Oct. 3, 1865. Denise Charlet [wife of Sylvain Couttet] and Miss M. Brevoort, N.Y., U.S.A. Slept at the Grands Mulets Monday Oct. 2nd & ascended the summit of Mont Blanc today. They are now stopping here a few minutes on their way back to Pierre Pointue. They have had delightful weather & no accident & excellent guides & porters, whom anyone would be glad to have on such an excursion. Sylvain Couttet, Michel Devouassoud [one of Albert Smith’s guides in 1851], guides; Henri son frère, Alexander Burnet, porters. [Durier says that, on the summit, champagne was drunk, a quadrille danced and the Marseillaise sung.]
38a. First ascension of Mont Blanc on June 21  by Eugene Terry [probably related to Roderick Terry (see 77)], of New York, U.S., and William Lawson, of Brayston, Cumberland, England, attended by Edward Cupelin and Edward Simond as guides, Joseph Cachat, Joseph Payot and Edward Benoit as porters. All of these men have been most faithful, careful and attentive. The way totally unmarked from Chamonix to the summit and hence more difficult to ascend than later in the season. They have displayed caution and knowledge well worthy of the highest commendation. Heaven’s choicest blessings rest upon these faithful mountaineers. The weather has been all that could be desired and the first ascension of Mont Blanc in 1866 may be chronicled as a complete success.
Le Grand Mulet, July 16, 1866. A.M. Beckwith, Providence, R.I.
July 17th, 1866. Charles S. Curtis, Watertown, Conn., U.S.A., left Chamonix at 8.55 this morning for Mont Blanc with Joseph Favret and Jean Devouassoud for guides and Devouassoud Venance and Jules Lomblant for porteurs. Breakfast at Pierre Pointue, thence to Grands Mulets at 4.45 p.m. where we passed the night. A severe thunderstorm and much wind in the night. Left at 3½ next morning for the summit, where we arrived at 12 M., remaining there ¾ of an hour and returned here, arriving at 4½ Left at 4¾ for Chamonix.
August 26, 1866. Summit of the Grands Mulets. Lieut.-Col. John R. Leslie, U.S. Army, Samuel A. B. Morse, Cornelia L. Morse, William G. Morse, New York City. Walked all the way up and had fine weather part of the way up, but when we got on the glacier it commenced to snow quite hard and by the time we arrived at the top were caught in quite a storm. This Hotel is very much frequented by people visiting the Grands Mulets, also by guides. Try and get around on the first floor.
Sept. 4, 1866. H. P. Arnold, Boston Mass. Ascended Mont Blanc Sept. 5th.
42. Grands Mulets, Sept. 14, 1866. Accompanied by Pierre Taugwald of Zermatt, and his son Pierre, Jr., we left Chamouni at 1.30 p.m. Sept. 13th. We reached the Grands Mulets at 6 p.m., had a tolerable night’s rest and started at 2.45 a.m. for Mont Blanc. Carried a lantern as far as Petit Plateau. We reached the summit of Mont Blanc at 8.30 a.m., remaining there but a few minutes and then started our return, getting back to Gr. Mulets at 11.45, where we rest & lunch and at 1 descend to Chamouny. The snow was generally in good condition, and we experienced no difficulty in either the ascent or descent, except as we were inconvenienced by the severe cold. Very fine view; clear day.
John Wilkinson, Dudley P. Wilkinson, Syracuse, N.Y.
Sept. 15, 1866. J. Warner Johnson, Philadelphia, U.S.A., en route pour Mont Blanc. Left Grand Mulets at 3.15 a.m. (guides F. Couttet and B. Cachat), in company with Mr. C. Morison & reached the summit at eleven o’clock, slight snow having fallen during the last hour. Furious gusts with sleet, snow & hail rendered a long visit undesirable & the descent was commenced. Difficulty in keeping the track delayed us. The Gr. Mulets were reached at 6.30 p.m. after more than 15 hours very hard work. This morning up to 9 o’clock was as fine as possible.
Taking into consideration the liability to serious annoyances & danger attending the trip & the small chance for a view, the ascent of Mont Blanc is registered as one of the most foolishly spent days of my life.
