Famous mountain in the Alps on the border between Italy
Its sharp, picturesque, almost hostile, pyramidal
horn-like summit is one of the most well-known and photographed views in
the climbing world. The height is 4,478 meters (14,692 feet) and it was
first climbed in this day in 1865 by English Edward Whymper,
who in his eighth attempt managed to reach the summit after four of his
expedition members had fallen to their deaths. This was the last summit to be
claimed in the Golden Age of climbing as the mid 1800s are called.
Described in 1850 by Paul Bernard of the Swiss board of tourism as follows:
"That towering pyramid, set off from its neighbors,
seeming to thrust into the very sky, was the object, more than any other Alpine
peak, of a host of superstitious tales. In both valleys affording access to the
mountain, the Mattertal from the north, the Valtournanche from the south,
old men told dark tales of the awful disasters that would assuredly befall
those who dared to come too near to it. There were stories about ruined cities
buried beneath the snow-masses. In addition the opinion of experienced Valais
guides in Zermatt, on the Swiss side, was that the mountain was so steep, a
succession of smooth cliffs from base to summit, as to be quite unclimbable."
Being a pyramid shaped summit, there are four ridges and
four faces to choose from when you want to summit. As of today, all of these have been climbed. This is perhaps the hardest
of all 4,000 meter peaks to climb, with more than 500 deaths on the “easy” route
to the top alone; the Hörni ridge. The summit is actually two peaks with a
shard ridge between them.
From the Italian side of the mountain - which is called
Monte Cervino there – lies the town of Cervino, from where skiing and
summit attempts can be made. From the Swiss side, Zermatt is closest and also
the way to reach the Hörni ridge of Mont Cervin which is the French name. There are also other, easier, summits nearby to be attemped in the Pennine Alps. Today
over 3000 people come and try to climb it every year, and with the help of
guides and it is not as hard anymore since there are fixed ropes and pitons
to aid them.