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Climbing Matterhorn - first article

Alps, climbing the Matterhorn

(author A. Trubachev)


The ascent of the Matterhorn in 2000 was organized by the School of Mountaineering and Climbing AlexClimb.

Mountain climbing in the Alps, climbing the Matterhorn

The Story of a climb.

This story began seven years ago, when I took the first steps in their climbing. Behind the back had a few trips to the Caucasus, the experience was not there, but ahead loomed dimly severe and no one has conquered the top, which I, of course, had to climb. Then climbing was my romance, and now almost become a philosophy. But closer to the subject.

Despite the romantic nature of the warehouse, I worked for a time in the bank. Strange, but that's where it all started. Or rather it all started with the calendar that hung on the wall directly in front of my desk. The calendar was very good, or German, or Swiss, full of beautiful pictures. Landscapes, cities, flowers. And at the end was a picture of the mountain. Terribly beautiful mountains. Steep walls, absolutely correct form, the peak of which clung to the cloud, all this created the impression of complete inaccessibility and unbowed this vertex. Colleagues who knew about my climbing, joking, asking not if I was going to climb this mountain. And I'm not going to. Then the picture was for me some ideal climbing. I could not imagine people can conquer this mountain. It seemed impossible. The very sight of it inspired some superstitious fear, as if it was not a stone, but a living, and somehow in his own thinking being.
Mountain climbing in the Alps, climbing the Matterhorn

Year ended calendar removed, but the photo I took with a mountain, put in a frame and hung on the wall at home. I now hangs this photo.

Only a few years later, I learned that this vertex is called the Matterhorn.

Background: 4478 Matterhorn, a mountain in the Alps, on the border of Italy and Switzerland, is a regular pyramidal peak. Matterhorn laid a lot of climbing routes of high complexity. Simple ways to lift no. In the world rankings on the complexity of this mountain stands on one of the first places.

It took another few years, and now I'm in the Alps. At the bottom, at a glance - Cervinia ski resort, on the left - the steep slopes of Testa di lione, mountains, really has some resemblance to a lion lying, but right at me reigns Matterhorn.

When the bus goes up the serpentine road from Shatila camp, located at an altitude of 500 meters above sea level in the Aosta Valley in Cervinia, gaining 1.5 kilometers altitude, it is impossible to make a mistake or do not know the Matterhorn, even seeing him for the first time, although all of the most popular forms of this mountain views from the other, the Swiss side. On the Italian side of the same, where is the town of Cervinia, Matterhorn looks quite different, as chocolates Alpen-Gold. On this side of the Matterhorn is surrounded by some pretty high peaks that prevents immediately assess the actual size of this legendary mountain. But the scale is still enormous. The fact that Cervinia, where usually all begins climbing the Matterhorn from the south, is almost at its foot. This creates a strong impression that the mountain as it hangs over the city. Together with a partner, in the same sick man mountains, as I do, we decided to try to climb the Matterhorn in winter, it makes our task is particularly interesting as the season for climbing the mountain begins in June and ends in October. The main difficulties of winter ascents are as follows. Low temperature, short daylight hours, the snow that winter is even on vertical cliffs, all this completely changes the tactics of climbing, climber requires serious physical and psychological preparation.
Mountain climbing in the Alps, climbing the Matterhorn

In mid-February we flew to Milan, from where trains run to Shatila, and from there by bus to Cervinia - the starting point of our route.

Before climbing is always necessary to create a rescue service. This international law. When Italian rescuers learned that we want to go on the Matterhorn, at first just laughed at us and did not believe, and then making sure that we're not kidding, began to explain that this is impossible. This winter in the Alps fell unusually large amount of snow. Danger of avalanches was high, we were told that we simply do not get to the mountains, but in the end, convinced of the seriousness of our plans, released on the ascent, grimly joked that first you need to write a will. Despite the skepticism of Italian, we were confident of success. It was a gorgeous weather, the bottom was quite warm, shining brightly almost spring sun, climbing route could be seen all at once and not cause for concern. The main thing - that the weather is constantly a few more days.

