From a climber's point of view the expedition was completely successful. The summits of Chimborazo (20,498 feet) and six other mountains of between 15,000 and 20,000 feet were reached for the first time. A night was spent on the top of Cotopaxi (19,613 feet), and the features of that great volcano were thoroughly studied. From the wider points of view of the geographer, the geologist and the general traveller, Whymper brought home much valuable material, which was carefully condensed and embodied in the volume ‘Travels among the Great Andes of the Equator’ (1892). Its value was recognised by the council of the Royal Geographical Society, which in 1892 conferred on Whymper one of their Royal Medals in recognition of the fact that, apart from his mountaineering exploits, ‘he had largely corrected and added to our geographical and physical knowledge of the mountain systems of Ecuador, fixed the position of all the great Ecuadorian mountains, produced a map constructed from original theodolite observations extending over 250 miles, and ascertained seventy altitudes by means of three mercurial barometers.’ The Society also made a grant to the family of his leading guide, J. A. Carrel of Val Tournanche. The collection of rock specimens and volcanic dusts brought home by Whymper from this journey was described by Dr. Bonney in five papers in the ‘Proceedings of the Royal Society’ (Nos. 229–234). He also collected many natural history specimens, which were described in the supplementary volume of his ‘Travels’ (1892). For these explorations Whymper devised a form of tent which bears his name and is still in general use with mountain explorers. He also suggested improvements in aneroid barometers.
In 1901 and several subsequent summers Whymper visited the Canadian Rocky Mountains, but did not publish any account of his wanderings.
Finding his craft of wood engraving practically brought to an end, Whymper employed his leisure in his later years mainly in compiling and keeping up to date two local handbooks to Chamonix (1896) and Zermatt (1897). Well illustrated, and not devoid of personal and picturesque touches, these attained high popularity and passed in his lifetime through fifteen editions.
He died at Chamonix on 16 Sept. 1911 while on a visit to the Alps, and was buried in the churchyard of the English church at Chamonix.
With strangers Whymper's manner was apt to be reserved and at times self-assertive. But amongst acquaintances and persons interested in the same topics with himself his talk was shrewd, instructive, and entertaining. He was by instinct both a craftsman and an artist. With these gifts he coupled great physical endurance and intellectual patience and perseverance, qualities which he displayed both on the mountains and in his business. In everything he aimed at thoroughness. He would never if he could help it put up with inferior material or indifferent workmanship. To his own volumes he devoted years of careful preparation. ‘Whymper,’ writes Dr. Bonney, ‘always laid hold of what was characteristic and useful, and his remarks upon what he had seen were shrewd and suggestive.’ ‘All his life long he was a modest, steady, and efficient worker in the things he undertook to do. He enjoyed the reputation of a serious writer, explorer, and a man of iron will and nerve, who has worthily accomplished not merely feats of valour, but explorations and studies which have yielded valuable additions to human knowledge’ (Sir Martin Conway in Fry's Mag. June 1910).
Whymper served from 1872 to 1874 as a vice-president of the Alpine Club. In 1872 he was created a knight of the Italian order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus. He was an honorary member of the French Geographical Society and of most of the principal mountaineering clubs of Europe and North America. He married in 1906 Edith Mary Lewin, and left by her one daughter, Ethel Rose. Photographs of him taken in 1865 and 1910 are given in the ‘Alpine Journal’ (vol. xxvi. pp. 55 and 58), Feb. 1912.
Besides the works cited Whymper published ‘How to Use the Aneroid Barometer’ (1891).
A portrait in oils by Lance Calkin was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1894.
[Personal knowledge; family information; own works; Alpine Journal, Feb. 1912, art. by Dr. T. G. Bonney; Fry's Mag., June 1910, art. by Sir M. Conway; Strand Mag., June 1912, art. by Coulson Kernahan; Scribner's Mag., June 1903; Dr. H. Dübi, ‘Zur Erinnerung an Edward Whymper’ in Jahrbuch des Schweizer Alpen Club, 1911–12 (portrait).]
WHYMPER, JOSIAH WOOD (1813–1903), wood-engraver, born in Ipswich on 24 April 1813, was second son of Nathaniel Whimper, a brewer, and for some time town councillor of Ipswich, by his wife Elizabeth Orris. The Whymper (or Whimper) family