RESEARCH - Cima Bicknell: its name and its whereabouts

Skribita de Marcus Bicknell on .

cima bicknell card I quote from Valerie Lester’s new biography MARVELS: The Life of Clarence Bicknell, Botanist, Archaeologist, Artist;

“On 5 May 1908, Clarence told Emile Burnat that Fritz Mader had named a peak above Val Fontanalba ‘Cima Bicknell’ in his honour. In 1908 Fritz Mader published in the Rivista Mensile of the Club Alpino Italiano an article describing his excursions in the Maritime Alps in 1906; these included finding a minor summit of about 2,600 m. above Val Fontanalba, which he decided to name after Clarence Bicknell ‘who with much patience for several years has explored, copied and illustrated the many prehistoric rock inscriptions in the surrounding area.’ Situated between Mont St Marie and Mont Bégo, at 2,600 metres, the little peak was, according to Clarence ‘très peu de chose’, commenting to Burnat: ‘I believe (between you and me) that it’s hardly worthy of a name, and will not render me more illustrious, but at least I’m happy that you’re not the only one in the Maritime Alps to have your own peak."

Graham Avery wrote on 26th March 2018 to M. Jean-Félix Gandioli as follows. M. Gandioli is Attaché Scientifique au Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Nice and is mounting an exhibition in October 2018 entitled "Botanistes et Alpinistes dans les Alpes maritimes entre les deux siècles". There is also a link between the subjects of the exhibition (Antoine Risso, Justin Montolivo, Jean-Baptiste Barla, Emile Burnat, Clarence Bicknell) in that they each have an alpine mountain named after them.

    "Bonjour M. Gandioli.

    "Mon ami Marcus Bicknell m’a demandé de répondre à votre question concernant l’origine du nom de montagne ‘Cime Bicknell’. Ci-joint un extrait de l’article publié par Fritz Mader dans la Rivista Mensile du Club Alpino Italiano en 1908 dans lequel il relate une excursion dans le Val Fontanalba en septembre 1907 suite à laquelle il a donné le nom de Bicknell a une cime entre la Baisse de Fontanalba et le Mont Sainte Marie. A noter qu’à cette époque la région du Val Fontanalba faisait partie du territoire italien, donc à l’origine c’était Cima Bicknell.

    Cordialement, Graham Avery"

Download a copy of Fritz Mader's article in la Rivista Mensile du Club Alpino Italiano 1908 in pdf form here:


Note from Marcus Bicknell, editor, 27 March 2018...       

I also show here the postcard of the Cima Bicknell with Clarence Bicknell's writing on it. He identifies the mountain as "Cima Bicknell 2686m. He goes on to relate in excited style (as a p.s. to whatever is written on the other side, not available to us) the arrival of "Olivo" or "Olivio" and the hunt for a rock engraving called "The Baby" which he had not been able to find for 10 years. Olivio is not a name which I can find in Valerie Lester's biography of Clarence, on Wikipedia, or on If you know who Olivio could be please contact us.Part of what I can decypher from Clarence's hand writing reads "Cousins all gone. Deo Gratis. We are very well and busy and happy". I wonder which cousins he was glad to see the back of. And who was the card addressed to?

Photo copyright © 2018 The Estate of Clarence Bicknell, Marcus Bicknell and the Bicknell family collection.



Note from Marcus Bicknell, editor, 28 May 2018...    

In preparing the proposed hike up the Cime Bicknell on Sunday 15th July 2018 as part of the Clarence Bicknell Centenary celebrations, I asked certain experts to identify the Cime Bicknell from photos other than the card on which Clarence wrote (right). I reproduce in order, below,

bicknell bio map 3 from pdf

a) the map of the area from Valerie Lester's MARVELS - The Life of Clarence Bicknell (2018) showing the location of the Cime Bicknell,



Map by Martin Brown, copyright © 2018 The Estate of Clarence Bicknell, Marcus Bicknell and the Bicknell family collection.












cime bicknell depuis lac noir 1b) the Cime Bicknell photographed from the Lac Noir of the Vamasque (with thanks to Silvia Sandrone for the handwritten indications),














 c111 rob via sacra cime bicknell)    The Cime Bicknell in the centre of a photo probably by Luigi Pollini c. 1910 from the collection of the IISL in the Museo Bicknell, Bordighera. The mountain was identified for us by archaeologist and Vallée des Merveilles guide Nicoletta Bianchi.

The dog is Rob, Margaret Berry's. On close inspection of this extraordinary pose you can make out Clarence Bicknell, sitting with his knees in front of him, on the Chiappes the other side of the snow field, directly to Rob's right. The shapes under the small bluff to the left and above Rob could be two more people or back-sacks left on the ground.


Photo copyright © 2018 Istituto Internazionale di Studi Liguri

















cima bicknell gulliver itd)    The Cime Bicknell in winter in recent times, a photo from cuneo whom we thank. More at



FaLang translation system by Faboba