In the middle of the main square of Chamonix stands the memorial erected to the Geneva naturalist Horace-Benedict de Saussure and to his guide. Although de Saussure was not actually the first person to reach the top of Mont Blanc, he and Balmat together gave the initial impetus to mountaineering and awoke a new passion in mankind. The Swiss have made a substantial contribution to the conquest of the Alps. In addition to those of de Saussure, many other valuable explorations have been undertaken. During the classic period of alpine mountaineering, the XIXth century, one peak after another in the cantons of Valais and Berne was scaled with the help of Swiss mountain guides who, again and again, earned hearty praise from the explorers by whom they had been engaged.