150 Years
  First Ascent

Matterhorn 2015

The First Ascent of the Matterhorn from Zermatt on July 14th 1865 was not exactly carefully planned. It was a chain of chance events that led to those seven climbers reaching the summit, then four perishing on the mountain and leaving Edward Whymper and Peter Taugwalder the subjects of intense speculation ever since.

Matterhorn 2015 takes the opportunity of its 150th Jubilee to re-live that epic event in mountaineering history. Follow Whymper on the journey across the Alps that culminated in the First Ascent of the Matterhorn and, along the way, work out what really led to the deaths of Michel Croz, Lord Francis Douglas, Charles Hudson and Douglas Hadow.

Read and experience the entire story via a Videobook, especially designed for tablets. A free App is available for download and enables you access to the history of the Matterhorn’s first ascent in any place and at any time.

Week by Week: A weekly Newsletter reports on the adventures of Summer 1865 ... as told by a contemporary of Edward Whymper. You can follow events “online” or pick up a printed version in Zermatt.

Day by day – Each afternoon an update on our website will be your gateway to the alpine exploits of that day 150 years ago.

As the action unwinds, we will keep you ud-todate either via our Live-Ticker or Twitter.

Become a Facebook friend of Edward Whymper, and hear what he has to say about the path towards the summit.

Exchange thoughts about the climb on our “Matterhorn 2015” Facebook community of adventure and nature lovers. Here you will also learn interesting fun-facts about Edward Whymper as well as his fellows, and reawaken your enthusiasm for wild adventures!

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Biography

 
 

Peter Taugwalder Vater

(1820-1888)

 
 

By the time of the Matterhorn ascent, Peter Taugwalder was a well-known Zermatt guide with a wealth of experience on the Monte Rosa, which he had climbed around 84 times. He had not travelled far out of his native valley, but was one of the few Zermatt guides of the time who seem to have entertained the thought of venturing far up the Matterhorn, where, according to local myth, evil spirits dwelt. He accompanied Thomas Kennedy and another Zermatt guide, Peter Perren, on a winter attempt in 1862, but then, according to Kennedy, lost his nerve on the Dent Blanche that summer. In 1865 he seems to have discussed with Lord Francis the possibility of ascending the Hörnli Ridge. This was probably forward planning for another engagement next season with an enthusiastic and wealthy client.

Life became very difficult for Peter Taugwalder after the accident in 1865. But it seems he was struggling with tragedy even prior to that fateful day. It is not recorded in the Parish Records, but there is oral history that his wife, Anna Maria zum Taugwald, died in 1864, pregnant with what would have been their fifth child. Almost losing his own life twice in 1865, on the Matterhorn on July 14th and on the Obergabelhorn a couple of weeks earlier, must have added to his trauma. When his second son, Joseph, died in the Schwarzsee in 1867, a tough life must have become unbearable. For reasons that aren’t clear, he emigrated to America in 1874, a daunting expedition for someone who spoke little more than Walliser dialect. After four years he was back in Zermatt. He helped the building of the hotel at Schwarzsee, but doesn’t seem to have climbed again before his death at the age of sixty eight.

  • Peter Taugwalder Vater