Charles Morison, Philadelphia, Sept. 16, 1866. Attempted the ascent of Mont Blanc yesterday, and reached the Summit Collidore [Corridor], but being overcome by fatigue, and, at the same time, met by a sharp wind and stinging hail which rendered rest impossible, was obliged to acknowledge myself defeated and return to this uncomfortable, but hospitable, chateau as quickly as possible. Had I known the difficulty of the ascent, the attempt had never been made.
David Gray, Buffalo, U.S. Arrived at this point 20th September  en route to the summit; stayed here a day & two nights detained by bad weather; finally was forced to start downward this morning, in the midst of a terrific storm. An utter, but honorable failure. [D. G., 1836-88: poet, editor of Buffalo Courier; travelled in Europe 1865-8.]
45. Oct. 4, 1866. Dr. L. R. McLean & O. P. Buel, Troy, N.Y., en route from the summit of Mont Blanc for Chamonix. Left Chamonix Oct. 3d at 9½ a.m. Stopped at Pierre Pointue chalet about an hour for dinner and reached Gr. Mulets at 3.50 p.m. Left Gr. Mulets at 2.20 a.m. Reached the Grand Plateau at 5, going that distance by the light of a lantern. Reached the summit at 8.55. [LeRoy R. McLean, 1831-97: Albany Med. Coll. M.D., 1855.]
6 October, 1866. Redwood F. Warner, John Warner, Philadelphia. A most splendid day. Guides François Couttet, Edouard Simond. [Although this party went no further than the Grand Mulets, J. W. appends a long entry in French anent the remarks of his nephew J. W. Johnson (43), to the effect that, under favorable circumstance, one should not be deterred from the ascent of Mont Blanc. Warner adds that he himself had ascended the Breithorn during a crossing of the St. Théodule from Breuil to the Riffel. John Warner, 1817-73. Redwood Fisher Warner, 1819-98. Their grandfather, John Warner, was Swiss, R.F.W. married Martha Ann Johnson in 1849, and J. Warner Johnson, who ascended Mont Blanc in September 1866, was probably their nephew.]
July 10, 1867. J. A. Johnson, Cincinnati, Ohio. Arrived at Grands Mulets on the route to summit of Mont Blanc at 3.30 p.m. Spent the night and at 3.05 a.m. on the morning of the 11th started for the summit. Arrived there at 8.55 a.m. Left summit at 9.40 and arrived at Grands Mulets again at 12.30, safe and sound, no accidents. Guides Simon Pierre Benoit, Edward Cupelin.
Grand Mulets, July 13th, 1867. Arrived at the castle in the air at 4 o’clock p.m. where we found the most obliging Landlord we have had the pleasure of meeting since our departure from the U.S. America. We remained over night with him. Good fare, excellent beds for the weary traveler, etc. Our intention was to reach the summit, but a heavy snow storm prevented us the pleasure. Our extremely careful guides conducted us to this point in safety & return with us today the 14th inst. One of our party M.M.S. weighs 313 pounds, up to his knees every step and blows like a porpoise. Guides Stanislaus Cachat, Ferdinand Devouassoud.
M. M. Schintz, A. M. Clark, W. C. T. Brooks, U.S.A.
John A. Gardiner of California arriv’d at the Grand Hotel de la Mule July 15/’67; departed 16th.
July 15th, 1867. Having traveled now for two years I must confess that at no time have I felt so sadly disappointed as this morning when our excellent guides told us that it was impossible to go to the top of Mount Blanc because the wind was too strong. Thus returning for the first time in my travels without accomplishing my object.
Nathan Groh, U.S.A.
19th August, 1867. Captain O. V. Tanner, H.B.M. Bombay Staff Corps, Cowper D. Jackson, London, Edward A. Greene, Phila., U.S.A. Made the ascent from Chamonix in 4½ hours. [Tanner and Greene] made the ascent of Mont Blanc on the 20th Augt., 1867, leaving at 2 o’c. a.m. & returning at 1.06 p.m. with the undermentioned guides: Laurent Lanier & Laurent Proment, both of them strongly recommended and inhabitants of Courmayeur. [The date corresponds and it is probable that the first name of Cowper D. Jackson accounts for the French version of “Copcutt” under which the ascent is listed by d’Arve and V. Payot. E.A.G.: wool merchant; d. 1893.]
