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150 Years
  First Ascent

Matterhorn 2015

July 14th 1865

7 men on top of the Matterhorn
3 made it home

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Disentangle fact from fiction


Michel Croz


Born in 1830 near Chamonix, Michel made a living as a shoe-maker. For many years, he was a porter, but guiding work started to come his way in 1859, when he was employed for an ascent of Mont Blanc by William Matthews. So impressed was Matthews that he engaged Croz for the whole of the next season. Soon after this, Michel was the guide of choice of some of the most daring climbers of the day. His bravery and determination, his skill and prodigious strength, were legendary. He guided some significant first ascents, including Monte Viso, the Barre des Ecrins and the Aiguille d’Argentière. First traverses of challenging passes included the Brèche de la Miege, and the Col de la Pilatte.

Croz’ home life seems to have mattered far less to him than his climbing. Whymper wrote in his journal how, as they passed one afternoon through Croz’ village of Le Tour, he asked where his house was, was he not going in? Although the house was close by, Croz simply shrugged and said no. As they passed the women of the village doing washing around the fountain, there were hoots and calls, berating Michel for avoiding his domestic ties.