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The Matterhorn Monte Cervino (Italian) or Mont Cervin (French), is a mountain in the Pennine Alps
Pennine Alps
The Pennine Alps are a mountain range in the western part of the Alps. They are located in Switzerland and Italy...

 on the border between Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 and Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. Its summit is 4,478 metres (14,690 ft) high, making it one of the highest peaks in the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

. The four steep faces, rising above the surrounding glaciers, face the four compass points. The mountain overlooks the town of Zermatt
Zermatt
Zermatt is a municipality in the district of Visp in the German-speaking section of the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of about 5,800 inhabitants....

 in the canton of Valais
Valais
The Valais is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland in the southwestern part of the country, around the valley of the Rhône from its headwaters to Lake Geneva, separating the Pennine Alps from the Bernese Alps. The canton is one of the drier parts of Switzerland in its central Rhône valley...

 to the north-east and Breuil-Cervinia in the Aosta Valley to the south. The Theodul Pass
Theodul Pass
The Theodul Pass is a high mountain pass across the eastern Pennine Alps, connecting Zermatt in the Swiss canton of Valais and Breuil-Cervinia in the Italian region of Aosta Valley.The pass lies between the Matterhorn on the west and the Breithorn on...

, located at the eastern base of the peak, is the lowest passage between its north and south side.

The Matterhorn was the last great Alpine peak to be climbed and its first ascent
First ascent of the Matterhorn
The first ascent of the Matterhorn was made by Edward Whymper, Lord Francis Douglas, Charles Hudson, Douglas Hadow, Michel Croz, and the two Zermatt guides, Peter Taugwalder father and son on 14 July 1865. Douglas, Hudson, Hadow and Croz were killed on the descent when Hadow slipped and pulled the...

 marked the end of the golden age of alpinism
Golden age of alpinism
The golden age of alpinism was the period between Alfred Wills's ascent of the Wetterhorn in 1854 and Edward Whymper's ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865, during which many major peaks in the Alps saw their first ascents....

. It was made in 1865 by a party led by Edward Whymper
Edward Whymper
Edward Whymper , was an English illustrator, climber and explorer best known for the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. On the descent four members of the party were killed.-Early life:...

 and ended disastrously when four of its members fell to their deaths on the descent. The north face was not climbed until 1931, and is amongst the six great north faces of the Alps
Great north faces of the Alps
In mountaineering, the six great north faces of the Alps are known for their difficulty and great height. They are:*Cima Grande di Lavaredo*Eiger*Grandes Jorasses*Matterhorn*Petit Dru*Piz Badile...

. The Matterhorn is one of the deadliest peaks in the Alps: from 1865 – when it was first climbed – to 1995, 500 alpinists died on it.

The Matterhorn has become an iconic emblem of the Swiss Alps
Swiss Alps
The Swiss Alps are the portion of the Alps mountain range that lies within Switzerland. Because of their central position within the entire Alpine range, they are also known as the Central Alps....

 and the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 in general. Since the end of the 19th century, when railways were built, it attracted more and more visitors and climbers. Each summer a large number of mountaineers try to climb the Matterhorn via the northeast Hörnli ridge, the most popular route to the summit.

Naming


The mountain derives its name from the German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 words Matte, meaning "meadow", and Horn, which means "peak". The migration of the name "meadow" from the lower part of the countryside to the peak is common in the Alps. The Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 names (Cervino and Cervin) come from Mons Silvius (or Mons Sylvius) from the Latin word silva, meaning forest (with again the migration of the name from the lower part to the peak). The changing of the first letter "s" to "c" is attributed to Horace Bénédict de Saussure, who thought that the word was related to a deer (French: cerf and Italian: cervo).
In Sebastian Münster
Sebastian Münster
Sebastian Münster , was a German cartographer, cosmographer, and a Hebrew scholar.- Life :Münster was born at Ingelheim near Mainz, the son of Andreas Munster. He completed his studies at the Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen in 1518. His graduate adviser was Johannes Stöffler.He was appointed to...

's Cosmography
Cosmographia (Sebastian Münster)
The Cosmographia by Sebastian Münster from 1544 is the earliest German description of the world. It had numerous editions in different languages including Latin, French , Italian, English, and even Czech. The last German edition was published in 1628, long after his death...

, published in 1543, the name of Matter is given to the Theodul Pass
Theodul Pass
The Theodul Pass is a high mountain pass across the eastern Pennine Alps, connecting Zermatt in the Swiss canton of Valais and Breuil-Cervinia in the Italian region of Aosta Valley.The pass lies between the Matterhorn on the west and the Breithorn on...

, and this seems to be the origin of the present German name of the mountain. On Münster's topographical chart this group is marked under the names of Augstalberg ("Aosta mountain") and Mons Silvius. An hypothesis of Josias Simler (De Alpibus Commentarius, 1574) on the etymology of the name of Mons Silvius was readopted by T. G. Farinetti: "Silvius was probably a Roman leader who sojourned with his legions in the land of the Salassi and the Seduni, and perhaps crossed the Theodul Pass between these two places. This Silvius may have been that same Servius Galba whom Caesar charged with the opening up of the Alpine passes, which from that time onward traders have been wont to cross with great danger and grave difficulty. Servius Galba, in order to carry out Caesar's orders, came with his legions from Allobrogi (Savoy) to Octodurum (Martigny) in the Valais, and pitched his camp there. The passes which he had orders to open from there could be no other than the St. Bernard, the Simplon, the Theodul, and the Moro; it therefore seems likely that the name of Servius, whence Silvius and later Servin, or Cervin, was given in his honour to the famous pyramid." It is not exactly known at what period the new name of Servin, or Cervin, replaced the old, from which it seems to be derived.

The Matterhorn is also named Gran Becca by the Valdôtain
Valdôtain
The Valdôtain, or Valdotans, are an ethnic group that lives in the far northwest Aosta Valley Autonomous Region of Italy. They speak several dialects of the Franco-Provençal language ....

s and Horu by the local Walliser German speaking people.

Height



The Matterhorn is an isolated mountain. Because of its position on the main Alpine watershed and its great height, the Matterhorn is exposed to rapid weather changes. In addition the steep faces of the mountain and its isolated location make it prone to banner clouds
Orographic lift
Orographic lift occurs when an air mass is forced from a low elevation to a higher elevation as it moves over rising terrain. As the air mass gains altitude it quickly cools down adiabatically, which can raise the relative humidity to 100% and create clouds and, under the right conditions,...

 formation with the air flowing around and creating vortices, conducting condensation of the air on the lee side.

The Matterhorn has two distinct summits
Summit (topography)
In topography, a summit is a point on a surface that is higher in elevation than all points immediately adjacent to it. Mathematically, a summit is a local maximum in elevation...

, both situated on a 100-metre-long rocky ridge: the Swiss summit (4,477.5 m) on the east and the Italian summit (4,476.4 m) on the west. Their names originated from the first ascents, not for geographic reasons, as they are both located on the border. In August 1792, the Genevan geologist and explorer Horace Bénédict de Saussure made the first measurement of the Matterhorn's height, using a 50-foot-long chain spread out on the Theodul glacier and a sextant. He calculated a height of 4,501.7 metres. In 1868 the Italian engineer Felice Giordano
Felice Giordano
Felice Giordano was an Italian engineer and geologist.Giordano was born at Turin. He had an important role in the organisation of a geological service in the Kingdom of Italy and in the foundation of the Italian Geological Society...

 measured a height of 4,505 metres by means of a mercurial barometer, which he had taken up to the summit. The Dufour map, which was afterwards followed by the Italian surveyors, gave 4,482 metres, or 14,704 feet, as the height of the Swiss summit. A recent survey (1999) using Global Positioning System
Global Positioning System
The Global Positioning System is a space-based global navigation satellite system that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites...

 technology has been made, allowing the height of the Matterhorn to be measured to within one centimetre accuracy, and its changes to be tracked. The result was 4477.54 metres (14,690 ft).

