Edward Whymper, FRSE (1840 – 1911) was an English Mountaineer, author and illustrator. He was most famous for achieving the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865.
He was born in London and trained as a wood engraver. He was often commissioned to make engravings of Alpine scenes. He soon ventured on a series of Alpine climbing expeditions during which he invented the “Whymper Tent”, an “A” frame ridge pole tent whose design was still used 100 years later.
Edward Whymper also produced a series of Alpine Guides. Arthur Beale (called John Buckingham until 1901) used to advertise in the guides. Here is a signed letter from Edward Whymper from our archives. He is suggesting that we should add Ice Axes to our display advert.
Here is our advert from the Whymper Guide before taking his advice and adding the Ice Axes.
His first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865 unfortunately led to the loss of four men when their rope broke.
We supplied the climbing rope for this expedition but because it wasn’t long enough to secure all the men during the descent, a lesser quality rope was used for some of the party. There is still a great deal of controversy regarding why the poor quality rope was used and why the long rope we supplied was cut down in length.
In 1864 the Alpine Club was so worried about the quality of climbing rope and the accidents it caused that it commissioned a survey and tested over 100 ropes. Only four ropes passed the test and all four were made by Arthur Beale (Called John Buckingham in those days).
The Alpine Club rope was famous worldwide. It was made from top quality manila. When Nylon was invented in 1935 natural fibre ropes for climbing soon became obsolete.
We have just one copy of Shadow of the Matterhorn by Ian Smith on our online shop. It tells the life story of Edward Whymper