DAY 4: By Alexander Erica
Tuesday night we all prepared our gear for the following day to the Matterhorn Glacier. We were given mountaineering boots, tents, mats, sleeping bags, cooking gear, harnesses, food, a Werner knife and new Petzl headlamps ! All of this equiptment we packed in our backpacks and took with us the following day to Zermatt and the Matterhorn Glacier.
Wednesday, we ate breakfast around 5 am and we were on our way by 6am. The team from the Mayo Clinic gave half of us arm bands to wear, which took measurements of our energy expended throughout our time at higher elevations.
The other half wore wrist bands with a finger clip that measured oxygen levels and pulse rate while sleeping at 3,750 m (approx. 12,000 ft). We left Château-d ‘ Oex in the rain and after 2 ½ hours by car, 20 minute train ride to Zermatt and three cabel cars up the mountain, it was blizzarding. We set up the tents inside the building and then walked them outside into the storm to set them up. The wind was very strong and our tents were almost being wipped out of our hands as we tried to secure them to the ground with poles and ice piks. It was thrilling…especially for Jye (from Australia) and Robs (from South Africa), who have never seen snow before ! Basil and Leon, from Singapore, have never seen such high and impressive mountains before so this excursion was very new to them and all of the rest of the young explorers.
We slept three to a tent and the Mike Horn team, French guides and French reporters slept in a large neon green, bubble-like tent that took all of us to set up. To weather out the storm, we hunkered down in our tents and tried to boil water for soup with only one lighter that didn’t work at first. However, after warming and drying it in our armpits, we were succesful and happily drank our soup.
At 8 pm the storm passed and we all stepped out of our tents in time to see the sun slowly set behind the majestic Matterhorn. It was a sight we will all remember vividly ! Some of the young explorers were slightly sick from the altitude, however they were able to see the view. After the sun set we all ran to our tents because it became dark very fast. Some of the tent groups were succesful in making noodles for dinner and some ate snacks before we all settled down for a good sleep….or so we thought….The tents were very narrow, wet and cold.
This day was a great experience and challenge for all of us and we all learned a lot from it ! We can’t wait for our next adventure !