Geography


The Matterhorn has a pyramidal shape
Pyramidal peak
A pyramidal peak, or sometimes in its most extreme form called a glacial horn, is a mountaintop that has been modified by the action of ice during glaciation and frost weathering...

 with four faces facing the four compass points: the north and east faces overlook, respectively, the Zmutt
Zmutt
Zmutt is a small village in the municipality of Zermatt, Valais, Switzerland, situated at 1936 m in the Zmutt Valley west of Zermatt. The village chapel is dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria, patroness of the Valais...

 valley and Gornergrat
Gornergrat
The Gornergrat is a ridge of the Pennine Alps, Switzerland, overlooking the Gorner Glacier to the south. It can be reached by the Gornergratbahn rack railway from Zermatt...

 ridge in Switzerland, the south face (the only one south of the Swiss-Italian border) fronts the resort town of Breuil-Cervinia, and the west face looks towards the mountain of Dent d'Hérens
Dent d'Hérens
The Dent d'Hérens is a mountain in the Pennine Alps, lying on the border between Italy and Switzerland. The mountain lies a few kilometres west of the Matterhorn.The Aosta hut is used for the normal route.-Naming:...

 which straddles the border. The north and south faces meet at the summit to form a short east-west ridge.
The Matterhorn's faces are steep, and only small patches of snow and ice cling to them; regular avalanche
Avalanche
An avalanche is a sudden rapid flow of snow down a slope, occurring when either natural triggers or human activity causes a critical escalating transition from the slow equilibrium evolution of the snow pack. Typically occurring in mountainous terrain, an avalanche can mix air and water with the...

s send the snow down to accumulate on the glacier
Glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

s at the base of each face, the largest of which is the Zmutt Glacier
Zmutt Glacier
The Zmutt Glacier is a long glacier situated in the Pennine Alps in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. In 1973 it had an area of .-External links:*...

 to the west. The Hörnli ridge of the northeast (the central ridge in the view from Zermatt) is the usual climbing route
Climbing route
A climbing route is a path by which a climber reaches the top of a mountain, rock, or ice wall. Routes can vary dramatically in difficulty and, once committed to that ascent, can be difficult to stop or return. Choice of route can be critically important...

.

Well-known faces are the east and north, visible from Zermatt. The east face is 1,000 metres high and, because it is "a long, monotonous slope of rotten rocks", presents a high risk of rockfall, making its ascent dangerous. The north face is 1,200 metres high and is one of the most dangerous north faces in the Alps, in particular for its risk of rockfall and storms. The south face is 1,350 metres high and offers many different routes. The west face, the highest at 1,400 metres, has the fewest ascent routes.
The four main ridges separating the four faces are the main climbing routes. The least difficult technical climb, the Hörnli ridge (Hörnligrat), lies between the east and north faces, facing the town of Zermatt. To its west lies the Zmutt ridge (Zmuttgrat), between the north and west faces; this is, according to Collomb, "the classic route up the mountain, its longest ridge, also the most disjointed." The Lion ridge (Cresta del Leone), lying between the south and west faces is the Italian normal route and goes across Pic Tyndall
Pic Tyndall
Pic Tyndall is a minor summit below the Matterhorn in the Pennine Alps, on the boundary between Aosta Valley and Switzerland. Because of its small prominence it was included in the enlarged list of alpine four-thousanders...

; Collomb comments, "A superb rock ridge, the shortest on the mountain, now draped with many fixed ropes, but a far superior climb compared with the Hörnli." Finally the south side is separated from the east side by the Furggen ridge (Furggengrat), according to Collomb "the hardest of the ridges [...] the ridge still has an awesome reputation but is not too difficult in good conditions by the indirect finish".
The border between Italy and Switzerland is the main Alpine watershed
Main chain of the Alps
The Alpine divide is the central line of mountains that forms the water divide of the range. Main chains of mountain ranges are traditionally designated in this way, and generally include the highest peaks of a range; the Alps are something of an unusual case in that several significant groups of...

, separating the drainage basin
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 on the Rhone
Rhône
Rhone can refer to:* Rhone, one of the major rivers of Europe, running through Switzerland and France* Rhône Glacier, the source of the Rhone River and one of the primary contributors to Lake Geneva in the far eastern end of the canton of Valais in Switzerland...

 on the north (Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

) and the Po River
Po River
The Po |Ligurian]]: Bodincus or Bodencus) is a river that flows either or – considering the length of the Maira, a right bank tributary – eastward across northern Italy, from a spring seeping from a stony hillside at Pian del Re, a flat place at the head of the Val Po under the northwest face...

 on the south (Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

). The Theodul Pass
Theodul Pass
The Theodul Pass is a high mountain pass across the eastern Pennine Alps, connecting Zermatt in the Swiss canton of Valais and Breuil-Cervinia in the Italian region of Aosta Valley.The pass lies between the Matterhorn on the west and the Breithorn on...

, located between the Matterhorn and Klein Matterhorn
Klein Matterhorn
The Klein Matterhorn is the highest point in the Zermatt-Cervinia ski area in Switzerland, and the end point of the highest cable car in Europe...

, at 3,300 metres, is the lowest passage between the Valtournenche
Valtournenche
Valtournenche is a town and comune in the Aosta Valley region of north-western Italy.-Notable people:* Jean-Antoine Carrel , mountain climber* Jean-Joseph Maquignaz , mountain climber...

 and the Mattertal
Mattertal
The Matter Valley is located in southwestern Switzerland, south of the Rhone valley in the canton of Valais. The village of Zermatt is the most important settlement of the valley, which is surrounded by many four-thousanders, including the Matterhorn.-Geography:Located in the Pennine Alps, the...

. The pass was used as a crossover and trade route for the Romans and the Romanised Celts between 100 BC and 400 AC.

While the Matterhorn is the culminating point of the Valtournenche on the south, it is only one of the many 4000 metres summits of the Mattertal valley on the north, among which the Weisshorn
Weisshorn
The Weisshorn is a mountain in the Pennine Alps, in Switzerland. With its summit, it is one of the major peaks in the Alps and overtops the nearby Matterhorn by some 30 metres. It was first climbed in 1861 from Randa by John Tyndall, accompanied by the guides J.J...

 (4505 m), Dom (4545 m), Lyskamm
Lyskamm
Lyskamm is a mountain in the Pennine Alps lying on the border between Switzerland and Italy. It consists of a five-kilometre-long ridge with two distinct peaks...

 (4527 m) and the second highest in the Alps: Monte Rosa
Monte Rosa
The Monte Rosa Massif is a mountain massif located in the eastern part of the Pennine Alps. It is located between Switzerland and Italy...

 (4634 m). The whole range of mountains forming a crown of summits around Zermatt. The deeply glaciated region between the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa is listed in the Federal Inventory of Landscapes and Natural Monuments
Federal Inventory of Landscapes and Natural Monuments
The Federal Inventory of Landscapes and Natural Monuments in Switzerland aims to protect landscapes of national importance. The inventory is part of a 1977 Ordinance of the Swiss Federal Council implementing the Federal Law on the Protection of Nature and Cultural Heritage.The sites are of three...

.

Geology



Apart from the base of the mountain, the Matterhorn is composed of gneiss
Gneiss
Gneiss is a common and widely distributed type of rock formed by high-grade regional metamorphic processes from pre-existing formations that were originally either igneous or sedimentary rocks.-Etymology:...

 belonging to the Dent Blanche klippe
Dent Blanche klippe
The Dent Blanche nappe or Dent Blanche klippe is a geologic nappe and klippe that crops out in the Pennine Alps. The nappe is tectonostratigraphically on top of the Penninic nappes and by most researchers seen as Austroalpine....

, an isolated part of the Austroalpine nappes
Austroalpine nappes
The Austroalpine nappes are a geological nappe stack in the European Alps. The Alps contain three such stacks, of which the Austroalpine nappes are structurally on top of the other two...

, lying over the Penninic nappes
Penninic nappes
The Penninic nappes or the Penninicum are one of three nappe stacks and geological zones in which the Alps can be divided. In the western Alps the Penninic nappes are more obviously present than in the eastern Alps , where they crop out as a narrow band...

. The Austroalpine nappes are part of the Apulian plate
Apulian Plate
The Adriatic or Apulian Plate is a small tectonic plate carrying primarily continental crust that broke away from the African plate along a large transform fault in the Cretaceous period. The name Adriatic Plate is usually used when referring to the northern part of the plate...

, a small continent which broke up from Africa before the Alpine orogeny
Alpine orogeny
The Alpine orogeny is an orogenic phase in the Late Mesozoic and Tertiary that formed the mountain ranges of the Alpide belt...

. For this reason the Matterhorn has been popularized as an African mountain. The Austroalpine nappes are mostly common in the Eastern Alps.
The Swiss explorer and geologist Horace-Bénédict de Saussure
Horace-Bénédict de Saussure
200px|thumb|Portrait of Horace-Bénédict de Saussure Horace-Bénédict de Saussure was a Genevan aristocrat, physicist and Alpine traveller, often considered the founder of alpinism, and considered to be the first person to build a successful solar oven.-Life and work:Saussure was born in Conches,...

