Swiss Watching trivia, No 9: The Matterhorn

August 9, 2010, 5 Comments

Matterhorn from GornergratThe Matterhorn

Switzerland truly is a country of mountains: about 70% of it is taken up by the Alps and Jura ranges.  But there’s one that stands out. No, not the Eiger. That may get all the leading roles in films, but it’s the Matterhorn that is the true face of Swiss mountains. True, it’s not the highest – that honour goes to nearby Dufourspitze – but it is one of the 48 Swiss mountains that top 4000m. And it’s not entirely Swiss – the border with Italy (where it’s called Monte Cervino) is exactly on the Matterhorn. For all that, this triangular mountain with a crooked peak has become an iconic symbol of Switzerland. And a deadly one. That summit, which stands at 4478 metres (that’s 14,692ft for anyone still living in 1960. Or in America), was first conquered by Edward Whymper on 14 July 1865, a feat achieved with the loss of four of his team. Since then, over 500 climbers have died attempting to scale it, the most recent last Saturday. I’m happy just to admire it from the train up to Gornergrat.

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