1st June-31st October: 1865 and the Golden Age of Mountaineering in Chamonix

All throughout the summer, Chamonix will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of 1865, an eventful year when the Golden Age of Mountaineering (1854–1865) reached its climax.

This year, Chamonix will pay tribute to the mountaineers, guides and artists of the Golden Age from June until October 2015. An ambitious programe of exhibitions, events, films, conferences and book publications will mark this symbolic anniversary.

1865 & the Golden Age of Mountaineering

1865 marks the climax of the Golden Age of Mountaineering, as the year saw a significant number of first ascents and new routes, not only in France but also in Switzerland, Italy and Austria.

Not only did the year see 65 first ascents by 63 alpinists, but among those were seven first ascents in the Mont Blanc massif, including the Grandes Jorasses, Aiguille Verte and the Brenva Spur. The Aiguille Verte, the highest summit located solely in France at 4122m, was also first climbed that year, by Edward Whymper and two Swiss guides (Almer and Biner) via the route now known as the Whymper couloir.

To celebrate this year of astonishing achievements, Chamonix will host a range of events, exhibitions and talks throughout the summer.

Major Events

10th-11th July: Inauguration of the Alpine Club exhibition at the Alpine Museum

12th July: Climbing World Cup and retrospective on 150 years of Alpinism

17th July: A theatrical sound and light show in Argentière in memory of Chamonix guide Michel Croz, who died on the Matterhorn on July 14 1865.

13th-15th August: Fête des Guide – a timeless tribute to guides and alpinists with activities for all the family, demonstrations, music, and traditional ceremonies in Argentière and Chamonix.

Series of talks

27th June: The English in Savoy. By Yves Connac, active member of the Acadamy Florimontane. Salle du Bicentenaire at 18h30. Organised by Les Amis du Vieux Chamonix. Admission free.

9th July: The Alpine Club – the world’s first mountaineering club. (English spoken). By Hywel Lloyd, Chairman of the Alpine Club Library Council. Salle du Bicentenaire at 18h30. Admission free.

16th July: James David Forbes, pionnier of alpinism. By Reine-Marie Faure, Geographer. Salle du Bicentenaire at 18h30. Organised by Les Amis du Vieux Chamonix. Admission free.

23rd July: Matterhorn, the perfect summit. Conquests on the Matterhorn by leading contemporary alpinists. Majestic Hall at 20h30. Admission free.

24th July: Albert Smith, the man of Mont-Blanc. (English spoken). By Alan McNee, author of Albert Smith’s biography. Salle du Bicentenaire at 18h30. Admission free.

5th August: Henri Vallot 1853-1922 (cousin of Joseph Vallot) surveyor of mont Blanc. By Madame Lagarde-Fouquet.
Salle du Bicentenaire at 18h30. Admission free.

7th August: The life of Edward Whymper (English spoken). By Ian Smith, author of Shadow of the Matterhorn.
Salle du Bicentenaire at 18h30. Organised by Les Amis du Vieux Chamonix. Admission free.

11th August: And alpinism today? By Gilles Modica, Claude Gardien, les éditions Guérin et la Cie des Guides.
Le Majestic at 20h30. Admission free.

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.

4th September: Women Climbers 1850 – 1900 (English spoken). By Clare Roche, of Birkbeck, University of London.
Salle du Bicentenaire at 18h30. Admission free.

Temporary Exhibitions

In Chamonix town:

  • Alpine Museum: 19th Century Treasures of the Alpine Club
  • Maison de la Montagne: Amateur Alpinists and their Guides
  • Maison de la Mémoire: Glaciers and Photography 1850-1870
  • Espace Tairraz: The Grands Mulets Huts 1853-1900 and 21st Century Refuges

In Argentière:

  • Maison du Village: Tourism in 3D

Les Houches

  • Musée Montagnard: Zacharie 10 years old – growing up in the 1860s


  • Maison du Lieutenant: Access and Transport in 1865


  • Espace Culturel: Access and Transport from Switzerland to Vallorcine and local crafts in 1865

More information: Chamonix Tourist Office, 85 Place du Triangle-de-l’Amitié
Email: 1865@chamonix.com
Website: 1865.chamonix.fr