Chamonix-Mont-Blanc France about 1892

MT. BLANC, FRANCE — No visit to France is complete without a trip to Chamounix, that little village above which rises the sovereign of the entire Alps, the first of all upon whose brow at sunrise rests a crown of gold, viz: Mt. Blanc. It is called thus the “white mountain” par excellence, from the glittering mantle of eternal snow in which it stands enveloped to the height of 15,781 feet. It is this peak more than any other of the Alps which has enchanted us from childhood, and even before our eyes have rested upon it, we have sung: “Mt. Blanc is the monarch of mountains, They crowned him long ago, On a throne of rocks, in a robe of clouds, With a diadem of snow!” Ever since 1786, when the guide Balmat (after incredible difficulty) gained the summit, thousands have been ambitious of following in his footsteps. Yet in the years which have elapsed since its conquest, only about 1200 foreigners have reached its crest. And these have been the fortunate ones; while those who failed, or have been frozen, injured or killed outright, have far exceeded them in number. Yet, notwithstanding a long catalogue of disasters, we need not be apprehensive here. For the science of the ascent has now been reduced to a system; and with fair weather, good guides and suitable precautions, there is no very serious danger. Moreover the guides of Chamounix are far too much alive to the profits of their business, to bring discredit on either the mountain or themselves by incurring undue risks. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

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