The Matterhorn (Cervin or Monte Cervino) is the epitome of the majestic peak, among the most famous mountains in the world but correspondingly overcrowded. This does not deter most climbers, and even those who think they can resist its popularity usually change their views when they actually see the mountain.

The drama of its first ascent underpins its fame. The race, into which the final attempts degenerated, was decided by Edward Whymper and his equally driven companions, Lord Francis Douglas, Charles Hudson, Douglas Hadow and the guides Michel Croz and Peter (father and son) Taugwalder on 14 July 1865 by their successful ascent of the North-East (Hörnhi) Ridge. But after an accident on the descent, only Whymper and the Taugwalders returned. The harder Italian Ridge was mastered three days later by Whymper’s former ally Jean-Antoine Carrel with Abbé Gorret, Jean Baptiste Bich and Jean-Augustin Meynet but only Carrel and Bich did the devious finish above Pic Tyndall (by a traverse to the Zmutt Ridge). A direct finish was done in 1867 by Jean Joseph and Pierre Maquignaz and soon equipped with ropes and a short ladder (a process that also ‘tamed’ the Hörnli Ridge). The still largely unequipped Zmutt Ridge was climbed in 1879 by Albert Mummery with Alexander Burgener, Johann Petrus and Augustin Gentinetta, and the North Face ascent by Franz and Toni Schmid (1931) also made headlines.

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