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

 
 

Joseph Anton Clemenz

(1810-1872)

 
 

Joseph Clemenz’s father had a Gasthaus in Visp called “Zum Weissen Rössli”. His brother, Franz, took over the guesthouse, while Joseph went on to study law and then become a career politician. For a while, he maintained his links with the hospitality business. He identified Zermatt’s potential for attracting tourist and bought the Hotel Mont Cervin in 1852, just before Alexander Seiler was taking over the Lauber Inn and turning it into the Hotel Monte Rosa. The Mont Cervin had eight beds when Clemenz took it over; by 1857 he had increased that to sixty eight.

Lord Francis Douglas stayed at the Mont Cervin for about two weeks in June/July 1865. So when Clemenz the hotelier, in his capacity as Examining Magistrate, was appointed to preside over the Official Enquiry into the accident on the Matterhorn, he probably already knew one of the victims. This is only one of the many layers of complexity that Herr Clemenz had to deal with in his conduct of the Enquiry. As a hotelier, he had an interest in not discouraging tourism to the village. As an outsider, not a local Zermatter, he (like Seiler) had to deal with the reservations that the true locals had about his business. It seems that he did make use of the local Judge, Alois Julen, especially in the translation between French, German and English, of the Enquiry’s questions. This might have been a helpful precaution with regards to public relations.

Clemenz’s decision not to publish the records of the Enquiry is curious. Even soon after the accident, the Swiss newspaper Sonntagspost announced that the publication of the evidence given by Whymper and Taugwalder was “imperative for the honour of our country, in view of the malicious gossip doing the rounds of the European press.” It was not until 1920 that court records were made public.

Although Clemenz leased the Mont Cervin to Seiler in 1857, he still spent some time in his role as landlord. Climbers who stayed there report Clemenz providing advice about mountains to climb and guides to engage. In 1867, however, Clemenz decided it was time to leave, and sold the business to his erstwhile competitor, Alexander Seiler.

  • Joseph Anton Clemenz
The federal palace in Bern where Clemenz served from 1848 to 1851.