Matterhorn Trip Report (#22330)
- Signed By: Roy Lindman
- Date submitted: July 26, 2012
- Date(s) climbed: 21-23.07.12
- Number of People Encountered:25-50 people
- Recommend to a Friend: Highly
"Matterhorn is a very demanding mountain to climb...when I was next to Hörnli ridge a few years ago...I felt very sick...now I had trained my brains and my condition...yes Matterhorn requires mental training."
I had improved my condition so that I could do easily a 40 km walk without any pain and 500 pushups a day.
I had also climbed the Hörnli ridge up to Solvay hut in daylight.
I was eating a packet of icecream with a teaspoon on the outskirts of Zermatt.
Teaspoon really was handy, nicer than using fingers when eating meals. Good hygiene is an important sector at mountain climbing.
I walked towards Zmutt and took some water. It was sunny and it would stay for three days as I had seen in the Tourist Information Office weather forecast Ipads.
Zmutt was nice, a tiny village with ageold timberhouses, there was also restaurants.
On the Matterhorn Trail one saw several people, but most often people did not greet each other...there was hundreds of people
walking up and down. There are several trails going roughly at two thousand meters height for those who like hiking and high places.
I went over a river and passed another restaurant and finally reached the tiny path which was leading on the saddle where the Hörnli hut was.
One hour more walk and I was next to Hörnli hut and a bit lower was the Camping place.
I took my Solo tent out and used stones instead of poles to keep it steady on the rocky ground.
I woke up about three O'clock and because I had packed the things I needed I left already 3:30 a.m.
Most often climbers start 2:00 a.m. and with headlights.
Now I knew the route up to Solvay hut, it was part of my daylight training, so I could now climb easily in the darkness.
Most recommended !
This was AD climbing and I was use to it, especially on the Alcazaba mountain in Spain and on the Hohe Munde mountain in Austria.
I had to take my set of thermal underwear away after one hours ascending, it was too warm to have them or it had something with my aclimatizing to do. Anyway now it was easier to climb.
On the third hill one needs to do plenty of zig zag,
just to follow the corner up and not to go on the left side
where one can go up but it is more difficult face climbing.
After the three hills and some scramble starts a peak like ridge section. Here also starts AD climbing which can be even more difficult in some places. I used my rubber covered gloves...climbing without gloves would endanger fingers, because of scratches.
I was thinking of my daylight training and my 30 meters wall climb...I have to had climbed wrong from the route.
1200 meters, it was easy to climb wrong and too much on the wall.
One should stay as near the ridge as possible and climb on it.
I enjoyed the ridge climb and used my cord occasionally.
It lasted 4000 kg and was quick to use.
Use of cord is only for shorter sections...what one meets in rock climbing and merely for more advanced climbers.
I had to put my axe a bit upsidedown...now it fitted into a crack...
I could manage a boulder !
Eyesight is a very important sector too...one had to see everything perfectly. Recognising slippery surfaces and stones which are almost falling off...it may save ones life.
Sometimes one watches an inch wide surface and puts shoe on it...
it has to last...that is what my eyes told me and it was not slippery.
At the right side of the ridge was the impressive northface...
it looked amazing and I could hear it making noise.
Now I had to go on the right side of the ridge...first time.
One stays actually on the left before reaching the Solvay hut.
Drop was now a few hundred meters and I followed a 15 cm wide snowpath which is 5 m long. Here one can take gloves away was my decission and start hugging the tiny rock face on the left side !
Now I had climbed the ridge section starting to ascend on the eastface. It provided also plenty of difficulties and finding a route was not easy. I took my camera and zoomed to find some steps in snow...it helped.
One of the main problems was the use of time...if going too slow...one would not manage the top.
So...I had to go through where it was best to do it !
I was happy to have done daylight training.
One German and Chec climber were nearing me.
I greeted them and we started to have a break.
They spoke about difficulties and dangers...the usual stuff what one speaks to others...but those were also important subjects.
We climbed together for one or two hundred meters.
They started to use rope...but my fear of heights skills were more devepoled so I thanked them and started to climb higher.
I was thinking of our subjects...of course everybody was right...
lets do on this way !
I just had more developed views, but I could not say that,
because everybody has to feel being the best on the mountain.
So I just decided to go climb on my way...it was the best way.
Last 50 meters up to Solvay hut are difficult to go through and rope is recommended. This section is very steep and has plenty of snow.
It took me one hour less now until I reached the hut, I did it in 5 hours...I knew the route better.
I ate at the hut and continued alone...it was better to continue alone...I had to have perfect concentration for what I was doing...and that was going alone on the top of the Matterhorn.
Here started very narrow ridge periods and more snow.
One usually had the space one needed.
