Skip to main content

Alfred Couttet

Titre section haute
A ski prodigy

Photo principale
Alfred Couttet
Texte intro section haute

Alfred Couttet, also called “Couttet Champion” was born on the 8th May 1889 in the Rebats, in Chamonix. He starts skiing with some rudimental skis at 7. After taking part in his first international competition in 1907, Alfred Couttet wins his first title of French champion in 1909, then in 1913 and 1914.

Contenu section haute et résumé

He comes back from the First World War ill and weakened, making it impossible for him to compete with the young skiers’ generation. During his 3 years of convalescence, he works as photographer and filmmaker on the Chamonix glaciers. Then, Couttet Champion starts a second career as a mountain guide.

Image section centre
Alfred Couttet

Titre section centre

Contenu section centre

In the Mont-Blanc massif, together with his clients, he completes over forty “firsts” or alternative routes, including the “première” of the Aiguille de Roc in 1927. His politeness, his teaching skills and his ease with every itinerary earn him a prestigious international clientele. Alfred Couttet will be among the first Chamonix guides to explore other massifs. Invited in Norway, in Poland in the Tatras, in Slovakia in the Beskides, in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania, hosted in Spain, as well as in Tyrol, he left his mark on several European summits.

Beyond being a pioneer of new routes, he was also a precursor, sometimes contested and disowned. He will introduce the use of pitons - as seen in the Dolomites, but also the experience of vertical climbing, as well as the first shoes with felt soles, making wonders where nail shoes had shown their limits.

He was aware of the potential that winter sports and mountaineering represented for tourism development in the Chamonix Valley and the Alps in general. Therefore, he founded a free ski school for local kids in 1920. Four years later, with Roger Frison-Roche, he clears the Gailland wall, to transform it in a rock climbing school.

Alfred Couttet passed away on the 7th of June 1974 in Chamonix, aged 85.