Lucy Walker (climber)

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Lucy Walker
Lucy Walker, Frank Walker, Melchior Anderegg, Adolphus Warburton Moore.jpg
1871 portrait of Lucy Walker, seated, with her father Frank Walker, and (standing, left to right) unknown, Melchior Anderegg, and Adolphus Warburton Moore.
Died(1916-09-10)10 September 1916
Known forFirst woman to climb the Matterhorn
RelativesHorace Walker (brother)

Lucy Walker (1836–1916) was a British mountaineer and the first woman to climb the Matterhorn.

Walker was born in 1836, in British North America, in what would later become Canada.[1] Her mother, Jane McNeil McMurdo, moved from Scotland to North America with her husband and infant daughter in 1836. Mrs McMurdo left her husband to live with Francis (Frank) Walker; Lucy Walker and her brother Horace were born before their parents moved to England. The McMurdos divorced in 1841, and Frank Walker and Jane McMurdo married on 24th April 1841. The family then moved to Liverpool, England, where Frank Walker became a lead merchant. Walker began her climbing rather modestly in 1858 when she was advised by her doctor to take up walking as a cure for rheumatism. Accompanied by her father Frank Walker and her brother Horace Walker, both of whom were early members of the Alpine Club, and Oberland guide Melchior Anderegg, she became the first woman to regularly climb in the Alps.

Walker's achievements were, at first, largely unnoticed except by those in her immediate company. Early successes included the first ascent of the Balmhorn (1864), and the first female ascent of the Eiger (1864),[2] Wetterhorn (1866), Lyskamm (1868) and Piz Bernina (1869). In 1871 she learned that her rival Meta Brevoort, an American female mountaineer, was planning an expedition to climb the Matterhorn. Walker hastily assembled a group and on 22 August, while wearing a white print dress, she became the first woman to stand atop the Matterhorn, and with it gained world renown. Also in that year she completed her fourth ascent of the Eiger during which she is said to have lived on a diet of sponge cake, champagne and Asti Spumante.

In all Lucy Walker completed a total of 98 expeditions. In 1909 she became a member of the newly formed Ladies' Alpine Club where she was acclaimed as the pioneer of women climbers. In 1913 she was elected its second President and served in that capacity until 1915. She died at her home in Liverpool, England, on 10 September 1916.

Further reading[edit]

  • Brown, Rebecca (2003). Women on high : pioneers of mountaineering. [S.l.]: Appalachian Mountain Club. ISBN 9781929173426.


  1. ^ John Theakstone An Encyclopedia of Nineteenth Century Women Travellers ISBN 9781527237179, 2019
  2. ^ Carter, Claire Jane. "Lady-like Victorian psyche: the story of Lucy Walker and the Eiger". BMC.