Next year – 2015 – is the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn. Zermatt is already publicizing this special anniversary, and the preparations include a grand re-opening of a refurbished Hörnli Hut that is situated at the foot of the Hörnli ridge – the most popular and easiest route of ascent. The hut is closed all this summer. So what do you do, if a critical hut is out of use? You think creatively and come up with an innovative solution.
The solution is Base Camp Matterhorn. Click here to read an information sheet about this solution that is described as an Alpine ‘Pop-Up’ hotel.
And you can probably guess where I have been today. I took the Cable car to Schwarzsee and then an hour’s walk took me up to Hirli to view the Base Camp. Hirli is about an hour short of the Hörnli Hut, so climbers attempting the mountain this summer will have an extra hour added to their ascent time. If you take a look at my latest image of the Matterhorn (click here) and note the prominent prow of rock that juts out almost to the left margin of the image – that is Hirli. The Hörnli Hut is situated on the top of the rounded dark hump to the right of that promontory that almost appears to merge into the mountain itself.
The last section of the climb to Hirli is steep with a couple of sections on metal gangways. At the top of the ridge the first sight you will see is a pyramid with 4478 on it. Why 4478? Answer – because that is the height of the Matterhorn in metres (14,692ft).
Each small shelter is a two-person sleeping pod. There are larger versions that serve as Reception, Kitchen and the Mess Tent. I spent well over half an hour here, trying to find the best vantage point from which to shoot and also waiting (in vain as it turned out) for the Matterhorn to shrug off its cloak of cloud.
This ‘Camp’ will remain here until the end of the climbing season and will then be removed. I’m wondering whether to return next summer to be here for the anniversary itself: 14 July. It’s a tempting idea, particularly as I reminded myself a few weeks ago while reading through some old family diaries that by a fluke of circumstance I climbed this mountain in its centenary year.