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A Picture History of Mountaineering

A Picture History of Mountaineering, by Ronald Clark. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1956. 350 ills.; explanatory text. Price $5.95.

Mr. Clark, whose noteworthy "Victorian Mountaineers" and other related books have been reviewed in earlier issues, here presents his collection of scenes and portraits in the form of a pictorial history of climbing. Beginning with the early mountaineers, from Petrach to Placidus à Spescha, we pass through the early ascents of Mont Blanc from Saussure to Albert Smith, with the partially overlapping era of the glacialogists. Wills and the Wetterhorn, Artists and Photographers, Women Climbers, Whymper and the Matterhorn, Americans in the Alps, the Rev. W. A. B. Coolidge, are additional subjects, leading to climbing in areas beyond the Alps. Guides and more modern figures such as the Duke of the Abruzzi, Geoffrey Winthrop Young and Frank Smythe are given separate attention. A number of pictures will be familiar to readers of Alpine literature, but there are many novelties, particularly in the Victorian groups and portraits, in which more detailed identification would have been desirable.

Although there are no important errors or omissions, it should be noted that Dompjulian de Beaupré (Antoine de Ville) was Charles VIII’s military engineer, and for that reason was chosen to make the command ascent (1492) of Mont Aiguille, presumably because of his knowledge of scaling ladders and other artifical aids. The statement (p. 12) that Baillie Grohman explored the Andes is incorrect. It is not mentioned that the three brothers Parker (illus. 108, text), in their 1860 attempt on the Matterhorn, were the first guideless amateurs on the mountain and the first to try from Zermatt. It is strange that the Workmans are not included among the early Himalayan climbers.

J. Monroe Thorington