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The Kitten That Climbed the Matterhorn

June 16, 2015

Today’s edition of Cool History Facts is the tale of a fearless feline that may have possibly climbed an infamous mountain in 1950.

Centered in the Swiss Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy, the Matterhorn is gorgeous, foreboding, and served as inspiration to artists, novelists, and Walt Disney (it’s the basis for the Matterhorn roller coaster). It’s a tough mountain to climb, too—some have tried, some have failed, and some have died while attempting this brave feat. Since 1865, more than 500 climbers have reportedly died on the slopes of the Matterhorn.

Cool History Facts: Cat That Climbed the Matterhorn

Matt was not one them. In 1950, newspapers around the world reported that this then 10-month old kitten reached the top of the mountain. But how much of this incredible tale is grounded in reality? If sources including the The Sydney Morning Herald and The Times of London are to be believed, Matt lived in the Hotel Belvedere, which once sat on the mountain’s Hörnli Ridge. It was a launching point for many climbs and the kitten spent his days watching dozens of mountaineers set off on their perilous journeys. One morning at dawn, or so the story goes, Matt decided to launch his own one kitty expedition, setting out after an expedition group. He tried to keep up with them before setting off on his own.

Allegedly, Matt spent his first night at the Solvay Hut, a small refuge for climbers at 12,556 feet. The following night, he holed up in a gully just above the shoulder. The next morning, a group of surprised climbers spotted him and figured that there was no way that Matt would be able to scale the mountain’s notoriously dangerous final slopes.

Later that day, they found the kitten waiting for them at the peak. Shocked, they shared their food with Matt before one of the climbers placed him in his backpack and carried him back down the Italian side of the Matterhorn. He was later returned to the Hotel Belvedere where he lived out the rest of the days (and never again scaled the mountain).

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