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climbing the matterhorn with a guide...have some questions

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climbing the matterhorn with a guide...have some questions

Postby fabio111 » Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:13 am

i am fairly new climber...i have climb real rock up to 5.8 on one full day occasion, i have climbed many times in the gym at 5.10, occasional rare 5.11 level. i have also spent two days glacier trekking and ice climbing(easy climbing), so i at least have familiarity with crampons. i am in great physical condition...i live away from the mountains and cannot climb often, i stay in shape by working out 6 times a week, hard cardio and strength training. also, later this spring i will fly to the rocky mountains to take a week long mountaineering course, with focuses on rock and snow skills. during this trip i will attempt and plan to complete at least one 14k+ summit.

for a variety of motivations, i wish to climb the matterhorn with a guide at the end of this coming summer. i plan to find a guide and do one preview climb in the alps before this. will i have adequate preparation to make the climb guided? i read conflicting reports...some say a guide could get a cow up and down the matterhorn, others say it is only for advanced climbers. my only goal is to make the climb safe.

please do not lecture about how climbing with a guide is not worth doing and i should postpone the trip for several year until i have the experience to climb it on my own. what i want to know is will i be able to do it with a guide safely, with my experiences i have listed above.

i have a few other questions:

is it better to get a guide from the zermatt mountain guide office, or the to hire a private guide who is unaffiliated with them? again, i have read conflicting stories...some say the swiss guides are better because they get to leave the hornli hut before everyone, other say they can be rude towards foreign clients and intentionally stop the climbing before the summit.

what is the best time period to climb, both for best conditions and smallest crowds? i know climbing season is mid july to mid sept, but is there a smaller window in that time i should aim for?

i read the guides short rope clients on the climb...is short roping really safe? i am sure this is not likely, but i would fear the guide slpping and pulling me off the mountain with him. for those of you have climbed the matterhorn, just how steep and objective dangerous is it? how many instances, if any, are there where you are really in dicey situation and unroped/unprotected where a minor bad step will mean certainly fatal falls?

thanks for any help!
Last edited by fabio111 on Fri Feb 06, 2009 5:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Matterhorn guided

Postby rockymtnclimber » Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:11 am

I’ve posted on this before (and been flamed for it) that I climbed the Matterhorn with a guide, and thought it was an awesome experience! So here are my thoughts:

First off, it sounds like you won’t have any problems technically with the difficulty. It’s rarely anything over 5.4. The cardio and endurance is the hard part. I was going nearly all out for 3 hrs, 40 minutes from the hut to the summit - one 10-minute rest break. While the guides will turn you around if they think you are too slow, I saw few guides turning their clients around. The ones that were turning around were exceptionally slow. My guide expected us to summit in 4 hours or less. In retrospect, a good thing, as the beautiful summer day on the mountain started to totally sock in as we reached the hut again. And we descended in just over 2 hours. As for a guide dragging a cow up there, it’s likely that they could (they’re good at what they do), but none that I met in 10 days climbing around Zermatt would. They expect you to be ready for it.

As for your questions:

Get a guide at the Zermatt office (I can give you a name). They know that route inside and out, improving safety and speed. They guide as an “aspirant” (trainee) for 2 summers before they are allowed to do it alone. I met a fair number of the guides, and found all to be friendly and genuine. I met some of their families, and was told to come visit anytime.

If you go the last half of August you’ll have less people on the route (prime season ends around the 15th), but the weather will be more hit-or-miss. I did it on Aug. 2nd or 3rd, and even then it wasn’t too crowded in the hut or on the route.

They do most definitely short-rope. It was my first experience with it (first experience with a guide, actually), but not at all worrisome. Yes, if they fell it could be bad, but they are good. They do running belays in certain places, and belay off fixed anchors in the toughest spots. It most definitely has places where a bad step could be disaster (take one big step out the door of the Hornli Hut), but I felt secure. The alternative is setting up numerous belays, making a 6 hour round trip into a climb that can possibly take 2 days. I thought it was well worth the slight perceived risk.

So, those are my thoughts. Hope it helps! Let us know if you have other questions!
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Postby Fred Spicker » Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:24 pm

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Postby fabio111 » Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:44 pm

rockymtnclimber, thank you very much for the post! very helpful!
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Postby fabio111 » Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:42 pm

can you recommend the guides name from the zermatt office?

also, did you do a previous climb in the alps before the matterhorn(i read that guides require you to complete a test climb before they allow you to attempt the matterhorn)? if so, which mountain, and how similar was this with the matterhorn climb?

thanks.
Last edited by fabio111 on Fri Feb 06, 2009 5:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Matterhorn guided

Postby rockymtnclimber » Fri Jan 30, 2009 6:11 pm

The guide I want with was Benedict (Beni) Perren. He was great!

As for the training climbs, unless you can show that you've got more than enough experience with similar climbing, they do require you to prove yourself a bit. I got the feeling it was more about the altitude than anything. We did a couple of the 4000m peaks in the area, but nothing of similar terrain. Just glacier travel with a bit of scrambling. I'm not sure there is anything around there with similar terrain.
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Re: Matterhorn guided

Postby Flachlandtiroler » Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:22 am

rockymtnclimber wrote:We did a couple of the 4000m peaks in the area, but nothing of similar terrain. Just glacier travel with a bit of scrambling. I'm not sure there is anything around there with similar terrain.

:shock:

For instance you could try Zinalrothorn: Exposed ridge climbing in >4000m altitude, but only few pitches. Same with Rimpfischhorn (which is even easier technically).

I'm not sure whether I got you right but of course there are lots of longer and even more difficult arrete climbs around.

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True, true

Postby rockymtnclimber » Fri Feb 06, 2009 7:45 pm

Yes, we did Rimpfischorn, and some similar rocks. I guess I was thinking that there is little of the same terrain AND scale. Yes, there are other possibilities. As for what the guides require, they did want to see proficiency on the rock (anything below class 5 they expected you to down climb face out), but they seemed more concerned that you could function at 4000m. Maybe that was just my perception.

Thanks for letting me clarify! :)
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Postby Eskil » Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:15 am

Hi Fabio!
I have good contacts with a small guiding company based in Chamonix but guiding all over the Alps, and have climbed many peaks including Matterhorn with these guys.
Usually you would do a few other climbs in the Alps before attempting Matterhorn so that the guide get a feeling for your abilities and you get a feeling for the climbing in these mountains.

To climb Matterhorn you need:
- to have good mountaineering experience, I think your preparation is quite good, and maybe you will do a bit more mountaineering when coming to the Alps.
- to be able to climb up and down easy terrain (French grade 2) quick and safely. You also must be able to climb grade 4 (French rock grade).
- to have good fitness and good acclimatization!
Take a look at http://www.mountain-spirit-guides.com/matterhorn.asp
Good luck!
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