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Customer Spotlight: Roger Beaudoin’s Matterhorn Obsession

Posted by Jim Darroch on July 16, 2012

Traveling is always an eye-opening experience but for long-time EMS customer, Roger Beaudoin, a simple road trip sparked an obsession that has defined his life. In the summer of 1988, Roger was living in Milan, Italy and decided to take a trip to Zermatt, Switzerland to ski the glaciers there. “I was immediately inspired by the town full of climbers wearing ropes and carrying axes en-route for 4,000 meter peak adventures. I became obsessed with the Matterhorn after a five-hour trek to its base wearing just a t-shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes. I vowed to someday return to climb the mountain.”

After moving back to the U.S., Roger turned to the Eastern Mountain Sports Climbing School in North Conway, NH. “I’ve been a many time repeat client on Cathedral Ledge, Whitehorse and Square Ledges,” Roger explains, “The school taught me anchors and protection, rope skills, proper technique and safety.”

In 1993, Roger put his new skills to the test with an assault on Matterhorn but was unable to summit due to dangerous conditions but his disappointment fueled him to fulfill a different dream. Two years later, Roger opened a 300 seat restaurant and bar at the base of Sunday River Ski Area in Bethel, Maine. Naturally, Roger named his establishment The Matterhorn which he still owns and manages today and was named 1 of 4 Classic Ski Bars by SKI Magazine in November of 2011.

One year after opening The Matterhorn, Roger was ready for another attempt on his prized peak but was once again turned back by conditions that were too perilous to challenge. For most people, the dream would have ended there. Roger simply kept looking forward. In 1998, his dedication paid off: “Finally summiting The Matterhorn was an indescribable feeling of elation and joy. The last hundred yards up a steep snowfield are an exertion at altitude and you think you’ll never get there. I reached the summit and immediately started shouting ‘That’s Great! That’s Great!’ Then I started crying–overcome with intense emotions.”

Even as he savored the greatest triumph of his life, Roger felt he was not through with The Matterhorn. “The feeling was surreal,” he says. “I knew I had to someday do it again.” Nine years and several 4,000 meter peaks later (including North Face, Breithorn, Leiterspitzen, Breithorn Traverse, and Grand Teton), Roger was training with a friend for a second attempt on his favorite peak when he had a freak rock climbing accident. Roger fell 60 feet from the cliff below and completely shattered his left heel.

“Miraculously, I didn’t die or become paralyzed, but I ended up with 18 months of recovery, rehab, and a bone infection. All of which put the Matterhorn climb off until 2011.” With less time for training and a short weather window, two of Roger’s climbing partners turned back due to altitude sickness. “I was only running on 4 cylinders and fatigued from lack of acclimatization, but I was hellbent on getting to the top as I wanted to leave a few personal mementos buried in the summit snow for my father who passed away in May. When I reached the top, the same incredible elation overcame me.  As I buried the objects, I broke down crying from the grief that was not fully released from my father’s passing.”

No matter what your “Matterhorn” is, I hope Roger’s story of profound determination inspires you to keep after it, and if you ever find yourself in Bethel, Maine be sure to pay Roger a visit at his Matterhorn and tell him Jim from Eastern Mountain Sports sent you.

View the original article on the EMS Blog.