2006-08: IMG Matterhorn

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The Team

Our group consisted of guides Howie Schwartz, Jeff Ward and Matt Farmer joined by clients Gary Meggs, Hank Garrett, Katherine Breedis, Paul White and Scott Kreider
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The (Elusive) Matterhorn

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Zermatt - Alpine Monument

Zermatt is a bustling tourist town with all the services you could want. The easiest way to get to Zermatt is via the Glacier Express train from Visp. Note that you cannot drive to Zermatt. The closest you can get by car is the town of Tasch down the valley where you can park in one of the large parking structures and catch the train to Zermatt itself. The Co-Op store near the train station is large grocery with lots of foods suitable for packing. Most of the group seemed to enjoy buying fresh sandwiches from Backarie Fuch's which is open early in the morning. As you head down the main street you will find the Alpin Center on your right hand side. The Alpin Center has daily weather reports and other useful information about conditions and routes. Inside the Alpin Center there is also a very nice route topo of the Rifflehorn. We stayed at the Hotel Alpenblick owned by the Pannatier family. The hotel was extremely accomodating and flexible. Lastly, you can, of course, buy or rent almost any type of climbing gear you might have forgotten at one of the many gear shops in town.
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Day 1: Riffelhorn (2928m)

We spent the first day doing a warmup climb on the Rifflehorn. I climbed a very enjoyable route named Egg with Matt. Howie, Hank and Katherine followed on this same route while Jeff, Gary and Paul climbed a different line (not sure of the name). Egg had a very nice finish on an arete with great views. As a final exercise we walked over to a fixed line situated on the summit and did practice lower and then climbed back up a short pitch using a fixed line setup with the express purpose of training clients for the fixed lines on the Matterhorn. (I would highly recomment this exercise for anyone aspiring to climb the Matterhorn because it gives valuable insight in now to use the fixed stansions and how to ascent the fixed ropes quickly.) Sadly, Katherine threw her shoulder out when climbing the fixed line. We were to learn later this was pretty much the end of her climbing for this trip. Note, most of the climbs on the Riffelhorn appear to be setup for sport climbing. I'm guessing you can probably get away with a handful of quickdraws and a rope for climbing most if not all routes.
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Day 2: The Breighthorn (4159m)

Day 2 was spent acclimatizing by doing a short climb of the Breighthorn. The low visibility and nasty weather turned what would have normally been an easy slog into a small adventure. The Breighthorn is probably the easiest 4000m peak due to the convenient access provided by the Klein Matterhorn gondola. Unfornately we endured a very trying return trip as hundreds of folks all pressed to get onto the gondola after it was announced they would be shutting down soon due to high winds. Note as one of our party discovered finding a restroom up here is challenging. They WC's are actually on the right hand side very soon after you exit the gondola heading down the tunnel (this as of 2006). Remember to bring some CHF coins if you want to use the john!
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