Michel Croz 1830 -1865

“Prince of guides”

“Places where you and I would toil and sweat and yet be freezing cold, were bagatelles to him and it was only when he got above the range of ordinary mortals, and was required to employ his magnificent strength and to draw upon his unsurpassed knowledge of ice and snow, that he could be said to be really and truly happy”  Edward Whymper

Michel Croz © Musée Alpin Chamonix

Michel Croz © Musée Alpin Chamonix

Michel Croz lived in the village of le Tour in the Chamonix Valley. He was a peasant farmer, shoemaker and guide. He lived and died for the latter.

From 1859 he was in the very front rank of guides then available for difficult mountain excursions. William Mathews, one of the founding members of the Alpine Club, climbed with Croz between 1859 and 1863 and together they made many first ascents: The Grande Casse (Croz cut 1100 steps in the ice with his axe), Mont Viso, Castor, Mont Pourri…

Mathew’s was in awe of Croz’  prodigious strength and skills and recommended him highly to Whymper. Croz’ subsequent campaigns, primarily with Whymper, in 1864 and 1865, prior to the terrible accident on the Matterhorn remain in the annals of mountaineering.

1864 :

Michel Croz - gravure de Whymper

Michel Croz – gravure de Whymper

* First crossing of la Brèche de la Meije with Edward Whymper, Horace Walker, Adolphus Moore and the guide Christian Almer
* First crossing of the  Col de la Pilatte
* Col du Triolet with Michel Payot and Edward Whymper and Adams Reilly
* Aiguille d’Argentière
* Aiguilles de Tré la Tête
* Mont Dolent

1865 :
* First ascent of the Dent Blanche
* First ascent of the Grandes Jorasses with Edward Whymper, Christian Almer and Franz Biener
*First crossing of the Col Dolent avec Edward Whimper and Christian Almer
* First ascent of l’arête du Moine (Aiguille Verte) with Charles Hudson and Thomas Stuart Kennedy (gb)
* First ascent of the Matterhorn with E. Whymper, C. Hudson, Lord Douglas, D. Hadow and the Taugwalder guides (father and son)

The inscription on his memorial stone in the churchyard at Zermatt reads “bears honourable testimony to his rectitude, his courage and his devotion”.