American Annie S. Peck Climbs the Matterhorn 1895


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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 14, 2008 - 09:39pm PT
America's first lady of alpinism wrote this account of her ascent of the Matterhorn for McClure's magazine, July 1896. An absolutely beautiful and historically rich description of the climb.

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Sep 14, 2008 - 09:47pm PT
Don't get me wrong. That August morning that I flew from the Sion airfield just as the sun rose bathing the north face in alpenglow with my pack on my lap and our skis laying between us to land on Monta Rosa changed my life.

But it is still the most beautiful choss pile in the Alps:)

Trad climber
Sep 14, 2008 - 09:52pm PT
She also made the first ascent of the north peak of Huascaran.

Trad climber
San Rafael, CA
Sep 14, 2008 - 10:54pm PT
Thanks so much for posting this wonderful trip report. How especially wonderful to read it in a week where politics and drama have saturated the forum. Yay Annie! And yay Steve!

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Sep 14, 2008 - 10:55pm PT
Kudos again for another superb post!

Social climber
Sep 14, 2008 - 11:01pm PT
hey there steve... say... i just LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing the matterhorn..... getting to know more history about it, too, is even greater!....

what a wonderful article for to share... i'm off to go read it now...

Social climber
Sep 14, 2008 - 11:48pm PT
hey there... wow, i loved reading that article... very well done...

learned more about the cemetary there, and the huts up in the mountain... and the sad misfortune of some others...

say, what a term for discribing:

"glisading" (good travel-term in ballet) down the mountain (if one were to fall)...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 17, 2008 - 10:44am PT
No love for awesome Annie?!? Amazing.....bump.

Boulder climber
Redmond, OR
Sep 17, 2008 - 12:52pm PT

I love Annie! Nice helmet, nice stockings! Thanks Steve, that's inspiriational. I liked the old syle of TR, the observations of the graveyard and the bootmakers.

Poetic response, Ron.

Mountain climber
The Dirty South
Sep 19, 2008 - 08:51pm PT
Thank you. I love the early accounts of mountain climbs. Always before a climb I would try to read as much litterature as I could find about it. FA, etc. Older TR's like Whymper's always seemed very dry but the few women that wrote accounts of their climbs always seemed to be more descriptive. I have a book at home I wish I could remember the name of. It may be the same author. It's a female clmbers account of her climbs throughout the alps. Many of her climbs were in the Dolomites though.

right here, right now
Sep 19, 2008 - 09:07pm PT
Her gaze is not dissimilar to that of Alex Honnold...

Perhaps the great ones among us share a similar internal terrain.
I'm just saying.

Mountain climber
The Dirty South
Sep 19, 2008 - 09:11pm PT
Also interesting to note is how she contributes the death of Michael Croz to the incompetence of his partner and warns other climbers to be careful who they climb with. 20 years after the first ascent and the controversy is still fairly warm.

San Fran Cisco
Sep 19, 2008 - 09:20pm PT

the last bivy
Sep 19, 2008 - 11:16pm PT
thanks, the gals need to see the heroines.....

sometimes I get tired of the sausagefest
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 20, 2008 - 12:25am PT
When I was just getting into climbing as a junior high school student I bought a copy of Showell Styles' mountaineering history On Top of the World, 1967. Long narrative but almost surreal in that Annie got the notion to go tackle one of the giants of the Andes at fifty eight years of age! Truly awesome!

Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Sep 20, 2008 - 08:37pm PT
Good stuff!

A few nuggets...

Tobacco card and the cover of her book on her ascent of Huascaran:

Back of the card (from 1914):

Title page:

Summit photo of her "as" on the North Peak of Huascaran (recreated in the studio):

I climbed Huascaran Sur in '86 and it was pretty wild to think of anyone in that neck of the woods back in the early 1900's, much less a much older than average woman climber.

Wasn't she one of the original founding members of the AAC as well? Some wierd politics from back then, to be sure...(her feud with the Workmans for instance)...

Tales not yet fully told, methinks...

-Brian in SLC
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Sep 20, 2008 - 09:08pm PT
Some bio stuff from the AAJ...

Interesting to note that she held the altitude record for woman in 1897 (Orizaba in Mexico), ascended the North Peak of Huascaran in her late 50's, and was still climbing 20k+ feet peaks into her early 60's. Didn't really take up the climbing thing until her late 30's.

