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Overcoming Fear and Reaching a Big Goal on the Matterhorn


Ana Rosberg

October 1, 2020

Last updated on March 22, 2022 by the Explore-Share team


In this Episode 3 of "My Latest Explore-Share Adventure", Jellis shares his inspiring story about overcoming fears and reaching the Matterhorn summit. IFMGA certified guide, Elis, brought his expertise to the table and made sure Jellis reached a big and long term goal!

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.


Read the Q&A below to find out what climbing the Matterhorn was like for Jellis and set your own mountaineering goals to enjoy the same unique sense of accomplishment!


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?



  1.  Just seeing the Matterhorn in real life. Even if you only hike around the area, it is so impressive. So that was a real highlight, it was like "Damn! This is getting real!"

  2. Also, because this was a goal I was working on for 3 years, actually feeling the progression that I had made, I felt both challenged but also confident and really ready. That was a highlight too.

  3. Standing at the summit of the Matterhorn. If I watch the video and see myself standing there, it just makes me realize that you can really achieve big things if you work towards them.


 Of all the mountains I have climbed, this one was just fun. It felt like a playground, all the rocks are quite easy to hold, there was a lot of scrambling, so it was really fun.(NOTE: Jellis has trained hard to climb the Matterhorn, and earned his fun on it. However, this is by no means an easy mountain to climb.)Q: What are the benefits of going on a guided mountaineering trip?


I really like to go with a guide because I can learn from them. I've booked a lot of climbs with Explore-Share and I have always told the guides that I was planning to climb the Matterhorn so that they could give me tips and feedback. The last mountain I climbed before Matterhorn was the Watzmann, which was easy hiking for me, and the guide that I went with told me I was fine for the Matterhorn, so it was good to receive that feedback and pay attention to things I hadn't noticed. Making friends is another one, there are many guides that I have made good friends with. Also, I'm not a seasoned alpinist and mountaineer, it's just something I enjoy, so to go with a guide, you get the safety from going with someone who knows, which makes it more enjoyable. On the Matterhorn, for example, there were some rope techniques that I didn't know. Going with a guide was really useful because he had the skills that I didn't. Congratulations, Jellis, on achieving a great mountaineering goal, and thank you for trusting our guides to show you the way!


After the inspiring account of the Matterhorn ascent that Jellis shared with us, we reached out to Elis to find out what he finds special about this amazing mountain and his guiding experience on it. He was generous and detailed in his response:


"The Matterhorn is certainly one of the most beautiful mountains in the world and the most iconic. This perfectly shaped mountain makes every alpinist from every country in the world dream, from beginner to the most experienced. Personally, I love this mountain precisely for its perfect pyramid shape and for the fact that it is completely isolated from the other mountains around, rising almost like a king. With its beauty, it is very inviting to climb one of its wonderful and aesthetic ridges.What is particular and curious is that both the Lion's ridge (Italian way) and the Hornli Ridge (Swiss way) have a lot of passages that have proper names, for example, the Jordan Ladder, Linceul, Bréche Giordano, Arete du Coq, Enjambé, Crétier slab, etc. Recognizing these passages during the climb is like retracing a piece of mountaineering history.The Italian way is harder than the Swiss way and you can spend a night at the Carrel hut, the historic bivouac on the ridge.  The Swiss way is easier, but easier doesn't mean easy, it's just a little less technical than the Lion's ridge. You spend one night at the comfortable and new Hornli hut but the physical level and concentration must remain very high during the ascent.As a mountain guide, I love to lead people on the Matterhorn because I can convey all my passion for this incredible mountain to them. Climbing the Matterhorn is one of the greatest expressions of my work where knowing how to use the "short rope" is absolutely indispensable. The most special thing is the relationship that is created with the customer after only 2 days of climbing, from perfect strangers to great friends."Thank you, Elis, for sharing your expertise and helping Jellis reach his goal of summiting the Matterhorn!  


Climbing the Matterhorn is not an easy task, however, anyone can aspire to reach the summit of this "mountain of mountains" with some proper training and determination. Finding the right guides to show you the ropes and give you feedback is the first step. One that is well worth it: there is nothing quite like that feeling of taking on a big challenge and making it.

So, what are you waiting for? Read our Climbing Matterhorn guide and check out our unique selection of programs to start planning your own adventure! Or, try out our concierge service and let us help you design your own mountaineering path to the summit of your liking!

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