Our leader thought today would be a good day to rise up (quite literally) against her fear and attempt to conquer the scary trail from Schwarzsee to the Hornli Hutte.
The Hornli Hutte is the starting point for climbing the Matterhorn as should be indicated by some of the pictures below. For mountaineers climbing the Matterhorn, the Hornli Hutte is where they sleep before getting awoken at 3:30 a.m. to begin the climb.
For normal people like us, just getting to the Hornli Hutte is a big challenge. We set off by getting our tickets for the gondola up to Schwarzsee. This started off as a good indicator as M was able to keep her eyes open almost the whole way up the gondola! That never happened a couple years ago when we first went up this particular lift.
We made it up to Schwarzsee with no rookie mistakes, like getting off the gondola too early, and found our starting point. Firstly we had to look straight up the mountain to see where we were trying to get to in 2.5 miles and 2,300 feet of gain however.
It’s a seriously daunting task and the Hutte looks so far away and so high you wonder if the trail really does go up there or if there is some sort of way to magic oneself straight into the Hutte. Then you notice the brightly colored ants marching their way up towards the Hutte and realize they are actually people so it must be possible.
The sign at our starting point says it should take two hours and ten minutes, but that is a really conservative estimate for the slowest people. M and I made really good time until coming to the scary metal walkway that hugs the mountain on one side and has a fairly nasty drop on the other side. M mustered up more courage than ever before (and possibly more curse words) and carefully made her way across the walkway.
After this point the trail gets flat for a little ways until the last half mile when it goes straight up in a series of switch backs on the side of the mountain. We were moving pretty fast, but just to give you an idea of how steep it is, our pace was 70 minutes per mile at this point. That’s right it took us 35 minutes to go half a mile.
Just for some perspective, there is what’s called a Strava segment for the last 1.8 miles of the climb. Strava is an app used by runners and cyclists to store data about their performances. Many top runners use this app so anyone can compare their time on any particular segment to those top runners. M and I were only about 15-16 minutes behind the best mountain runner in the world, Killian Jornet. Search his name on YouTube and you can watch him run up and down the Matterhorn (all the way to the top of the mountain) in under 5 hours I think. M and I finally made it to the Hornli Hutte an hour after starting. We were quite proud of not being too slow!
What goes up must come down however and that means crossing the scary walkway again! With more positive/negative self-talk from M we made it across and had a short celebration before continuing down the hill to our start.
We then rode the gondola back to town and celebrated with Rosti and eggs and ham along with some black cherry gelato! Gotta replace all those calories!
We consider this our biggest adventure ever just because of the difficulties overcoming a serious fear of heights. I am sure it will remain at the top of our list for a long time. Or until Saturday.