• Switzerland's news in English
Matterhorn - 150th anniversary
Switzerland celebrates first ascent of Matterhorn
A long time exposure taken late on Monday in Zermatt shows lamps illuminating the path of the first climb on the Matterhorn. Photo: AFP

Switzerland celebrates first ascent of Matterhorn

George Mills · 15 Jul 2015, 11:35

Published: 15 Jul 2015 11:35 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

As mountains go, the Matterhorn is pretty close to perfect — a sublime near-pyramid that sits at the head of the valley behind the Swiss village of Zermatt and straddles the Swiss-Italian border.

With its two summits, the 4,478 metre (14,692 ft) "mountain of all mountains" has become an icon of Switzerland — think Toblerone — and a more than handy income stream for the 6,000 or so residents of car-free Zermatt. 

The village boasts around 120 hotels and countless holiday apartments, with nearly 3 million overnight stays registered in 2013. 

But for all its beauty, the Matterhorn is not a welcoming peak for climbers. Because of its difficulty, it was the last of the famous alpine 4000ers to be conquered — a feat achieved by Englishman Edward Whymper 150 years ago on Tuesday.

The ascent was far from trouble-free. Only three of the seven climbers made it down alive.

And there was controversy too, after claims that local mountain guide Peter Taugwalder cut a rope sending three men to their deaths in order to save his son. A subsequent investigation cleared him.

SEE ALSO: Severed rope recalls Matterhorn's first ascent

The ensuing media storm even saw Britain's Queen Victoria consider a ban on mountain climbing — hugely popular among Brits who were largely responsible for opening up climbing routes in the Alps.

Since then, the Matterhorn — or Monte Cervino as it's known in Italian — has claimed the lives of over 500 climbers.

But for Zermatt, the mountain remains a major cash cow and the first expedition was "like winning the lottery" as Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung put it recently.

On Tuesday, lamps were placed along the route taken by Whymper and his fellow climbers, with a single red lamp marking the location where things went wrong for the group.

Celebrations continue in Zermatt this week and include special exhibitions, theatre performances and events for children. 


Story continues below…





For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

George Mills (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available