Henry Russell (explorer)

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Henry Russell

Henry Russell was born in Toulouse in 1834, and died in Biarritz in 1909. He is buried in Pau.

His father is from Ireland, but his mother from the South-West of France.

When he was 24 years old, he began to climb the Pyrenees mountains. Once he got lost in the mountains in Gavarnie, and he almost died because of a big storm in the night.

At the same time, he did made two trips in the world: the first in North-America and the second in Russia, in China, in Australia and in India.

But when he was 27, he decided to stay in the Pyrenees until the end of his life, from 1861 to 1909.

He is famous especially for the first ascents of a lot of peaks, alone or with companions.

What is the most famous aspect in his life is his love for the highest French mountain of Pyrenees called Vignemale (3293m). He climbed this peak thirty-third times, and the last time was in 1904 when he was 70 years old. He loved it so much that he wanted to become owner of it. In 1888, he asked the prefect, who granted him a concession for 99 years. The price was 1 franc per year. Also he dug near the top 7 caves to stay in during the summer and to invite his friends. He organized several banquets in these caves with a lot of famous people. The last cave is ‘The cave of Paradise’, and it is only 18 meters under the top. Today we can still see these caves above the glacier of Vignemale.