What was the main objective of early mountain climbers?
Modern alpinists try to climb mountains by a route which will give them good sport, and the more difficult it is, the more highly it is regarded. In the pioneering days, however, this was not the case at all. The early climbers were looking for the easiest way to the top, because the summit was the prize they sought, especially if it and never been attained before. It is true that during their explorations they often faced difficulties and dangers of the most perilous nature, equipped in a manner with would make a modern climber shudder at the thought, but they did not go out of their way to court such excitement. They had a single aim, a solitary goal -- the top!
It is hard for us to realize nowadays how difficult it was for the pioneers. Except for one or two places such as Zermatt and Chamonix, which had rapidly become popular, Alpine village tended to be impoverished settlements cut off from civilization by the high mountains. Such inns as there were generally dirty and flea-ridden; the food simply local cheese accompanied by bread often twelve months old, all washed down with coarse wine. Often a valley boasted no inn at all, and climbers found shelter wherever they could -- sometimes with the local priest (who was usually as poor as his parishioners), sometimes with shepherds or cheese-makers. Invariably the background was the same: dirt and poverty, and very uncomfortable. For men accustomed to eating seven-course dinners and sleeping between fine linen sheets at home, the change to the Alps must have very hard indeed.
我们今天很难想像昔日的登山先驱们是多么艰苦。除了泽曼特和夏蒙尼等一两个很快出了名的地方外，阿尔卑斯山山区的小村几乎全是高山环抱、与世隔绝的穷乡僻壤。那里的小客栈一般都很肮脏，而且跳蚤猖獗。 食物是当地的干酪和通常存放了一年之久的面包，人们就着劣酒吞下这种食物。山谷里常常没有小客栈，登山者只好随遇而安。有时同当地牧师 (他通常和他的教民一样穷)住在一起，有时同牧羊人或制乳酪的人住在一起。无论住在哪儿，情况都一样：肮脏、贫穷，极其不舒适。对于过惯了一顿饭吃7道菜、睡亚麻细布床单的人来说，变换一下生活环境来到阿尔卑斯山山区，那一定是很艰难的。