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The Weisshorn is not a VIP mountain

The Weisshorn (4506m) is regarded by alpinists as one of the most beautiful and challenging mountains in the Alps. To celebrate the anniversary of the first ascent, exactly 150 years to the day, on Friday 19 August 2011, mountain guides and climbers from Randa and Zermatt as well as a journalist reached the summit. 

The anniversary guests set out from the 111-year-old Weisshorn Hut at 2.30 on the morning of Friday, 19 August 2011. However, at the “Frühstücksplatz”, several of the rope teams decided to turn back because of thunderstorms. The weather conditions forced the ascent to be called off by all the rope teams who had set out from the Tracuit Hut intending to climb the north ridge. Seven rope teams finally reached the summit. Mayor of Randa, Leo Jörger, said that overall conditions were tough. “The snow was soft. It was tricky.” 

Daniel Luggen, Director of Zermatt Tourism also put on record how challenging it is to climb this mountain. It was understandable that the anniversary ascent could not be made by just anyone. “This is not a VIP mountain,” said Luggen in his speech in the Weisshorn Hut, adding that he had great respect for the accomplishment of the mountain guides who led the guests so safely and successfully on the anniversary ascent. 

In the tracks of Tyndall
The decision on whether a climb will go ahead rests solely with the most experienced mountaineers, the mountain guides leading the rope team. They assess the weather, snow conditions and the physical capabilities of their guests. 

The rope teams followed the normal route taken by the first climbers with Briton John Tyndall, setting out from the Weisshorn Hut above Randa and proceeding via the east ridge. The following rope teams reached the summit: the two mountain guides Thomas Zumtaugwald from Randa and Rudolf Pollinger from St. Niklaus, from Randa in the record time of 4 hours and 22 minutes. Mayor of Randa, Leo Jörger, with Charly Wuilloud, Head of Natural Hazards Canton Valais from the Federal Office for the Environment and Martin Funk, Professor for Glaciology at the ETH Zurich and also a mountain guide. Another mountain guide Gianni Mazzone with Daniel Luggen, Director of Zermatt Tourism. Field surveyor Christian Grütter from Randa with his partner, nurse Petra Hermann from Varen. Mountain guide Rainer Zeiter from Zermatt with guest Fernando Willisch from Visp. Simon Anthamatten, mountain guide from Zermatt with Daniel Foppa, Editor of the TagesAnzeiger (newspaper). Mountain guide Martin Vogt with Reto Wyss, Head of Marketing, Zermatt Bergbahnen AG. 
All the rope teams returned safely to the Weisshorn Hut between 12 noon and 1 in the afternoon. Waiting in the hut were Mayor of Zermatt Christoph Bürgin, Jesuit priest Albert Ziegler and Randa priest Josef D’Souza. The priests blessed the hut and those who had taken part in the ascent. 

On Friday afternoon, Luzius Kuster, this year notching up his 45th year as hut warden, also welcomed local guests who had made the round 4-hour hike to the Weisshorn Hut. “I’m also very satisfied,” said Luzius Kuster, on what was for him the most important day of the year. The only problem still concerning him is the water situation in the Weisshorn Hut, a situation which is deteriorating because of the recession of the glacier. Kuster: “We’ll get that under control together – for the hut and for the region.” 

Anniversary year 2011 
The service providers in Randa, Täsch and Zermatt all pulled together in the preparations for the anniversary year celebrations as well as during the events. Festivities were held in the Randa community hall on 24 June with speeches, a screening of the film “Treffpunkt Gipfelkreuz” and a book vernissage (“Weisshorn” by Daniel Anker and Marco Volken). Evening cultural presentations in the Matterhorn Museum on the theme of the Weisshorn on 27 and 28 July added to the celebrations. Zermatt Tourism provided sustained support for the anniversary year with marketing tools, coordination and media work. Outdoor-gear supplier Mammut, partner of Zermatt Tourism, provided ropes and embroidered rucksacks for the ascent.

Zermatt Tourismus | Tel +41 27 966 81 00 | info@zermatt.ch