Elisabeth Vergés, alpinist

Elisabeth-Verges, foto Darío Rodríguez, Desnivel.jpg
Photo: Darío Rodríguez (Editorial Desnivel)

This week sport organizations announced the death of climber and alpinist Elisabeth Vergés (Barcelona, 1939), who had appeared in news bulletins more than once as ‘the first (Spanish) woman who’ in the field of mountaineering.

She gradually got involved in alpinism when she became a member of a hiker’s club and took some courses in speleology and high mountain climbing. Her enthusiasm grew quickly and soon she took part in mountaneering parties in Spain and Catalonia.

In those days climbing for women was not socially accepted and it was even difficult to buy trousers especially made for women, as they were not supposed to wear them. Elisabeth was conscious of these feelings in society, but did not let them stop her from pursuing her hobby.

It was an interesting time for this branch of sport, as right then high mountain walls were being opened up as well as difficult routes, such as those along the needles of Montserrat and the Mallos de Riglos.

So it can be rightly claimed that in the 1960s Elisabeth was a pioneer in conquering mountains within Europe and beyond. For example, in Catalonia she climbed peaks like those of the Serra del Cadí; in 1961 she took part in the first female rope team that went up the Cavall Bernat (a needle in the mountain range of Montserrat near Barcelona, photo 1), together with speleologist Alícia Masriera. In Spain she was the first woman to reach the summits of the Puro dels Mallos de Riglos (photo 2) and the Peña Sola de Agüero (photo 3).

On other continents a few highlights are the climbing of the Hoggar Mountains in Algeria (1967), and various summits in Kenya (for example the Kilimanjaro in 1971), Greenland (1973, 1978) and the Peruvian Andes (1980).

Usually one of the members of her roped party was her husband Josep Manuel Anglada about whom se wrote the biography Anglada with many details about his mountaineering career. Now, who is going to write Elisabeth’s life story?

For the time being you can watch this video though, where Elisabeth is interviewed (in Spanish) about her experiences. Even if you cannot follow the conversation, watch it anyway as the period photos are very worthwhile.

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