, inspired by the view of the Matterhorn, anticipated the modern theories of geology:

Formation



The formation of the Matterhorn (and the whole Alpine range) started with the break-up of the Pangaea
Pangaea
Pangaea, Pangæa, or Pangea is hypothesized as a supercontinent that existed during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras about 250 million years ago, before the component continents were separated into their current configuration....

 continent 200 million years ago into Laurasia
Laurasia
In paleogeography, Laurasia was the northernmost of two supercontinents that formed part of the Pangaea supercontinent from approximately...

 (containing Europe) and Gondwana
Gondwana
In paleogeography, Gondwana , originally Gondwanaland, was the southernmost of two supercontinents that later became parts of the Pangaea supercontinent. It existed from approximately 510 to 180 million years ago . Gondwana is believed to have sutured between ca. 570 and 510 Mya,...

 (containing Africa). While the rocks constituting the nearby Monte Rosa
Monte Rosa
The Monte Rosa Massif is a mountain massif located in the eastern part of the Pennine Alps. It is located between Switzerland and Italy...

 remained in Laurasia, the rocks constituting the Matterhorn found themselves in Gondwana, separated by the newly formed Tethys Ocean
Tethys Ocean
The Tethys Ocean was an ocean that existed between the continents of Gondwana and Laurasia during the Mesozoic era before the opening of the Indian Ocean.-Modern theory:...

.

100 million years ago the extension of the Tethys Ocean stopped and the Apulian plate broke from Gondwana and moved toward the European continent. This resulted in the closure of the western Tethys by subduction
Subduction
In geology, subduction is the process that takes place at convergent boundaries by which one tectonic plate moves under another tectonic plate, sinking into the Earth's mantle, as the plates converge. These 3D regions of mantle downwellings are known as "Subduction Zones"...

 under the Apulian plate (with the Piemont-Liguria Ocean
Piemont-Liguria Ocean
The Piemont-Liguria basin or the Piemont-Liguria Ocean was a former piece of oceanic crust that is seen as part of the Tethys Ocean...

 first and Valais Ocean
Valais Ocean
The Valais Ocean is a disappeared piece of oceanic crust which was situated between the continent Europe and the microcontinent Iberia or so called Briançonnais microcontinent...

 later). The subduction of the oceanic crust left traces still visible today at the base of the Matterhorn (accretionary prism). The orogeny itself began after the end of the oceanic subduction when the European continental crust collided with the Apulian continent, resulting in the formation of nappe
Nappe
In geology, a nappe is a large sheetlike body of rock that has been moved more than or 5 km from its original position. Nappes form during continental plate collisions, when folds are sheared so much that they fold back over on themselves and break apart. The resulting structure is a...

s.
The Matterhorn acquired its characteristic pyramidal shape in much more recent times as it was caused by natural erosion over the past million years. At the beginning of alpine orogeny, the Matterhorn was only a rounded mountain like a hill. Because its height is above the snowline, its flanks are covered by ice, resulting from the accumulation and compaction of snow. During the warmer period of summer, part of the ice melts and seeps into the bedrock. When it freezes again, it fractures pieces of rock because of its dilatation (freeze-thaw), forming a cirque
Cirque
Cirque may refer to:* Cirque, a geological formation* Makhtesh, an erosional landform found in the Negev desert of Israel and Sinai of Egypt*Cirque , an album by Biosphere* Cirque Corporation, a company that makes touchpads...

. Four cirques led to the shape of the mountain. Because of its recognizable shape, many other similar mountains around the world were named or nicknamed the 'Matterhorn' of their respective countries or mountain ranges.

Rocks


Most of the base of the mountain lies in the Tsaté nappe, a remnant of the Piedmont-Liguria oceanic crust (ophiolites
Ophiolites
An ophiolite is a section of the Earth's oceanic crust and the underlying upper mantle that has been uplifted and exposed above sea level and often emplaced onto continental crustal rocks...

) and its sedimentary rocks. Up to 3,400 metres the mountain is composed of successive layers of ophiolites and sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock are types of rock that are formed by the deposition of material at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause mineral and/or organic particles to settle and accumulate or minerals to precipitate from a solution....

s. From 3,400 metres to the top, the rocks are gneisses from the Dent Blanche nappe (Austroalpine nappes). They are divided into the Arolla series (below 4,200 m) and the Valpelline zone (the summit). Other mountains in the region (Weisshorn, Zinalrothorn, Dent Blanche, Mont Collon) also belong to the Dent Blanche nappe.

Tourism and trekking


Since the eighteenth century the Alps have attracted more and more people and fascinated generations of explorers and climbers. The Matterhorn remained relatively little known until 1865, but the successful ascent followed by the tragic accident of the expedition led by Edward Whymper
Edward Whymper
Edward Whymper , was an English illustrator, climber and explorer best known for the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. On the descent four members of the party were killed.-Early life:...

 caused a rush on the mountains surrounding Zermatt
Zermatt
Zermatt is a municipality in the district of Visp in the German-speaking section of the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of about 5,800 inhabitants....

.

The construction of the railway linking the village of Zermatt from the town of Visp
Visp
Visp is the capital of the district of Visp in the canton of Valais in Switzerland.-Geography:Visp has an area, , of . Of this area, 17.0% is used for agricultural purposes, while 59.7% is forested...

 started in 1888. The first train reached Zermatt on July 18, 1891 and the entire line was electrified in 1930. Since 1930 the village is directly connected to St. Moritz
St. Moritz
St. Moritz is a resort town in the Engadine valley in Switzerland. It is a municipality in the district of Maloja in the Swiss canton of Graubünden...

 by the Glacier Express
Glacier Express
The Glacier Express is an express train connecting railway stations of the two major mountain resorts of St. Moritz and Zermatt in the Swiss Alps. The train is operated jointly by the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn and Rhaetian Railway...

 panoramic train. However there is no connection with the village of Breuil-Cervinia
Cervinia
Breuil-Cervinia is an alpine resort in the Valle d'Aosta region of northwest Italy...

 on the Italian side. Travellers have to hire mountain guides to cross the 3,300 metres high glaciated Theodul Pass
Theodul Pass
The Theodul Pass is a high mountain pass across the eastern Pennine Alps, connecting Zermatt in the Swiss canton of Valais and Breuil-Cervinia in the Italian region of Aosta Valley.The pass lies between the Matterhorn on the west and the Breithorn on...

, separating the two resorts. The town of Zermatt remains completely free of internal combustion vehicles and can be reached by train only. (Electric vehicles are used locally).
Rail and cable-car facilities have been built to make some of the summits in the area more accessible. The Gornergrat
Gornergrat
The Gornergrat is a ridge of the Pennine Alps, Switzerland, overlooking the Gorner Glacier to the south. It can be reached by the Gornergratbahn rack railway from Zermatt...

 railway, reaching a record altitude of 3,100 metres, was inaugurated in 1898. Areas served by cable car are the Unterrothorn
Unterrothorn
The Unterrothon or is a mountain in the Pennine Alps above Zermatt. The summit can be reached by cable car via Sunnegga and Blauherd. The Rothorn paradise is one of the main ski areas located around Zermatt....

 and the Klein Matterhorn
Klein Matterhorn
The Klein Matterhorn is the highest point in the Zermatt-Cervinia ski area in Switzerland, and the end point of the highest cable car in Europe...

 (Little Matterhorn) (3,883 m, highest transportation system in Europe). The Hörnli Hut
Hörnli Hut
The Hörnli Hut is a mountain hut located at the foot of the north-eastern ridge of the Matterhorn. It is situated at above sea level, a few kilometers south-west of the town of Zermatt in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It was built by the Swiss Alpine Club in 1880...

 (3,260 m), which is the start of the normal route via the Hörnli ridge, is easily accessible from Schwarzsee
Schwarzsee (Zermatt)
Schwarzsee is a lake at Zermatt in the canton of Valais, Switzerland. It is located below Matterhorn at an elevation of 2,552 m....

 (2,600 m) and is also frequented by hikers. Both resorts of Zermatt and Cervinia function as ski resort all year round and are connected by skilifts over the Theodul Pass. A cable car running from Testa Grigia to Klein Matterhorn is currently planned for 2014. It will finally provide a link between the Swiss and Italian side of the Matterhorn.

The Matterhorn Museum
Matterhorn Museum
The Matterhorn Museum in Zermatt is a cultural-natural museum whose main theme is the Matterhorn. The museum is in the form of a reconstituted mountain village consisting of 14 houses , and relates the history and development of tourism in the Zermatt area, including the story of the first ascent...

