However, as Giordano was writing these joyful words, on 14th July 1865 seven mountaineers appeared on the summit: Edward Whymper – who had decided to climb Mount Cervino from the Swiss ridge of Hörnli – with the guides Michel Croz, Peter Taugwalder and his son, the occasional companions, Charles Hudson, Lord Francis Douglas and Mr. Hadow, who were all English. On the way back, the rope party suffered a serious and tragic accident from which only Whymper and the two Taugwalders survived. The tragic event, followed by a trial which attributed the tragedy to a faulty rope, caused a sensation in the mountaineering world and beyond, leaving a life-long mark in the mountaineer’s conscience.
On 15th July, at the same table of Hotel Giomein, Giordano was forced to correct himself and sadly wrote to Sella:
“Dear Quintino yesterday was a bad day and Whymper ended up beating the unhappy Carrel to the peak”.
Having returned to Breuil, encouraged by Giordano and the abbot Gorret, the Italians formed a climbing party composed of Carrel, Jean-Batptise Bich, known as Bardolet, Amé Gorret and Agostino Meynet. They departed again on 16th July, and after having camped at Gran Torre the next day they quickly reached the base of the Head of Mount Cervino finding a way on the northern slope; having stopped to facilitate the return of Carrel and Bich, Gorret and Meynet quickly reached the peak. Within a few days, the peak of Mount Cervino, the last 4,000 metre mountain in the Alps left to climb, had been finally reached by the two sides.
After his conquest of Mount Cervino, Carrel dedicated much of his life to enhancing the Italian route up the mountain. In 1867 he took on the task of building the refuge at “Cravate” (4,114 metres), at a cost of 585.50 lire, a sum gathered with a subscription among Italian and foreign mountaineers and personalities from the Aosta Valley; Carrel himself gave 10 lire, as did many guides from Valtournanche!
On 26th August 1890, while returning from the Mount Cervino refuge, with the mountaineer Leone Sinigaglia and the guide Carlo Gorret, a short distance below Lion’s col, at an altitude of 2,915 m, after having led his rope party for 16 hours in the midst of a raging snow-storm, Carrel suffered a heart attack and died.
Carrel Point (between the Lion’s Head and Dent d’Hérens, Pennine Alps), the refuge hut on the Italian Matterhon ridge and the cross where he died are named in his honour.