First on the Rope

The classic of French literature

Series title:

An ascent of Mont Blanc with his uncle leaves young Pierre further convinced he wants to be a mountaineer. But his family have other ideas. Then tragedy strikes as a brutal storm leaves sadness and destruction in its wake. Equip yourself for an immersive experience in the high Alps in Roger Frison-Roche's acclaimed First on the Rope.


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.

Roger Frison-Roche was born in Paris in 1906 of Savoyard parents. Moving to Chamonix and away from the city as soon as possible, he got a job in the tourist office and began in earnest the training for a guide de haute montagne,which he passed in 1930. He founded his own rock climbing and mountaineering school, and was active and successful in mountain races. He wrote articles on these events, becoming so popular that he was made editor in chief in 1935 and sent to Algiers, working on La Dépêche d'Alger. He also began to write a serial about the life of a young Alpine guide for weekly instalments in the paper. These were put together to form Premier de Cordée – the book that took him to fame. Frison-Roche travelled widely during the war as a correspondent and joined the Resistance in the Savoyard region. He later became obsessed with the landscapes of the desert and the Arctic after many trips to the Sahara and to stay with the Inuit, which became the subject matter of many of his subsequent books, as well as his beloved mountains. After having lived around the world and in various parts of France, in 1960 he moved back to his home town of Chamonix, soon after to be elected president of the Union Internationale des Guides de Montagne. Roger Frison-Roche died on 17 December 1999 in Chamonix.

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