In 1838 Frenchwoman Henriette d'Angeville set out to climb Mont Blanc despite almost universal opposition

Originally published at: In 1838 Frenchwoman Henriette d'Angeville set out to climb Mont Blanc despite almost universal opposition | Boing Boing

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Did she really do the ascent with a hoop skirt as the illustration depicts?

That’s a cool drawing where did you get the reference art? Do you know if it’s public domain or creative commons?

It’s on the Futility Closet episode page, but here is the source:


Thanks a ton!

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That’s not a hoop skirt.

Allow her to describer her costume.

In order to make this attempt with greater chance of success, I had to learn from the experience of my predecessors who climbed Mont Blanc, and take all the precautions that they had neglected. Therefore, I ordered a complete outfit to be made that combined strength, warmth, ease of movement and decency, as it would be impossible to climb glaciers and rocks in a long skirt. The humble ascent of Mont-Joli has shown the embarrassment caused by these skirts which interfere with walking, and the contour of the Rochers des Grands Mulets makes it clear that I need to wear trousers for such an expedition.

Here, then, are the clothes I had made specifically for the purpose, from my undergarments to my outer garments and from head to toe:

  1. an English flannel all-in-one shirt-and-trousers undergarment, with long, tight-fitting sleeves to go underneath;
  2. two men’s shirts to wear on top;
  3. a silk scarf;
  4. two pairs of woolen stockings;
  5. two pairs of silk stockings;
  6. two pairs of waterproof crampon shoes of slightly different width: one pair to wear with silk stockings, covered by a pair of woolen ones, with gaiters going into the shoe; and the other a little less tight, to allow for, if need be, another pair of woolen stockings, or to accommodate swollen feet whilst staying comfortable. I was told put- ting silk stockings inside the woolen ones gives almost as much heat, and a lot more flexibility than two pairs of woolen stockings, so I shall take advantage of the good advice;
  7. a pair of wide, high-waisted trousers, with gaiters at the bottom, to tuck into the shoes. The trousers made of Scottish wool, lined with fleece and well closed;
  8. an ample blouse made in the same material and lining, with pleats over the chest and back that protect these parts with a double layer of warmth.
  9. a leather belt that allows for the lower waist to be more or less tightened;
  10. fur-lined knitted gloves;
  11. a boa scarf;
  12. a tartan blanket;
  13. fur gloves, with the fur either used as lining or on the outside, witha thick fur cuff to block out the cold air;
  14. a fur-lined cloak for the night;
  15. two flannel towels for my feet at night;
  16. a woolen hat, in the same material as the dress, also lined, trimmed with black fur, with two layers of green veil stitched to the hemand a string at the bottom to tie around the neck;
  17. a large straw hat from Chamonix lined with green cloth and four ties to enable me to securely tie it in the manner of a parasol;
  18. a very light, black, velvet mask, with very dark blue goggles for the eyes.

Such is the unstylish outfit that I will have to put on once in the Grands-Mulets for the second day of the climb, as I am intending to leave Chamonix in a very feminine dress.

From Pascale Gorguet Ballesteros (2017) “Women in Trousers: Henriette d’Angeville,
a French Pioneer?”, Fashion Practice, 9:2, 200-213


Netflix or Amazon is really missing out on not doing a series on early female mountaineers. Annie Peck had the 1st ascent on some peaks in the Andes and was one of the greatest early mountaineers. Faye Fuller would be another good choice.

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