For many years there has been a special category of mountains in the Alps whose ascent has an extra charge: that of the “four-thousanders”. These are the mountains in the Alps that rise above the magical 4000 meter altitude and are spread over three countries: France, Italy and Switzerland. As beautiful as the Austrian Alps are, “four-thousanders” cannot be found in Austria, or Slovenia for that matter.
Where can I find “four-thousanders”?
Most four-thousand-plus-meter peaks can be in Switzerland, followed by France and than Italy. Most of these mountains are actually part of the natural borders between the countries. Examples are the Mont Blanc (Italy & France), Matterhorn (Switzerland and Italy, where it’s called Monte Cervino), Dufourspitze (Switzerland & Italy), Grand Combin (Switzerland and Italy) and Grand Jorasses (Italy and France).
Some others are quite isolated: the Barre des Ecrins (France), Gran Paradiso (Italy) and Piz Bernina (Switzerland) are the only mountains in their mountain range that are “four-thousanders”.
|Mont Blanc de Courmayeur||4765||Italy|
|Dom de Mischabel||4545||Switzerland|
|Dome du Gouter||4304||France/Italy|
|Mont Blanc du Tacul||4248||France|
|Aiguilles du Diable||4114||France|
|Aiguille Blanche de Peuterey||4112||France|
|Barre des Ecrins||4102||France|
|Aiguille de Bionnassay||4052||France/Italy|
|Dôme de Neige des Ecrins||4015||France|
|Dent du Géant||4013||France|
|Aiguille de Rochefort||4001||France|
The height does not say everything about the difficulty of climbing these mountains – neither does the absolute altitude. For example, climbing the Matterhorn is more difficult than reaching the top of Mont Blanc, while the Eiger and Grivola are also known for the difficult routes to the top (even though slightly below 4000 meters).
Some four-thousanders are quite remote. For example, the Schreckhorn, Lauteraarhorn and Finsteraarhorn have a significant approach route. Others can be reached almost directly from a cable car or make the first part of the climb considerably easier. The Jungfrau, Weissmies and Allalinhorn are all fairly easy to reach thanks to cable cars or trains that reach an altitude of more than 3200 meters.