In March 2016 I have successfully reached Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa with an altitude of 5895 m/lmd. This expedition did not require any technical climbing, but back then that was the highest mountain I had ever climbed.
Only one month had passed and I immediately started to think which would be my next climb. This is a strange desire for most of people, but for those like me who love mountains and enjoy facing different challenges is very normal.
Suddenly, in a group-chat of hikers where the main topic was mountaineering, a well-known Albanian climber mentioned a mountain that I have never heard before: Matterhorn the symbol of Switzerland. Since the desire to climb again was still in me, I started my search about the amazing Matterhorn. In each article I read and each video I watched the fact that this was a difficult technical climb which required physical and mental strength was emphasized. By then I was aware that I needed to have climbing experience, to be familiar with the use of rope and other technical climbing requirements. Above all, I was aware that my desire to climb this mountain is strongly connected with the danger of death. Accidents such as falling stones, unpredictable weather, falling down and many other have taken the lives of many climbers, so could they do for me too.
The joy that could come from this challenge, the technical climbing experience and the rate of danger were the elements that gave me the courage and made me so curios about this amazing mountain. This was the expedition that would help me discover my true strength I thought, and deep in my heart I knew that this was what I wanted. Firmly I decided that my next challenge was climbing Matterhorn.
My decission was made, and I had less than three months to get ready and plan every single
thing. The planning was not easy at all, especially considering the fact that from my country
no one had climbed that mountain before. The lack of information became a huge barrier
since I could not find any information form our neigbourng countries either.
Above all, the financial support was something I really needed in order to go further with my
planning, so I decided to call Rudolf Winkler the beloved person of my late father. He was
there for me, ready to help, so I could at least pay the guide in advance. It was Rudolf`s
hand that opened the door to me so I could make my dream come true. His help felt
amazing beacuse it felt like it was coming from my late father. I was happy and ready.
On 18th of July I arrived in Zermatt. I spent a night there and the next day I took gondola which takes you up to 3900m. From there, with a slow pace I reached the Breithom peak 4164m/alt, which is known as the easiest one in the Alps mountain range and it lies above 4000m altitude. This mountain is a glacier, but it was the only option for me for a short acclimatization. The climbing up and down lasted for 1 hour and 40 minutes. On the same day I took gondola to the next stop in Schwarsee (2583m/alt). From there I walked another 700m to go to Hornli Hutt 3217m/alt which took me 2 hours – this place is the starting point of Matterhorn climbing. It was a very busy day, but I loved the whole experience.
As Matterhorn climbing day was getting closer and closer my feeling started to get super mixed. I felt a little bit of everything: courage, fear, desire and curiosity.
Around 14:00 I arrived in Hornli Hutt where the guide Walter Rossini was waiting for me. He was the guide that I had contacted before I left from Kosovo. Walter seemed worried, because an important part of climbing Matterhorn is the climbing trainings you have to do together with the guide. This way the guide will be able to evaluate your skills and experience. Everything seemed even more difficult to him knowing that I was not even acclimatised.
At the end we came to an agreement that if I will not be in a good shape during the climb, I will get back down without contradicting him.
After we had dinner that day, it was time for some rest. I slept in a room with 10 beds, where each hiker was in a different stage of the jurney. Some of them were waiting for tomorrow to join us, whereas some of them had finished it already. This hut was extremely good, and everything was perfectly organised, but of course it’s something you expected in Switzerland. This stay was amazing because I got away with a lot of lessons. I got to know how to better manage the time as a hiker, how to be precise in thins, and how to respect regulations set by the hut and especially the guide you are with. I consider myself lucky to have had such guide as Walter Rossini. He was very well prepared and made me feel great during our climb.
On the 20th of July at 3 am the alarm went on, it was the time. We woke up, ate breakfast and got ready for the climb. Since the guide was still hesitating due to the stpes I had not completed, he decided to start climbing after all other hikers do. Everyone started climbing at 3.45am whereas we started at 4:20am.
It was a dark night, and after we had passed a short pace of snow, we climbed up with a rope and began climbing. The more we walked, the climbin route became harder and hrader, but everything was kept under control and I stayed very calm. I climbed the rocks by safely using the ropes that were fixed before in order to help us make our way to the summit. This way we managed to stay safe during all our climb.
Considering the fact that we were the last ones to start the climb, we were among the fastest. On our way we were passing by many climbers who were ahead of us, but it was still early to say that everything would be fine. After 2 hours of a great effort we arrived to Solvay Hut, but it usually takes 3 hours to climb up there. The weather was good and you could see a lot, but We did not stay long. I drank water, put some cream on my face, wore my crampons and there we went. My crampons made the climb even more difficult, since we had to walk in stones and ice, adding the fact that this was my first time experiecing such a climb did not help. I did it, but of course I do not recommend the others to take the routw without all the needed steps, it`s dangerous, even though I felt safe and got used to it very quickly.
The climb to Solvay Hut was quite hard due to the glacial conditions, vertical climbing, and falling rocks. All together made me walk really slow. Whenever I turned my head I saw the giant wall we were leaving behind, but then I knew we were getting closer to the peak. St. Bernard’s Statue was my first notifier that made me aware that we had already reached the peak. Only a short part of the route and we were at the ridge. When at the ridge, we faced a strong wind, but this wind could`t minimize the amazing feeling I had while walking through the narrow ridge. A beautiful long ridge with a path that fits only one person in a row.
Despite the great exposure I felt no fear, I was the happiest person to stand on the top of this great pyramid, which seemed impossible to reach when I saw it from below. After I took some photos and videos, of course, we went to the Italian border which is identified with a cross at the top.
You might of heard from many climbers that climbing down is always more difficult than climbing up, and this fact made me stop because I did not know if I can do it. I was looking at it and it was so steep but we had no choice, did we? We had to go down. I had never seen such mountain as Matterhorn. I started to climb down with rope or rappelling which was another difficult situattion for me. This was a challenge because my crampons were touching the rocks I was not able to see from above. I managed to stay focused and everything started to take its place. Slowly and safely I was going down.
All this magnificent climbing was completed within 10 hours (climbing up and down).
Successfully climbing Matterhorn did not only gave me the victory of climbing, but it also gave me the feeling of winning the golden medal, since because of it I became part of Kosovo Everest Expedition 2017.
So far I do not have any information for any other woman from the Balkans that has successfully climbed Matterhorn. I would love to know that I am not alone!
In order to feel Matterhorn closer to you, you can find it in Toblerone chocolate too. If you look it closer you will also fins a hidden bear drawn inside it.
Mountains are like chocolates!