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150 Years
  First Ascent

Matterhorn 2015

July 14th 1865

7 men on top of the Matterhorn
3 made it home

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Disentangle fact from fiction


Peter Taugwalder Son


By 1865, Peter, the oldest son of a mountain guide father, was becoming a proficient guide in his own right. He was undertaking ambitious climbs around Zermatt, like the Weisshorn with John Birkbeck, and was hired to work with clients outside his home valley. After the Matterhorn tragedy, he enjoyed a successful career. His record for 1869, for example, included the Aiguille Verte, the Grandes Jorasses, the Aiguille du Midi, the Jungfrau, the Täschhorn and the Hohberghorn.

Young Peter Taugwalder married twice, first to Barbara Salzgeber in 1867, then in 1878 to Maria Lerjen. He fathered twelve children in all, so the living he could earn on the mountains undertaking ambitious climbs must have been crucial. His career was brought to an end when a falling rock badly damaged his knee in 1900.

While Whymper was largely sympathetic to Old Peter in the Scrambles footnote about his fellow Matterhorn survivors, he was more critical about the son. This does not seem, however, to have damaged Young Peter’s future prospects for employment. By the end of his life, he had ascended the Matterhorn around 125 times.