[Between 31 Aug. and 3 Sept. 1867.] E. P. Deacon, U.S.A. Went up [to Grands Mulets].
49. David W. Bishop, T. Alston Bishop, New York [and three Englishmen: R.F.T., Robt. L., F. Trevithick]. Sept. 10th, 1867. Ascended Mont Blanc. Started 2.10 a.m. Reached the top at 8.45 in a driving snowstorm. Reached le Grands Mulets at 2.45 p.m. Over 600 steps were cut in the ice by the guides: Laurent Lanier, Laurent Proment.
Sept. 10th, 1867. F. A. Starring, Chicago, 111. Left Chamonix at 6 a.m. Started for return at 4.30 p.m., the weather looking bad with fog, hail and snow on the mountains. Mt. Blanc we must try you again and hope for better temps. [General Frederick Augustus Starring, 1834– 1904: authority on steel production.]
Sept. 27, 1867. Dr. & Mrs. John Dean, Boston, U.S.A., with Jean & Edward Tournier as guides. A magnificent day and fine view.
49a. J. R. Blakiston, England; J. A. Beebe, Boston, U.S.A. Ascent of Mont Blanc on Aug. 1, 1868, with Cupelin, Joseph, the cook and two porters. Beautiful view. [This is d’Arve’s “Recbe, J.-A., Blakston, J.” James Arthur Beebe, b. 1846.]
50. Aug. 4th, 1868. W. H. Heckle, Boston, U.S.A. Left 1.5 a.m. for Mont Blanc & arrived at the summit at 7.15. Stopped half an hour for refreshment & arrived here again at 10.45 en route for Chamonix. The weather was frightfully cold but the snow was in good order. [Companions: J. C. Thompson, H. R. Robertson, Englishmen.]
[51, 52. Edward, Chase. No entry.]
Sept. 1, 1868. Mr. & Mrs. J. N. Hazard, U.S.A.
June 29 . J. Q. Carpenter of Phila., U.S.; E. A. Morrison, New York. [John Quincy Carpenter: U. of Pa., A.B., 1861, A.M., 1864, M.D., 1868; d. Rome, Italy, 1910.]
53. W. Coolidge, Exeter Coll., Oxon., & New York, U.S.A. Spent the nights of July 4 & 5  here. On the latter day we made the ascent of Mont Blanc. The snow was almost invariably up to my knees and sometimes higher. The ascent occupied 13 hours inclusive of stoppages and the descent a little over 3 hours. Arriving at the summit at 1.50 p.m. we had very little view. Guide Christian Aimer of Grindelwald; porter Ulrich Aimer, his son. [C., then aet. 19, was unaware that this was the first descent by the Bosses route.]
[54. “M. H. Ornot.” No entry. Possibly the Englishman J. H. Orde, who ascended on 15 July 1869.]
July 25th, 1869. J. C. Young, Kentucky, U.S.A. Left Chamonix yesterday at 10 a.m., arrived at Pierre Pointue Chalet at 12, left at 1, arrived at Grands Mulets at ½4. Were delayed by a tremendous rain storm which caused us to sink above the knees in the snow. Rain soon turned into violent hail storm which pelted us unmercifully. Expected to start for summit at 2, but now it is four & still raining & hailing as bad as ever. I want to start but guide refuses & doubtless he knows his business better than a novice. I have determined to remain in Chalet until weather improves or provisions give out. Shall not leave Chamonix without ascending to summit. Looking over this book strange to say I find the names of only two or three Americans who have ascended.
I was forced by sickness on the afternoon of the 26th (bad weather continuing & the lack of medicines) to return at 3 p.m. to Chamonix but design to regularly besiege the mountain next week. [No later entry.]
July 31, 1869. Edward Bowditch, J. B. Ames, Augustus Hemenway, Jr., Boston, U.S.A. 5 hrs., 20 minutes from Chamonix including halt of 35 minutes at Pierre Pointue. [E.B.: Harvard, 1869. James Barr Ames, 1841–1910: dean, Harvard law school, 1895. A.H., Jr.: Harvard, 1875.]
