Known by many as the “mountain of mountains”, the famous Matterhorn 4,478 m (14,692 ft) is a difficult mountaineering goal on many people’s bucket list. Three years ago, it caught the attention of licensed trauma therapist and adventurer, Jellis, and although he didn’t necessarily think that he would ever actually reach the top, it served as an inspiration to take his first steps in mountaineering and overcome his fear of heights.
After many “smaller climbs” on mountains such as Mont Blanc and Watzmann, many of which were led by the certified guides at Explore-Share, he was finally ready to tackle the great challenge. Elis, a highly qualified IFMGA certified guide in charge of the amazing Peakshunter team, was a top match for the goal that Jellis intended to reach. Together, they made it to the Matterhorn summit via the Hornli Ridge on the Swiss side and shared what this inspiring experience was like with us.
Q: What was the main motivating factor that led you to the top of the Matterhorn?
A: Around 3 years ago, I was on the Internet browsing some mountains, and I came across the Matterhorn. I wasn’t really into mountaineering and alpinism back then, in fact, while I was looking at the footage, I thought it looked really scary, and I became intrigued by the fear that I felt. I thought, “this could be a great goal or challenge to work towards.”
At first, I didn’t really think I would climb it, I just set it kind of as a goal, and the first mountain I climbed was Mont Blanc. Once I did the Mont Blanc, I thought, “this is good, this is fun!” and I started to work more seriously towards the Matterhorn. My motivation back then was the fear that I felt to do something that seemed impossible. Also, I had a fear of heights and so I was motivated to overcome that.
Q: From the mental as well as from the physical aspects, how did you prepare to make climbing the Matterhorn possible?
A: I saw the footage of the Matterhorn and decided to book a Mont Blanc ascent. Once you set something, once it’s booked, it becomes more of a reality. With Mont Blanc, I started training intensively, as I later did for Matterhorn. Over the years, climbing smaller mountains really helped me to gain experience and become familiar with aspects such as sleeping in huts, and the emotional aspects of climbing. Every week, I also went on very long, four-hour hikes, and bouldering which I really enjoy. Gaining technical climbing skills indoors was also really useful.
Q: And when you were on the Matterhorn, how did you manage the fear aspect?
A: That’s where climbing on easier mountains really helps. I also kept my focus on climbing one step at a time, on my hands and my feet, staying in the moment, in the now. There were moments that were scary, but I moved through them by staying in the present.
Q: If you had to think about the 3 highlights of the trip, what would they be?
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