In July 1865 an obscure printer named Edward Whymper became the most talked-about man in the Victorian age. He had climbed the Matterhorn, one of the world's legendary mountains, and one of the last to be conquered in the Alps, but he had earned his glory at a horrible cost. A rope snapped during the descent and four of his seven-strong team fell to their deaths. Portions sufficient to fill three coffins were later retrieved. Of the fourth man - a Lord, no less - nothing was found save a shoe, a pair of gloves and a coat sleeve. The Matterhorn disaster was one of those tragedies of which the Victorians were so fond and to which they were so prone. It became one of the memorable events of the age, on a par with Livingstone's death in Africa and Scott's fate at the South Pole. Today, the controversy whether he directly or indirectly caused their deaths continues to rage.
Gibson Square Books Ltd
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