Entity Type:
Mummery, Albert Frederick (1855-1895)
London Tannery owner Fred Mummery is the man most often credited with inventing modern alpinism, possibly as a result of physical deformity which meant he could not carry heavy loads – he simply had to go fast and light. He was also intensely myopic – an attribute which probably accounted for his legendary hopelessness at route finding. This seems to have caused him to blunder into ground-breaking technical situations from which he then had to climb his way out. ‘Mummery was not good in knowing what was the best way up a mountain’, fellow Alpine Club member Norman Collie declared in no uncertain terms. Despite this disadvantage, Mummery was one of the first to break with the tradition of guided climbing and pointed the way forward for the sport to develop. Mummery’s magnetic personality attracted about him a talented group of climbers, amongst them the redoubtable female alpinist Lily Bristow, leading to his famous joke that ‘All mountains appear doomed to pass through three stages: An inaccessible peak – The most difficult ascent in the Alps – An easy day for a lady.’ This was merely an ironic tribute to the ability of the amazing Bristow who led many of the pitches of their climbs and who probably had more climbing experience than any other woman up to that point. Unfortunately her partnership with Mummery was cut short after 1893, possibly after the intervention of Mrs Mummery. Mummery was also one of the first pioneers to take alpine skills to the Himalaya, when he attempted Nanga Parbat in 1895. Unfortunately, he disappeared on the slopes along with his Gurkha colleague, probably victim to an avalanche, and no more was heard of him until the 1990s when an expedition found one of his boots with his foot still in it.

Biographical information is kindly supplied by Colin Wells.
2006-08-06 00:00:00
Maxine Willett
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Mummery, Albert Frederick (1855-1895)