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Edward Whymper: The Ascend of Matterhorn

The great and magnificent Matterhorn is one of the famous mountain and attracts tourist from all over the world to Zermatt. But back in the 1800s it was a mysterious mountain that no one has ever climbed until Edward Whymper conquered it. But it came with a price.

On April 27, 1840, English mountaineer, explorer, illustrator and author Edward Whymper was born. He was born in London, England as the second of eleven children. He learned and practiced wood-engraving starting at a very young age. In the summer of 1860, 22 year old Edward Whymper was hired by a London publisher to make sketches and engravings of the scenic mountains along the border of Switzerland and Italy. He soon got interested in mountaineering and decided to attempt the unconquered Matterhorn. But he soon found that he had a rival. Jean-Antoine Carrel, an Italian guide, also had ambitions to be the first to reach the summit of Matterhorn and had already tried several times to climb the mountain. Carrel believed that a native Italian like himself and not an Englishman like Whymper should be the first to set foot on the summit.

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On July 13, 1865, the party started from Zermatt at half past five. The member of the parties were Edward Whymper, Lord Francis Douglas, Charles Hudson, Douglas Hadow, Michel Croz and the two Zermatt guides, Peter Taugwalder father and son. At 8:20 they reached the chapel of Schwarzsee where they picked up some material that was left there. They continued along the ridge and at half past eleven they reached the base of the peak. From there, they left the ridge and proceeded for half an hour on the east face. Before twelve o’clock, they found a good position for the tent at a height of 3380 meters and they set the bivouac. Meanwhile, Croz and young Peter Taugwalder went to explore the route in order to save some time on the following day. They came back before 3 pm saying that the ridge offered no great difficulties.

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On the morning of 14th, they assembled together outside the tent and started directly at dawn. Young Peter Taugwalder went with them as a guide and his brother returned to Zermatt. They followed the route which had been explored the previous day, and in a few minutes they saw the view of east face. They went up unroped and around 6:20, they reached a height of 12,800 feet and around 9:55, they arrived at the foot of much steeper upper peak that lies above the shoulder. Because it was too steep and difficult, they had to leave the ridge for the north face. At this point, less experienced Hadow needed continual assistance. With these difficulties, they finally arrived near the summit. When they saw that there was only 200 feet of easy snow remaining, Croz and Whymper detached themselves and reached the top first. Checking that there was not foot traces present on the other extremity of the summit, which might have been reached by the Italian expedition, Whymper saw the Italian party far in the distance below. Whymper yelled to attract their attention and when the Italian party realized that the their rival was on the summit, they gave up their attempt and went back.
Finally at 2 pm, Whymper and his party arrived on the summit.