As history was made, technique improved, and knowledge and confidence increased. A great tradition of guides was built up. Men began to climb from a physical and aesthetic delight in mountains and mountaineering, and they found companionship and humour in growing social contacts. The conquest motive was soon swallowed up by a higher rival stimulus of adventurous hedonism; peak-bagging became less and less desirable, and mountaineering came to be regarded as an end in itself. The mopping up of the lesser peaks often yielded far more exacting and satisfying experiences than the earlier conquest of the giants, and this combined with a predilection for guideless climbing, gave impetus to the new approach. New ridges and new faces yielded routes of greater character and variety, and the standard of climbing was pushed up nearer and nearer to the limits of the possible. Great feats were coupled with great names : Whymper, Dent, Mummery, Zgismondy, Purtscheller, Javelle, Ryan, Young, Lepiney—to mention only a few. Alexander Burgener, Franz Lochmatter, Joseph Knubel, Joseph Georges, and a host of other famous guides were even more responsible for the advance in technique and performance.
During this period the deliberate taking of risks was frowned upon, turning back in the face of danger and severe difficulty was commended as good judgment, and large parties of climbers, guides, and porters often brought safety in numbers. Geoffrey Young says, ‘ the mountain game is the most light-hearted in the world—within strict limits. Outside these limits lie fatalities and disaster.’
To find the birth of the opposing dialectical forces that have to-day overthrown the hedonist conception of mountaineering, we have to go back to the ‘seventies when those ‘ naughty boys,’ Middlemore and Maund scandalised the Alpine Club pundits by courting grave danger on the Col des Grandes Jorasses, and on the north-east face of the Aiguille Verte. Young himself carried the tendency a stage farther by his rash ‘ escapade ‘ on the north face of the Jorasses, and in that nerve-racking ascent of the south face of the Taschorn. With the ascent of the north face of the Matterhorn the revolt was well under weigh.