Mountains of the World The Matterhorn

About the history and height of the Matterhorn, the great mountain of the Alps, account of expedictions and climbing adventures.

MOUNTAINS

THE MATTERHORN

The Matterhorn, also known as Mont Cervin or Monte Cervino, is located in the Pennine Alps on the Swiss-Italian border 6 mi. southwest of Zermatt, Switzerland. It is a breathtakingly beautiful obelisk of rock 14,691 ft. in elevation.

In the early 1860s the Matterhorn was "the last great problem of the Alps." Most experienced climbers doubted that it ever would be climbed. Superstitious natives believed there was a ruined city on the summit inhabited by demons and spirits of the damned.

It was finally successfully scaled in 1865 by the Englishman Edward Whymper and six others. The triumph was marred by the most famous mountaineering tragedy of all time--a tragedy that nearly put a halt to the sport. On the descent, the second man on the rope slipped, knocking the first man over; the third and fourth were dragged violently along. The rope broke and the four men were hurled down, falling from precipice to precipice, to the Matterhorn Glacier, almost 4,000 ft. below. Immediately after the accident, the three survivors saw an illusion of three crosses in the clouds, which, they reasoned later, must actually have been a fogbow.

Eventually the furor over the accident died down, and in the years since, the Matterhorn has been climbed from every possible angle by over 60,000 people, including women, children, octogenarians, blind men, and a mountaineer who later became Pope Pius XI.

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