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Europe, Switzerland, "Feliz qui potuit. . . ."

“Felix qui potuit.…" What seems to have been the most widely reported Alpine ascent in 1950 was made by a cat. “C’est un chat comme tous les autres chats,” writes “Z.” in La Cordée (March 1951), “un matou de 8 mois, noir et blanc, assez fort pour son âge.” In August he followed a party to the Hörnli Hotel and took up residence there. Shortly after September 1st he set out, unroped, for the Solvay Hut, where he apparently spent the night. Thence he made his way—“sans se servir des cordes fixes”—to the Shoulder and the summit of the Matterhorn. Here the available reports begin to differ. According to the United Press, he reached the top ahead of a party that had seen him lower down, and then, quite on his own initiative, started the descent to the Italian hut. According to La Cordée, an Italian guide found him “miaulant au pied de la croix” and carried him down to the hut in his sack. According to the Saturday Review of Literature, he (or, rather, in this version, she) started down the other side and then was rescued, from a steep rock face, by an Italian guide.* In any case, though there have been many climbing dogs, before and after Coolidge’s Tschingel, it remained for this matou to accomplish the first four- footed solo ascent of the Matterhorn.

*Horace Sutton, “Young Man with a Matterhorn,” S. R. L., 21 Oct. 1950, pp. 40-41 —a generally bloodcurdling piece that compares the Matterhorn to “Bob Hope’s proboscis” and climbing it to “a sort of Russian roulette.”