55, 56. August 4, 1869. Buchanan Winthrop, Robert Kelley Weeks, New York; Rev. A. G. Girdlestone, Oxford. We left the Grands Mulets at 3.15 a.m.; reached summit at 11.00 a.m., having included halts of an hour & a half. Left summit at 12.0, reached Grands Mulets 2.50. There were several inches of new snow one day old. Our guides were Michel Ambroise Payot, Edward Cupelin, Alexander Simon Desboise; porter François Auguste Cupelin.
September 1, 1869. Reached here after a walk of 5½ hrs. and made myself as snug as possible with blankets, and the cook gave me a pair of shoes only a little too small, so I put one under the bed and my feet in the other (quite a fit). We had a very good dinner for a place like this, and very good wine. We then after dinner lit our pipes, and after that went to bed, but after trying to sleep for an hour or so and not being able, we told tales and amused ourselves until we fell off to sleep. About 10 or 11 o’clock it commenced to rain and our prospects of going up to the top were small. We went to sleep again and did not get up until the next morning, when it seemed to have cleared off, but in about two hours after rained again, so we think of going down, but not without first trying to get up as near to the top as possible.
R. Grant Wilson, New York City
Thursday the 9th of September, 1869. The writer of this, John Ritchie, with two guides, Louis and François Favret, attempt the ascent
of Mont Blanc. Leave Chamonix at 7.30 a.m.; arrive at Chalet de la Pierre Pointue at 9.30. Stop there 1½ hours and eat an excellent dejeneur. En avant again at 11 a.m. About 12 strike the snow limit, or the Glacier des Bossons; cross this successfully and reach Les Grands Mulets at ¼ before 2 p.m. Dispose of some good chops here and a bottle of Moët. About 3 p.m. the sun comes out, and a glorious afternoon following. At 4 the porters of Englishmen & Frenchmen arrive down from the summit. They report the snow from one to two feet deep. On the top they experienced a driving snow storm. At 5 p.m. the whole party left for the “Lower Regions.” At 7 p.m., sunset, turn in, but sleep none too much. Enjoyed listening to the avalanches. Friday 10th. All hands stirring from 2 a.m. but to no purpose. It blows a terrific gale till 12 m. Mont Blanc enveloped in mist and snow. Guides will go no higher & predict no weather fit for ascending before Wednesday next. “Sour grapes anyway,” so Goodby Mont Blanc for the present.
John Ritchie, Boston, U.S.A. & Harvard ’61.
[John Ritchie 2nd, who succeeded in ascending on 14 July 1874 (see 83).]
May 27th, 1870. Fred A. Clark, Georgetown, Colorado, U.S.A., left Chamonix at 6.30 a.m., reached Grands Mulets at 3.30 p.m. having tumbled into only one crevice or crevasse. At foot of G. Mulets snow was so bad that we took to the rocks & thus finished the ascent. Believing that the chances against obtaining a very extensive view from the summit of Mt. Blanc are not sufficient to justify the outlay of money and muscle required, shall return to Chamonix. Fairer views (minus glaciers) can be obtained in the Rocky Mts. of America at less cost and fatigue.
57, 58. July 16, 1870. Walter B. Whiting, Phila.; William Lewis of New York. Left Chamonix at 7½ a.m., arrived at Grands Mulets at
Will leave at midnight for the summit.
Left Grands Mulets for summit at 3½ a.m., reaching summit at 3 p.m. after a long & tedious walk. Started for Grands Mulets at 4 and reached that point at 6. [Entry embellished by emblem of Delta Psi.]
July 16, 1870. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Treat Paine, Jr., Boston, U.S.A., ascended to this Hotel & passed the night with much enjoyment. Guides Mauritz Andermatten, François Devouassoud. [R.T.P., Jr., 1835-1909: philanthropist; great-grandson of Signer of Declaration of Independence.]
29 July, 1870. John H. Appleton, Providence, R.I.; Wm. Fincke, Brooklyn, N.Y. Ascended to Grands Mulets in 5 hours from Chamouny. Waited ½ hr. at Pierre Pointue. Guides: François Devouassoud, Alexandre Tournier; Joseph Simond, porter. [John Howard Appleton, 1844-1930: prof. of chemistry, Brown U., 1868.]
