Climbing the Matterhorn aged just 15 -

a dream fulfilled in record time

Climbing the Matterhorn was 15-year-old Hermann Biner's heart's desire. However, as the boy from Zermatt didn't have enough money for a guide, it remained just a dream for a long time. But then, one morning, the moment arrived when one of the mountain guides attached him to his rope. The pair climbed the Matterhorn at lightning speed and set a record that stood for nearly 60 years.

Peak performer

The slightly-built Hermann Briner was in peak condition when he conquered the Matterhorn. His stamina had been hard-earned: at a time when there were still very few cable cars in the area, nearly every day the teenager carried food supplies from Zermatt to the Hörnlihütte mountain hut - at about 3200 metres. And that was on foot, with his rucksack, note.

From a boyhood dream to a record-breaking climb

In the early morning of 15 August 1953, there was a death on the Matterhorn. The strongest mountain guide, Alfons Lerjen, was ordered to recover the body. After performing this mournful task, it was too late to guide anyone else up to the summit. And so it was that the expert climber allowed himself to be persuaded by young Hermann to take him up the Matterhorn.

In the hope that the whippersnapper would soon run out of breath, the experienced guide set a fast pace. But his strategy failed, because Hermann was absolutely bursting with energy. Just 1 hour and 45 minutes later, the mismatched pair reached the summit. And by 11 o'clock, three hours after setting off, they were already back at the hut. It is all the more amazing when you think that this climb usually takes about 10 hours. Their record stood for nearly sixty years.

Only in 2011 did two young guides from Zermatt, equipped with all the latest kit, manage to knock a few minutes off it.

Hermann Biner, a Zermatt institution

Even in later life, Hermann Biner was still full of vigour. In 1968, when he was 30 years old, he and his wife Ida set about building a mountain hut in Furi. This was the beginnings of what is now the Hotel Silvana, today enthusiastically managed by the third generation of Biners.

By the way, Michael Prodinger, our F & B Manager at Sunstar Zermatt, is also a member of the Biner family. He's bound to know lots more exciting stories from the Biner family history – why not ask him yourself!