Approaches to route took us four days. I think that in the summer of Cervinia you can go to the route for the day, but in the winter ... For four days we made our way to Snowshoe Mountain. On the fifth day, leaving the bottom of the tent and most of the products, even in the dark, early in the morning we started climbing. Description of the route, which gave us the Italians was summer, and not accurate.

All benchmarks were deeply under the snow, it is a very slowed movement, had to constantly look for the road. We tried first to climb the glacier that flows from the rock bridge between Testa di lione and the Matterhorn, but going up to him, I almost fell under the ice collapse, resulting in the bottom descended decent avalanche. Decided not to risk, return and traverse steep slope Testa di lione. Avalanche danger was there, but not as serious as under the icefall. After eight hours we reached the bridge that separates array Matterhorn from Testa di lione.
Mountain climbing in the Alps, climbing the Matterhorn

Planning to climb down, I pondered the option to install the base camp on this bridge, but did not find in the description no information about her character, fortunately refused. Jumper was just a meter wide and terminated in both directions almost vertical walls height of 300-400 meters.

After a short rest, we continued to rise on a wide ridge that extends from the bridge to the summit, and in the summer usually takes place over two days. The climb was not particularly difficult, as the snow on the crest was not enough. For four and a half hours we climbed another 400 meters of rocks 3 - 4, 5 and some categories of difficulty, and reached our destination for the day - climbing hut Carrel hut.

Imagine: the height of 4200m, steep rocky ridge on it, with the help of piles and stretch marks, enhanced platform of metal mesh, which, in turn, built a squat box. This is the Carrel hut. Inside the hut all done in order to ensure that the climbers comfortable overnight stay, so - as far as possible in such circumstances. In the cabin there are bunks with blankets, stationary gas stove, solar-powered radio.

By Carrel hut we climbed only in the evening, it was getting dark. Snack, we contacted by radio with Cervinia and reported that the morning going to get on top. Everything was ready for the ascent.

We were at a height, which offers superb views to the west. All the mountains around the Matterhorn remained below, and nothing stopped to watch the sun setting over the distant ridges. On the horizon vaguely make out shapes of Mont Blanc "White Mountain" the highest point of the Alps. And at the bottom, under your feet, in the evening mist valley began to quickly accumulate dense clouds. Landscape became somehow unearthly. In the flaming sunset sky were rare cirrus clouds - an ominous sign of change in the weather. And this change was not long in coming. Cloudy night climbed out of the valley, and the entire front started to handle the ridge in Switzerland. We woke up because the hut was shaking trembling, and door strove to fly away together with the wall. Half of the night went to the strengthening of the hut, which was now our only defense against a hurricane. In the morning it became clear that until the end of the storm, neither of which could not climb out of the question. On descent however, too.
Mountain climbing in the Alps, climbing the Matterhorn

The temperature plummeted. Inside the hut was, of course, "warmer" than outside, but still quite cold - 20C. The wind did not allow even a slightly open door, and through tiny cracks inside the hut seasoned snow dust. Outdoor visibility was absent in principle, small windows as if pasted with white paper.

Probably for the abstract viewer storm at such a height would represent a majestic sight. But we were not the audience, we were members of the play and its prisoners. No way to get out of there before the end of the weather we had. All day we went to a small dark little room in circles, to somehow keep warm. Below forecast told us that the weather is expected to more five days. Very sad, as our stock of products was designed for three days.

Began long sitting waiting for the weather. We were able to get out of the hut only on the fifth day, thanks to a slight weakening of the wind. Five days a blizzard mountains around have changed beyond recognition. Comb through which we climbed out of the rock turned into snow. Snow to stick even on steep sections of rocks. Despite the weakening of the wind still remained strong, but the snow is no longer sprinkled with a solid wall, but only charges. Visibility has improved significantly, sometimes we might even see two kilometers below Cervinia.

This slight improvement, we used to still try to climb to the top, but soon realized it was hopeless. Wind is not allowed to climb to the ridge, and the rocks were tightly packed with snow, climbing has become very difficult. Serious problems have been with the organization of insurance and, most importantly, we climbed very slowly. Even if we have reached the top of the day, the time the trigger was no more, and the cold overnight at - 35 ° C (with this wind-50C) were threatened with death.
Mountain climbing in the Alps, climbing the Matterhorn

Consulting, we decided to go back to the cabin, and the next day to begin the descent, as the products, despite careful savings over. But none the next, nor the next day we went down, because the weather turned bad again. Only on the fourth day, completely exhausted by hunger and eight-seat at minus twenty (this we had a "room temperature"), due to a gap in the next blizzard, we began the descent.

