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.
I have a very old copy of this and have to say - I love it. It may not be great literature, but this is a fantastic evocation of pre-War Chamonix, and an insight into the locals/guides/hut culture that still resonates today.