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

 
 

Lord Francis Douglas

(1847-1865)

 
 

Many of the tourists roving the alps in the nineteenth century were professionals – academics, clergymen, business men, lawyers. But there were a few aristocrats and Lord Francis Douglas was one of them. He was a second son of the Queensberry family, whose ancestral home was in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. As was often the case for a second son, he had gone into the army. He excelled in the examinations he took just a few weeks before his travels around Europe in the summer of 1865.

Losing Lord Francis was not the first calamity in the family. In 1858, Francis’ father, Lord Queensberry, died in what was reported as a shooting accident. There were rumours, however, that he had taken his own life, that it was a suicide covered up for the reputation of the family.

By the time Lord Francis joined Whymper in Breuil and agreed to make an attempt on the Matterhorn, he was already an accomplished mountaineer. His achievements in the previous years, including a remarkable crossing from Zinal to Sankt Niklaus in 1863, showed courage, agility and strength. In 1865, he had spent some time in Florence with a close friend, Robert Moncrieff. But he allowed time for a few weeks climbing in Switzerland before he was due in Scotland for his brother’s 21st birthday on July 20th. The same brother, John Sholto Marquess of Queensberry, would go on to be famous for giving his name to the Queensberry Rules of boxing, and to play a pivotal role in the downfall of Oscar Wilde.

  • Lord Francis Douglas