»Located: Valais, Switzerland / Valle d’Aosta, Italy
»Height: 4478 meters
»First climbed by: M. Croz, F. Douglas, D.R. Hadow, C. Hudson, P. Taugwalder (Sr. & Jr.), E. Whymper
»Year: July 14, 1865
The Matterhorn is located at the very end of the Matter Valley and is without a doubt one of the most famous mountains in the world. The Matterhorn is certainly a challenging mountain, where you have to climb more technically than on the Mont Blanc and the height is still considerable.
More than 500 people have died on the simplest route in 150 years, putting the Matterhorn very high in the list of deadliest mountains in the Alps.
Climbing the Matterhorn in bad weather is dangerous, but unfortunately the weather is not always predictable. The Matterhorn is a fairly prominent mountain, which in this case means it rises well above its immediate surroundings. Both build-up from the south and from the north cause a lot of precipitation. Matterhorn is known to have very unpredictable weather.
Falling rocks and snow avalanches also thunder over the steep slopes, trying to drag everything along in their fall. The fog makes it difficult to see the sharp ridge and it becomes slippery – there is no hiding on this mountain, except in the Solvay hut at 4003 meters (on the Hörnli ridge) or Rifugio Carrel (on the Lion’s ridge).
In addition, the condition of the mountain continues to deteriorate as a result of climate change.
In 2003, the Matterhorn was the first mountain where climbing was temporarily banned due to the melting of the permafrost and the resulting avalanches. The long slopes of the Matterhorn offer little cover against these avalanches.
On the first ascent of the Matterhorn, 4 of the 6 climbers died, because 1 person fell and dragged the rest with him. Eventually the rope broke, leaving the other 2 to survive.
Climbing the Matterhorn via the normal route from Zermatt
The easiest route is classified as ‘difficult’. The route is not only difficult, but also very long. It is advisable to find a guide to climb with, for example via the Alpincenter Zermatt. Climbing the Matterhorn (with 1 guide for 1 person due to the difficulty) costs 1177CHF (2021 level). This is for peak-climbing only: not including preparatory climbs which might require guidance as well.
It does include one certified guide, but without the costs of cable cars, acclimatization tours, rental of equipment, extra insurance and the costs of the mountain huts.
The schedule looks something like this: the guide meets the climber (as said 1-on-1) the night before the climb in the Matterhorn hut. After a short night the ascent starts in the dark. The ascent takes quite a few hours, mainly depending on how well you can climb. The ascent via the Hörnli ridge is difficult and long, with over 1350m of vertical rise over a very short distance. Make sure you are already acclimatized beforehand to avoid altitude sickness. The ascent is difficult and intended for experienced climbers. So get that experience! There are no hiking trails on the Matterhorn. It is called climbing for a very good reason.
The normal route to the runs over the Hörnli Grat, from Zermatt. From the Hörnli Hut (synonymous with Matterhorn Hut) you have to climb another 1,350 vertical meters to reach the top. The height and length makes the concentration decrease, while the mountain gets more difficult the closer you get to the top. A dangerous combination, especially on the descent.
Overigens schrijf ik wel “de normaalroute”, maar feitelijk zijn er 4 normaalroutes: de genoemde Hörnli-graat, de Cresta del Lione (zie volgende kop), de Zmuttgraat en de zuidgraat via Pic Tyndall.
Climbing the Matterhorn from Cervinia (Italy)
It is of course also possible to climb the Matterhorn from the Italian side, from Cervinia. From this side, climbing the Matterhorn via the Lion’s Ridge is slightly cheaper, namely 1100 EUR. The other price level in Italy is also slightly more favourable: food, mountain huts and local transport. They do change the name of the mountain though: Monte Cervino in Italian.
Approach from the Italian side is usually experienced as even more difficult, especially because the run-up is longer. However, this can be solved by going to Rifugio Orionde (2802m) by car. The advantage on this side of the Matterhorn is that this side is less crowded and there are also fewer snowfields. Another advantage may be that the south wall is slightly warmer than the north wall.
Of course you can also make a traverse: climb on the Italian side and descend in Switzerland, or vice versa.
The best period to climb the Matterhorn is from the beginning of July to the middle of September, but of course this is highly dependent on the weather conditions.
Matterhorn in brief: summary
Can you climb Matterhorn without a guide?
Yes you could. But it isn’t recommendable. I would recommend to always use a local guide. They know their way and have best access to local support when things turn out badly.
How high is Matterhorn?
With 4478 meters or 14691ft, Matterhorn is one of the highest mountains of Switzerland. But not the highest: the Dufourspitze, Mischabel, Weisshorn, Nadelhorn and Lyskamm are all higher
How many routes are there?
4 different routes from 4 different sides. All quite long & technically challenging.
Are Monte Cervino and Matterhorn the same?
Yes, both are the same mountains. On the Italian side it’s called Monte Cervino, on the Swiss side the German Matterhorn is used.
Deze iconische berg staat op mijn bucketlist, al heb ik hier nog heel wat technische oefening voor nodig.