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Ed. Whymper is the first summiter of the Cervin/Matterhorn peak in the XIX century. The book narrates his various expeditions (scrambles) in the Alpes during which he trekked over many passes and succeeded in conquering several virgin peaks, such as Pelvoux or Barre des Ecrins.
The book is however much more than the log of his successes. It includes many reflections about the formation of the Alps chain, glaciers, life in the mountains and even about health matters, for instance cretinism. In addition, it is also a first hand testimony on early mountaineering, at a time when gears were scarce and unsecure. An adverse rope is indeed responsible for the tragedy that occurred with the first successful ascent of Matterhorn. Let us also remind that crampons were not yet invented, therefore each time ice was met, guides had to strike footsteps in the slopes with their axes or alpenstocks.
Last but not least, Whymper's prose is pleasant to read and his many reflections, sometimes fairly bucolic, are of interest, even if some may appear quite outdated. Whymper has a reputation of being not a sympathetic man, because of his obsessions, but his book may be sometimes times seen expressing true English humour (speaking about the dryness of the air that causes a mysterious evaporation of wine in bottles, in the presence of Chamonix porters): "For a time I found difficulty in combating this phenomenon, but at last discovered that if I used the wine flask as a pillow during the night, the evaporation was completely stopped".
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