58a. 29 July, 1870. I ascended Mont Blanc today starting from les Grands Mulets at three o’clock & returning at half past twelve. I found no difficulty in the ascent beyond the exertion, but it is only right to say that I have been walking among the mountains for a month. My guides Pierre Kronig and Pierre Taugwald, of Zermatt, could not be better.
Torrance of New York
[Henry Torrance: b. Montreal, 1835; lived in Brooklyn and, after 1873, in Tenafly, N.J., where he died in 1910. A tea-merchant, frequently in the Orient, he is known to have made other Alpine ascents.]
Aug. 5th, 1870. O. C. Morse & Fredk. T. Blakeman, New York. Ascended to the Grands Mulets in 5 hours & ½ from Chamouny, including 1 hour’s stop at Pierre Pointue. Guides Ambroise Couttet, Pierre J. Ducroz. No difficulty in the ascent. First ascent since the accident attended by the loss of Mrs. Marke & the Portier of the Grands Mulets in a crevise on the Grand Plateau. Beautifully clear weather, view of the valley of Chamouny. Left Grands Mulets for Chamouny 1.30 p.m. [No entry by the Marke party, 2 Aug. 1870, now known to have been British. Oliver Cromwell Morse: Yale, 1868.]
Aug. 10, 1870. James Biddle Cope, Philadelphia, U.SA. Very bad weather. I ascended in a snow storm. Guide Simon Mederic; porter Jean Desailloud. [J.B.C.: U. of Pa., LL.B., 1873.]
September 6, 1870. John Jay Pierrepont, Brooklyn, N.Y., U.SA. Ascended in 5½ hrs. from Chamouny, including 50 minutes at Pierre Pointue. Guides Edward Tournier, Michel Ducroz.
September 6th, 1870. Samuel Bowles, Jr., Springfield, Mass., Thomas Hooker, New Haven, Conn. Ascended from Chamonix in 5 hours & 20 minutes, including 1 hour and 15 minutes at Pierre Pointue. Actual time on the way 4 hours and 5 minutes. [S.B., 1851–1915: publisher of Springfield Republican. T.H.: Yale, 1869.]
[59, 60. Bean, Randall. No entry. Nothing appears to have been abstracted, and the two preceding entries were made on this date. Randall’s entry, quoted by Durier, was made in the book of Pierre Pointue.]
August 18th, 1871. H. Whittemore, U.S.A. We had splendid weather and came from “La Pointe” in 2½ hours.
60a. Spencer M. Janney of Philadelphia, U.S.A. Ascended to the Grands Mulets Augt. 30th, 1871, and after spending quite a comfortable night (considering) started with his guides named Francois Ringhe, Simond Auguste and Dossi Antonio for the summit of Mont Blanc at 1.20o’clk. a.m. on the 31st, arriving at the summit at 7¾ a.m., having lunched twice on the road and taking breakfast on summit. Made the descent (the guides opening a route that had not been before taken this year) to Grands Mulets, arriving at 10¾ a.m. He takes great pleasure in recommending his guides, but would not advise a journey to the summit without the party contemplating as willing and anxious to undergo great hardships and some danger. [S.M.J., 1838-89: railroad president and bank director.]
61, 62. July 2nd, 1872. We left Chamonix at 10 a.m., reached Pierre Pointue at 12.20, where we waited for an hour and 25 minutes for the proprietor of this hotel to join us & reached here at 4.45 p.m. The rope tied about us at 3 p.m. We met Mr. Tyndall on his descent. The weather was bright & clear till we reached the snow, where a fog came about us & continued dense till we reached here. Our guides are Peter Taugwalder & Joseph M. Perren.
July 3d, 1872. The outlook this morning from 1-4 a.m. was such that our guides thought it not one to attempt the ascent, specially as we were willing to tarry here to-day and make the ascent to-morrow. So we have been spending a most quiet day. It cleared off about 7 a.m. & proved to be such excellent weather that our guides have been regretting all day that we did not make the ascent.