 (Zermatt) relates the general history of the region from alpinism to tourism. In the museum, which is in the form of a reconstituted mountain village, the visitors can relive the first and tragic ascent of the Matterhorn and see the objects having belonged to the protagonists.

The Tour of the Matterhorn can be effected by trekkers in about 10 days. Considered by some as one of the most beautiful treks in the Alps, it follows many ancient trails that have linked the Swiss and Italian valleys for centuries. The circuit includes alpine meadows, balcony trails, larch forests and glacial crossings. It connects six valleys embracing three different cultures: the German speaking high Valais, the French speaking central Valais and the Italian speaking Val d'Aosta. Good conditions are necessary to circumnavigate the peak. After reaching Zinal
Zinal
Zinal is a village located in the municipality of Anniviers in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It lies at an altitude of 1,675 metres in the Swiss Alps in the Val d'Anniviers, a valley running from the Zinal Glacier, north of Dent Blanche to the village of Ayer...

 by the Augstbord and Meiden passes, the trekker crosses the Torrent before arriving at Arolla
Arolla
Arolla is a village in the municipality of Evolène in the canton of Valais in Switzerland.It is situated at the end of the Val d'Hérens south of Sion at 1998m altitude in the Pennine Alps...

. Then the Col Collon
Col Collon
Col Collon is a high mountain pass across the central Pennine Alps, connecting Arolla in the Swiss canton of Valais to Bionaz in the Italian region of Aosta Valley....

 must be crossed on the road to Prarayer and another one to Breuil-Cervinia and back to Zermatt via the Theodul. In total, seven passes between 2,800 and 3,300 metres must be crossed on a relatively difficult terrain.

Climbing history




The Matterhorn was one of the last of the main Alpine
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 mountains to be ascended, not because of its technical difficulty, but because of the fear it inspired in early mountaineers
Mountaineering
Mountaineering or mountain climbing is the sport, hobby or profession of hiking, skiing, and climbing mountains. While mountaineering began as attempts to reach the highest point of unclimbed mountains it has branched into specialisations that address different aspects of the mountain and consists...

. The first serious attempts began around 1857, mostly from the Italian side; but despite appearances, the southern routes are harder, and parties repeatedly found themselves having to turn back. However, on July 14, 1865, in what is considered the last ascent of the golden age of alpinism
Golden age of alpinism
The golden age of alpinism was the period between Alfred Wills's ascent of the Wetterhorn in 1854 and Edward Whymper's ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865, during which many major peaks in the Alps saw their first ascents....

, the English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 party of Edward Whymper
Edward Whymper
Edward Whymper , was an English illustrator, climber and explorer best known for the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. On the descent four members of the party were killed.-Early life:...

, Charles Hudson, Lord Francis Douglas
Lord Francis Douglas
Lord Francis William Bouverie Douglas was a novice, British mountaineer. After sharing in the first ascent of the Matterhorn, he died in a fall on the way down from the summit.-Early life:...

, Douglas Robert Hadow
Douglas Robert Hadow
Douglas Robert Hadow was an English novice mountaineer who died on the descent after the first ascent of the Matterhorn.-Family:...

, Michel Croz
Michel Croz
Michel Auguste Croz was a French mountain guide and the first ascentionist of many mountains in the western Alps during the golden age of alpinism...

 and the two Peter Taugwalders (father and son) were able to reach the summit by an ascent of the Hörnli ridge in Switzerland. Upon descent, Hadow, Croz, Hudson and Douglas fell to their deaths on the Matterhorn Glacier, and all but Douglas (whose body was never found) are buried in the Zermatt churchyard.

Only three days after Whymper's ascent, the mountain was ascended from the Italian side via an indirect route by Jean-Antoine Carrel and Jean-Baptiste Bich on July 17, 1865.

Before the first ascent


In the summer of 1860, Edward Whymper came across the Matterhorn for the first time. He was an English artist and engraver who had been hired by a London publisher to make sketches of the mountains in the region of Zermatt
Zermatt
Zermatt is a municipality in the district of Visp in the German-speaking section of the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of about 5,800 inhabitants....

. Although the unclimbed Matterhorn had a mixed reputation among British mountaineers, it fascinated Whymper. Whymper's first attempt was in 1861, from the village of Breuil on the south side. He was at the beginning of the climb, with a Swiss guide, when he met Jean-Antoine Carrel
Jean-Antoine Carrel
thumb|Jean-Antoine Carrel was an Italian mountain climber. He had done climbs with Edward Whymper and was his rival when he attempted to climb the Matterhorn for the first time. Carrel was in the group that became the first Europeans to reach the summit of Chimborazo in 1880...

 and his uncle. Carrel was an Italian guide from Breuil who had already made several attempts on the mountain. The two parties camped together at the base of the peak. Carrel and his uncle woke up early and decided to continue the ascent without Whymper and his guide. Discovering that they had been left, Whymper and his guide tried to race Carrel up the mountain, but neither party met with success.
In 1862 Whymper made further attempts, still from the south side, on the Lion ridge (or Italian ridge), where the route seemed easier than the Hörnli ridge (the normal route today). On his own he reached above 4,000 metres, but was injured on his way down to Breuil. In July John Tyndall
John Tyndall
John Tyndall FRS was a prominent Irish 19th century physicist. His initial scientific fame arose in the 1850s from his study of diamagnetism. Later he studied thermal radiation, and produced a number of discoveries about processes in the atmosphere...

 with Johann Joseph Bennen and another guide overcame most of the difficulties of the ridge that seemed so formidable from below and successfully reached the main shoulder
Pic Tyndall
Pic Tyndall is a minor summit below the Matterhorn in the Pennine Alps, on the boundary between Aosta Valley and Switzerland. Because of its small prominence it was included in the enlarged list of alpine four-thousanders...

; but at a point not very far below the summit they were stopped by a deep cleft that defied their utmost efforts. The Matterhorn remained unclimbed.

Whymper returned to Breuil in 1863, persuading Carrel to join forces with him and try the mountain once more via the Italian ridge. On this attempt a storm, however, soon developed and they were stuck halfway to the summit. They remained there for 26 hours in their tent before giving up. Whymper did not make another attempt for two years.

In the decisive year 1865, Whymper returned with new plans, deciding to attack the Matterhorn via its south face instead of the Italian ridge. On June 21, Whymper began his ascent with Swiss guides, but halfway up they experienced severe rockfall; although nobody was injured, they decided to give up the ascent. This was Whymper's seventh attempt.

During the following weeks, Whymper spent his time climbing other mountains in the area with his guides, before going back to Breuil on July 7. Meanwhile the Italian Alpine Club was founded and its leaders, Felice Giordano
Felice Giordano
Felice Giordano was an Italian engineer and geologist.Giordano was born at Turin. He had an important role in the organisation of a geological service in the Kingdom of Italy and in the foundation of the Italian Geological Society...

 and Quintino Sella
Quintino Sella
Quintino Sella was an Italian statesman and financier.-Biography:Sella was born at Sella di Mosso, in the Province of Biella....

, established plans to conquer the Matterhorn before any non-Italian could succeed. Felice Giordano hired Carrel as guide, he feared the arrival of Whymper, now a rival, and wrote to Quintino Sella:
Just as he did two years before, Whymper asked Carrel to be his guide, but Carrel declined; he was also unsuccessful in hiring other local guides from Breuil. When Whymper discovered Giordano and Carrel's plan, he left Breuil and crossed the Theodul Pass
Theodul Pass
The Theodul Pass is a high mountain pass across the eastern Pennine Alps, connecting Zermatt in the Swiss canton of Valais and Breuil-Cervinia in the Italian region of Aosta Valley.The pass lies between the Matterhorn on the west and the Breithorn on...

 to Zermatt to hire local guides. He encountered Lord Francis Douglas
Lord Francis Douglas
Lord Francis William Bouverie Douglas was a novice, British mountaineer. After sharing in the first ascent of the Matterhorn, he died in a fall on the way down from the summit.-Early life:...

, a Scottish mountaineer, who also wanted to climb the Matterhorn. They arrived later in Zermatt in the Monte Rosa Hotel
Monte Rosa Hotel
The Monte Rosa is a hotel, located in the main street of Zermatt. It was frequented by the members of the Alpine Club, including Edward Whymper who made the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. The hotel is named after the highest mountain near Zermatt, Monte Rosa.- External links :*...

, where they met two other British climbers — the Reverend Charles Hudson and his young and inexperienced companion, Douglas Robert Hadow
Douglas Robert Hadow
Douglas Robert Hadow was an English novice mountaineer who died on the descent after the first ascent of the Matterhorn.-Family:...

