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Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles

Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles, by C. Douglas Milner. 176 pages with frontispiece in color. 70 illustrations by the author, 4 map diagrams, bibliography and index. London: Robert Hale, Ltd., 1955. Price 30 s.

This is the first book in English dealing with the chain of Mont Blanc as a whole since the publication of Mathews’ Annals more than 50 years ago. The author is internationally known for his mountain photography, and the present work with its interesting text, emerges with a curious tridimensional quality, as if one were studying a relief map. This will be evident to anyone consulting the concluding chapters on Practical Recommendations and Centres and Selected Expeditions.

The early chapters deal with the pioneer journeys to Chamonix of Pococke, Windham and Martel, and the subsequent visits of de Saussure and his contemporaries, leading to the explorations and ascent of Mont Blanc itself. The early ascents are dealt with, and the impetus given to the knowledge of mountains by Forbes and Ruskin is discussed. The Chamonix and Courmayeur guides, as well as the tariffs, come under analysis, while three chapters cover climbing to modern times: The Ice Age (1855-1875), The Stone Age (1875-1914), and The Iron Age (1919-1955).

The first mention of Mont Blanc by name, however, as Paul Payot has shown, is by Francois de Sales in a document of 1603, and not, as Mr. Milner states, by Martel in 1742.

J. Monroe Thorington