Tags: matterhorn | 150 | years | mountain | anniversary | swiss

Matterhorn: 150th Anniversary of 1st Climb Marked With Daylong Silence

By    |   Tuesday, 14 July 2015 02:28 PM

The Matterhorn was closed to climbers Tuesday on the 150th anniversary of the first successful ascent up the Swiss mountain.

The slope was closed in a daylong "silence" to honor the nearly 600 people who have died while trying to reach the top of the 14,6920-foot-tall peak, The New York Times reported.

On Tuesday, Burgergemeinde Zermatt, the local community association that owns the mountain’s base camp, also opened a refurbished Hörnli hut camp, concluding a two-year, $9 million project, according to The Times.

Overcrowding had become an issue at the site located 10,695 feet up the mountain in the past during the peak climbing seasons of July through September.

"Before, everything was completely overheated," Benedirk Perren, head of the Zermatt Mountain Guides Association, told The Times. "There was too much stress — stress on the mountain and on the guides."

Roughly 3,000 climbers scale the Matterhorn each year, many of whom start their trek at the hut.

BBC News reported that, in 1865, 25-year-old Brit Edward Whymper was the first to make it to the Matterhorn summit with the assistance of the father-son local guide team of Peter Taugwalder Sr. and Peter Taugwalder Jr.

The Daily Mail reported that all Whymper wore on his way to the summit was a tweed suit while carrying a walk stick.

While Whymper was successful in his endeavor, four members of his climbing party died while descending the mountain.

Matthias Taugwalder, a descendant of the two local guides, told the BBC his ancestors were unfairly blamed for the deaths in Whymper's team. He argued they actually saved Whymper from the same fate as the other climbers.

Speculations of sabotage and even murder have been proposed since the original climb, the Daily Mail noted. The Matterhorn has had one of the highest fatality rates of any peak in the Alps.

Lamps were placed to mark the route taken by Whymper and the local guides in 1865, the Daily Mail reported. Red bulbs were used to mark where the climbers fell to their deaths. Tourists gathered at the foot of the mountain in Zermatt, Switzerland, for a glimpse of the illuminated route as night fell on Monday.

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The Matterhorn was closed to climbers Tuesday on the 150th anniversary of the first successful ascent up the Swiss mountain.
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Tuesday, 14 July 2015 02:28 PM
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