 — who had hired the French guide Michel Croz
Michel Croz
Michel Auguste Croz was a French mountain guide and the first ascentionist of many mountains in the western Alps during the golden age of alpinism...

 to try to make the first ascent. These two groups decided to join forces and try the ascent of the Hörnli ridge. They hired another two local guides, Peter Taugwalder, father and son.

First ascent



Whymper and party left Zermatt early in the morning of July 13, heading to the foot of the Hörnli ridge, which they reached 6 hours later (approximately where the Hörnli Hut is situated today). Meanwhile Carrel and six other Italian guides also began their ascent of the Italian ridge.

Despite its appearance, Whymper wrote that the Hörnli ridge was much easier to climb than the Italian ridge:
After having camped for the night, Whymper and party started on the ridge. According to Whymper:

When the party came close to the summit, they had to leave the ridge for the north face because "[the ridge] was usually more rotten and steep, and always more difficult than the face". At this point of the ascent Whymper wrote that the less experienced Hadow "required continual assistance". Having overcome these difficulties the group finally arrived in the summit area, with Croz and Whymper reaching the top first.

Precisely at this moment, Carrel and party were approximatively 400 metres below, still dealing with the most difficult parts of the Italian ridge. When seeing his rival on the summit, Carrel and party gave up on their attempt and went back to Breuil.

After having built a cairn, Whymper and party stayed an hour on the summit. Then they began their descent of the Hörnli ridge. Croz descended first, then Hadow, Hudson and Douglas, Taugwalder father, Whymper with Taugwalder son coming last. They climbed down with great care, only one man moving at a time. Whymper wrote:
The weight of the falling men pulled Hudson and Douglas from their holds and dragged them down the north face. Taugwalder, father and son, and Whymper were left alive when the rope linking Douglas to Taugwalder father broke. They were stunned by the accident and for a time could not move until Taugwalder son descended to enable them to advance. When they were together Whymper asked to see the broken rope and saw that it had been employed by mistake as it was the weakest and oldest of the three ropes they had brought. They frequently looked, but in vain, for traces of their fallen companions. They continued their descent, including an hour in the dark, until 9.30pm when a resting place was found. At daybreak the descent was resumed and the group finally reached Zermatt, where a search of the victims was quickly organized. The bodies of Croz, Hadow and Hudson were found on the Matterhorn Glacier, but the body of Douglas was never found. Although Taugwalder's father was accused of cutting the rope to save himself and his son, the official inquest found no proof for this.

Second ascent


On July 16, two days after the first ascent and the catastrophe, Jean-Antoine Carrel
Jean-Antoine Carrel
thumb|Jean-Antoine Carrel was an Italian mountain climber. He had done climbs with Edward Whymper and was his rival when he attempted to climb the Matterhorn for the first time. Carrel was in the group that became the first Europeans to reach the summit of Chimborazo in 1880...

 set out to crown Whymper's victory by proving that the Italian side was not unconquerable. He was accompanied by Amé Gorret, a priest who had shared with him the first attempt on the mountain back in 1857. Jean-Baptiste Bich and Jean-Augustin Meynet completed the party. Giordano
Felice Giordano
Felice Giordano was an Italian engineer and geologist.Giordano was born at Turin. He had an important role in the organisation of a geological service in the Kingdom of Italy and in the foundation of the Italian Geological Society...

 would have joined them, but Carrel refused absolutely to take him with them; he said he would not have the strength to guide a traveller, and could neither answer for the result nor for any one's life. After hearing Sunday mass at the chapel of Breuil, the party started. Amé Gorret has described this ascent with enthusiasm: "At last we crossed the Col du Lion and set foot upon the pyramid of the Matterhorn!" On the following day, the 17th, they continued the ascent and reached Tyndall's flagstaff. "We were about to enter unknown country," wrote Gorret, "for no man had gone beyond this point." Here opinions were divided; Gorret suggested ascending by the ridge and scaling the last tower straight up. Carrel was inclined to traverse to the west of the peak, and thence go up on the Zmutt side. Naturally the wish of Carrel prevailed, for he was the leader and had not lost the habit of command, notwithstanding his recent defeat.

They made the passage of the enjambée, and traversed the west face to reach the Zmutt ridge. A false step made by one of the party and a fall of icicles from above warned them to return to the direct line of ascent, and the traverse back to the Lion ridge was one of the greatest difficulty. A falling stone wounded Gorret in the arm.

At last they reached the base of the final tower. 'We stood," wrote Gorret, "in a place that was almost comfortable. Although it was not more than two yards wide, and the slope was one of 75 percent., we gave it all kinds of pleasant names : the corridor, the gallery, the railroad, &c., &c." They imagined all difficulties were at an end; but a rock couloir, which they had hitherto not observed, lay between them and the final bit of ridge, where progress would be perfectly easy. It would have been unwise for all four to descend into the couloir, because they did not know where to fix the rope that would be needed on their return. Time pressed: it was necessary to reduce the numbers of the party; Gorret sacrificed himself, and Meynet stopped with him. Very soon afterwards Carrel and Bich were finally on the top. Meanwhile Giordano at Breuil was writing in his diary as follows: "Splendid weather; at 9.30 saw Carrel and his men on the Shoulder, after that saw nothing more of them. Then much mist about the summit. Lifted a bit about 3.30, and we saw our flag on the western summit of the Matterhorn."

Ridges



The first direct ascent of the Italian ridge as it is climbed today was by J. J. and J. P. Maquignaz on September 13, 1867. Julius Elliott made the second ascent via the Hörnli ridge in 1868, and later that year the party of John Tyndall
John Tyndall
John Tyndall FRS was a prominent Irish 19th century physicist. His initial scientific fame arose in the 1850s from his study of diamagnetism. Later he studied thermal radiation, and produced a number of discoveries about processes in the atmosphere...

, J. J. and J. P. Maquignaz was the first to traverse the summit by way of the Hörnli and Italian ridges. On August 22, 1871, while wearing a white print dress, Lucy Walker
Lucy Walker (climber)
Lucy Walker was a British mountaineer and the first woman to climb the Matterhorn.Miss Walker began her climbing rather modestly in 1858 when she was advised by her doctor to take up walking as a cure for rheumatism...

  became the first woman to reach the summit of the Matterhorn, followed a few weeks later by her rival Meta Brevoort
Meta Brevoort
Marguerite "Meta" Brevoort , an American mountain climber, spent her early years in a Paris convent school. She made a number of important ascents in the Alps in the 1860s and 1870s, but was thwarted in her two greatest alpine ambitions: to be the first woman to climb the Matterhorn, and the first...

. The first winter ascent of the Hörnli ridge was by Vittorio Sella
Vittorio Sella
Vittorio Sella was an Italian photographer and mountaineer, who took photographs of mountains which are regarded as some of the finest ever made....

 with guides J. A. Carrel, J. B. Carrel and L. Carrel on March 17, 1882, and its first solo ascent was made by W. Paulcke in 1898. The first winter solo ascent of the Hörnli ridge was by G. Gervasutti in 1936.

The Zmutt ridge was first climbed by Albert F. Mummery
Albert F. Mummery
Albert Frederick Mummery , was an English mountaineer and author. Although most notable for his many and varied first ascents put up in the Alps, Mummery, along with J...

, Alexander Burgener, J. Petrus and A. Gentinetta on September 3, 1879. Its first solo ascent was made by Hans Pfann in 1906, and the first winter ascent was made by H. Masson and E. Petrig on March 25, 1948.

The last of the Matterhorn's four ridges to be ascended was the Furggen ridge. M. Piacenza with guides J. J. Carrel and J. Gaspard on September 9, 1911, climbed most of the ridge but bypassed the overhangs near the top to the south. Not until September 23, 1942, during the Second World War, did Alfredo Perino, along with guides Louis Carrel (nicknamed "The Little Carrel") and Giacomo Chiara, climb the complete ridge and the overhangs directly.

On August 20, 1992 Italian alpinist Hans Kammerlander and Swiss alpine guide Diego Wellig climbed the Matterhorn four times in just 23 hours and 26 minutes. The route they followed was: Zmutt ridge–summit–Hörnli ridge (descent)–Furggen ridge–summit–Lion ridge (descent)–Lion ridge–summit–Hörnli ridge (descent)–Hörnli ridge–summit–Hörnli Hut
Hörnli Hut
The Hörnli Hut is a mountain hut located at the foot of the north-eastern ridge of the Matterhorn. It is situated at above sea level, a few kilometers south-west of the town of Zermatt in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It was built by the Swiss Alpine Club in 1880...