July 4th, ’72. 96 Anniversary of Declaration of American Independence. The promise of a good day was excellent. We left here at 1.15 a.m. accompanied by a Frenchman [Albert van den Bossche, Belgian] with 3 guides. Halted to eat at 3.15 a.m., lantern being put out at 5.12. 3d halt on Corridor 6-6.10 a.m. Without further delay we reached the summit at 7.15. Cannon was fired at Chamonix. Stayed on summit 7.15-7.45, then descended to our 1st halt going up & ate heartily from 9.35-10.5 & starting arrived at Grands Mulets at 10.40. Total time of ascent & descent including halts 1.5-10.40 a.m., or 9 hours & 35 minutes. It was an unusually clear but unusually cold morning, the wind coming from the north & some frost bites are feelingly remembered.
Richard C. Morse, R.M. Colgate, New York, U.S.A.
Monday, 8th July, 1872. Wm. Frick, Baltimore, U.S.A.
July 25th, 1872. C. R. Levick, Philadelphia, Pa. Left Chamonix at 8 o’clk. a.m., arrived here at 2¼ p.m. Dined & started on the descent at 4½ p.m. Soft snow, not difficult but rather fatiguing. Guide a most attentive one, Pazetto Charles; porter, Edouard Bellen.
[63, 64. Kane, Graham Gardner. No entry.]
64a. August 4th, 1872. Robert B. Lea, Nashville, Tenn.; John C. Benton, Covington, Ky., U.S.A., with three guides: Bellen Marc, Couttet Joseph, Balmat Pierre; two porters: Desailloud Jean, Balmat Jean. 2¾ hrs. from Pierre Pointue pour Mont Blanc. Parted for Mont Blanc at 2.30a.m. and returned to the Grands Mulets at 12 m. Journey very fatiguing and dangerous. [Robert Brinckley Lea: Yale, 1871; d. 1895. John Clemens Benton: attorney, Louisville, Ky.]
Ascension of Mont Blanc 10 August 1872 by Mr. H. W. Davenport. Guides: Henri Devouassoud, Edward Desailloud; porter, Jean Balmat. Snow up to the knees all the way. [On descent they were reported at Grands Mulets at 3.45 p.m. by a party of S.A.C. members.]
Augt. 20th, 1872. T. A. Bishop, New York. Ascended Mont Blanc; fine view. Guide François Devouassoud & a porter.
Made the tour to Mont Blanc, together with the guides Beilin Jean [and one other, name illegible]. August 20, 72.
S. Bower, J. Hadley
[No address given.]
69. Sept. 10th, 1872. Left Grands Mulets at 3, ascending for two hours by aid of a lantern. Reached the summit at 9. Snow in fine condition, view satisfactory, but quite cold & windy. The descent is not dangerous, but very fatiguing. We can thoroughly recommend our guides Edouard Cupelin and Joseph Balmat as very efficient & careful.
Wm. W. Stuart, C.S. Withington, New York, U.S.A. [On 9 Aug. 1902 W.W.S. made the following Führerbuch entry: “After 28 years, & at Peter Baumann’s request, I, with great pleasure give testimony to his courage, his prudence, his ability & amiability. I employed him in ’69, ’72, ’73, & ’74 in August or in November & on high mountains such as the Finsteraarhorn & Jungfrau, and now my son is employing him on similar trips.” His son, R. W. Stuart, ascended the Wetterhorn in 1902.]
Sept. 11, 1872. Grands Mulets. D-my eyes & the bullets the Y-s put there to keep me from going to the top. They are as “used up” as was the
Sept. 12, 1872. Notwithstanding what I wrote yesterday, I made the ascent successfully. S.C.
[Unfortunately the name of the Confederate officer is not given. This is d’Arve’s “Reuce, général.”]
72. D. P. Clapp, New York; Frank Learned, Pittsfield, Mass. [This is the entire entry.]
Friday, Sept. 13, 1872. Left Chamounix at 8 a.m. Arrived at Pierre Pointue at 10.30 a.m. Lunched there. Left at 12 m. & arrived at Grands Mulets at 2 p.m. Supped & slept there. Saturday, Sept. 14th left at 3 a.m. for Mont Blanc. Reached summit at 10. Left to return at 10.30 & reached the Grands Mulets at 2.40 p.m. Guides Pierre Devouassoud, Victor Charlet; porter J. Devouassoud, all excellent, skillful and attentive.
Rev. Clarence N. Buel of New York, U.S.A.
