Matterhorn (also known as Monte Cervino in Italian and Mont Cervin in French) is a 4,478 meter high mountain in the Pennine/Valais Alps, bordering Switzerland and Italy. It is the tenth highest peak in the Alps, and has four distinct steep pyramid-type faces. The closest town is Zermatt. The Matterhorn was first successfully summited in1865 – but four of the expedition members fell to their deaths. The north face of Matterhorn was climbed successfully in 1931. The Matterhorn is one of the deadliest peaks in the world – in the first 130 years (1865-1995), 500 climbers died there. Many of the fallen are buried in Zermatt’s cemetery. There are many beautiful (and clear!) lakes in the area, and the geology is fascinating.
- Scroll through this map showing the 38 peaks that are 4,000 meters or higher – and the dates of first ascent. Would you like to climb any of these mountains? Why or why not?
- Watch this video showing an ascent of the Matterhorn. Did it change your mind about mountain climbing? Inspire you? (Or deter you?)
- Look at this panoramic view of Matterhorn, and then read of the travails that the photographers (and the helicopter pilot) had to endure to get these shots. Do you think that humans can ever conquer – or know what to expect from – nature?
- The Matterhorn was formed by glaciers grinding into mountains. Look at these topographic maps of the Alps, and read how rocks from Africa are showing up there – and why.