The Matterhorn accident — My Theory

The accident was not caused by a climber falling

How did I come to that idea? Surprisingly, I used Edward Whymper's very own reasoning to evolve my theory of the accident. Whymper discovered the secret to climbing the Matterhorn by thinking about the angle of the rock strata that formed the mountain. He noted the strata dipped from north to south, and dipped at an even greater angle from east to west. He reasoned that because of the strata dip, the east face was likely to form a natural staircase and be easy to climb. This proved to be true.

Because of the strata dip, the west face would appear similar to tiles on a sloping roof. But what had anything about the west face to do with where the accident took place on the north face?

The climb began on the the east face but a cliff barred their ascent. This required them to traverse across the north face. There was a gap in the north face cliff which they then climbed and this gave them easy access to the summit.

But consider the gap in the cliff and how it came to be there. It suggests there was, or had been, a weakness in the otherwise solid cliff wall. The cliff at this point had fallen away, i.e., avalanched. Possibly, avalanching still occurred in this gap and that an avalanche was the cause of the accident, and not a climber having fallen.

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