Arnold Louis Mumm.


ARNOLD LOUIS MUMM died at sea on the 2nd of December, 1927, on his way back from Japan. Had he lived to reach England he would undoubtedly have been one of the Founder Members of this Club, for a letter of invitation to join it was awaiting him there and his love of the Himalaya and interest in its exploration were such that he would eagerly have accepted. That love and interest will be apparent to every reader of his chief contribution to the literature of mountaineering, Five Months in the Himalaya, published by Arnold in 1909. In the preface to that delightful book he tells us that he had " always looked upon those who had visited the Himalaya as the most enviable of mortals," and when the chance came to join Bruce and Longstaff in an assault on Mount Everest he seized it joyfully. But the India Office raised insuperable difficulties and in spite of the goodwill of the Viceroy, Lord Minto—himself a member of the Alpine dub—the expedition to Everest had to be abandoned. The three turned their attention to Garhwal and Kumaun and in April of 1907 set out for an exploration of the approaches to Trisul and Nanda Devi. The result, as all climbers know, was the first ascent of Trisul (23,360 feet) by Dr. Longstafi, and the already mentioned record of their adventures in that region, and later in Kashmir, by Mumm.

Five Months in the Himalaya has indeed a peculiar attraction for the members of the Himalayan Club. Not only is it full of suggestions for further exploration—" I cannot imagine a more fascinating programme for a party arriving at Tapoban as we did, early in May, than to start with the Juma glen, and then when its possibilities were exhausted to devote themselves to a thorough investigation of the peaks or glaciers of the Kosa valley " (p. 149), or see the remarks on the Bagini pass (p. 96)—but it makes sympathetic reference to what was, probably, the first attempt to found a Himalayan Alpine Club. This occurs in the account of the ascent of Trisul. Mumm points out that the summit of Trisul was then the highest point on the earth's surface which had been reached by man beyond all doubt and controversy." In explaining the latter qualification he refers to the claim made by Mr. W. H. Johnson, one of the officers of the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India, to have ascended a peak in the K'un Lun mountains of the height of 23,890 ft. Mumm inclined with Longstafi (Alpine Journal, Vol. xn, p. 58, and Vol. xxiv, p. 133) to believe that "the ascent was actually made as alleged," though the official view was that either Johnson's measurements were wrong or he had mistaken his mountain. That was in 1865, and though we now know that Johnson did not climb this peak, he did endeavour " to start a Himalayan Alpine Club, but received no support and nothing came of the attempt."

Enough has been said to show that Mumm would have been an invaluable and ardent supporter of the Club, and that his book deserves an honourable place in Himalayan literature. Mountaineering and exploration were the main interests of his life. He was in the fortunate position to enjoy them.13 The second son of Julius Mumm of the famous champagne firm he inherited a sufficient income to allow him freedom from professional entanglements. At Eton he was distinguished alike for scholarship and eminence in games. At Oxford— he went up to Corpus in 1879—he was exceptional in getting three firsts, in classical Mods., Greats, and Law. Called to the Bar, from Lincoln's Inn, he could have built up a great practice, but as one who knew him well writes in his obituary in the Alpine Journal (May 1928) he had " an exceedingly retiring disposition which was coupled throughout life with a complete absence of ambition." He found his work as partner in the publishing firm of his relative, Mr. Edward Arnold, where his fastidious taste and sound scholarship were brought into play ; his zest for the life of action manifested itself in mountaineering and travel. With characteristic modesty he declared that he was "at no time endowed with a physique or mountaineering powers of an exceptional kind," but the list of his ascents in the Alps from 1873 to 1923—it began and finished with the Titlis—makes one envious : in 1905 he joined Freshfield in an expedition to Africa to the Mountains of the Moon ; later in life he climbed and explored in the Canadian Rockies with members of the Canadian Alpine Club. And in all his expeditions his companions testify to his " extraordinary patience and unfailing good temper under discomfort." What better epitaph could a mountaineer desire ?

s. G. D.


  1. See also Geographical Journal, Vol. lxxi, p. 318, and The Alpine Journal, Vol. XL, p. 154.

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