First on the Rope
The classic of French literature
- ISBN: 978-1-911342-45-8256 pages
- Roger Frison-Roche (translated by Janet Adam Smith)
- Publication date
- 2 May 2019
First on the Rope – the acclaimed English translation of the French fiction classic Premier de Cordée by Roger Frison-Roche – is a tale about the harsh lives of mountain guides and their families in the French Alps in the 1920s and 1930s.
An ascent of Mont Blanc as porter with his uncle leaves young Pierre further convinced he wants to be a mountaineer, breathing the crisp, pure air and soaking up the splendour of the wild landscape. But his family have other ideas. Chamonix is becoming ever more popular with tourists wanting their thrills on the slopes, and they all need somewhere to stay. Running a hotel, however, is not Pierre’s idea of fulfilment.
Among the glittering peaks and desolate passes, wonderful sunsets and wild winds, tragedy strikes across the Vallée Blanche on the Dru: a brutal storm leaves sadness and destruction in its wake. Can the onset of spring and the hope it brings rebuild Pierre’s passion for climbing?
First on the Rope epitomises the rhythm of mountain life, the clanking cowbells and the gurgling streams set against the formidable grandeur of the ice and rock. Equip yourself for an immersive and emotive experience in the high Alps.
Special thanks to Opinel, that great French company from the Alps, for partnering with us on the publication of this book.
Also available as an ebook:
Roger Frison-Roche was born in Paris in 1906 of Savoyard parents. Moving to Chamonix and away from the city as soon as possible, he got a job in the tourist office and began in earnest the training for a guide de haute montagne, which he passed in 1930. He founded his own rock climbing and mountaineering school, and was active and successful in mountain races. He wrote articles on these events, becoming so popular that he was made editor in chief in 1935 and sent to Algiers, working on La Dépêche d'Alger. He also began to write a serial about the life of a young Alpine guide for weekly instalments in the paper. These were put together to form Premier de Cordée – the book that took him to fame. Frison-Roche travelled widely during the war as a correspondent and soon to join the Resistance in the Savoyard region. He later became obsessed with the landscapes of the desert and the Arctic after many trips to the Sahara and to stay with the Inuit, which became the subject matter of many of his subsequent books, as well as his beloved mountains. After having lived around the world and in various parts of France, in 1960 he moved back to his home town of Chamonix, soon after to be elected president of the Union Internationale des Guides de Montagne. Roger Frison-Roche died on 17 December 1999 in Chamonix.
- Title: First on the Rope
- Subtitle: The classic of French literature
- Author: Roger Frison-Roche
- Translator: Janet Adam Smith
- Imprint: Vertebrate Publishing
- ISBN: 978-1-911342-45-8
- Rights: UK and Europe
- Publication date: 2 May 2019
- Edition: First
- Size: 198mm x 129mm
- Extent: 256 pages
- Cover: Paperback
- Weight: 200g
- Retail price: £8.99
Also available as an ebook:
- Imprint: Vertebrate Digital
- ISBN: 978-1-911342-44-1
- Publication Date: 2 May 2019
- Price: £4.99
The author focuses on developing the non-climbing characters as much as the mountain guides, and appears to be answering the question 'Why do we climb?' through their actions and exchanges. Explorations of solidarity, fear and loss add depth to the story and balance any perceptions of macho conquering. It's more an exploration of mountain culture than a high octane mountain thriller, without glossing over the often grisly truths. I'm not usually a fan of fiction, but this story blurs the lines somewhat between autobiography and fiction, while familiar scenes and sentiments trigger memories of readers' personal adventures in the Alps. – Natalie Berry, UK Climbing
This is the definitive climbing novel; immersive, emotive and sometimes savage. – Chris Bonington
The finest novel about mountain climbing ever written. – San Francisco News
A splendid, utterly enthralling story of mountain climbing. – Kekoo Naoroji Award
Read the fascinating book which has become a world bestseller and has been made into different movies. – Chamonix.net
This book is full of feeling, exploring the whys of mountaineering eloquently, through the lives of the guides, their aspirants and the wider communities of Chamonix and the Haute Savoie. It is a book that also tells the story of people finding their way back to the mountains after experiencing tragedy and their own severe physical damage, of their struggles and, ultimately, their return. The ways in which the beauty of the Alpine landscape is described is worth the read alone, and the story is a good one. – Little Peak Press
First on the Rope is not a novel to search within for a meaning of life, but it stands the test of time and its descriptions of life in the Chamonix Valley and its environs in that era is obviously so true as are the descriptions of the routes and mountain areas described in the book. It is an easy read but truly worthwhile. I first read Premier de Cordee in 1950 as a 14 year old and later met its translator into English Janet Adam Smith, and as someone who tried to read it in French I must observe she made an outstanding job of this work. – Dennis Gray, Footless Crow