A PORTRAIT OF THE MATTERHORN

TEXT

There are mountains, and there is the Matterhorn.

The Matterhorn was the last great Alpine peak to be climbed and its first ascent in 1865 marked the end of the golden age of alpinism. Seven men reached the summit but four died on the way back. The triumph and tragedy of this feat is the epitome of man’s desire to explore, to go beyond the limit. A reminder of how great and how small we are at the same time.

The Matterhorn is a product of geological processes that transcend our concept of time. It was born from the remnants of an enormous African rock mass which originated more than 250 million years ago. This mass was pushed northwards colliding with the European continental plate, forcing its way upwards and resulting in alpine folding 100 million years ago. It reached its maximum heights 30 million years ago, modeled by natural erosion from the top to the bottom, and finally acquired its characteristic pyramidal shape over the last 2.6 million years.

The Matterhorn that is rising to the sky today, although graceful and uniquely formed, is just a majestic ruin, only a fragment of an eroded mountain. It is subject to wear caused by erosion and weathering and it will eventually round off and disappear forever. In the long term, plate tectonics will finish the job. The geological clock will reset all over again and a new Matterhorn will emerge somewhere else in 50-300 million years.

Will humans be around to climb those mountains?

(To be published as an artist book)