Host City: Los Angeles, United States
Venue(s): Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
Date Started: August 14, 1932
Date Finished: August 14, 1932
Sitting on the border of Switzerland and Italy, the Matterhorn was the last great Alpine peak to be successfully climbed, on 14 July 1865. But nobody had yet ascended via the north face of the mountain, via a huge wall. Two German brothers, who had cycled from München, decided to climb it, but had not publicly announced it. The two brothers, Franz and Toni Schmid, managed to master the rock wall, reaching the top on 1 August 1931. The IOC decided to award this performance with a gold medal during its session at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932. German IOC member [Theodor Lewald] accepted the prize in the absence of the two climbers. On 5 September 1932, Lewald handed out the prize in a special ceremony in München. The younger brother, Toni had already died before the Los Angeles Olympics, falling to his death while attempting to climb the Wiesbachhorn in the Austrian Hohe Tauern, so his medal was presented to their father. Toni was an educated construction engineer, Franz became a police inspector in Neuhaus in Schliersee.
At their trip to the Matterhorn in 1931, the Schmids had been accompanied by two friends, who decided at the last minute not to climb with them due to bad weather. Both of them would still find their place in Olympic history, though. Besides remaining a noted mountaineer, Hans Ertl became cameraman (and, allegedly, lover) of controversial and influential director Leni Riefenstahl. Among others, he was the chief cameraman for Olympia, her two-part masterpiece about the 1936 Olympics. Franz had also climbed the north face of the Ortler together with Hans Ertl on 22 June 1931. At the 1936 Games, the fourth friend was also involved\: Ernst Krebs won a gold medal in the 10,000 m K1 (kayak). In 1998, German journalist Imke Habegger described the ascent of the north wall in their article on 31 December in the “General-Anzeiger” of Bonn\: Sleepless on the Icy Rock Needle. The Munich Brothers Franz and Toni Schmid Conquered the Dangerous North Face of the Matterhorn.