I could see the north face going straight down several hundred meters...and lower down I could see big pieces of snow covered glacier...
but I could not see the camping place anymore it was 1000 meter lower !
Step by step..watching the steadiness of the snow...
no wrong judgement...I tested it with my axe...I was feeling a bit tired.
Continuing higher was more difficult... one could feel it,
but it was about self concentration and own decissions...one could not think too many other subjects only how to move and where is the best tiny surface which one could trust.
I met two climbers from Switzerland, they were connected with ropes.
One of them said that it will take the sametime from Solvay hut up to top as from Hörnli hut up to Solvay hut.
The terrain is much more complicated and difficult after the Solvay hut, one had to put some more attention to secure climb, like use of rope even going upwards.
I decided to eat...that was Cola, banana and chocolate...it would give more energy.
I was not thirsty, it surprised me.
I had three liters water with me and 1.5 liter in my tent when coming back.
Now I had climbed through the ridge and started to ascend the big thimble. There was also rope support...a thick manilla rope.
It was well fitted on the rock.
Snow plenty of snow...hardly any rocks...use of iceaxe and crampons was an important sector.
A steep snowy terrain...it required as much concentration like the ridge one hour behind.
When nearing the top I saw a climber watching me, but actually it was a statue !
Finally I was on the top of the Matterhorn, Switzerland summit...it had taken 4 hours from the Solvay hut.
I saw two climbers on the Italian summit...they greeted me and I greeted them...then they went down the Lion ridge.
Here was a very narrow atmosphare...but I still had a look at the Italian side. Putting my camera on the ridge was difficult because of the hard wind, but use of axe helped.
I watched Monte Rosa Massif and its highest peak the Dufourspitze.
These two summits had improved my climbing skills quite a lot.
Dufourspitze with ice climbing techniques
and Matterhorn with hand climbing skills.
I really could call myself an Alpine climber now...
yes I had done my final climb to get access on the highest and most dangerous mountains in the world...now I had the skills.
I could also take part in the rescue operations.
Still I had to climb down and that was like difficult when climbing up...yes one does not really walk on the Matterhorn.
Here one uses four point technique to stay stable on the mountain surface. I took my 50 m rope out and put it round the statue.
When I had descended the lenght of the rope I notified that It was stucked. I had to go back...took it of from the statues feet and put it round the neck...now it would come easier loose.
There was also a tiny bolt on its head, but I just could not trust it...maybe a bird could !
Now it came of easily and I put my rope on a proper anchor place.
It was a big stainless steel o-ring, attached by the pioneers of mountaineering...there was a few of them...and enough all the way down to Solvay hut...some smaller...some occasional material.
I used my belay device...it is very easy to use and more safe than just holding from the rope.
Sometimes I used the rope only it was quick...
not recommended...but one did it because of practical reasons.
There was no rules...only thoughts from previous trips and decissions what one did that time and what one did now.
I even used axe when going down with rope, that really was a secure thing.
Sometimes snow was hiding the anchor places.
It was to understand that there was an anchor after every 25 meters...lenght of the rope...imagine Roy I was thinking.
I saw two climbers coming up. They were in hurry like I was.
Now it was one O´clock...afternoon storms were nearing.
Matterhorn was famous of afternoon storms...clouds spreading round the dome. This is usually very visible on the eastface.
My rope got stucked again..I had to do some extra climbing to get it loose. It was stucked in several places, at the north east corner of the big thimble...plenty of rocks.
One should not feel miserable I was thinking...and I gave me five minutes to do it...mental training was playing an important sector on the big thimble.
I could see clouds starting to cover Mattertal Valley then Zermatt
and when I looked towards west I could understand that clouds were spreading everywhere...freeze in the air...some hales.
It was three O'clock now. I had managed to climb down the big thimble and descended now on the Hörnli Ridge. I was happy to get some wind cover. I ate and drunk...it was really needed...
there was no hope of good weather...still hales.
Weather forecast had gone wrong in the Wallis region,
but one should always be prepared for weather changes.
Ridge looked so different on the way down...but with a rope I could do safe descending...snow was perfect to go on...a bit hard.
Hitting my axe down again...moving slowly my crampon...feeling it steady before moving my other crampon....
I had to cherish myself aswell. Wind and fog took effort away from a climber. I was thinking of a German song "Du bist noch in Leben". When I was living in Germany my girlfriend use to sing it in the mornings...
Greetings to Germany !
That was a real good for my mind and then I started to sing another song it was a Swedish song "Sommartider hej hej"...well that certainly helped too...and I was feeling good.
It was exactly 4:40 when I reached Solvay hut again, but because visibility was about 50m I decided to stay inside the hut until weather would clear.
The route down is very long in foggy conditions and it is actually not marked on that way one could follow signs in a fog.
I took always optima from shapes of stones or used my camera to mark my route back.
