Piramide Vincent

22 Summits Stories

Gold rush on Monte Rosa


Since the beginning of modern natural research, the mountains, their geology, flora and fauna have attracted scientists to Zermatt. Naturalists such as Horace-Bénédict de Saussure (1740-1799), Albrecht von Haller (1708-1777), Moritz von Engelhardt (1779-1842) and their assistants moved around the region even before the golden age of alpinism. What was science for some was adventure for others, or, as in the case of John Tyndall (1820-1893), both: the Irish physicist, who achieved outstanding alpine achievements, furnished his scientific lectures with metaphors of the mountain world and thus inspired a whole generation of students for alpinism. However, there were also tangible, economic interests that took alpine achievements as if in passing. In his text "Summits like Gold", published in the mountain monograph "Monte Rosa. Queen of the Alps", Erminio Ferrari reports on this high alpine gold prospecting at the beginning of the 19th century.

On 5 August 1819, in search of high mountain gold, the mining engineer Johann Nikolaus Vincent from Gressoney in the Aosta Valley, owner of the gold mines of Alagna, reached a southern peak of the Monte Rosa massif, 4215 metres high, with the hunter Jacques Castel and two miners. It was then called the Piramide Vincent. In 1824, the Austrian topographer, botanist and alpinist Franz Ludwig Freiherr von Welden reported on three gold mines in "Der Monte-Rosa: Eine topographische und naturhistorische Skizze". "Not far from the third barake of Herr Vincent ... probably the highest in Europe." By the "barake" von Welden means the Vincent Hut, which was built by the Vincent family in 1785 for their miners and still stands today in its foundations.


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Monte Rosa: Queen of the Alps. Ed.: Daniel Anker, Marco Volken, AS-Verlag, Zurich 2009