Nothing improves the look of a mountain in summer as much as a dusting of freshly fallen snow, as is evident in this image. And a little low lying cloud or mist drifting by adds a little to the mystique.
This is the Obergabelhorn 4,063 metres (13,330ft) with the Wellenkuppe 3,900 metres (12,805ft) to its right. Two of the many high peaks that are part of the panorama high above Zermatt.
The Obergabelhorn was first climbed on 6 July 1865, during a period that is often referred to as the Golden Age of Alpine Mountaineering, when one by one the major Alpine Peaks were conquered for the first time. The second ascent was made the very next day – 7 July 1865 – by Lord Francis Douglas, and Peter Taugwalder. Exactly one week later those two men would be members of the group of seven, led by Edward Whymper, that would achieve the first ascent of the Matterhorn. Lord Francis Douglas lost his life, along with three others on the descent. Peter Taugwalder, his son, and Whymper were the only three survivors.
The sad news, in the last few days, is that two British Climbers were trapped by a high altitude storm high on the Matterhorn, and lost their lives before rescue teams were able to reach them. A stark reminder of the dangers associated with Alpine climbing and the suddenness of changes in the weather that can change a benign experience into a struggle for life itself.
I’ve made two attempts to reach the summit of the Wellenkuppe. The first attempt was fifty years ago when we strayed off the route of ascent and retreated to safety. One week later I stood on the summit of the Matterhorn. The second attempt was with my son about ten years ago when we retreated due to the onset of bad weather. I doubt I will try again.
The mountains are always beautiful to view from a distance, but they must always be treated with the greatest of caution.