Christian Almer, the famous Oberland guide

001858PM-2Christian Almer 1826-1898

As a young shepherd in Grindelwald, Almer famously tried to beat the Englishman Alfred Wills to  the Wetterhorn (3692m), carrying a fir tree which he intended to plant on the summit for the glory of Switzerland. Justice Wills and his Chamonix guide Auguste Balmat, somewhat annoyed, hailed this audacious shepherd to join their party and they made the ascent together! Thereafter Almer climbed with many Victorian pioneers. His countless first ascents include the Monch and the Eiger in the Bernese Alps, the Barre des Ecrins in the Dauphiné Alps, and the Aiguille Verte and Grandes Jorasses in the Mont Blanc Massif. Edward Whymper made many first ascents with Almer and Chamonix guide Michel Croz in 1864 and 1865. Whymper congratulated himself on having united such masterful guides, who worked so admirably together, despite the fact that they did not speak the same language!

Almer’s skills were later sought after for oversea’s expeditions, but his wife refused to allow him to depart because “taking a boat was far too dangerous”! To celebrate their Golden Wedding anniversary, the couple climbed the Wetterhorn together!

Besides his nimble feet and tough constitution, it was Almer’s character – a blend of cordial simplicity and probity – that won him many admirers.