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Bill & Ben go to Zermatt

Date: July 2012
Submitted by: Des O'Connor
Sometimes you bite off more than you can chew, sometimes you just get plain greedy but most times you still come out with a smile on yer face! It is the nature of who we are - if we didn't reach out, if we didn't push ourselves we'd still all be happy walking on easy green hills :)  Zermat was the target, the obvious elephant in the room being the Matterhorn. Unfortunately, she hadn't been tampered much with this season due to the weather, and it was touch-and-go whether our few days were going to land at an opportune time. But what the hell - we were going with happy hearts, a fistful of hope and just enough skill to get us into trouble.. . who wouldn't want to be in the Alps!  Day 1Staying at the only hostel in town, aptly named the Matterhorn hostel, we got a birds eye view of the monster, "Jesus Christ", says Shane, "I feel a bit sick looking at that thing". Having prior knowledge of the cable car prices didn't help - god dang they are expensive. We headed for the top and into the "white room" we ambled like two old men. No major prizes to be won today, a gentle snow hike over and up to the "easiest 4000m summit", the Breithorn at 4165m. Great views, great chance to get the snow kit on in 25deg, clear blue skies!  Day 2Racked up again and headed back up to tackle Pollux - the South-West Ridge route. We had a good view of it yesterday and ambled across the Breithornpass and over to the foot of the ridge. I would doubt if we followed the prescribed route, we followed a few others and varied our approach a few times. It is a lovely bit of ridge scrambling/climbing with a few fixed chains to help the old guys! We were then left with a beautiful snow ridge of about 100m to finish up at 4090m. There was train of mountaineer ants across on Castor and bejasus if I wasn't thinking about the dreaded A word! Day 3Will we or won't we was the question - will we do another day route, maybe over in the Monte Rosa or will we go up to the hornli and see what happens. This is where I talk about being greedy/biting off more than you can chew :) Needless to say the obvious choice won the day and we tramped up to the hornli. Prospects were looking up, but the two Paddy's forgot that ye couldn't pay with card and we had to scramble for the last few coins, and ask the nice lady "Do you take Euro coins?" - she said "Yes!" and we could afford to get dinner and a bed & breakfast - DOH! We jumped on the ridge and had wee look at the first few 100m - "It's just a scramble - nay bother to us", says I - failing to notice that Shane was looking at me funny.... He was later to tell me he felt like he was climbing with a "sock in his mouth". Day 4Up and at it, 3.30am - possibly the only fools in the place not tethered to a guide! "Never worry", I says to Shane, we will just follow the headlights. It was crazy standing in a line of up to 40 ejits at 4.30am in the morning, queuing to climb a mountain. Anyway long story short, we struggled to keep pace with the greyhounds that were literally pulling people up the mountain and eventually we were on our own - just how we like it - like back in good old Donegal! We put up a new route :) - "How to climb up the Matterhorn the stupid way" - We just climbed everything in front of us which got us into some great hairy positions out on the ridge itself. Alas time was getting on, water and food was low due to our "broke" status, the weather front that was muted was arriving, we looked up at her from 50km below Solvay then looked at each other and said "Let's get to fk out of dodge!".  Afterthoughts...A great trip, its just mighty to be out there in high places under your own steam. We are already dreaming about next year! - Scotland or Norway in Feb and the Jungfrau Trilogy next summer !

10 Aug 2012

Good decision. As the quote goes, "The mountains will be there next year. The trick is to make sure you are."

10 Aug 2012

Good on you boys. A really enjoyable read.

10 Aug 2012
Anthony Feeney

The Matterhorn's a belter all right, I was lucky and got my arse dragged up it my a man called Dave who kept insisting "Let's drive this bus home!" while I tried not to look down. The ridge between the 2 summits is more than a little scary. :)

17 Aug 2012

Well done lads - a great read and sounds like it was a great adventure

Photo of Route