Sept. 24th, 1872. George S. Payson, New York, E. H. Linnell, Norwich, Ct., U.S.A., James Hooker Bulham, Surrey, England. Ascended from Chamonix in 3-4 feet of snow with 2 guides and one porter. Time occupied 8 hours including a stoppage of one hour at the Pierre Pointue Chalet. Dined sumptuously on 5 courses prepared by the excellent guides Joseph M. Claret, Joseph Couttet and a porter.
June 30, 1873. Wm. A. Draper, Milford, Mass., Wm. M. David, Philadelphia, Pa.
[June 30, 1873.] W. Kent Hawley, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A. Obliged to turn back on account of heavy rains and thick weather, a sudden change in atmosphere.
Fourth of July, 1873. Left Grands Mulets 1.50 a.m.; reached summit of Mont Blanc 6.45 a.m.; left 7; Gr. Mulets 9.30 (déjeneur au café du Gr. Plateau). Left for Chamonix at 9.55. James J. Storrow, Brookline, Mass. Perfect sunrise & perfect view but very windy & cold. Michel Foligny, Jean Tournier, guides; Joseph Couttet, porter.
[4 July 1873.] Miss Thurston, Miss Sands, H. M. Sands, New York. Mounted from Chamonix in 4½ hours.
S. E. Sargent, Boston, Mass. July 6, 1873. Time from Pierre Pointue 2.25 hours. Left at 5, arr’d at Grands Mulets at 7.25. Splendid day. Guide Antonio Dossi.
W. P. Shields, N. Y. City, 8th July, 1873. John Sowoy, Jr., New York City.
[75. Elliott. No entry.]
[July 1873.] Joseph Wharton, Edward Chappell, Philadelphia, U.S. [J.W., 1826-1909: manufacturer; founder of Wharton School, U. of Pa.]
July 29th, 1873. J. T. Van Rensselaer, New York. Left Chamonix at 7.40. Reached Chalet at Pierre Pointue at 9.45 a.m. Lunched. Left Pierre Pointue at 11 & reached this hut at 1.35. Total walking time from Chamonix 4 h 4 m. Weather superb. July 30th. Night stormy; cleared up towards morning. Started for summit of Mont Blanc at 6.15 a.m. Found snow soft and walking very fatiguing. Before reaching the Grand Plateau, a driving snow storm commenced. Reached summit at 1.30p.m. after a most exhausting effort of 7¼ hours. Not ten yards could be seen in any direction from the top! Wind and snow were blinding. Returned to the Grands Mulets hotel at 5—3½ hours from summit. I can safely say that very few guides would have taken me to the top in such weather. Nothing could exceed the skill and pluck of my two guides, and I can most heartily recommend them for the Mont Blanc excursion. In the blinding snow they seemed to find their way up the final steep slopes, as if by instinct. Their names are Henri Devouassoud and Frederic Payot; Joseph Couttet acted as porter. This hut is a comfortable place, but it is not too much to say that the fare there might be improved even on the rocks of the Grands Mulets.
Roderick Terry, New York, H. Mason, H. M. Wright, Staten Island. 4-5 Aug., 1873. [This is the entire entry, leaving it uncertain whether Mason and Wright took part in the ascent.]
[Aug. 1873.] Geo. Ropes, Salem, Mass.
Clifford T. Morrogh, M.D., New Brunswick, New Jersey, arrived at the Grands Mulets Aug. 14th, 1873, & left following morning for Chamonix. [C.T.M.: b. ca. 1830.]
[78, 79. Parker, Hoehn. No entry.]
August 30, 1873. Started for the summit at 3.30 a.m.; arrived there 11.30 a.m.; returned to Grand Mulet at 3.30 p.m. Guides were Cachat François, Simond Joseph, Simond Mederic and can recommend them as kind and attentive & also skillful. The ascent was very much like the above [sketch]
J. M. Fox, Philadelphia, U.S.A.
September 2nd, 1873. James M. Bruce, New York. [On same date, possibly in separate parties]: J. W. Patterson, Hanover, N.H.; H. B. Barnett and J. R. Denman, Newark, N.J. [J.M.B., 1846—, Yonkers, N.Y.: Columbia, 1865.]
Sept. 10, 1873. The fare is high and so is the price. W.L. & S.L. Kent, Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.A.
