Our top ten of summer attractions can’t be all about the exciting physical activities you can participate in when visiting Chamonix… We wanted to highlight the history of this amazing town and it’s importance to the “Golden Age of Mountaineering”.
This summer Chamonix Mont-Blanc has an extensive programme of activities running to celebrate 1865 and the Golden Age of Mountaineering; this was an dramatic and fateful year when the so called Golden Age of mountaineering (1854 to 1865) came to a climax.
During this period in history the Alps had become the “Playground of Europe” for what was the mountaineering elite. Mountaineering was pioneered by the Victorians, who developed it as sport with no real scientific justification. The guiding profession became more structured as a result and with it a new alpine culture was formed. 1865 is the date that stands out during this period due to sixty-five first ascents across the Alps and seven in the Mont Blanc Massif, including Aiguille Verte, the Grandes Jorasses and the Brenva Spur on Mont Blanc itself.
Throughout the rest of the summer the town of Chamonix is hosting a series of exhibitions, memorial climbs, event, films, conferences and book publications. The town also has the privilege of exhibiting the “Treasures” of the Alpine Club collection and also some private collections which have never been shown to the public before now.
Forthcoming events to look out for include the following:
- July 17th : A theatrical sound and light show in Argentière in memory of Chamonix guide Michel Croz, who died on the Matterhorn on July 14 1865.
- August 13th to 15th : Mountain guide’s festival. A timeless tribute to guides and alpinists: activities for all the family, demonstrations, music, traditional ceremonies in Argentière and Chamonix.
There are also a series of talks taking place throughout the summer:
- Thursday 16th July – James David Forbes, pionnier of alpinism by Reine-Marie Faure, Géographe Salle du Bicentenaire at 18h30. Organised by Les Amis du Vieux Chamonix. Admission free.
- Thursday 23rd July – 1865 : Matterhorn, the perfect summit Conquests on the Matterhorn by leading contemporary alpinists Majestic Hall at 20h30. Admission free.
- Friday 24th July (English spoken) – Albert Smith, the man of Mont-Blanc by Alan McNee, author of Albert Smith’s biography Salle du Bicentenaire at 18h30. Admission free.
- Wednesday 5 August – Henri Vallot 1853-1922 (cousin of Joseph Vallot) surveyor of mont Blanc by Madame Lagarde-Fouquet. Salle du Bicentenaire at 18h30. Admission free.
- Friday 7th August (English spoken) – The life of Edward Whymper by Ian Smith, author of Shadow of the Matterhorn. Salle du Bicentenaire at 18h30. Organised by Les Amis du Vieux Chamonix. Admission free.
- Tuesday 11th August – And alpinism today? by Gilles Modica, Claude Gardien, les éditions Guérin et la Cie des Guides. Le Majestic at 20h30. Admission free.
- Tuesday 18th August The triumph of contemplation, Ruskin’s viewpoint by Emma Sdegno, professeur at Ca’Foscari university of Venice ; André Hélard, author of several essays about John Ruskin ; Claude Reichler, honorary professor at Lausanne university. Salle du Bicentenaire at 18h30. Organised by Les Amis du Vieux Chamonix. Admission free.
- Friday 4th September (English spoken). Women Climbers 1850 – 1900 by Clare Roche, of Birkbeck, University of London. Salle du Bicentenaire at 18h30. Admission free.
For the full programme of major events please click here; for details of the different exhibitions taking place please click here and for details of the different hiking excursions throughout the summer please click here.