10 Facts about the Matterhorn
The Matterhorn is one of the most recognisable mountains in Europe, if not the world. On the border between Switzerland and Italy, to the North East it overlooks the Swiss town of Zermatt, and to the South it overlooks the Italian town of Breuil-Cervinia. Its large, near-symmetrical pyramidal peak is said to have been the inspiration for Swiss chocolate Toblerone's iconic shape, and when one looks at the Matterhorn's beautiful peak that is certainly not hard to believe.
Whether or not the Matterhorn really was the inspiration for Emil Baumann & Theodor Tobler's legendary confectionary, the Matterhorn is certainly inspirational, and the subject of our Matterhorn phone case. To inspire you and to get your creative juices flowing we present to you 10 facts about this icon of alpine Europe:
1) Big (Swiss) Cheese
The Matterhorn has a formiddable height of 4,477.54 metres (14,690 feet) above sea level, making it the sixth highest summit in the Alps and also the sixth highest summit in Europe outside the Caucasus Mountains.
2) Old School
In August 1792, the Genevan geologist and explorer Horace Bénédict de Saussure made the first measurement of the Matterhorn's height, using a sextant and a 15 metre long chain spread out on the Theodul glacier! As rudimentary as these methods may seem, they were remarkably accurate, with Benedict de Saussure giving a final figure of 4,501.7 metres (14,769 feet). This is astonishingly close to the modern measurement of 4,477.54 metres (14,690 feet) considering the tools de Saussure had at his disposal.
3) Cardinal Points
The Matterhorn's four steep faces, rising above the surrounding glaciers, face the four cardinal compass points. This is perhaps one of the reasons for the mountain's enigmatic beauty.
4) Not so Gentle Giant
An average of around twelve people per year have died on the Matterhorn in the ten years from 2005 to 2015. The crowds of climbers on this popular mountain cause serious health and safety issues. Crowds travel slowly up the mountain, increasing the amount of rock fall, and significantly contributing to the mountain’s subjective hazards. At one point in the early 1990s there were roughly 24 fatalities per year! It is estimated that over 500 alpinists have died on the Matterhorn since the first climb in 1865, making it one of the deadliest peaks in the world.
5) A Tragic First
The first recorded ascent of the Matterhorn was made in 1865 from Zermatt by a party led by British Mountaineer Edward Whymper. Sadly, the expedition ended in disaster with four members of Whymper's team falling to their deaths on the descent.
6) Popular Peak
Since the end of the 19th century, when railways were built in the area, the Matterhorn has attracted increasing numbers of climbers and visitors. As of 2015 almost two million visitors arrive at Zermatt annually.
7) Tough Old Toblerone
The west face of the Matterhorn (which is the highest of its four faces) was only finally scaled in 1962.
8) Das Gut!
Matterhorn is the mountain's German name (Switzerland has four official languages), and it is said to be based on the German word Matt, which means Alpine meadow.
9) Old Man of the Mountain
One of the many legendary figures associated with the Matterhorn is Ulrich Inderbinen. Ulrich, who died in 2004, was a Swiss mountain guide famous for his longevity and love of climbing. He scaled the Matterhorn over 370 times during his lifetime, making his final ascent when he was 90 years old! A beautiful fountain has been constructed in his honour in the Swiss town of Zermatt, and serves as a touching tribute to this incredible character.
10) Lady's First
The first woman to climb the Matterhorn was Lucy Walker in 1871. She was also the first woman to summit the Eiger (1864).