Edinburgh boy, 11, becomes youngest person to climb Matterhorn

The treacherous ascent claims about 12 lives a year.

By Elsa Maishman
Monday, 13th July 2020, 7:30 am

An 11-year-old boy from Edinburgh has become the youngest person to climb the Matterhorn, often labelled the deadliest summit in the world.

Jules Molyneaux, 11, climbed the Alpine peak on Wednesday with his father Chris, 43, and two local guides.

The challenge is notoriously dangerous, and around 12 climbers a year lose their lives in the attempt.

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Climbing the Matterhorn has been a dream for 11-year-old Jules.

On the day of Jules and his fathers’ attempt a German climber who set out with them was killed.

The 55-year-old, who was on the way down from the summit with two others, died after a fall of 200 metres.

Jules had been training for the challenge for two years, and his father said he was ‘completely focused’ on safety throughout the trip and was ready to turn back at any time if he felt Jules was in danger.

Local guides generally do not allow children under 16 to attempt the climb, and Jules had to undergo a series of fitness and skill tests to convince them he was capable.

Swiss guides Daniel and Bastian were 'amazing', Chris said.

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When he reached the Matterhorn museum afterwards, Jules was told he had become the youngest person to achieve the feat.

The previous record holder was 12, and Anastasia Brajovic, 13, held the title of youngest Briton to reach the summit.

Jules and his father left their hut at base camp at 4am, and reached the summit after four hours before returning to the hut for 1pm.

Jules 'got away with' telling a few jokes on the way up.

Jules, a weekly boarder at Ardvreck School in Crieff, carried his school flag all the way to the top.

There was no chance to celebrate however as he and his father were concentrated on getting back down safely.

When they did arrive at the bottom they toasted their success with a Fanta, Jules’ favourite drink.

"It’s not to be taken lightly, we trained really, really hard for two years,” Chris said.

The training has given father and some the chance to spend quality time together.

"But it was really fun, it’s like a puzzle, figuring out all the holes.”

It is believed that around 500 climbers have been killed on the Matterhorn, and a graveyard at the bottom holds ‘dozens and dozens’ of their graves, Chris said.

"Even if you’re a professional climber you should go with a guide. I guess that’s why no other 11-year-old had climbed it before,” he added.

Despite the danger, Jules was not afraid during the climb.

"You don’t really have the time to be scared,” he said.

"You’re just focused on 30 centimetres in front of you."

The climb affords stunning views to the valley below.

Jules said he was feeling ‘quite tired’ after his climb, and relieved that he faces no more training in the near future.

"It’s been really difficult, but the more I trained the easier it got,” he said.

He practised by scaling mountains around Scotland and the Alps, and even on the stairs at home in Edinburgh, climbing up and down 200 times wearing an altitude training mask.

The hardest part of the climb was the very top, he said, where there is a portion of very steep snow, and he was already feeling tired.

Local guides Daniel and Bastian insisted the pair remain focused throughout the climb, taking photographs so that Jules and his father would not be distracted by doing so themselves, and discouraging any joking around.

"They were amazing, they know the Matterhorn inside out,” said Chris.

The climb requires intense levels of fitness and concentration.