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1865: the Golden Age of Mountaineering

An illustrated history of Alpine climbing's greatest era

Hardback (400pp)
  • Hardback £39.00
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From the Wetterhorn in 1854 to the Matterhorn in 1865 – from triumph to tragedy – the Alps were conquered in a decade. It was what Reverend W.A.B. Coolidge called the ‘golden age of alpinism’, the era of the first great guides (Christian Almer, Melchoir Anderegg, Michel Croz) and gentlemen climbers (Leslie Stephen, John Tyndall, Edward Whymper).

Almost all European Alpine clubs were founded during this period, crowned by the successful ascents of the Aiguille Verte, the Matterhorn, and the Brenva face of Mont Blanc. Summits were no longer scaled in the name of science, but for the beauty and difficulty of ascents that embodied the pleasure of the ‘noble sport’ of mountaineering, as invented during this golden decade.

1865: the Golden Age of Mountaineering, by Gilles Modica, documents this great time in the history of alpinism. Illustrated with 350 photographs and illustrations and lavishly produced, it is co-published in English and French by Vertebrate Publishing and Éditions Paulsen.


Gilles Modica is an independent journalist who specialises in the history of mountaineering and exploration. He has written six books on the subject as well as numerous articles for Montagne magazine and Trek magazine. He was a top-level climber for fifteen years (1975–1990), notably completing six routes on the north face of the Grandes Jorasses (including the second ascent of the MacIntyre-Colton line in 1980), making solo climbs in the Alps and Peru, scaling the big walls of Yosemite, and racking up several first ascents (including the Ginat route on the Droites, and the Modica-Noury gully on Mont Blanc du Tacul). He is a member of France’s elite Groupe de Haute Montagne (G.H.M.).

  • Title: 1865: the Golden Age of Mountaineering
  • Sub-title: An illustrated history of Alpine climbing's greatest era
  • Imprint: Vertebrate Publishing
  • ISBN: 978-1-910240-52-6
  • Rights: Worldwide
  • Publication: 9 May 2016
  • Edition: First
  • Author: Gilles Modica
  • Classification: Climbing and mountaineering (WSZG); Alps (1DFHA); History of sport (WSBX); Mountains (RGBS)
  • Size: 230mm x 230mm
  • Extent: 400 pages, colour photography throughout
  • Cover: Hardback
  • Weight: 1,200g
  • Retail price: £39.00

'One of the great pleasures of this book was the escapism. A few hours spent inside the scarlet boards left me feeling lost to a different age. The toxic cocktail of android, tablet and laptop left behind and unchecked, respite from Facebook, email and apps! But only a short escape, to Alpine first ascents and the lives of the pioneers. A time gone by, with three-metre alpenstocks, chilled wine on summits and Manila hemp ropes; the men and women of the golden era were devoid of lightweight boots and ropes. With no sophisticated energy bars these pioneers possessed enthusiasm and desire in equal measure to the superstars of today. They achieved in abundance something that can never be repeated: first ascents.'
– Amazon reviewer

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