The name Taugwalder is closely linked to the history of alpinism and the village of Zermatt.
Especially because of the first ascent of the Matterhorn and its dramatic history, the name became famous beyond the country's borders.
The first known tourist visited Zermatt in the summer of 1758 in search of unique alpine herbs. Until 1820 however very few tourists, apart from a few botanists and mineralogists, traveled to Zermatt. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that Zermatt developed into the centre of alpinism. The mountains around Zermatt lost their myth as the dwelling place of demons and were climbed for the first time one after the other. The first hotels were built and more and more guests visited Zermatt during the summer to admire nature or to climb one of the numerous four-thousand-metre peaks. Zermatt's summer tourism received a further boost when the railway from Visp to Zermatt started operating in 1891 and the Gornergrat railway opened in 1898. Winter tourism did not appear until the beginning of the 20th century.
The mountain guides Peter Taugwalder father and son successfully led the Englishmen around Edward Whymper to the top of the Matterhorn on 14 July 1865 and brought Whymper back to the village in one piece after the shocking accident during the descent. Father and son Taugwalder, who had to endure much during their lifetime, only gained the esteem they deserved after their deaths.
But the first ascent of the Matterhorn is a story for itself, about which you can learn more below.
He grew up in the mountain village of Zermatt, which was characterised by sun, storm and snow. He was full of joie de vivre and was a talented craftsman. The mountains as his home, a happy environment, his dry sense of humour and his own achievements shaped his personality. His vocation, however, was mountaineering.
He stood on the summit of the Matterhorn more than 150 times, climbed the Eiger North Face as second and traversed the Matterhorn North Face as fourth. In addition to these prestigious ascents, Alexander Taugwalder undertook countless extremely challenging and unique tours with his guests or fellow mountain guides. He also had a keen sense of observation, so he discovered various veins of lazulith and was a talented nature photographer. He was often invited to hotels to exhibit his photos. On June 26th 1952, Alexander Taugwalder died together with his friend Adolf Schmutz while descending the east face of the Monte Rosa massif. He was killed by falling chunks of ice.
Why the otherwise so careful and thoughtful mountain guide descended at the dangerous time of noon, what caused a delay, remains one of the many mysteries of the mountains.
The Hotel Pollux was built in 1894 by Gabriel Taugwalder and his siblings and was then called "Taugwalder Haus". In the beginning the Taugwalder family rented the house to Hermann Seiler and used it as a private residence. In the mid 1930s, the name was changed to Hotel Pollux, as it was customary to name the hotels after one of the mountains in the area. In 1955, Otto Taugwalder and his sister Agathe extended the hotel to the north-west and named it Hotel Pollux-Nordend. This extension was designed by the well-known Zurich architect Dr. Fietz, who also designed the Gornergrat railway station. The new hotel was the first in Zermatt to have a private bathroom in every room. In 1977, the original "Taugwalder Haus" and part of the new extension were demolished and today's Hotel Pollux was built.
The old "Penison Fluhalp" was opened in 1890. It is located 100 metres behind the current Fluhalp and is still visible. It consisted of a wooden main building and two small stone outbuildings. The reason for building this hut was the emerging alpinism. The Fluhalp was considered the starting point for the ascent of several four-thousand-metre peaks, including the Rimpfischhorn and Strahlhorn. In 1938 the Taugwalder family and two other families built the present Fluhalp. The old hut no longer met the needs of the guests, so the owners decided to build a new hut. The current location was chosen as the construction site so that the Matterhorn could be admired and the hut could be better connected to the ski slope. It was built entirely of wood because one of the families involved owned a sawmill in the village. The wood was transported from Zermatt to the Fluhalp with mules. In the last 15 years, Hans Taugwalder bought the shares of the other owner families, so that today he is the sole owner of the Fluhalp.