Country Walking Magazine (UK) - - Discover -

Swiss aris­to­crat, ge­ol­o­gist and ex­plorer Ho­race-Béné­dict de Saus­sure first vis­ited the Cha­monix Val­ley in 1760, and be­came ob­sessed with Mont Blanc. “It be­came for me a sort of ill­ness,” he later wrote. “My eyes could not en­counter this moun­tain, which one sees from so many spots, without my be­ing seized with a pang.” Saus­sure was so struck by Mont Blanc that he is­sued a re­ward to the first per­son to climb it – achieved by Dr Michel Pac­card and farmer Jac­ques Bal­mat in 1786. Be­fore that, Saus­sure re­turned to the re­gion sev­eral times. In 1767, with a large en­tourage of guides and mules, he com­pleted the first known cir­cuit of the mas­sif, tak­ing largely the same route walk­ers fol­low to­day. Saus­sure’s pas­sion for, and writ­ings about, the Alps gave rise to a new con­cept: of moun­tains as nat­u­ral play­grounds where ad­ven­tures might be had. They were not to be merely farmed or feared, they could be en­joyed. Saus­sure is now known as the ‘fa­ther of moun­taineer­ing’.

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