HERVÉ BARMASSE “CERVINO”
THE LEGENDARY MOUNTAIN
Imposing and lonely, with the perfect shape of a pyramid, at 4,478 meters (13,780 feet) the Matterhorn towers over the Pennine Alps at the bottom of Valtournenche. Long considered impregnable, its myth was born with the first ascent in 1865 and quickly spread around the world, making it a legendary peak. For 160 years it has attracted climbers and mountaineers from countries near and far with an undeniable magnetism, arousing a mixture of respect, awe and fascination that make it a unique and coveted destination for tourists and mountaineers. But not only that. Its popularity and history have made it the most beautiful and near-perfect mountain symbol and icon; the Shivling is the Matterhorn of India, the Ama Dablam of Nepal, the Alpamayo of the Andes, the Masherbrum of the Karakoram. All of them refer to the Matterhorn.
With the first ascent in 1865, all the most prestigious peaks in the Alps had been climbed. In the meantime, mountaineering was entering a new era; after the early one, motivated by scientific reasons, and the later one, characterized by the desire for conquest, the phase of sport-exploratory mountaineering was beginning to take shape. The growing desire for adventure and the challenge to the limits of climbing prompted mountaineers to attempt to reach mountains already climbed by different, more difficult routes deemed impossible by previous generations. And then there remained to climb all the lesser peaks, the more vertical and overhanging ones. With this in mind, the Alps still have a great deal to offer, and the Matterhorn, after the epic of the conquest, once again became one of the most sought-after destinations, with its six ridges, four walls and walls within walls-a palmares that even today few mountaineers can boast of.
Born and raised at the foot of the Matterhorn, in a family in which the mountain guide profession has been handed down for four generations, Hervé Barmasse, mountaineer, writer, mountain film director, and mountain guide, is the only person to have climbed all six ridges solo. An intimate and deep bond binds him to his home mountain, which he first climbed at age 16. On the Gran Becca, between first solo ascents, first winter ascents and new routes, he is the mountaineer with the most exploits to his credit and the only one, after Walter Bonatti, to have opened a new route solo. And it was through mountaineering, and his encounter with the Matterhorn, that the mountaineer from Valle d’Aosta created a close relationship with nature.
Starting with his latest book, Matterhorn. The Legendary Mountain, the summer 2023 exhibition at the National Mountain Museum and the IREN Alpine House at the Ceresole Reale Dam in Gran Paradiso Park aims to tell the story of the most iconic mountain in the Alps through the eyes of a mountaineer and trace the history of its ascents to the present day through historical materials from the Museum’s Documentation Center and other archives, including Sella Foundation of Biella, Archiv des Deutschen Alpenvereins of Munich, Matterhorn Mountain Guide Society Archives, Ragni della Grignetta Archives of Lecco, or from personal collections. The chronological narrative, starting from the first ascent, with photographs, documents, original materials and videos narrates the exploits of the protagonists, while an immersive projection, curated by auroraMeccanica, makes visitors relive the fascination of the iconogrthe myth of the Matterhorn.
aphy that saw the birth and nurtured
The exhibition tour is accompanied by testimonies from journalist and writer Enrico Camanni, who also contributed to the development of the contents of the exhibition; Luciano Bolzoni, architect, architectural historian and director of Alpes; and Michele Freppaz, pedologist and snow scientist from the University of Turin.
The exhibition is aimed at the cultural enhancement of the practice of Mountaineering, following its inscription as a UNESCO Intangible Heritage Site at the end of 2019, for which Museomontagna has prepared the international candidacy dossier. The project is implemented under the umbrella of the WeClub project. Mountaineering: loves, respects, communicates by the Italian Alpine Club and funded by the Ministry of Culture from the funds of Law February 20, 2006, No. 77 “Special measures for the protection and enjoyment of Italian sites and elements of cultural, landscape and environmental interest, included in the “World Heritage List,” placed under UNESCO protection.”