Stepping out of the train station and laying eyes on the Matterhorn was an “I can’t believe it!” moment. Seeing the peak in person was as exciting as the first time I saw the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben.
The Matterhorn’s distinct summit boldly looms above Zermatt and the surrounding area. At 4,478 meters, it is one of the highest peaks in the Alps.
The Matterhorn is a mountain in the Pennine Alps on the Swiss-Italian border. It has a unique pyramidal shape with four steep faces toward the compass points. Glaciers lie at the base of each face.
Without the allure of the Matterhorn, Zermatt might not be anything more than a few farmhouses.
The mountain was one of the last unsummited Alpine peaks. Through the 1800’s, one by one, the surrounding mountains were conquered. The Matterhorn remained elusive as many of Europe’s best climbers tried to scale it and failed.
Until 1865, that is, when Englishman Edward Whymper showed the world the Matterhorn was indeed conquerable. After eight failed attempts from the Italian side, Whymper finally succeeded from the Zermatt side. During the expedition, four members fell to their deaths on the descent.
The Matterhorn remains one of the deadliest peaks. To date, over 500 climbers have died. Last year was a good year with only 20 casualties.