5am wake up call for an early start, the participants and I scrambled around to gather all our equipment for the climb up Breithorn with Dario and Gabi. We made our way to the gondola station at 6am and arrived on top of Kleine Matterhorn where we strapped on our harnesses and were roped together. The girls were tied onto Dario’s rope and the boys on Gabi’s. It was shocking to feel so cold in the summertime as there was so much snow and people were skiing down the slopes at such an early time.
We were on the move by 7am, walking towards nothingness and feeling the snow crunch beneath our shoes.
The beginning part of the trek wasn’t so difficult, until we reached the continuous uphill stretch where we were all quickly became exhausted. Dario marched on however, and we followed. To our relief, the first break finally came when we had to attach our crampouns to our boots. Within such a short time, our bodies cooled down and I was freezing instantly.
On the move once more, after having rested, our energy levels were slightly lifted as we continued the climb with our new ice-proof feet. My new energy however was drained very quickly as we trudged further uphill onto an even steeper incline, still in the blinding white of fog and snow. Suddenly the fog disappeared and the sun came out to reveal the ever beautiful Breithorn. In awe we persisted with the climb, all the way to the top, with the encouragement from each other and especially the belief Dario had in us to make it to the summit.
The view was incredible! Slightly scary, but amazing! The struggle was definitely worth it. We took our time, taking in as much of the wonderful atmosphere as possible, being completely surrounded by the Swiss Alps. After we took some photos, we began our descent, which was lead by Jaquie. It was the most nerve racking part of the day, where we had to watch our every step, praying that our crampouns didn’t knock into each other and cause us to fall over the ridge of the mountain or placing a wrong foot on an unstable ridge. [2]
We made it down safely towards the second peak, which wasn’t as challenging. Once we made it to the top we turned around and began the trek back to Kleine Matterhorn. Halfway down, we removed our Crampouns which made the remainder of our descent a slippery and fun, but an exhausting experience. The take-home message of our hike however was that in no time, the glaciers will and have been receding dramatically – ie: 200m back within a timespan of 10 years. [3] As the melting glaciers also result in strong flowing rivers and streams of glacial waters will and are leading to rising sea levels.
Once we arrived back at Kleine Matterhorn, us participants relaxed in the restaurant, as Sabine, Salina, Andre, Noe, Dario and Jaquie went for a walk towards Breithorn. On their return, we visited the Glacier palace, situated in a glacier under the main building on Kleine Matterhorn. [4] There is a unique display of the beauties of glaciers, through a number of stunning ice sculptures, as well as natural cave-like creations. Following the glacial visit, we climbed the staircase up to the peak of Kleine Matterhorn where we took many photographs of the mountain we had accomplished and the famous Matterhorn. [5]
Shortly after, we went to the gondola station to return to Zermatt. On the way there, Dario pointed out an environmentally friendly alternative to supplying kleine Matterhorn with power – solar panels. [6] They were lined up in rows and acted as a wall. It is a fantastic solution to try slow down climate change, especially in the Swiss Alps where melting glaciers and permafrost is a number one issue.
The end of the day was spent returning equipment, taking it easy and reflecting on what an unbelievable day we had all just experienced!