Fred W. Manullin, New York, U.S.A. September 22, 1873. Guide Alexandre Devouassoud, who speaks English very well, and Joseph Couttet as porter.
82. July 6, 1874. James B. Ayer, M.D., W. O. Moseley, Jr., Boston, U.S.A. Made the ascent of Mt. Blanc. Fine. Guide François Devouassoud, whom we can highly recommend; porter Joseph Couttet. Joined Mr. King [George King, F.S.A., of London] at this point and made the ascent with him.
The 10th day of July . Hancke Hencken, 410 East 4th St., New York, U.S.A.
83, 84, 85. Wm. H. Rand of Chicago, U.S.A., Charles E. Rand, Chicago, John Ritchie of Boston arrived at G. Mulet on Monday, July 13, 1874 at 3.15 p.m. having left Chamounix at 7.45 a.m., bound for the top. Capital climb this far. Most favorable weather, & prospects good for tomorrow. Leave Grands Mulets at 1.15 a.m. Tuesday July 14 for Mont Blanc. 3 guides and 3 porters. Fair weather—make a good start. After an hour out Mr. W. H. Rand with 1 guide & 1 porter returns, feeling convinced his health would not hold out. The rest of the party keep on. Make the Petit Plateau at 3.30 a.m.—the Grand Plateau at 4.30. Sunrise and breakfast. Make the top of Mt. Blanc at 9.45. Very much exhausted. Good view for Mont Blanc. Saw Monte Rosa Group, the Matterhorn. Made the descent in 3 hours to Grands Mulets. Guides François Cachat, Simond Joseph, Simond Mederic. Leave Grands Mulets for Pierre Pointue 3.15 p.m.
Wm. C. Benedict, Providence, Rhode Island. July 21st, 1874.
E. J. Farquhar, Washington, U.S.A. August [probably 14th], 1874.
Arrived here August 16th, 1874, and after a sleepless night started at 2.20o’clock for the summit. Guide Ernest Paccard, et al.
T. De Witt Thompson, Frank O. Shaw, New York. [Probably incomplete, other parties turning back on same day because of high wind at the Bosses.]
T. B. Peterson, Jr., Charles E. Wild, Philadelphia, U.S. Returned from the summit of Mont Blanc at 6.30 p.m. August 20th, 1874. Perfect. [T.B.P.: publisher; d. 1890.]
88. Calderon Carlisle, Washington, John W. Russell, New York, made the ascension of Mont Blanc, 10 hours, August 21st, 1874. Guides Devouassoud Benoit and Albert; Favret Gustave, porter. [C.C.: legal advisor to Spanish Legation, Washington, D.C., 1896-7.]
[89. Daland. No entry.]
[Between 25 and 30 Aug. 1874.] George Biddle, Philadelphia.
90, 91. Sept. 7, 1874. Arrived this day at the Grands Mulets two strangers who came from Chamonix in four hours and a half. These strangers were accompanied by two guides and one porter and as the summit of Mont Blanc was the destination of said strangers they stopped all night at the Grands Mulets. The fare is fair but loses out in the beds.
Sept. 8, 1874. At 3 A.M. these two strangers started with their guides and porter for the summit, which they reached at 10 A.M. Then returned to the Grands Mulets, which they reached at 1 o’clock. If any one wants two good guides and a good porter let them enquire for Edouard Cupelin and François Cachat, and for porter Jean Cachat Rosset. The first mentioned has ascended Mont Blanc thirty four times.
Wendell Goodwin, Amory C. Hodges, Boston, U.S.A.
Sept. 8, 1874. Leucy E. Seldens, Emily D. Norcross, Emily A. Means, U.S.A. Guide Folliguet Florentin and 3 others who have been very careful & kind.
May 23d, 1875. Arrived here after a rather fatiguing walk of 5 hrs. from Pierre Pointue. Weather very bad, snow & fog. Ambroise Tournier, Henri Charlet.
H. R. Whitehouse, U.S.A. [This is the last American entry in the Grands Mulets book. Whitehouse made a successful ascent later in the same season (see 97).]
1A.A.J., V (1945), 440; VI (1947), 452.
2“The High Adventure of Mr. Randall,” A.A.J., V (1945), 333 ff.; “The Strange Death of Dr. Bean,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, XVII (Jan. 1945), 101 ff.