I had used 4 hours from the top.
I ate fish, vegetables, fruits and chocolate...yes I had some Cola too !
There was blankets in the hut with tiny smell...
but one could use those when sleeping.
I also notified some Aspirin in the huts First Aid box...well done !
Solvay hut was usually used only at emergency situations and there was reasons why climbers did not want to stay there if they did not have to. Actually it is a Biwuac, there is no heating...one could feel cold air inside.
I had to go through some things and that was;
1) Clouds could turn into hales, snow, rain or thunder
2) Climbing surfaces were now more slippery because of the clouds
3) I could take possible rescue operations attention by climbing late in the darknes, that would also risk them
4) After had climbed an exhausting climb my muscles may feel pain next morning, it might disturb climbing... I still had 4 hours AD+ climbing left
5) Unknown factors; wind turning wet mountain surfaces into ice, dropping stones, animals, equipment getting damaged, dropping equipment when climbing time was limited
6) There was still two climbers higher
1) It was the easiest climbing section
2) I had climbing nuts, Pitons and cord to cover about 400 m section
with rope and there still was ready bolted material
3) I could climb down like a team with the last two climbers
4) I had over 4 hours daylight left
5) Tomorrow I had 16 hours daylight
6) I had food for one more day
Then there was a feelings factor, feeling happy or feeling sad.
I started to calculate my todays climb. This was Matterhorn...I had almost climbed it...that was great !
After some pieces of oranges I then decided that I am in a emergency situation...there was too many high risks to go down.
To accept that one could not do anything took always time, but I had added some future visions...then it was easy to stop climbing for today...let tomorrow come !
I fell asleep and woke up when the last climbers came in after two hours.
They were from Latvia. One was 60 years old and the other 70 years old. They had climbed a seventhousander somewhere in Asia.
Weather cleared about 8 O'clock, but it was too late to go down to Hörnli hut and surfaces were now more slippery what one was use to.
We slept until 6 O'clock in the morning and started to descend as soon as possible.
Russians... about 20 Russians were nearing the Solvay hut.
I used my rope twice and continued without rope rest of the climb.
The climbers from Latvia preferred to go down without any ropes !
I was climbing alone again...
Now there was more Russians on the way up or maybe they were from Poland or Romania...same language group...not sure !
I descended towards the peak like ridge again.
Suddenly I felt how my crampon became loose...it went broken in the middle. I was lucky that there was not so much snow anymore.
I ate a little bit and continued.
After one hour the second crampon crashed in pieces...I did not have crampons anymore...basically I was in danger...without proper equipment a mountainclimber really is in a danger.
The fact was that when one uses crampons all the way up and down the climb is much safer, but crampons may not last.
I did not not have to worry...I could descend easily with my boots.
On the third hill again and some zig zag...maybe I was in camera !
When I was on the last hill I met a guide and a Japanese climber
and swopped some words. They had been very fast today.
I had descended down in 4 hours from the Solvay hut.
I ate and left my rope to dry sametime, packed my tent
and spread some suncream on my face.
It was Kids suncream...enough small bottle a climber could pack with.
I walked next to Hörnli hut and watched the people sitting on the terrace...had somebody of them climbed Matterhorn...it was best to smile...atmosphare did not allow any competition thoughts...it was dangerous on mountains.
I walked down to Zermatt via Zmutt again on the same day.
In Zmutt one can get water...free at the east side of the main village ! One can collect here too it saves some energy.
I had also taken higher water and used my water purification tablets, but that really tastes like a hospital ! It took only 4 hours this time to go down to Zermatt...so high was my condition !
Some tips for those who want to climb Matterhorn;
A) Practise the route between Hörnli and Solvay huts in a daylight
B) Your condition needs to be higher than climbing an ordinary 4 thousander
C) Alcazaba mountain in Spain is very good training site
D) Hire a guide, they cost over 1000 Francs, but they know exact the route
E) Train belaying and hands...Matterhorn requires plenty of handmuscles and use of rope
F) Use new equipment...very rocky conditions may damage older material
G) Use short axe
H) I used 8 mm thick Alpine rope, but I would recommend a thicker rope because of high amount of rope use. Try with 11 mm it is easier to handle.
"The route upto Matterhorn could be better marked with colour...
greetings to Alpine guides who certainly know which route to spray with colour...it would be more safe !"
Here is my new idea to improve mountain climbing:
When I was on the Hörnli ridge I notified that I used my iceaxe like climbing axe most of the time...but my left hand was not enough effective...just slipping and gliding !
A glove with tiny hooks...yes this would work effectively on difficult places.
I can also see how much guides would benefit from this hook glove, when they climb through the season.
So engineers please design a glove for one hand use with hooks !
Thank you for reading my Matterhorn summit log.