Thursday, August 9, 2007

That Whymper was quite an interesting Dude.

The Matterhorn
Whymper Had serveral fruitless attempts to reach the summit of the Matterhorn by the south-western, or Italian, ridge. Whymper, who had failed six times already, was determined to try the eastern face, convinced that its precipitous appearance when viewed from Zermatt was an optical illusion, and that the dip of the strata, which on the Italian side formed a continuous series of overhangs, should make the opposite side a natural staircase. His attempt by what is now the normal route met with success on July 14, 1865, only days before an Italian party. However, on the descent, four members of the party slipped and were killed, and only the breaking of the rope saved Whymper and the two remaining guides from the same fate. A controversy ensued as to whether the rope had actually been cut, but a formal investigation could not find any proof. The account of his attempts on the Matterhorn occupies the greater part of his book, Scrambles among the Alps (1871), in which the illustrations are engraved by Whymper himself. The accident haunted Whymper:

"Every night, do you understand, I see my comrades of the Matterhorn slipping on their backs, their arms outstretched, one after the other, in perfect order at equal distances—Croz the guide, first, then Hadow, then Hudson, and lastly Douglas. Yes, I shall always see them…"

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