Two epochs have made the Monte Rosa what it is today. First there were the pioneering days, when Alexander Seiler took over a modest wooden chalet in 1853. As a regular lodging for climbers, the Monte Rosa becomes the cradle of the golden age of Alpinism. It is from here that Edward Whymper, since 1860 a regular guest at the hotel, sets out on 13 July 1865 for the summit of the Matterhorn. His spectacular first ascent brings worldwide fame to the Monte Rosa.
The second key period is the belle époque, around the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. It was a time of lustrous dance evenings, opulent buffets and sophisticated five o'clock teas. The Monte Rosa, long since transformed into a luxury hotel, experienced its heyday.
The lust for adventure and a cultivated, easy conviviality: that is the fabric the Monte Rosa is still made of today. The mountain landscape still offers fantastic diversions, the Monte Rosa is still the place where people come to meet. And binding them all together is the hospitality of the Seiler family.
Zermatt, July 1865. In a parlour of the Hotel Monte Rosa a young Englishman and his six companions are poring over a map. The young man is Edward Whymper, and he is here to climb the Matterhorn. The ambitious mountaineer has already made seven failed attempts to conquer the colossal mountain.
Yet this time the odds are in his favour. On 14 July 1865, Whymper with his climbing party is the first man to reach the summit of the Matterhorn. His triumph is overshadowed by a tragic accident, however. On the descent, four of the men fall to their deaths from the north face of the mountain.
The story brings world fame not only to the young climber but also to Zermatt and the Hotel Monte Rosa. This one-time lodging for climbers now becomes one of the best addresses in Zermatt.
It is this legacy that lends the Monte Rosa its special magic. The hotel still exudes the pioneering spirit of those first mountaineers, their courage and faith in their own fortitude.
Tip: Whymper’s story is brought to life in this short film.
150 years first ascent of the Matterhorn
The original guest book from 1865