 (descent). Their itinerary has not been repeated.

Faces


William Penhall
William Penhall
William Penhall was an English mountaineer.-Life and family:The son of Dr John Penhall MRCS LSA , Penhall was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated BA in 1881...

 and guides made the first (partial) ascent of the west face, the Matterhorn's most hidden and unknown, one hour after Mummery and party's first ascent of the Zmutt ridge on September 3, 1879. It was not until 1962 that the west face was completely climbed. The ascent was made on August 13 by Renato Daguin and Giovanni Ottin. In January 1978 seven Italian alpine guides made a successful winter climb of Daguin and Ottin's highly direct, and previously unrepeated, 1962 route. But a storm came during their ascent, bringing two meters of snow to Breuil and Zermatt, and their accomplishment turned bitter when one of the climbers died during the descent.
The north face, before it was climbed in 1931, was one of the last great big wall problems in the Alps
Great north faces of the Alps
In mountaineering, the six great north faces of the Alps are known for their difficulty and great height. They are:*Cima Grande di Lavaredo*Eiger*Grandes Jorasses*Matterhorn*Petit Dru*Piz Badile...

. To succeed on the north face, good climbing and ice-climbing technique and route-finding ability were required. Unexpectedly it was first climbed by the brothers Franz and Toni Schmid on July 31–August 1, 1931. They reached the summit at the end of the second day, after a night of bivouack. Because they had kept their plans secret, their ascent was a complete surprise. In addition, the two brothers had travelled by bicycle from Munich and after their successful ascent they cycled back home again. The first winter ascent of the north face was made by Hilti von Allmen and Paul Etter on February 3–4, 1962. Its first solo ascent was made in five hours by Dieter Marchart on July 22, 1959. Walter Bonatti
Walter Bonatti
Walter Bonatti was an Italian mountain climber. He is noted for a solo climb of a new route on the south-west pillar of the Aiguille du Dru in August 1955 and the first solo winter ascent of the Matterhorn north face in 1965.-Life and career:Bonatti was born in Bergamo...

 climbed the "North Face Direct" solo on February 18–22, 1965.

Ueli Steck set the record time in climbing the North Face (Schmid route) of Matterhorn in 2009 with a time just under 2 hours. he clocked in at an astounding 1 hour 56 minutes.

After Bonatti's climb, the best alpinists were still preoccupied with one last great problem: the "Zmutt Nose", an overhang lying on the right-hand side of the north face. In July 1969 two Italians, Alessandro Gogna and Leo Cerruti, attempted to solve the problem. It took them four days to figure out the unusual overhangs, avoiding however its steepest part. In July 1981 the Swiss Michel Piola and Pierre-Alain Steiner surmounted the Zmutt Nose by following a direct route, the Piola-Steiner.

The first ascent of the south face was made by E. Benedetti with guides L. Carrel and M. Bich on October 15, 1931, and the first complete ascent of the east face was made by E. Benedetti and G. Mazzotti with guides L. and L. Carrel, M. Bich and A. Gaspard on September 18–19, 1932.

Climbing routes

Routes Start Time of ascent Difficulty
Ridges Hörnli Hörnli Hut
Hörnli Hut
The Hörnli Hut is a mountain hut located at the foot of the north-eastern ridge of the Matterhorn. It is situated at above sea level, a few kilometers south-west of the town of Zermatt in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It was built by the Swiss Alpine Club in 1880...

6 hours AD+/III+
Zmutt Hörnli Hut
Hörnli Hut
The Hörnli Hut is a mountain hut located at the foot of the north-eastern ridge of the Matterhorn. It is situated at above sea level, a few kilometers south-west of the town of Zermatt in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It was built by the Swiss Alpine Club in 1880...

 (or Schönbiel Hut
Schönbiel Hut
The Schönbiel Hut is a mountain hut located north of the Matterhorn. It is situated at above sea level, north of the Zmutt Glacier, a few kilometers west of the town of Zermatt in the canton of Valais in Switzerland...

)
7 hours (10 hours) D/IV
Lion Carrel Hut 5 hours AD+/III
Furggen Bivacco Bossi 7 hours TD/V+
Faces North Hörnli Hut
Hörnli Hut
The Hörnli Hut is a mountain hut located at the foot of the north-eastern ridge of the Matterhorn. It is situated at above sea level, a few kilometers south-west of the town of Zermatt in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It was built by the Swiss Alpine Club in 1880...

14 hours TD/V
West Schönbiel Hut
Schönbiel Hut
The Schönbiel Hut is a mountain hut located north of the Matterhorn. It is situated at above sea level, north of the Zmutt Glacier, a few kilometers west of the town of Zermatt in the canton of Valais in Switzerland...

12 hours TD/V+
South Rifugio Duca degli Abruzzi 15 hours TD+/V+
East Hörnli Hut
Hörnli Hut
The Hörnli Hut is a mountain hut located at the foot of the north-eastern ridge of the Matterhorn. It is situated at above sea level, a few kilometers south-west of the town of Zermatt in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It was built by the Swiss Alpine Club in 1880...

14 hours TD

Today, all ridges and faces of the Matterhorn have been ascended in all seasons, and mountain guide
Mountain guide
Mountain guides are specially trained and experienced mountaineers and professionals who are generally certified by an association. They are considered experts in mountaineering.-Skills:Their skills usually include climbing, skiing and hiking...

s take a large number of people up the northeast Hörnli route each summer. By modern standards, the climb is fairly difficult (AD Difficulty rating)
Grade (climbing)
In rock climbing, mountaineering and other climbing disciplines, climbers give a climbing grade to a route that concisely describes the difficulty and danger of climbing the route...

, but not hard for skilled mountaineers according to French climbing grades. There are fixed rope
Fixed rope
Fixed rope is the practice of fixing in place bolted ropes to assist climbers and walkers in exposed mountain locations. They are used widely on American and European climbing routes but disdained by purist mountaineers. Many guided expeditions to any of the eight-thousanders normally set up fixed...

s on parts of the route to help. Still, several climbers die each year due to a number of factors including the scale of the climb and its inherent dangers, inexperience, falling rocks, and overcrowded routes.
The usual pattern of ascent is to take the Schwarzsee
Schwarzsee (Zermatt)
Schwarzsee is a lake at Zermatt in the canton of Valais, Switzerland. It is located below Matterhorn at an elevation of 2,552 m....

 cable car up from Zermatt, hike up to the Hörnli Hut
Hörnli Hut
The Hörnli Hut is a mountain hut located at the foot of the north-eastern ridge of the Matterhorn. It is situated at above sea level, a few kilometers south-west of the town of Zermatt in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It was built by the Swiss Alpine Club in 1880...

 elev. 3260 m (10,695.5 ft), a large stone building at the base of the main ridge, and spend the night. The next day, climbers rise at 3:30 am so as to reach the summit and descend before the regular afternoon clouds and storms come in. The Solvay Hut
Solvay Hut
The Solvay Hut is a mountain hut located on the north-eastern ridge of the Matterhorn, near Zermatt in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. At it is the highest mountain hut owned by the Swiss Alpine Club, but can be used only in case of emergency...

 located on the ridge at 4003 m (13,133.2 ft) can be used only in a case of emergency.

Other routes on the mountain include the Italian (Lion) ridge (AD Difficulty rating), the Zmutt ridge (D Difficulty rating) and the north face route, one of the six great north faces of the Alps
Great north faces of the Alps
In mountaineering, the six great north faces of the Alps are known for their difficulty and great height. They are:*Cima Grande di Lavaredo*Eiger*Grandes Jorasses*Matterhorn*Petit Dru*Piz Badile...

 (TD+ Difficulty rating).

History


Aegidius Tschudi
Aegidius Tschudi
Aegidius Tschudi was an eminent member of the Tschudi family, of Glarus, Switzerland....

, one of the earliest Alpine topographers and historians, was the first to mention the region around the Matterhorn in his work, De Prisca ac Vera Alpina Raethi, published in Basel in 1538. He approached the Matterhorn as a student when in his Alpine travels he reached the summit of the Theodul Pass
Theodul Pass
The Theodul Pass is a high mountain pass across the eastern Pennine Alps, connecting Zermatt in the Swiss canton of Valais and Breuil-Cervinia in the Italian region of Aosta Valley.The pass lies between the Matterhorn on the west and the Breithorn on...

 but he does not seem to have paid any particular attention to the mountain itself.