-Brian in SLC

(Original member, resigned 1912)
Born at Providence, R. I., October 19th, 1850. Daughter of
George Bacheler and Ann Power (Smith) Peck. A descendant
of Joseph Peck, who settled at Hingham, Mass., in 1638, and,
on her motherís side, of Roger Williams. Unmarried.
Stockbridge School, Providence. U. of Mich. (A.B., 1878;
A.M., 1881). Studied in Germany, 1884-85, and was the first
woman to study at the American School of Classical Studies,
Athens, 1885-86.
Specialized in Greek and archeology. Taught in various
scl~ools. Professor of Latin, Purdue U. and Smith. Lectured
on South America from the tourist and commercial standpoints.
U. S. delegate to International Congress of Alpinism, Paris,
1900. F. R. G. S. Visited South America, 1915, 1916, 1922,
1925, 1929-30. Received the order of Al Merit0 (Chile) on her
80th birthday.
Author of A Search for the Apex of America, 1911; The South
American Tour, 1914 ; Commercial and Industrial South America,
1922; Flying over South America, 1932.
Home : New York City. Died July 18th, 1935. (Who Was
Who; N. E. A. B. 15 :152, with portrait; Early American Ascents,
1888. Mt. Shasta.
1895. Breithorn, Wellenkuppe, Matterhorn, Jungfrau.
1900. Zugspitze (Hiillenthal) ; Gross Glockner, Monte Cristallo,
1897. With the backing of the New YorlE World: Popocatepetl,
Orizaba (then the highest elevation attained by a woman).
1903. Peru : El Misti (September).
1904. Bolivia: Mt. Sorata (to 19,000 ft.), August 15th; Mt.
Huascaran (to 19,000 ft. on E. side and 18,000 ft. on W. side),
September 4th.
1906. Exploration at source of the Amazon (Marafion) River,
Peru. To 18,000 ft. on highest peak of Raura Range. Unnamed
16,300 ft. (1st ascent). Made 3d and 4th attempts on Mt. Huascaran,
attaining 17,GOO ft. and 17,500 ft. on W. side.
1908. N. summit of Mt. Huascaran (21,812 ft.; 1st ascent).
This was afterward named Cumbra Ana Peck by the Lima Geographical
Miss Peck estimated, without instrumental readings above
19,600 ft., that the N. peak (lower summit) of Mt. Huascaran was
probably 24,COO ft. and the highest in South America. Mrs. Workman
(q.v.), believing that Aconcagua held this position, sent a
scientific expedition which determined the elevation of the N.
peak to be 21,812 ft. and that of the S. peak 22,182 ft. (This was
a matter of personal rivalry, since Mrs. Workman, in 1906, had
made a new altitude record for women by the ascent of .Pinnacle
Pk., 23,300 ft., in the Himalayas.)
At the annual meeting of the American Alpine Club, January
2nd, 1909, a committee composed of Profs. Reid, Retch and
Pickering was formed to secure information on Mt. Huascaran,
ďconcerning which exaggerated reports had been circulated in the
press.Ē At the meeting of 1910, the committee confirmed the altitudes
as determined by the expedition sent by Mrs. Workman.
1911. (Aet. 61.). Two peaks (ca. 21,250 ft.; 1st ascents) at
the S.E. end of the Coropuna massif (Peru). [Miss Peckís attention
had been drawn to this mountain by a statement that it was
to be an objective of the Yale Peruvian expedition, led by H. Bingham
(A. A. C., 1914). It was then thought, from Bandelierís
book, that it might be higher than Aconcagua. She attempted to
be first on the ground, and claimed to have reached the top, but the
Yale expeditionís survey showed that the highest point, 21,703 ft.,
which Bingham ascended, was the cone at the N.W. end of the

Mountain climber
Inside my head
Sep 20, 2008 - 09:22pm PT
I found a site with quotes from many interesting female climbers I thought the posters here might be interested in.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 28, 2008 - 01:03pm PT
Nice posting folks! Lots of history in Annie's wake!

Trad climber
Sep 30, 2008 - 04:03am PT
Great post, kinda a 2 for 1, yea climbing!

