Pushing the limits
Extreme mountain climbers, legends, outstanding characters — the Matterhorn has been their big stage for centuries.
Who are the people who risk everything to conquer this mountain? What drives them and what hardships do they put up with? Here are some outstanding figures from the last few centuries whose lives and fates are closely linked to the Matterhorn.
First to the summit
On 14 July 1865, Edward Whymper, the English leader of a seven-man climbing party, became the first to conquer the Matterhorn. With him on the summit were Michel Croz, the Reverend Charles Hudson, Lord Francis Douglas, Douglas Robert Hadow and two mountain guides, Peter Taugwalder senior and junior, from Zermatt.
First Lady of the Matterhorn
Several female alpinists competed to make the first ascent by a woman. In 1871, the British pioneer Lucy Walker (upper row, third from left) reached the summit first. Following the custom of her time, she wore a long flannel dress, which made the ascent considerably more difficult.
Conquerors of the north face
The rugged, forbidding north face with its brittle rock still triggers adrenaline rushes in mountaineers today — only the most experienced of them take on this Alpine challenge. The first to succeed were the brothers Franz and Toni Schmid from Germany, who made the ascent via the north face on 1 August 1931.
Almost vertically into the valley
For most people, descending the Matterhorn on foot would be unthinkable. André Anzévui took it to the extreme in the summer of 1989 and descended the Matterhorn on skis. Only for a few vertical walls did he need to use rope. It's an achievement that nobody has repeated to this day.
Pause on the ascent to enjoy the breathtaking views? The Zermatt mountain guide Andreas Steindl had no time for that on his record-breaking ascent by the normal route in 2018. He took only 3 hours, 59 minutes, and 52 seconds from the Zermatt church square to the Matterhorn summit — and back. In 2015, Dani Arnold conquered the Matterhorn by the north face from Bergschrund in 1 hour and 46 minutes. Most mountaineers need eight to ten hours.
Nobody has stood on the summit as often as he has — Zermatt mountain guide Richard Andenmatten has climbed the Matterhorn over 800 times. He recorded 754 successful ascents in his guide’s logbook before it was lost. That didn’t stop him from climbing the Matterhorn fifty more times.