Valle di Gressoney

Gressoney-Saint-Jean

Gressoney-La-Trinité

The seven men who conquered the glaciers

The history of modern mountaineering was born in Gressoney

By: Gressoney Monterosa

Lyskamm

In August 1778, seven young locals were the first to reach the 4000 meters of a rocky island near Colle del Lys which they named Rocce della Scoperta. The impetus to undertake this exploration of uncertain contours came from one of them who in an inn in Alagna listened to the intentions of some Valsesians to go to the glacier beyond which they said was hidden the Lost Valley, Das Verlorene Thal, a valley of green pastures and great riches hidden in the mythological city of Felik.

Valentino and Joseph Beck, Joseph Zumstein, Nicolas Vincent, Sebastian Linty, Étienne Lisco and François Castel left from Gressoney reaching the Lavetz pastures where they stayed overnight. These young were already familiar with the mountains: in fact, they were all shepherds or hunters who were familiar with equipment such as studded boots and the alpenstock, forerunner of the modern ice axe, of peasant origin.

The following day, having reached an altitude of 4177 metres, near a clear rocky outcrop, they overlooked the Grenz Glacier which descends gently towards Zermatt.

It was the first time that a group of natives, driven solely by curiosity, carried out an exploration on the Alpine glaciers as opposed to the exploratory expeditions on the mountain massifs financed by wealthy English travellers.

Today a commemorative statue commemorates the seven young explorers at the entrance to the town of Gressoney-Saint-Jean.

 

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