Mountain climber
Sep 30, 2008 - 07:39am PT
bump, great post!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 30, 2008 - 12:46pm PT
The summit was an icy bump!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 10, 2009 - 02:55pm PT
Another stylee shot of awesome Annie from A History of Mountain Climbing by Roger Frison-Roche and Sylvan Jouty, 1996.


Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jan 10, 2009 - 05:11pm PT
Well worth reading. Thanks for posting this historical stuff.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 8, 2009 - 02:22pm PT
Antique International Gal Bump!

Mar 8, 2009 - 04:09pm PT
Most amazing of all? She went the whole way without buying a second hat.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 8, 2009 - 05:19pm PT
Another pioneer and contemporary, Fannie Bullock Workman. From Putnam's Magazine 1895.

I bet Fannie could get the most out of a hat, too.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 22, 2010 - 11:39am PT
Hardwoman Bump!

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Apr 23, 2010 - 12:06am PT
too cool bump! Thanks Steve
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 16, 2010 - 05:31pm PT
The Unsung Bump...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 17, 2012 - 10:24pm PT
A bushel and a bump...

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Feb 19, 2012 - 08:57am PT
What an amazing woman! I can't believe that I hadn't heard of her.

My own experience of the Matterhorn were less successful, but as Ron says, it's such a choss pile, I never had a desire to go back.

Frank and I were there in the fall when there were only us and two of our friends from CERN and a old Swiss man on it. We found route finding to be difficult as there are many possible ways to go and footprints going off in all directions. Because of route finding difficulties, we were quite slow and got separated from our friends. I made it to the Solvay hut which has been constructed just below the prominent notch to the right below the final snow field.

Frank was getting quite antsy so I decided to stay at the hut while he rushed off to do the summit. He met the old Swiss man on the way up and they roped together and rappelled off for safety on the chains coming down. Even so, we could not make it to the bottom before dark. About 3/4 of the way down we ran into our friends who had wandered lost most of the day and were descending in disgust.

We had no bivouac gear but the night was clear and quite warm for that time of year. We sat on our packs and talked and watched the stars all night. The Swiss man whose life long dream it was to climb the Matterhorn, had a little stove that burned fuel tablets and he made us each a cup of hot tea about 3 am. The big Dipper did a complete circle in the sky and when it got back to where it started, it became day light and we started down. When I think Matterhorn, I think pile of choss and the nicest bivouac I ever did.

Social climber
Feb 19, 2012 - 09:55am PT
hey there say, jan.... what a sweet heartfelt share, as to the tea time with the older man, in the midst of trying for his dream....

the last part of your post, is the sweet part--there is always something treasured to come out of a rough time...

happy to read this, this morning...
i love the matterhorn, as it stands there...

i love seeing the sunrise and sunset, from the ol' webcams...
and it just seems to make the city below it, seem so unique, due to
its pressence...

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 6, 2013 - 01:53pm PT
Annie is a giant in early American mountaineering and one of my heroes ever since I started climbing.

Here is another more recent hero...Freda du Faur

Mountain climber
Apr 3, 2013 - 07:23am PT
There are many amazing women of these period. Isabella Byrd, Alexandra Davis-Neel, Gertrude Bell and many others. But what I found fascintating about Aniie Peck is the story about her asking their guides to support her over their shoulders in the summit of Huascaran, to be sure she was reaching the highest height. Mith or reality is a very nice story.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 24, 2013 - 07:37pm PT
My recollection of the story has her companions barely able to support themselves on the summit! LOL

Trad climber
Nov 24, 2013 - 09:19pm PT


Women Rock.

Nov 24, 2013 - 10:54pm PT
You know a person has stern character if they have only one hat.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 12, 2015 - 12:36pm PT
As evidenced by Norman Clyde...LOL

Dec 12, 2015 - 12:56pm PT
Steve thanks for keeping the history alive. The wonderful powerful women of our sports history amaze and inspire.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 12, 2015 - 01:05pm PT
Truly my pleasure to share this material.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 24, 2016 - 11:46am PT
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 15, 2018 - 12:10pm PT
Snow covered bump...

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 15, 2018 - 12:27pm PT
You havenít lived right if you havenít been to the new Matterhorn Museum...

Sendage is readily available, too.
Messages 1 - 44 of total 44 in this topic
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