Shadow of the Matterhorn: The Life of Edward Whymper: Smith, Ian
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Shadow of the Matterhorn: The Life of Edward Whymper

Author(s): Smith, Ian

Copyright: 2011, UK
Specifications: 1st, 8vo, pp.336, 26 color & 16 bw photos, 34 illus, illus eps, blue cloth
Condition: signed, dj & cloth new

When just 25 years of age, Edward Whymper crowned a meteoric climbing career with the first ascent of the last great unclimbed summit in the Alps, the Matterhorn. However, this triumph came with a notoriety and a lasting sorrow due to the catastrophic accident on the descent. Whymper then turned his attention to the Arctic and made two adventurous expeditions to NW Greenland, described here for the first time. A remarkably successful trip to Ecuador, where he climbed the country’s other highest mountains (Chimborazo) and camped on the rim of a live volcano (Cotopaxi), and established the modus operandi for expeditions to the greater ranges.

From a large family in south London, Whymper trained as a wood engraver, and this craft provided his living and financed his travels. His mountaineering achievements have overshadowed his distinction as an engraver, but new research shows the importance of his book illustrations. A talented writer, Whymper produced one of the finest mountaineering books ever written, Scrambles Amongst the Alps, about his heroic quest for the Matterhorn.

Richly illustrated with Whymper’s engravings and previously unpublished photographs, this biography – the first for 70 years – uses new material from archives around the world, and from Whymper’s family, to give a fuller picture of this artisan from London, who had such an impact on the story of mountaineering. A new assessment of Whymper’s achievements comes with previously unknown details about his remarkable family, and his short–lived marriage. Whymper’s diaries and notebooks are used here for the first time to show his dry, self–deprecating sense of humour, and his unusual perceptiveness about the Greenlanders and the people he met in Ecuador. A beautifully researched book published for the 100th anniversary of Whymper’s death.

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