Matterhorn mountain towers at 14,700 feet. // © 2017 Mark Edward Harris
Feature image (above): Matterhorn, Switzerland // © 2017 Mark Edward Harris
Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of the Matterhorn. Early on, it was the one in Anaheim, Calif. — the 147-foot-tall Matterhorn ride at Disneyland, built to 1/100th the scale of Switzerland’s legendary mountain, which towers at 14,700 feet.
Years later, I came face to face with the real-life peak, first summited by Edward Whymper in 1865. He had headed out from Zermatt’s Hotel Monte Rosa on a July day and made his way into the history books. On the descent, however, a rope snapped, causing four of his companions to plunge to their deaths in an incident shrouded in controversy.
Now, 150 years later, around 3,000 climbers per year continue to follow in Whymper’s bootsteps. And the Hotel Monte Rosa is still there — its cozy bar is a great place to trade adventure stories over a glass of Chasselas, a favorite Swiss varietal.