Christian Almer

Christian Almer (29 March 1826 – 17 May 1898) was a Swiss mountain guide and the first ascentionist of many prominent mountains in the western Alps during the golden and silver ages of alpinism. Almer was born and died in Grindelwald, Canton of Bern.

Christian Almer
Christian and Ulrich Almer, Meta Brevoort and her nephew W. A. B. Coolidge

Climbing careerEdit

Almer gave his dog Tschingel to the 17-year-old W. A. B. Coolidge after a failed attempt on the Eiger.

I do not clearly recollect hearing of Tschingel till July 11, 1868. That month Almer had for the first time become guide to my aunt, the late Miss Brevoort, and myself. On July 8 we all three made our first high climb together (the Wetterhorn) and on July 11 started from Little Scheidegg for the ascent of the Eiger. But the rocks (as often) were glazed, and we had to retreat. This disappointed me bitterly, for I was not quite eighteen years of age [...] Almer sympathised much with me, and so, as we were walking down that afternoon to Grindelwald, tried to comfort me by promising to give me his dog Tschingel, as one of her sons, Bello by name, was now able to act as watchdog ...[1]

Golden wedding anniversaryEdit

 
Sheltering before their climb of the Wetterhorn at the Gleckstein hut in 1869. From left to right, front row: Almer’s wife, daughter, son, Christian Almer; back row: Dr. Huber, Almer’s son; Hans Kaufmann (tallest individual), and another porter.

On June 20 and 21, 1896, Almer and his wife Margaritha ("Gritli") celebrated their golden (50th) wedding anniversary by climbing the Wetterhorn: "The oldest of the Grindelwald guides, Christian Almer, well known to Alpine climbers, celebrated his golden wedding on Sunday in a novel way. Christian is seventy-four years of age, and his wife seventy-five. Accompanied by two of their younger sons and by the village doctor, the sturdy old couple made the ascent of the Wetterhorn, 12,150 ft high. Starting at a very early hour on Sunday morning, they reached the Wetterhorn Hut in the evening, their safe arrival there being made known to their fellow villagers by a signal light, which, shone in response to the many rockets fired by the sympathetic villagers below. Here the veteran climbers and their companions passed the night, and starting soon after midnight for the remainder of the ascent, they reached the summit at half-past six on Monday morning. A cloudless sky and magnificent panorama of the Oberland rewarded their courage and endurance. The aged couple returned safely to Grindelwald on Monday evening."[2]

First ascentsEdit

Death and GraveEdit

Christian Almer died in Grindelwald on 17 May 1898. His gravestone reads:

Hier ruht der besten Führer einer CHRISTIAN ALMER geb. 29. März 1826. gest. 17. Mai 1898

Galt’s Berge zu bezwingen,/ Gab’s keinen bessern Mann;/ Wer mit dir stritt und siegte,/ Dich nie vergessen kann./ Jetzt darfst du auf den Zinnen/ Der ewige Berge stehn./ Wohin dich Christus führte./ Dort Freund auf Wiedersehn/ Deine alten treuen Fahrgenossen.

[Here rests one of the best guides CHRISTIAN ALMER born March 29, 1826, died May 17, 1898.

Were mountains to be conquered,/ There wasn't a better man;/ Whoever struggled with you and won,/ Can never forget you./ Now you may stand on the summits/ Of the eternal mountains./ Where Christ led you./ There friend goodbye./ Your old, loyal companions.]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ W. A. B. Coolidge, 'Alpine Studies', in Mountains, ed. A. Kenny, London: John Murray, 1991, p. 197
  2. ^ “An Alpine Golden Wedding,” in The Press (New Zealand), 50: Issue 9497 (17 August 1896), p. 4.