150 Years
  First Ascent

Matterhorn 2015

The First Ascent of the Matterhorn from Zermatt on July 14th 1865 was not exactly carefully planned. It was a chain of chance events that led to those seven climbers reaching the summit, then four perishing on the mountain and leaving Edward Whymper and Peter Taugwalder the subjects of intense speculation ever since.

Matterhorn 2015 takes the opportunity of its 150th Jubilee to re-live that epic event in mountaineering history. Follow Whymper on the journey across the Alps that culminated in the First Ascent of the Matterhorn and, along the way, work out what really led to the deaths of Michel Croz, Lord Francis Douglas, Charles Hudson and Douglas Hadow.

Read and experience the entire story via a Videobook, especially designed for tablets. A free App is available for download and enables you access to the history of the Matterhorn’s first ascent in any place and at any time.

Week by Week: A weekly Newsletter reports on the adventures of Summer 1865 ... as told by a contemporary of Edward Whymper. You can follow events “online” or pick up a printed version in Zermatt.

Day by day – Each afternoon an update on our website will be your gateway to the alpine exploits of that day 150 years ago.

As the action unwinds, we will keep you ud-todate either via our Live-Ticker or Twitter.

Become a Facebook friend of Edward Whymper, and hear what he has to say about the path towards the summit.

Exchange thoughts about the climb on our “Matterhorn 2015” Facebook community of adventure and nature lovers. Here you will also learn interesting fun-facts about Edward Whymper as well as his fellows, and reawaken your enthusiasm for wild adventures!

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Biography

 
 

Edward Whymper

(1840-1911)

 
 

Whymper was a wood-engraver by profession. He did well at school but left at 14 to take up his apprenticeship in what was the family business. The Whympers lived and worked in Lambeth, close to the River Thames in central London. Edward’s youthful journal shows him to be interested in the world about him, especially the politics and news stories of the day, keen on cricket and uneasy in social situations.

When a book needed Alpine illustrations in 1860, young Edward was sent to make the sketches and so began his fascination with the mountains. The next five years saw him exploring the Alps, joining the mountaineering fraternity, and undertaking increasingly ambitious climbs. It was a fascination that would grow to combine the will to climb with intellectual curiosity.

After the Matterhorn tragedy, his adventures in Greenland, Ecuador and Canada were driven by the Victorian aspiration to push the boundaries of scientific knowledge, and have papers published in the prestigious periodical Nature. Whymper achieved these goals, in spite of his lack of formal education. Towards the end of the century the wood engraving business suffered as technology moved on. Photographs could be used to illustrate books and magazines. But the stories of his adventures could earn money. So Whymper became a professional on the lecture tour circuit, a popular form of entertainment for Victorians. His talks were, of course, fully illustrated with impressive photography.

As he aged, Whymper’s unease with society grew into a general dislike for what he saw as stupidity. He could be caustic to the point of being rude. He had close friends, but many people annoyed him, and when they did, they knew about it. He was eccentric and reclusive, but his talks were popular and, so reports say, highly amusing. During the late 1890s, Whymper’s friendship with Charlotte Hanbury, ten years his senior, developed into a close relationship that ended when she was taken from him by cancer. A few years later, there was a brief and disastrous marriage to Edith Lewin, considerably younger, who bore him a daughter.

In 1911, Whymper was travelling in the Alps when he fell ill. Quickly and quietly, he died in his room in a Chamonix hotel.

  • Edward Whymper