The Matterhorn is closed for the 150th anniversary of the first successful climb. In addition to celebrating a milestone, the closure is meant to honor those who lost their lives on the 14,692-foot mountain.
Although there were several prior, and unsuccessful, attempts, the first climbers reached the Matterhorn’s peak on July 14, 1865.
As reported by Zermatt, the group included four Alpinists and three guides — who each reached the summit. Unfortunately, three climbers and one guide were killed during the treacherous descent.
— The Daily History (@thedailyhistory) July 14, 2015
British mountaineer Lord Francis Douglas was among those killed. As a result, Queen Victoria suggested closing the Matterhorn to climbers.
Although she hoped to discourage mountaineers from attempting the dangerous climb, Victoria’s announcement had the opposite effect. Thousands of Alpinists flocked to Zermatt in hopes of reaching the Matterhorn’s peak.
For 150 years, Matterhorn remained open to adventurous mountaineers. However, the famous peak was closed for the first time on July 14.
Matterhorn Lights Up 150 Years After First Climb http://t.co/0D1wQGsPJn
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 14, 2015
During the closure, the Zermatt community will pay homage to the estimated 600 climbers who lost their lives on the infamous mountain. The closure also marks the beginning of a campaign — which is expected to reduce stress to the natural wonder and the surrounding region.
As reported by the New York Times, an estimated 3,000 climbers attempt to reach the Matterhorn’s summit each year. Unfortunately, the vast number of climbers “slow travel on the mountain, increase the amount of rock fall, and significantly contribute to the mountain’s subjective hazards.”
Zermatt Mountain Guides Association president Benedikt Perren said the climbers also threaten the environment, as their waste has contaminated the mountain’s waterways.
In an attempt to reduce the environmental impact, officials will limit the number of climbers on the Matterhorn for the first time in 150 years. They also approved a $9 million renovation of the Hörnli hut — which includes solar power and a new waste management system.
Officials believe the changes will positively impact the environment, and will ultimately save lives. According to Perren, an estimated 25 people die on the Matterhorn each year.
“I think this famous mountain, it has to be regulated. With less people, everything is better… It’s safer. People have a better experience. It’s better for the guides, and it’s better for the mountain.”
An estimated 2 million people visit the region each year. Although climbing the Matterhorn has been the main draw for 150 years, tourists also enjoy other winter sports, including skiing and snowboarding.
[Image via Shutterstock]