When it comes to putting bucket lists together, one lofty pursuit that appears time and time again is climbing the Matterhorn, probably the most famous of all the mountains that call the Alps home - instantly recognisable to climbers and non-climbers alike.
The iconic landmark is even responsible for the shape of Toblerone chocolate and is featured on the packaging itself, first appearing on the bars back in the 1960s - so even if you think you’ve never come across it before, we assure you… you have!
But there’s so much more to the Matterhorn than chocolate and if you do have ambitions to scale the summit in the near future, you might like to find out more about if before you strap on your hiking boots and start making your way to the top.
Did you know, for example, that the very first ascent to the top actually ended in tragedy? Back in July 1865, seven climbers decided to tackle the Matterhorn but, sadly, only three lived to tell the tale.
The group used ropes made out of manila hemp but along the way, one of them slipped and pulled three of his fellow climbers down with him. The rope snapped and all four fell to their deaths. But you’ll be pleased to hear that many, many others have made it to the top and back very safely indeed so don’t let this put you off making the climb yourself!
Interestingly, 150 years after this attempt was made, a team of guides retraced the steps of the climbers and placed glowing red lights all the way along the ridge of the mountain in recognition of those intrepid seven explorers who made the original trip.
The word ‘Matterhorn’ itself actually means ‘on the meadow’, another fun fact you can trot out to your party as you make your way to the top… but it depends on which side of the border you’re on as to what the locals will refer to it as.
If you’re on the Italian side, for example, the locals will call it Monte Cervino, but on the Swiss side you’ll hear it abbreviated quite simply to Horn.
And should you want to find out even more about the Matterhorn, make sure you spend an hour or two wandering around the nearby museum. You can even see some of the original rope from the first ascent in the exhibition space.
If you do get to the base of the mountain, however, and find you no longer fancy giving it a go, you can always while the day away at the Iglu-Dorf in Zermatt instead - the biggest snow igloo in the world! You’ll find a bar and restaurant here… a great alternative to mountain climbing, wouldn’t you say?
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