Switzerland’s most famous and iconic mountain has been climbed by Pippa Middleton, younger sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, in a charity ascent led by mountain guides.
It is the second time in four months that the 32-year-old writer, party planner, adventurer and socialite has taken on some of the biggest sporting challenges in the Swiss Alps.
Pippa Middleton reached the summit of the 4,478-metre peak towering over Zermattexternal link in under four hours, according to Swiss and British news reports on Sunday. That's a relatively quick ascent. She started out from the Hörnli hut at 3:50am, the standard time when the first guides out each day begin to leave with their roped clients. The technical descent takes several more hours.
Here's what the summit looks like:
She was accompanied on Saturday's climb by her younger brother, James Middleton, who is 29. They both climbed it in support of a foundation created to honor the deceased brother of Pippa Middleton’s future husband, James Matthews.
The foundation is named for Michael Matthewsexternal link, who was killed at the age of 22 whilst descending from the summit of Mount Everest in May 1999 – just after becoming the youngest Briton to have reached the top of the world’s highest peak.
James Matthews did not go along on the climb because for him mountaineering brings painful memories, his fiancée was quoted as saying.
The Middleton siblings first acclimatised by climbing the nearby 4,164-metre Breithorn, which has both easily accessible and more technically difficult routes to the summit.
In April, Pippa Middleton successfully completed the Patrouille des Glaciersexternal link ski mountaineering race, one of Switzerland’s most prestigious. The challenging course runs over 53 kilometres from Zermatt to Verbier, with a total elevation gain of 8,000 metres.
British holidays in Switzerland
It also could be said that Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, cemented their love in Switzerland, where the couple’s first public kiss was snapped by British tabloids in 2006 on the slopes at Klosters, where the British royal family have been spending Easter holidays for some 40 years.
Britain’s new prime minister, Theresa May, has reportedly said she has been most happy when she and her husband were hiking in Switzerland. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also used to spend time in the Swiss Alps.
The fledgling Swiss tourist industry was unleashed by British climber Edward Whymper’s historic first ascent of the Matterhorn 151 years ago, when he lived to tell the tragic tale with the help of father-son Zermatt mountain guides Peter Taugwalder Snr. and Jnr.
Most of the first tourists came from Britain, but some from Germany also came. Switzerland and Britain share a love of tradition and history, along with strong business and sporting ties – it was the British who were the first tourists to ski at St Moritz.