The Matterhorn remained unstudied for more than two centuries, until a geologist from Geneva, Horace Benedict de Saussure, travelled to the mountain, which filled him with admiration. However de Saussure was not moved to climb the mountain, and had no hope of measuring its altitude by taking a barometer to its summit. "Its precipitous sides," he wrote, "which give no hold to the very snows, are such as to afford no means of access." Yet his scientific interest was kindled by "the proud peak which rises to so vast an altitude, like a triangular obelisk, that seems to be carved by a chisel." His mind intuitively grasped the causes which gave the peak its present precipitous form: the Matterhorn was not like a perfected crystal; the centuries had laboured to destroy a great part of an ancient and much larger mountain. On his first journey de Saussure had come from Ayas to the Col des Cimes Blanches, from where the Matterhorn first comes into view; descending to Breuil, he ascended to the Theodul Pass
Theodul Pass
The Theodul Pass is a high mountain pass across the eastern Pennine Alps, connecting Zermatt in the Swiss canton of Valais and Breuil-Cervinia in the Italian region of Aosta Valley.The pass lies between the Matterhorn on the west and the Breithorn on...

. On his second journey, in 1792, he came to the Valtournanche, studying and describing it; he ascended to the Theodul Pass, where he spent three days, analysing the structure of the Matterhorn, whose height he was the first to measure, and collecting stones, plants and insects. He made careful observations, from the sparse lichen that clung to the rocks to the tiny but vigorous glacier fly that fluttered over the snows and whose existence at such heights was mysterious. At night he took refuge under the tent erected near the ruins of an old fort at the top of the pass. During these days he climbed the Klein Matterhorn
Klein Matterhorn
The Klein Matterhorn is the highest point in the Zermatt-Cervinia ski area in Switzerland, and the end point of the highest cable car in Europe...

 (3,883 metres), which he named the Cime Brune du Breithorn.

The first inquirers began to come to the Matterhorn. There is a record of a party of Englishmen who in the summer of 1800 crossed the Great St. Bernard Pass
Great St. Bernard Pass
Great St. Bernard Pass is the third highest road pass in Switzerland. It connects Martigny in the Canton of Valais in Switzerland to Aosta in Italy. It is the lowest pass lying on the ridge between the two highest summits of the Alps, Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa...

, a few months after the passage of Bonaparte
Bonaparte
The House of Bonaparte is an imperial and royal European dynasty founded by Napoleon I of France in 1804, a French military leader who rose to notability out of the French Revolution and transformed the French Republic into the First French Empire within five years of his coup d'état...

; they came to Aosta and thence to Valtournanche, slept at the chalets of Breuil, and traversed the Theodul Pass
Theodul Pass
The Theodul Pass is a high mountain pass across the eastern Pennine Alps, connecting Zermatt in the Swiss canton of Valais and Breuil-Cervinia in the Italian region of Aosta Valley.The pass lies between the Matterhorn on the west and the Breithorn on...

, which they called Monte Rosa. The Matterhorn was to them an object of the most intense and continuous admiration.
The Matterhorn is mentioned in a guide-book to Switzerland by Johann Gottfried Ebel
Johann Gottfried Ebel
Johann Gottfried Ebel , the author of the first real guide-book to Switzerland, was born at Zullichau ....

, which was published in Zürich towards the end of the eighteenth century, and translated in English in 1818. The mountain appeared in it under the three names of Silvius, Matterhorn, and Mont Cervin, and was briefly described as one of the most splendid and wonderful obelisks in the Alps. On Zermatt
Zermatt
Zermatt is a municipality in the district of Visp in the German-speaking section of the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of about 5,800 inhabitants....

 there was a note: "A place which may, perhaps, interest the tourist is the valley of Praborgne (Zermatt); it is bounded by huge glaciers which come right down into the valley; the village of Praborgne is fairly high, and stands at a great height above the glaciers; its climate is almost as warm as that of Italy, and plants belonging to hot countries are to be found there at considerable altitudes, above the ice."

William Brockedon
William Brockedon
William Brockedon was a 19th century English painter.-Early life:He was born at Totnes on 13 October 1787, son of a watchmaker. He was educated at a private school in Totnes, but learned more from his father, taking over the business during the illness of nearly twelve months which ended in his...

, who came to the region in 1825, considered the crossing of the Theodul Pass from Breuil to Zermatt a difficult undertaking. He gave however, expression to his enthusiasm on the summit. When he arrived exhausted on the top of the pass, he gazed "on the beautiful pyramid of the Cervin, more wonderful than aught else in sight, rising from its bed of ice to a height of 5,000 feet, a spectacle of indescribable grandeur." In this "immense natural amphitheatre, enclosed from time immemorial by snow- clad mountains and glaciers ever white, in the presence of these grand walls the mind is overwhelmed, not indeed that it is unable to contemplate the scene, but it staggers under the immensity of those objects which it contemplates."
Those who made their way up through the Valtournanche to the foot of the mountain were few in number. W. A. B. Coolidge
W. A. B. Coolidge
William Augustus Brevoort Coolidge was an American historian, theologian and mountaineer.Coolidge was born in New York as the son of Frederic William Skinner Coolidge, a Boston merchant, and Elisabeth Neville Brevoort of the Netherlands. He studied history and law at St...

, a diligent collector of old and new stories of the Alps, mentions that during those years, besides Brockedon, only Hirzel-Escher of Zürich, who crossed the Theodul Pass in 1822, starting from Breuil, accompanied by a local guide. The greater number came from the Valais
Valais
The Valais is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland in the southwestern part of the country, around the valley of the Rhône from its headwaters to Lake Geneva, separating the Pennine Alps from the Bernese Alps. The canton is one of the drier parts of Switzerland in its central Rhône valley...

 up the Visp
Visp
Visp is the capital of the district of Visp in the canton of Valais in Switzerland.-Geography:Visp has an area, , of . Of this area, 17.0% is used for agricultural purposes, while 59.7% is forested...

 valley to Zermatt
Zermatt
Zermatt is a municipality in the district of Visp in the German-speaking section of the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of about 5,800 inhabitants....

. In 1813, a Frenchman, Henri Maynard, climbed to the Theodul Pass and made the first ascent of the Breithorn
Breithorn
The Breithorn is a mountain in the Pennine Alps, located close to the Matterhorn. It is considered the most easily climbed 4,000 m Alpine peak. This is due to the Klein Matterhorn cable car which takes climbers to over 3,820 m for a starting point. The standard route continues over a glacial...

; he was accompanied by numerous guides, among them J. M. Couttet of Chamonix, the same man who had gone with de Saussure to the top of the Klein Matterhorn
Klein Matterhorn
The Klein Matterhorn is the highest point in the Zermatt-Cervinia ski area in Switzerland, and the end point of the highest cable car in Europe...

 in 1792.
The writings of these pioneers make much mention of the Matterhorn; the bare and inert rock is gradually quickened into life by men's enthusiasm. "Stronger minds," remarked Edward Whymper
Edward Whymper
Edward Whymper , was an English illustrator, climber and explorer best known for the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. On the descent four members of the party were killed.-Early life:...

, "felt the influence of the wonderful form, and men who ordinarily spoke or wrote like rational beings, when they came under its power seemed to quit their senses, and ranted and rhapsodised, losing for a time all common forms of speech."

Among the poets of the Matterhorn during these years (1834 to 1840) were Elie de Beaumont, a famous French geologist; Pierre Jean Édouard Desor
Pierre Jean Édouard Desor
Pierre Jean Édouard Desor was a Swiss geologist. He associated in his early years with Louis Agassiz, studying palaeontology and glacial phenomena, and together with James David Forbes ascended the Jungfrau in 1841...

, a naturalist of Neuchatel, who went up there with a party of friends, two of whom were Louis Agassiz
Louis Agassiz
Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz was a Swiss paleontologist, glaciologist, geologist and a prominent innovator in the study of the Earth's natural history. He grew up in Switzerland and became a professor of natural history at University of Neuchâtel...

 and Bernhard Studer
Bernhard Studer
Bernhard Studer , Swiss geologist, was born at Büren, near Bern.Although educated as a clergyman, he became so interested in geology at the university of Göttingen that he devoted his life to its pursuit...

. Christian Moritz Engelhardt, who was so filled with admiration for Zermatt and its neighbourhood that he returned there at least ten times (from 1835 to 1855), described these places in two valuable volumes, drew panoramas and maps, and collected the most minute notes on the mineralogy and botany of the region. Zermatt was at that time a quiet little village, and travellers found hospitality at the parish priest's, or at the village doctor's.
In 1841 James David Forbes
James David Forbes
James David Forbes was a Scottish physicist and glaciologist who worked extensively on the conduction of heat and seismology. Forbes was a resident of Edinburgh for most of his life, educated at the University and a professor there from 1833 until he became principal of the United College of St...

