L’Homme et Le Mont Blanc, by Etienne Giudetti. Paris: Hachette, 1957.
197 pages; panorama. Price 750 fr.
In this account of Chamonix, its valley and Mont Blanc, the text is largely given over to the story of the mountain through the time of Saussure’s ascent. Preliminary sections deal with visits to the valley as early as the 15th and 16th centuries, and it is pointed out that the supremacy of Mont Blanc was unrecognized because of the great heights attributed to peaks along such passes as the Mont Cenis and St. Gotthard, on which great rivers rose. One is struck by the amazingly accurate figure of 4808 m. which Saussure obtained by barometric measurement on the summit of Mont Blanc in 1787. It is also pointed out that, almost to the time of Whymper, the Mont Blanc massif had individual names for only a few peaks. Now there are more than 400 named points above 3000 m.
Subsequent climbing is compressed in a final 20-page chapter. There are three appended tables on climbing, in the first of which (to 1871) it is indicated that English climbers accounted for more than 50 percent of ascents, while our countrymen occupy third place, following France.
The errors and shortcomings of this book, which cannot compare in scope with Payot’s Au Royaume du Mont Blanc, and is insecurely bound, are the subject of a critical review by L. Seylaz in Die Alpen, October 1957.
J. Monroe Thorington