Freda du Faur

Posted on November 1, 2010


Freda du Faur was the first woman to climb New Zealand’s tallest mountain, Mount Cook, which she did in 1910.

Du Faur, who came from a well-to-do Sydney family, defied convention in order to pursue her passion of climbing. Her climbing skills were initially self-taught, and some of her earlier hikes which she pursued alone with male mountain guide Peter Graham earned her censure, especially from other women.

However, once she managed to climb Mount Cook – at the time, her climb with Graham and his brother Alec Graham, was also the fastest on record – she found that she had gained fame that put her beyond reproach.

Following her victory on Mount Cook, she left for England with Muriel Cadogan, who had helped her train before her climb. The two women lived together until Cadogan’s death in 1929. Although they had planned to climb mountains in the Alps, the war prevented this, and du Faur ended up instead writing a memoir, The Conquest of Mount Cook, which brought her additional attention.

Du Faur, who probably suffered from bipolar disorder, killed herself in 1935, just shy of her 53rd birthday. In New Zealand’s Southern Alps, two peaks in the main divide are named after the two lovers: Du Faur and Cadogan.

Freda du Faur has a page on wikipedia, here.