Matterhorn Trip Report (#14834)

I had always wanted to climb the Matterhorn ever since my grandmother climbed it in 1957 when she was 48 years old. I got my chance when I was 16 while doing the European tour that summer. I had the same guide she did ten years before. His name was Alfonse Frazen and while he was a bit heavier and older ten years later he still climbed the mountain twice a week.

The first night we stayed in the hut at the base of the mountain. But it wasn't the big affair it is now. In 1967 it was made of rough wood with bunks for about 20 climbers and guides. The guides never took more than two climbers each. The roof leaked all over everyone that night due to a violent thunderstorm so none of us got much sleep. We started off at 4 a.m. because Alfonse said we didn't want to be stuck behind anyone coming down slowly. His primary instructions were to lie flat against the rock when he said to because of rockfalls. We had anominous start when about twenty mintues into the climb we had to make way for some rescuers carrying down a climber in a stretcher. He looked awful as he had been on the peak overnight before anyone could get to him. I decided I would do only as Alfonse said to do, the thought of coming down like that poor soul was very sobering. We made it up in a little over three hours and came back down in about four hours. I only got one good picture on top but it was very clear. I ate and apple on top and headed back down as Alfonse didn't want to wait very long. The other american climbers were mostly paratroopers from a military base in Germany. They were in great shape and couldn't believe a 16 year old kid could outclimb them. What I didn't tell them was that I was pole vaulting and running 8 miles a day on my high schools' cross country team for several years before I tried the mountain. I did very well until the last five feet of the climb where I slipped and fell head first into a snow drift right in front of the tourists with their cameras. I was unhurt except for my dignity. I am glad I don't have any of those pictures.

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