, professor of natural philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, came to see the Matterhorn. A philosopher and geologist, and an observant traveller, he continued the work of De Saussure in his journeys and his writings. He was full of admiration for the Matterhorn, calling it the most wonderful peak in the Alps, unsealed and unscalable. These words, pronounced by a man noted among all his contemporaries for his thorough knowledge of mountains, show what men's feelings then were towards the Matterhorn, and how at a time when the idea of Alpine exploration
Exploration of the High Alps
The higher region of the Alps were long left to the exclusiveattention of the men of the adjoining valleys, even when Alpine travellers began to visit these valleys. It is reckoned that about 20 glacier passes were certainly known before 1600, about 25 more before 1700, and yet another 20 before...

 was gaining ground in their minds, the Matterhorn stood by itself as a mountain apart, of whose conquest it was vain even to dream. And such it remained till long after this; as such it was described by John Ball
John Ball (naturalist)
John Ball was an Irish politician, naturalist and Alpine traveller.-Background and education:Ball was born in Dublin, the eldest son of Nicholas Ball and his wife Jane Sherlock...

 twenty years later in his celebrated guide-book. Forbes ascended the Theodul Pass in 1842, climbed the Breithorn, and came down to Breuil; as he descended from the savage scenery of the Matterhorn, the Italian landscapes of the Valtournanche seemed to him like paradise. Meanwhile Gottlieb Samuel Studer
Gottlieb Samuel Studer
Gottlieb Samuel Studer was a Swiss mountaineer, Notary public and draughtsman.Studer was the son of Sigmund Gottlieb Studer...

, the geographer, together with Melchior Ulrich, was describing and mapping the topographical features of the Zermatt peaks.

Rodolphe Töpffer
Rodolphe Töpffer
Rodolphe Töpffer was a Swiss teacher, author, painter, cartoonist, and caricature artist. He is also considered to be the first modern comic creator.- Biography :...

, who first accompanied and guided youth to the Alps for purposes of education and amusement, began his journeys in 1832, but it is only in 1840 that he mentions the Matterhorn. Two years later Töpffer and his pupils came to Zermatt. He has described this journey of his in a chapter entitled Voyage autour du Mont Blanc jusqu'à Zermatt, here he sings a hymn of praise to the Matterhorn, comparing its form with a "huge crystal of a hundred facets, flashing varied hues, that softly reflects the light, unshaded, from the uttermost depths of the heavens". Töpffer's book was illustrated by Alexandre Calame
Alexandre Calame
Alexandre Calame was a Swiss painter.He was born in Arabie! at the time belonging to Corsier-sur-Vevey, today a part of Vevey. He was the son of a skillful marble worker in Vevey, but because his father lost the family fortune, Calame could not concentrate on art, but rather he was forced to...

, his master and friend, with drawings of the Matterhorn, executed in the romantic style of the period. It is an artificial mountain, a picture corresponding rather with the exaggerated effect it produces on the astonished mind of the artist, than with the real form of the mountain.

About this time there came a man who studied the Matterhorn in its structure and form, and who sketched it and described it in all its parts with the curiosity of the artist and the insight of the scientist. This was John Ruskin
John Ruskin
John Ruskin was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects ranging from geology to architecture, myth to ornithology, literature to education, and botany to political...

, a new and original type of philosopher and geologist, painter and poet, whom England was enabled to create during that period of radical intellectual reforms, which led the way for the highest development of her civilisation. Ruskin was the Matterhorn's poet par excellence. He went to Zermatt in 1844, and it is to be noticed as a curious fact, that the first time he saw the Matterhorn it did not please him. The mountain on its lofty pedestal in the very heart of the Alps was, perhaps, too far removed from the ideal he had formed of the mountains; but he returned, studied and dreamt for long at its feet, and at length he pronounced it "the most noble cliff in Europe." Ruskin was no mountaineer, nor a great friend to mountaineering; he drew sketches of the mountains merely as an illustration of his teaching of the beauty of natural forms, which was the object of his whole life. In his work on Modern Painters he makes continual use of the mountains as an example of beauty and an incentive to morality. The publication of Ruskin's work certainly produced a great impression at the time on educated people in England, and a wide spread desire to see the mountains.
Other men of high attainments followed, but in the years 1850 scientists and artists were about to be successed by real climbers and the passes and peaks around Zermatt were explored little by little. In the preface to the first volume of the Alpine Journal
Alpine Journal
The Alpine Journal is the yearly publication of the Alpine Club of London. It is the oldest mountaineering journal in the world.-History:The journal was first published on 2 March 1863 by the publishing house of Longmans in London, with Hereford Brooke George as its first editor...

, which appeared in 1863, the editor, Mr. H. B. George, after remarking that nearly all the highest peaks in the Alps had by then been conquered, wrote the following words, which sounded an appeal to English climbers : " While even if all other objects of interest in Switzerland should be exhausted, the Matterhorn remains (who shall say for how long?) unconquered and apparently invincible."

The traditional inaccessibility of the Matterhorn was vanquished after an expedition led by Whymper successfully reached the summit in 1865. But it ended dramatically with four men perishing on the descent. The news of the catastrophe gave rise to a universal cry of horror. Of all Alpine disasters, not one, not even of those which had a larger number of victims, ever moved men's minds as this one did. The whole of Europe talked of it; the English papers discussed it with bitter words of blame; Italian papers invented a tale of a rock detaching itself from the summit, and sweeping the helpless victims to destruction, or of a hidden crevasse opening wide its terrible jaws to swallow them. A German newspaper published an article in which Whymper was accused of cutting the rope between Douglas and Taugwalder, at the critical moment, to save his own life.

In 1890 the Federal Government was asked simultaneously by the same contractor for a concession for the Zermatt-Gornergrat railway
Gornergratbahn
The Gornergratbahn is a nine-kilometre metre-gauge mountain rack railway, with Abt rack system. It leads from Zermatt, Switzerland , up to the Gornergrat...

, and for a Zermatt-Matterhorn one. The Gornergrat railway was constructed, and has been working since 1899, but there has been no more talk of the other. The project essentially consisted of a line which went up to the Hörnli, and continued thence in a rectilinear tunnel about two kilometres long, built under the ridge, and issuing near the summit on the Zmutt side. Sixty years later in 1950, Italian engineer Count Dino Lora Totino planned a cable car on the Italian side from Breuil-Cervinia to the summit. But the Alpine Museum of Zermatt sent a protest letter with 90'000 signatures to the Italian government. The latter declared the Matterhorn a natural wonder worthy of protection and refused the concession to the engineer.

During the 20th century, the Matterhorn and the story of the first ascent in particular, inspired various artists and film producers such as Luis Trenker
Luis Trenker
Luis Trenker was a German-language South Tyrolian film director, architect, and actor.-Biography:...

 and Walt Disney
Walt Disney
Walter Elias "Walt" Disney was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, entertainer, international icon, and philanthropist, well-known for his influence in the field of entertainment during the 20th century. Along with his brother Roy O...

.

Designed in 1908 by Emil Cardinaux, a leading poster artist of the time, the Matterhorn affiche for the Zermatt tourist office is often considered the first modern poster. It has been described as a striking example of marriage of tourism, patriotism and popular art. It served as decoration in many Swiss military hospices during the war in addition to be found in countless middle class living rooms. Since then, the Matterhorn has become a reference that still inspires graphic artists today and has been used extensively for all sort of publicity and advertising.

Panorama



Filmography

  • Fight for the Matterhorn (1928)
  • The Mountain Calls
    The Mountain Calls
    The Mountain Calls is a film directed by Luis Trenker which recreates in detail the first successful ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865 by Edward Whymper....

    (1938)
  • The Challenge
    The Challenge (1938 film)
    The Challenge is a British drama film directed by Milton Rosmer which recreates the first successful ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865 by Edward Whymper....

    (1938)
  • Climbing the Matterhorn
    Climbing the Matterhorn
    Climbing the Matterhorn is a 1947 short documentary film directed by Irving Allen. It won an Academy Award at the 20th Academy Awards in 1948 for Best Short Subject ....

    (1947)
  • Third Man on the Mountain
    Third Man on the Mountain
    Third Man on the Mountain is a 1959 American Walt Disney Productions movie set during the golden age of alpinism about a young Swiss man who conquers the mountain that killed his father. It is based on Banner in the Sky, a James Ramsey Ullman novel about the first ascent of the Matterhorn, and was...

    (1959)

External links