Most people associate Switzerland with luxury watches, swiss army knife or chocolate. However for alpinists one of the Swiss icons is a very characteristic rocky pyramid towering above Zermatt village, symbol of the region, measuring 4478 m asl Matterhorn. Every year it tempts hundreds, though not all have the luck to reach the top. Many hire local mountain guides to increase the chance of success and safety margin.
When I had seen it for the first time in 2013 it made a huge impression on me. Matterhorn seemed so distant, majestic in its menacing beauty. This summer I decided to try my luck.
There are many routes to the top and 2 most popular are Italian Lion ridge and Swiss Hörnli ridge. My 3-man team chose the latter one. After prior phone booking of accommodation in Hörnli Hutte (3260 m) we arrived at the mountain hut. Camping is not allowed so staying there is the only legal option (150 CHF per person including dinner and breakfast). After a few rainy days upcoming weather window had drawn many people and all places were sold out.
Around 4:30 am local guides and their clients have the priority to start, others must wait 30-40 minutes. Finally it was our turn to start the climb. In the dark it was difficult to find correct path. Sometimes we crossed over by mistake into harder sections. Morning light helped us keep to the route leading mostly along the ridge. The route is sparsely equipped with metal rods for belaying.
Before noon we reached Solvay hut, an emergency shelter built on a ledge. Michał decided to quit, he had reached the summit few year ago. Together with Marcin we continued our climb. The upper section was covered by snow and ice forcing us to use crampons and ice axes.
Around 2 PM we stood on the top enjoying the magnificent panorama. We descended carefully abseiling harder route sections.