American hiker falls to death near iconic Swiss Matterhorn

Police in southern Switzerland say the body of an American hiker who apparently fell nearly 500 feet has been found in the region known for the famed Matterhorn peak. (THOMAS C. GERBER/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A holiday hike against a backdrop of some of the world's most breathtaking geography turned into tragedy for an American who tumbled to his death on steep and slippery terrain in the shadow of the Swiss Alps' iconic Matterhorn, authorities in Switzerland said Wednesday.

The body of 52-year-old man, whose name was not immediately released, was removed via helicopter two days after Monday's fall, police in the southern Valais region said in a report. The report said the man was hiking alone when he fell for "unexplained reasons" along a trail partially covered in snow drifts. The trail was closed to tourists after the fall.

The pyramid-shaped Matterhorn is Europe's most recognizable mountain, and the region near the Italian border is immensely popular with tourists for skiing, hiking and spectacular beauty.

The resort town of Zermatt is accessible only by train but features hundreds of miles of nearby hiking trails. Climbing magazine, in a story last year to mark the 150th anniversary of the Matterhorn's first ascent, said more than 500 people have died on the mountain, an average of three or four per year.


American hiker dies after fall in Swiss Alps

GENEVA -- Police in southern Switzerland say the body of an American hiker who apparently fell nearly 500 feet has been found in the region known for the famed Matterhorn peak.

The cantonal, or regional, police department in the southern Valais region said Wednesday that the accident took place two days earlier near ski slopes above the town of Zermatt. Police say they have identified the man but declined to release his name or home, citing Swiss privacy laws.

The police statement said early indications suggested that the 52-year-old man was hiking alone on a path partially covered by snow and “for an undetermined reason” fell to his death along a steep slope.

Such accidents occur sporadically in Switzerland, a favored destination of hikers, skiers and other tourists.

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