TV star Matterhorn: Documentaries show past and present

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn, several TV channels have produced comprehensive documentaries for 2015. The Swiss SRF TV channel is presenting a two-part documentary of the first ascent, while the German ARD channel has broadcasted stories from the Alpine region presented by the legendary mountaineer Reinhold Messner. Futher TV channels are preparing documentaries.

The Matterhorn is the King of Mountains. With its first ascent containing all the ingredients of a heart-stopping thriller, it is not surprising that several TV media have repeatedly focused on the Matterhorn story. A part of the material, which was shot in summer 2014 will be broadcast in 2015 (see below). Zermatt will be celebrating the anniversary over the entire summer of 2015 and offers numerous events and activities.

Frank Senn, a friend of the Matterhorn village

The senior editor of the “Dok” series produced by SRF TV, Frank Senn, has created several documentaries on the subjects of the Matterhorn, the Air Zermatt pilots and Zermatt’s mountain guides and rescuers: “Bergretter im Himalaya” (Mountain rescuers in the Himalayas, 2012),  “Sherpas – die wahren Helden am Everest” (Sherpas – the true heroes of the Everest; three parts, 2009), “Die Bergretter - unterwegs mit der Air Zermatt” (Mountain rescuers – in the air with Air Zermatt; Dok series, 2007), “48 Stunden Matterhorn” (48 hours Matterhorn, 2005). He is much more than just an expert – he is a long-standing friend to numerous protagonists in Zermatt. In the summer of 2014, he and the realizers of the new documentary Gieri Venzin and Timan Remme visited Zermatt once again, this time with the aim of producing a new documentary of the first ascent. These documentaries will be broadcast in spring 2015 (“Tatort Matterhorn”, Site of Crime Matterhorn, see below).

The veiled diva

The Swiss TV documentary has two parts and is entitled “Tatort Matterhorn” (Crime scene Matterhorn). Frank Senn and the producer Gieri Venzin spent many days in Zermatt interviewing local figures, among them Zermatt mountain guide Simon Anthamatten. The interviews are supplemented with re-enacted scenes reflecting the last days of Alpinism’s Golden Era with men in 19th century outfits climbing the Hörnligrat. The boots were the only concession to safety: “The mountain guides wore their own boots and grampons”, explains Frank Senn.
The shooting was not easy since the Matterhorn decided to present itself from its worst side in summer 2014. The weather forecast provided little hope for good weather and the Hörnligrat was covered in summer snow and ice, which made the climbing more difficult. No wonder that only 300 mountaineers reached the peak in summer 2014, over 2,700 less than in good summers. The documentaries shows a criminalistics reconstruction of the activities during the first ascent of the Matterhorn on 14th July 1865. We are looking forward to the documentary!  

Reinhold Messner at the Matterhorn

Reinhold Messner is also no stranger to Zermatt, having visited the village both as mountaineer and mountain guide. Zermatt locals are still laughing about the 1999 TV programme “Verstehen Sie Spass?” (Do you with Kurt Felix. At the time, as part of the programme, Art Furrer sold books and magazines from a kiosk which had been installed as a joke below the Solvay cabin on Hörnligrat. Reinhold Messner, who was guiding mountaineers on the Hörnligrat, was highly annoyed about this perceived disfigurement of the mountain.  
When visiting Zermatt for the shooting of the ARD documentary in summer 2014, he talked about the incident with his camera team: “Oh yes, I remember that very well. I was so angry!”, he said with a genial smile on his face. His two-part documentation entitled “Abenteuer Alpen” (Alpine adventure) is already available at the ARD media library (see link below). The first part documents the first ascent of the Matterhorn, the second presents further stories from Zermatt.

Transmission dates, TV Channels

3sat: 27 April 2015, from 20.15 h
ZDF Terra X: 5 April
Arte: 4 April
ORF: 3 April
SRF TV (Swiss TV): 26 March and 2 April 2015


Tatort Matterhorn - Website SRF (in German)

Making of Tatort Matterhorn (in German)

SRF DOK, Tatort Matterhorn, Part 1 (in German)

SRF DOK, Tatort Matterhorn, Part 2 (in German)

ARD Mediathek („Abenteuer Alpen, with Reinhold Messner)

„Verstehen Sie Spass“, 1999, youtube (Got Humor?)

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