Matterhorn, the German term, is from the words Matte that stands for “meadow” and horn meaning “pinnacle.” Cervino, the Italian terms, and Cervin, the French work, have originated from the Latin words cervus and -inus manifesting “place of Cervus.” Cervus is a group of deer that includes elk.
The Matterhorn is acknowledged as the tenth highest mountain in Switzerland, and counted as one of 48 Swiss peaks which are more than 4,000 meters in height.
The four faces of the Matterhorn are directed to four cardinal directions—north, east, south, and west.
|Elevation||4,478 m (14,692 ft)|
|Prominence||1,040 m (3,412 ft)|
|Location||Italy / Switzerland|
|Topo Map||Swisstopo 1347 Matterhorn|
|First Ascent||July 14, 1865 by
Douglas Robert Hadow
Peter Taugwalder (father)
Peter Taugwalder (son)
|Easiest Route||Hörnli ridge (AD, rock/mixed climb)|
Maiden scaling was accomplished on July 14, 1865 by Edward Whymper, Charles Hudson, Lord Francis Douglas, Douglas Robert Hadow, guide Michel Croz, and the father and son guides Peter and Peter Taugwalder via the Hörnli Ridge, the most popular route of ascent today. Just below the summit on the slop, Hadow slipped, hitting Croz off the mountain. The rope became tight and pulled Hudson, Douglas and the four other climbers tumbled down the north face. The elder Taugwalder was suspended with the rope over a rock projection, but the pressure broke the rope, saving the Taugwalders and Whymper from instant death. The ascent and incident is registered in Whymper’s classic book
The second ascent was accomplished three days after the initial one, on July 17, 1865, from the Italian side. The troop was headed by guides Jean-Antoine Carrel and Jean-Baptiste Bich.
The dangerous North side, one of the biggest north face climbs in the Alps, was first conquered on July 31 and August 1, 1931 by Franz and Toni Schmid.
The typical climbing route is up the Hörnli ridge on the northern east, which is the middle ridge viewed from Zermatt. The route, graded 5.4, manifests 4,000 feet of climbing, generally on rock (4th Class) but with some snow based on seasons, and takes 10 hours of round-trip. Some of the mounting is very exposed and people need to be proficient at climbing rock with crampons on their boots. The route, mostly guided, is tough but not for adept alpinists. Fixed ropes are suspended on difficult sections. Route finding is difficult in some places, especially on the lower face which is generally covered in the dark. The descent, when most accidents are registered, is of similar length as the ascent. Most climbers begin their ascent by 3:30 in the morning to avoid summer thunderstorms and lightning.
On September 6, 2007 Anthamatten and Michael Lerjen was guided by Zermatt, who ascended the Hörnli Ridge and came back in a very less time of 2 hours 33 minutes. Although their ascending time was 1 hour 40 minutes but they took only 53 minutes to reach the base.
This mounting of Matterhorn has taken lives of 500 people since 1865’s tragic accident, many on the descent. Now the average deaths are recorded as 12 per annum. Deaths are due to falls, lack of expertise, underestimating the mountain, falling rocks, and bad weather. Many of the mountain’s victims, along with three from the first ascent tragedy, are resting in Zermatt’s downtown cemetery.
Disneyland in Anaheim, California showcases a 1/100 scale and 147 feet high replica of the Matterhorn. Matterhorn Bobsleds is a famous ride on the peak. Disneyland’s website explains, “Scale the snowy summit in your racing toboggan and then speed, screaming down the slopes, to a sensational splashdown.” Also Mickey Mouse and friends, climbers in disguise, often climb it.
The Matterhorn also appears in two Warner Brothers cartoons. In Pikes Peaker Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam, a 1957 cartoon, competed to the peak of the Schmatterhorn. In A Scent of the Matterhorn, which is the cartoon of 1961, the skunk Pepe Le Pew chases a female cat, who he believes is a fellow skunk, past the Matterhorn.
The climate in Switzerland is moderate year round and in winters it may appear to be severe to tourists coming from warmer climates. The weather is not that hot, cold or humid but pleasant. The temperature may range from 18 to 28 °C (65° - 82° F) in the day times of summer months i.e. July to August. The temperature in autumn and spring days spans between 8 to 15 °C (46° - 59° F) and the winter is colder with temperatures fluctuating from -2 to 7 °C (28° - 45° F) during January and February.
|Routes||Start||Time of Ascent||Difficulty|
|Ridges||Hörnli||Hörnli Hut||6 hours||AD+/III+|
|Zmutt||Hörnli Hut (or Schönbiel Hut)||7 hours (10 hours)||D/IV|
|Lion||Carrel Hut||5 hours||AD+/III|
|Furggen||Bivacco Bossi||7 hours||TD/V+|
|Faces||North||Hörnli Hut||14 hours||TD/V|
|West||Schönbiel Hut||12 hours||TD/V+|
|South||Rifugio Duca degli Abruzzi||15 hours||TD+/V+|
|East||Hörnli Hut||14 hours||TD|