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In Search of Peaks, Passes & Glaciers: Irish Pioneers in the Alps and Beyond

By Frank Nugent


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Shortlisted for Boardman Tasker Prize 2014

No goggles or glacier glasses, no hi-tech axes or day-glo Gore-Tex adorned Alpinists of the mid-nineteenth century. From the 1850s to the early twentieth century, the achievements of Irish mountaineers are largely obscured in British historical accounts. This sets the record straight. Frank Nugent, mountaineer-explorer, reveals a significant Irish contribution beginning with the Golden Age of Alpine Mountaineering when the first ascents of mountains like the Eiger and Weisshorn and the first traverse of the Matterhorn from Italy were by Irish climbers.

Significant climbers of the time were:

  • John Tyndall, a scientist from Carlow;
  • John Ball MP from Dublin was the first president of the Alpine Club and led the popularisation of the sport with a series of guidebooks;
  • Anthony Adams-Reilly from Westmeath produced the first reliable map of the Mont Blanc massif;
  • Elizabeth Whitshed from Greystones, a pioneering woman mountaineer, was one of the first to engage in winter Alpine climbing;
  • Valentine Ryan from Offaly is often considered the finest Alpine climber of the early twentieth century.

The Alpine’s Club’s first publication in 1859 was Peaks, Passes and Glaciers, edited by John Ball. A climbing record of the Alpine Club, it was the blueprint for the Alpine Journal published annually ever since. The varied social, political and scientific backgrounds of Irish Alpine pioneers provide absorbing insights into nineteenth-century Irish society.

  • Book Format: Hardback
  • Published: 2013
  • Dimensions: 277 x 219 mm
  • Number of pages: 320
  • ISBN: 9781848891784
  • Illustrations note: Full colour,
Fascinating … handsomely produced.
Superbly researched and beautifully produced.

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