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

 
 

Jean-Antoine Carrel

(1829-1890)

 
 

Before the summit of the Matterhorn was finally reached, Carrel had made more attempts than anyone else. These exploits were fitted in around fighting for the Bersaglieri, a light infantry unit of the Piedmontese army. Passionate about the formation of the new Italian state, Carrel’s drive to reach the summit of Monte Cervino was fuelled, in part, by the desire to do it for Italy. Never one to give up, he achieved the second ascent on July 17th 1865, three days after the first.

When not fighting, Carrel was a stone-mason and hunter from Val Tournenche. He was motivated to climb for its own sake, rather than simply as a means to earn a living by guiding foreign climbers. There seems to have been a strong group of natives of the Val Tournenche/Breuil valley who made repeated forays on their mountains, even without the tourists who would pay them for their skills.

Many reconstructions of July 14th 1865 make a lot of the act of Whymper and Croz throwing stones down to announce to the Italians that they had been beaten to the summit. But Whymper’s words in Scrambles and a letter from a mutual friend later in 1865, both suggest there was no lingering bad feeling between Whymper and Carrel. They were climbing together again in 1869 and, in 1880, Carrel accompanied Whymper on his expedition to the Andes. Their squabbles are described to comic effect by Whymper in his book on the journey, but also with affection, and together they made first ascents of Chimborazo and Cotopaxi.

Carrel died from exposure on the Matterhorn in 1890. Severe weather conditions kept his party trapped in a hut high on the Italian side for several days. But the storm was relentless, supplies exhausted, so he organised a descent. For fourteen hours they struggled through the blizzard until they reached the safety of the lower slopes. There, Carrel collapsed, his clients were safe. He had been to the summit fifty three times.

  • Jean-Antoine Carrel