In 1898, in his work entitled “Cent ans aux Pyrénées” (one hundred years in the Pyrenees), Henri Béraldi was the first to mention “pyreneism”, which he defined as an intellectual approach to the mountain which marries sensitivity and sport. Otherwise said, pyreneism is based on both the written word and sporting exploits. It can be summarised in three words: “Climb, feel, write”. Mountaineers and writers have contributed to define not just a sport, but a philosophy.


Legend attributes the first ascent of the Pyrenees to Bishop Valerius in 452, but it wasn’t until 1,200 years later in 1672 that the Valier was conquered by another bishop, Bernard de Marmiesse, who planted a stone cross on the mountain peak.


But regardless of who began it all, such as Bernard Palassou, who wrote an “Essai sur la minéralogie des monts Pyrénées” (essay about the mineralogy of the Pyrenees ranges) in 1781, the name of the inventor of pyreneism is Ramond de Carbonnières. He was advisor to Cardinal de Rohan, who had been exiled to Barèges after the “Affair of the Diamond Necklace”.

In 1787, Ramond de Carbonnières climbed the Pic du Midi in Bigorre, and most importantly published his “Observations faites dans les Pyrénées” two years later, in 1789. It was a sort of introduction and invitation to exploring the Pyrenees, and prepared the way for future adventurers in the mountains.

Amongst them were Vincent de Chausenque, born in Néouvielle in 1847, and the English woman, Anne Lister, who climbed the Pique Longue of Vignemale. And we mustn’t forget the Pyrenean guides, the Sherpas without whom many of these adventures would not have been completed.

From Pierre Barau from Luchon, to Célestin and Henri Passet, two cousins born in Gavarnie, to François Bernat-Salles, Pyrenean guides have made important contributions to the history of pyreneism.

Geographer and painter, Franz Schrader, another important name in pyreneism, was first to combine science and poetry, offering a complete vision of the Pyrenees. His maps are works of art..

Others have carried the torch since: the brothers, Jean and Pierre Ravier, Georges Véron, Rober Ollivier, Jean-Louis Lechêne, Jacques Jolfre, Louis Audoubert, Patrice de Bellefon, Claude Dendaletche, Rémi Thivel, and many more who, in their turn, pass on their philosophy of the mountain.