Officials in Switzerland say a 24-year-old British climber fell to his death early in the morning as he was descending from the summit of the Matterhorn o the Hörnli Ridge after being struck by rockfall.
The Valais police say two other U.K. climbers who were also on the ridge were uninjured. The trio were at 3,380 metres at around 2:40 a.m. when the accident occurred. They alerted rescuers who dispatched a helicopter, but the man died before crews arrived.
The Matterhorn is an iconic peak that sits on the border of Switzerland and Italy. It’s 4,478 metres high, making it one of the highest mountains in Europe. Around 500 climbers have died on Matterhorn since the first ascent in 1865.
The news comes a few weeks after Mount Everest had one of its worst seasons in years. At least 11 climbers died on the world’s highest peak this year and over 20 in the Himalayas since the start of 2019.
The peak season for climbing the Matterhorn is usually from mid-July to late-August and normally is best climbed when free of snow. The upper ridge has fixed ropes. You can see what the Matterhorn looks like today through this webcam. At the base of the ridge is a popular hut.
Rockfall is common on big mountains during the spring and throughout the summer. In the Canadian Rockies, rockfall has killed a number of climbers over the years. When ascending or descending terrain with big objective hazard, even if the climbing is “easy,” consider staying roped up.