The descent was very difficult because of the weather conditions, common cold and fatigue. A huge amount of fresh snow is very complicated insurance guidelines that we used on the rise, disappeared, and look down the road was much more difficult than up. Fortunately all the possible troubles passed us, and by the end of the day, completely exhausted, we dobreli up pretty battered and snow-covered tent of our base camp. As the saying goes: - Mount let us ...

The next day the blizzard started again, but the technical sections on the descent was not, and we snowshoe seven hours reached Cervinia, where two weeks ago began its ascent.

Thus ended my first and I hope not the last meeting with the Matterhorn - the great legend of climbing the Alps.
Mountain climbing in the Alps, climbing the Matterhorn

P.S. Analyzing the results of a failed climb, I come to the conclusion that maybe I made some tactical errors in the ascent due to the fact that it was too little information we have about the route, due to the lack of detailed description.

Basically, just not lucky with the weather, but it's bad luck almost cost us our lives. But the risk - is an integral part of mountaineering, without which it is, in my opinion, would be largely lost its charm.

After all, nothing ventured - nothing gained!

Our Principles

AlexClimb Rule #1 - Safety First

From the very beginning of our activity, here nearly 16 years, the first Principle of work of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb is the Safety Priority. On the basis of this Principle all process of training is based, all programs and rounds are developed and carried out only within this main principle. We consider that at professional approach to development of programs, at personal discipline and correctly put motivation - occupations by mountaineering and rock-climbing are COMPLETELY safe. And from the return - all troubles and accidents in our sport come from nonprofessionalism, from ignorance or neglect by elementary standards of safety, from irrational motivation, from revaluation of own forces and opportunities. All these prerequisites we COMPLETELY EXCLUDE in our work - ours Rock-climbing, Ice climbing and Mountaineering are based on one Principle - the Safety Priority. In rock-climbing, mountaineering and ice climbing, the Priority of Safety of MCS AlexClimb-is your personal security and comfort irrespective of, than we are engaged - we train muscles and we work technology of the movement in the sports hall and on the rock climbing wall, we make the way through snowstorm to top or we relax on golden sand of the Caribbean beach after hot day of trainings on rocks. The Safety priority - the main credo of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb.

AlexClimb Rule #2 - Leave No Trace

Closely interacting with Nature, working with the active programs in mountains, woods, lakes and rivers, we perfectly understand the importance of carefull and respectfull bahavior towards the Nature, for its resources. From the very beginning of our outdoor-activity we adopted rules of  Leave No Trace technique - the standard of behavior of the person accepted in all the civilized world in relation to environment and especially - to the wild nature. After all on the relation of people to the nature near which they exist, itself can draw dalekoidushchy conclusions on the relation of these people to... Where and as we didn't travel - we don't reserve any garbage, we try to reduce whenever possible our influence on environment to a minimum. We clear earlier zagryazyonny tourist parking of the left garbage, we take out and we take out to utilization places that to us other people left there. We consider that only thus, at personal individual consciousness of each citizen, each tourist, climber or autotraveller, we will be able to keep the nature surrounding us in its state, natural, suitable for life, - in it pledge of the healthy future for ourselves and our children.

AlexClimb Rule #3 - Sober Concious

The position of AlexClimb Mountain and rockclimbing School regarding healthy lifestyle is quite clear - we consider that only sober consciousness is capable to fill sincere emotions,  to sympathize, to enjoy life in all its variety. Bright various enjoyable life is possible only on condition of keeping the absolute sobriety and purity of consciousness. Any way of obscuring our perception of reality is intended to do harm to our consciousness and bring harm to our physical health, to replace the true values by false ones, to destroy us physically - to turn us into flabby, weak, senseless, gray herd with empty hazy eyes. We don't force anybody to our point of view, everyone has a God's gift of making his own choice and to destroy himself if that is what he wants... But in AlexCilimb Mountain Climbing School we accept quite certain and very simple set of rules: neither alcohol, nor drugs.