The Matterhorn (German), Monte Cervino (Italian) or Mont Cervin (French), is a mountain in the Pennine Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy. Its summit is 4,478 metres (14,692 ft) high, making it one of the highest peaks in the Alps. The four steep faces, rising above the surrounding glaciers, face the four compass points.
The mountain overlooks the town of Zermatt in the canton of Valais to the north-east and Breuil-Cervinia in the Aosta Valley to the south. Theodul Pass, located at the eastern base of the peak, is the lowest passage between its north and south side.
The Matterhorn was one of the last great Alpine peaks to be climbed and its first ascent marked the end of the golden age of alpinism. It was made in 1865 by a party led by Edward Whymper and ended disastrously when four of its members fell to their deaths on the descent.
The north face was not climbed until 1931, and is amongst the six great north faces of the Alps. It is estimated that over 500 alpinists have died on the Matterhorn since the first climb in 1865, making it one of the deadliest peaks in the Alps.
The Matterhorn has become an iconic emblem of the Swiss Alps and the Alps in general. Since the end of the 19th century, when railways were built, it attracted more and more visitors and climbers. Each summer a large number of mountaineers try to climb the Matterhorn via the northeast Hornli ridge, the most popular route to the summit.
Since the eighteenth century the Alps have attracted more and more people and fascinated generations of explorers and climbers. The Matterhorn remained relatively little known until 1865, but the successful ascent followed by the tragic accident of the expedition led by Edward Whymper caused a rush on the mountains surrounding Zermatt.