Saturday, 25 January 2014

Mountain View

Ascent of Mont Blanc

We had a brief flurry of snow this week so it looks as though the weather is also joining in the Sepia Saturday theme.  The postcard however shows snow that means business as our brave band climb Mont Blanc, complete with ladder to bridge the crevasse. The mountain was first climbed in 1786 with a party which included the mountain guide Jacques Balmat, who was also the guide to the first woman to make the ascent in 1808, a local maidservant called Marie Paradis.  She made her fortune from the event and was dubbed Maria de Mont Blanc.  By the time this postcard was sent in 1911 the so called golden and silver ages of pure Alpine Climbing were over but the lure of Mont Blanc was not and it still remains a popular climbing destination.
The postcard was sent to Jeanne from Gabrielle who says "Hello from Chamonix".  I wonder if she walked and climbed in the mountains?  When Balmat made his first ascent of Mont Blanc his companion was the local doctor, Michel-Gabriel Paccard.  The ascent was followed by telescope from Chamonix at the bottom.  That would have been my preferred option too.  Perhaps Jeanne took a trip to the first tourist attraction of the area
 that of the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice).  This lies on the northern slope of the Mont Blanc massive and is the largest glacier in France being 7K long (4.3 miles) and 200 metres (660 ft) deep).  It is in continual, but imperceptible, motion.  In recent times has shrunk in size but its extent was greatest in the 19th century when I would guess this photo was taken.  No details are given in the book it is from ('The Victorian Mountaineers' by Ronald Clark),  I can only shudder at the thought of walking in those dresses as the damp slowly seeps up from the bottom and getting heavier.  Go girls.  Still it does look a cracking day out although I suspect on a cold day I would be in Chamonix perhaps partaking of coffee and cake.

With the 2014 Winter Olympics nearly upon us these photographs from Chamonix chime with the event as it was the venue of the very first Winter Olympics in 1924
The 11 year old Norwegian figure skating champion Sonja Henie came last in her event at these Olympics.  She would take gold in the next three Winter Olympics, become the highest paid movie actress in Hollywood and make a fortune with her touring ice show.

An entry to Sepia Saturday Number 212, where I anticipate more snowy pictures
  

9 comments:

Jackie Mc Guinness said...

Great entry this week!

Susan Mariekelly said...

I love them all but especially the finely dressed ladies and gentlemen making their way across the mountains.

Jo Featherston said...

A cracking day out it could well have been, as walking on glaciers can be quite dangerous. Those intrepid adventurers of the past were amazing!

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

I always thought Sonja Henie was a beautiful graceful athlete.

Bob Scotney said...

Last week I went to a talk on mountains and lakes which included photos of Chamonix and the Mer de Glace. I'm with you and the telescope, preferable from inside a warm chalet.

Alan Burnett said...

A great selection of cards and a great example of how a few old postcards and some well written text can become a fascinating history lesson.

Karen S. said...

Oh my snow goodness! I really adore those brave snowbound folks trudging through the mounds of snow!

Postcardy said...

I love the images, but it looks awfully dangerous.

Sean Bentley said...

Umbrellas as standard mountaineering equipment! Crazy!