When the Alpinists leave his hut at 4 in the morning and the lights of the famous headlamp parade on Hörnligrat flash in the black mountain night, the day could still go either way for Kurt Lauber – will it be routine or catastrophe today? In the preface to his newly published book entitled “Der Wächter des Matterhorns” (Guardian of the Matterhorn), he writes: “In the years past, several hundred climbers have lost their lives on the Matterhorn – one can’t help but be affected by that.”
Aside from being the warden of the famous Hörnlihütte, Kurt Lauber is also a qualified ski instructor, helicopter pilot and rescue specialist. The hut is located at an altitude of 3,260 m above sea level at the access to the Hörnligrat ridge, the Alpinists’ preferred route to the 4,478 metre Matterhorn.
Collecting unexperienced tourists
On lucky days, the weather is good enough to permit Kurt Lauber and his colleagues from the Zermatt mountain rescue team to collect inexperienced tourists by helicopter. When conditions are bad, the terrain, snow storms or the darkness may force them to arrive at the rescue scene on foot. At such times they may have to put their own lives at risk. The book contains funny stories, reflective ones and episodes from the life of the Alpinists on the ‘Hore’ and life on the Hörnlihütte. It is a great read for everyone who loves the mountains and likes ascending to dizzying heights while remaining firmly seated on the living room sofa. Snow storms, freezing cold temperatures and jet black nights. Putting on the little headlamp and tackling the 1,200 altitude metres to the peak of the Matterhorn is something they would either never dare to do, may do at some point or never plan to do again.
“Der Wächter des Matterhorns”, Mein Leben auf der Hörnlihütte, (Guardian of the Matterhorn, my life at the Hörnlihütte), author: Kurt Lauber, published by Droemer Verlag.