Ascent of Matterhorn on 2019-07-22

Climber: Evan L

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Monday, July 22, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Elevation:14692 ft / 4478 m

Ascent Trip Report

Solo ascent.

Gear used: helmet, mountaineering boots, ice axe, crampons, 40m 6mm rap line, cowtails, a #1 cam for temporary protection, sling as friction on the fixed lines, but it didn't work very well (was hard to move along the giant, twisted-rope fixed lines... But I didn't do a proper prusik or kleimheist, if done right it may work better... fixed lines are huge, probably 20mm in diameter), diamox. Boots, ice axe, and crampons were only used for the top 7% or so of the route but were very necessary there (especially the crampons).

Brought but not used: warm clothes (I probably had unusually warm weather -- this was during or just before a record-breaking heat wave across Europe), most food (didn't have much appetite), excess slings

Gear wish had: rappel device instead of Munter hitches for rapping (twists made rope unruly), rope bag or something to make rappels easier, rappel line with marked midpoint, possibly leather gloves for climbing fixed lines (?), more water.

The biggest thing was I wish I had acclimatized/trained more. But I had to climb two days before I intended to because of the weather, though.

The way down was very long and tiring. Near the top, there was mixed rock/snow/ice that felt very precarious to downclimb. This is probably the only part of the climb that I felt having a partner would make things safer -- the uppermost climber on a rope team could fall and go a ways, but not fall off the mountain -- there were iron rods for protection every 50 feet or so. Lower down, fixed lines were installed on the toughest rock sections of the route. Even on a rope team, the uppermost person would could have a good fall, deck (hit the bottom of the rock), and get very hurt. I went very slow on these parts, slower than pretty much anyone else on the mountain, and made a few extra rappels.

I made it up in six hours (4-6 is typical, they say), but took ten hours to make it back down to the hut (most people take 4-7 probably). My very slow downclimbing cost me, but so did the extra rappels -- I was slow with the rope work. Towards the bottom I was exhausted and ran out of water. I was worried my exhaustion would cause me to be more careless on the rock, but I made it down OK. Also, there were some routefinding problems which I worked out with the help of other parties still on the mountain. Routefinding is definitely an issue on the mountain, and things get more precarious as you go off-route. What an adventure! Definitely one of the hardest mountains I've done although there were some things I could do to make it a little easier (acclimatize/train, maybe bring leather gloves for the fixed lines?, be faster at rappelling/ropework), but for most of the route having a partner would not make it much safer (unless the partner is a guide who knows the way and can belay you down the fixed lines and downclimb them themselves.)

If it weren't for fixed lines and that snowy part it wouldn't be too bad. They aren't really too too bad on the way up but on the way down can be hairy. Those can all be rapped theoretically but it would take a lot of time. I did 3 or 4 raps on the snow and fixed lines, a rap on the fixed lines above the upper Moseley slabs, and a rap on the lower Moseley slabs. So 6 or 7 total.

Another challenge is the routefinding -- on the way down I did get into some bad terrain by going off route. Keep a GPS track on the way up -- see distances actually are big enough for a GPS to help.


Rough route notes (use at your own risk, things can change, etc.):

On the way up for only 50 or 100 ft or so beyond the first fixed lines until you see a red dot on your right. This goes up blocky terrain for about 40 ft before reaching an obvious trail that traverses back left, leading to the first first short gully go up gully 30 feedlt, around left, and exit thru a mini chimney and continue rising traverse left

There should be a trail. Go for 100 ft or ao and then go up and to the right. Three Slavic guys also scoping out the route the day before also went too far left and turned around here. I didn't like it so went up right and found a cairn. Follow the path right (and slightly down and around the corner of a rib kind of, and then left into the dihedral-chimney. There is an iron pin about midway in the dihedral-chimney. At the top are big red arrows. from there tubes and a beacon station I think can be seen 150 ft up (elevat; about 200;ft horizontal), starting slightly left of the ridge about 50 feet. I don't the route goes up there (can't remember) but about 10 min further are the fixed ropes "auf dem Grat"

See PDF here (German):
(This may be useful: ; also note that in the topo li. and. re. mean links and rechts... Maybe obvious but took me a while to figure that out)

Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb, Aid Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Headlamp, Hut Camp

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