The World’s Most Iconic Mountain
We Will Attempt to Climb for Kidney Cancer in Summer 2016-Along with Mt. Blanc
The Matterhorn or Cervino is arguably the most well known mountain in the world. It rises 14,692-feet (4,478 meters) above the sea. It’s perfect pyramidal shape makes it not only the symbol that represents Switzerland and Toblerone chocolate, but it has come to be a symbol of all mountains (see Gaston Rebufutt’s quote below).
It was the last great alpine peak to be summited. The prize summit was finally claimed in 1865 by Edward Whimper and team, but their success was short lived because the descent was marred by tragedy when 4 of the 7 members of the successful team fell to their deaths. Over the years it is estimated that more than 500 people have died pursuing a dream to make it to the top of this imposing rock, ranking the Matterhorn as one of the 10 most dangerous mountains in the world. Many of these fallen climbers now rest in the mountaineer’s cemetery in Zermatt, Switzerland. It is a place where climber’s are memorialized and climbing is celebrated, but also a constant reminder of the transient nature of life.
We want to create a Kidney Cancer Virtual Cemetery. It is a website where Kidney Cancer dies, and we remember and memorialize those who have died after a struggle with Kidney Cancer.
Why are we trying to climb it? We continue with our global story telling initiative by trying to bring attention to Kidney Cancer and raise money and awareness for this underserved cancer. Please check out our other climbs of Devils Tower, Half Dome, Mt. Whitney and Mt. Kosciuszko and others. Kidney caner is always personal, and this time we are climbing for a mother, wife, and grandmother.
Gaston Rebuffat commented on the stupendous nature of the Matterhorn in his book about this iconic mountain.
“I was born by the sea, and up to the age of twelve I had never been outside my native Province; and yet, without being aware of it, I knew the Matterhorn. I did not know it by name, but I knew it. When, by chance, someone in my family uttered the word ‘peak’, and my small child’s imagination created the corresponding picture, I saw a pyramid, beautiful as an arrow of stone, pointing towards the sky.
“At school, at the very outset, when the master was teaching us how to hold a pencil and to amuse us, would say, ‘Now, draw a house, a tree, a flower, a boat, a mountain,’ all of us without knowing or intending it, would draw Matterhorns.
“Later, in the Alps, in the Himalayas, in the Rockies, on the Hoggar, I have been up countless valleys to discover mountains of all shapes and heights, but have never come across any like the Matterhorn. I have questioned climbers of all countries who have visited even more of the world’s mountains than I have. They have never seen a mountain to compare with the Matterhorn either. Moreover, on reflection, no one arriving at Zermatt or coming up from Châtillon to Breuil has ever exclaimed on seeing the Matterhorn for the first time, ‘It looks like such and such a mountain’, even a mountain wearing the halo of the Himalayas. Besides, this statement does not ring true, it is so clearly impossible.
“Conversely, on approaching other peaks, how many times have we said, spontaneously and with a peculiar joy, ‘Seen from here it looks like the Matterhorn, or ‘Seen from there, that curve of the ridge, that profile of the wall reminds one of the Matterhorn.”
Just as with many of the mountains we have climbed for Kidney Cancer, there has been a claim that the Matterhorn never would be climbed. It was the last great Alpine peak to be submitted and the first ascent was coveted not only by climbers, but by nations alike. The gripping tale of the ‘conquest’ of the Matterhorn ended in 1865 when Edward Whymper of England reached the summit first from the Swiss side, but 4 of his part of 7 fell to their deaths on the descent. Three days later a climbing party from Italy, led by J.A. Carrel, summited from the Italian side (which turned out to be more technically challenging that the Swiss side). These stories are captured in amazing accounts in such books as Scrambles Amongst the Alps and The Matterhorn which are available in full text through those links. These fantastic reads capture the essence of the golden age of mountaineering.
We will be attempting to replicate both routes by ascending the Italian Ridge (Lion’s Ridge) and coming down the Swiss side (Hornli Ridge). This is the most challenging climb a normal person can make. (we are not climbers, but just ordinary people). We will be guided by Alpine Guides International. But we will be very dependent on weather, conditions etc. So here’s hoping that things are just right for a successful bid.