First ascent of the Matterhorn

On 14 July 150 years ago one of the most daring and dramatic first ascents in the history of the Alps came to an end: But during the descent four members of the seven-man expedition led by Edward Whymper fell to their deaths – after a rope broke. However, Whymper managed to make his name internationally famous as a heroic Alpine climber with his version of the Matterhorn drama.

Peter Taugwalder Sr

Zermatt mountain guide Peter Taugwalder Sr was a key figure in the Whymper team. It was only thanks to his mountaineering expertise that the ambitious Whymper succeeded in his historical Matterhorn expedition at all. «The public only knows Whymper’s version, and for me it is clear that he has glossed over the situation,» says the South Tyrolean mountain climbing legend Reinhold Messner. Peter Taugwalder suffered all his life under the burden of the tragic Matterhorn ascent.

150 years later

The focus of my photographic work over the past 10 years has been high-alpine panoramic photography and other topics related to mountaineering. The family tradition is obligatory, it is a matter of honour for me to take my panoramic shots by climbing the ascents and doing without helicopter services.

As great-great-great- and great-great-grandson of the two mountain guides Peter Taugwalder father and son, I always asked myself if everything really happened that way during the first ascent of the Matterhorn. What remains after 150 years? Can the circumstances of the tragedy still be reconstructed?

A fresh perspective

That was the reason for to start my research about one year ago. My journey brought me to England to other descendants or to people like Reinhold Messner. I researched and photographed all historic original documents. Thanks to digitisation processes I could access archive material that has never been viewed before.

I need your assistance

The result of this project will be shown this summer in the Matterhorn Museum in Zermatt as special exhibition (July 11 to October 25, 2015). For the first time in 150 years these contemporary documents will be shown, as images, but together at one place.

This unique collection of historic documents should be conserved as an exhibition catalogue (approx. 200 pages, print run of 1000 copies, trilingual), to make it available to the broader public.

I would like to invite you to support my project. The raised funds will the used exclusively for the production of the catalogue and in case of surplus for the exhibition.

Thank you very much for your support.

Note: The catalogue is financed without any public funds, exclusively from own funds and through crowdfunding.