Have you ever dreamed of summiting the mighty Matterhorn? A new series called The Horn might make you think twice.
Made by Redbull TV (free via their website or the app), The Horn follows one of the best search and rescue teams in the world. Air Zermatt is called out on over 1,500 misions per year, and many involve rescuing victims of the Matterhorn’s sheer sides and tempestuous weather.
Here are a dozen reasons it’s famed as the Mountain of Mountains and shouldn’t be undertaken lightly…
1. It’s 4,478 metres high (14,692 feet) – making it one of the “four-thousanders” so prized by climbers and mountaineers. The highest peak in the Alps is Mont Blanc, which spans the French-Italian border and weighs in at 4,810m.
2. In centuries past, people used to believe that spirits threw boulders down the mountain.
3. The Horn was first summited on July 14, 1865, by a seven-person team. Officially first on top was a British man named Edward Whymper. On the descent, four climbers in the party fell to their deaths, and one was never found. Whymper survived.
4. In 1871, a British woman named Lucy Walker became the first woman to scale the Matterhorn, despite wearing a long skirt!
Zermatt is Switzerland’s most exclusive ski resort
5. Nowadays roughly 2,000 people climb the Matterhorn each year. In the early ascents, it took two days to climb the north face of the Matterhorn. Today, as long as weather permits it takes eight to 10 hours.
6. The Matterhorn has a remarkable pyramidal shape, with four distinct sides that line up with the compass directions of north, south, east and west.
7. The name Matterhorn comes from the German words for “meadow” and “peak.”
8. The Matterhorn is believed to be 50-60 million years old. It was formed when land masses smashed into each other, forcing the ground upward. The hard rock on top of the mountain originally came from the African continental plate.
9. With its isolated geographical position and great height, The Horn forms its own weather. Rescuers can be exposed to rapid changes in conditions, and thick fog, gusty winds and icing of the helicopter rotors are some of the biggest dangers they face.
Air Zermatt in action
10. Since the first ascent in 1865, more than 500 people have died on The Horn, and the average now is three to four a year. On the 150th anniversary of the first summit, July 14, 2015, the mountain was closed to climbing out of respect to all those who lost their lives on its face.
11. The oldest person to climb The Horn was Zermatt mountain guide Ulrich Inderbinen, who made his 371st and final summit in his 90th year.