The Matterhorn is the world’s most iconic peak and needs little introduction. The summit stands at 4,478m and its perfect shape dominates the skyline. Climbing the Matterhorn is on the 'must do' list of both aspiring and experienced mountaineers alike. To stand on top of the Matterhorn is a worthy goal and a life-defining experience! At Mountain Tracks we have 20 years of experience on the mountain and a fantastic record of summit success. We offer a tried and tested six-day program which includes all the preparation and acclimatisation necessary for an attempt on this challenging summit.
Nestled on the border between Switzerland and Italy, this huge, roughly hewn rock pyramid serves as a defining landmark. The well documented first ascent is an important milestone in the history of climbing, so for most, the ascent is more than physical challenge it is also a journey of discovery.
Climbing the Matterhorn is committing, this means it is essential you have previous alpine mountaineering experience. Specifically, you are comfortable scrambling on steep rock, have good rope skills and familiarity with using crampons on steep snow and ice, both in ascent and descent. Climbing the Matterhorn is more technical than Mont Blanc, but is an achievable objective for fit climbers with a structured plan of training and acclimatisation.
The route we take is via the Hornli Ridge (AD) from Zermatt. The ascent is only moderately technical but it is a very long rock climb with some steep snow at altitude and plenty of exposure. Climbers must be very sure-footed on steep terrain and have lots of endurance. Our standard programme for climbing the Matterhorn is 6 days with 4 days of acclimatization and preparation - at a maximum guide ratio of 1:2, and 2 days for the Matterhorn ascent, which is guided on a 1:1 ratio only.
The summit day itself is long, with tricky scrambling (up to 4,500m in elevation) and requires commitment and concentration for 8+ hours. The climbing on the Matterhorn is delicate and sustained rather than difficult, so it is essential that the correct preparation has been put in place.
This itinerary is based on spending the first 4 days in the Chamonix area, which in our view offers the best terrain for preparation and acclimatisation. The itinerary is very dependent on the local weather and conditions and your guides may need to alter the programme accordingly.
AM I READY TO CLIMB THE MATTERHORN?
The Hornli Ridge is graded AD and has a vertical ascent of 1300m. Most of the climbing is done with boot soles on dry rock, but crampons are usually worn for the final section to the summit. All climbers attempting the peak need to be comfortable with the environment and well prepared. We advise that climbers should have previously completed a minimum of one week of alpine mountaineering, this experience could have been gained on Mont Blanc or on our Alpine Introduction course. A structured aerobic fitness program before the course starts is highly recommended, this can include hill walking, scrambling, cycling or running. Please see our preparation page for more details.
WHAT IS THE STANDARD OF ACCOMMODATION IN THE HUTS?
The huts are run by full-time staff that looks after us on a half-board basis, the cooking is hearty homemade food. Water, beer, wine and a picnic lunch is available at extra cost. The sleeping quarters are communal.
Day 1 - ARRIVAL IN CHAMONIX
Travel to Chamonix to arrive at our comfortable partner hotel for the 6pm welcome meeting and briefing. There will be a kit check including the option to rent equipment. Stay overnight in Chamonix
Day 2 - FIRST DAY ON ALPINE ROCK
The first day is spent on mountain rock, climbing in the sunny Aiguilles Rouges. This serves as an ideal warm up for the bigger mountains. The training concentrates on technical preparation and surefootedness. Possible routes include the Chapelle de la Glière or the L'Index. The night is spent back in our hotel in Chamonix. Total walking and climbing time is 5-6 hours
Days 3 - 5 - CLIMBING AND ALTITUDE TRAINING
Three days of high altitude climbing, training and acclimatisation with 2 nights spent in a high mountain refuge. Possible routes include:
Dent du Géant (4013)
one of the steepest and most spectacular summits in the Alps. Initially a snow and glacier climb leading to an impressive rock pinnacle. 4-5 hours to the summit
Mont Blanc du Tacul, NW Face (4248m)
a snow and glacier climb with some rock at the end. Mostly low angled with some steeper sections. The ascent from the Aiguille du Midi or from the Refuge des Cosmiques takes about 3-4 hours. The descent takes 2 hours
Aiguille d'Entrèves Traverse (3604m)
Another interesting climb to the summit of this granite spire, most of which is on rock. Towards the summit there is a narrow and exposed ridge. The descent is down the East Ridge. The starting point is either the Aiguille du Midi or the Refugio Torino. The round trip takes approximately 5 hours
Arête des Cosmiques (3800m)
One of the most popular routes in the Mont Blanc Massif. A great mixed and exposed climb on rock, snow and ice usually requiring crampons. The starting point is once again the Aiguille du Midi or Refuge des Cosmiques. The ascent takes 4-5 hours
Day 6 - TRAVEL AND ASCENT TO THE HORNLI HUT
Travel to Zermatt by road (3 hours). On arrival in Zermatt we take the cable car to Schwarzsee and then continue on foot for 2 hours to the newly renovated Hornli hut (3260m). Here we stay the night, fill up on great food and prepare for an early start the next day
Day 7 - ASCENT OF THE MATTERHORN
We begin the climb on the Hornli Ridge at around 4am, the first hour is climbed with head-torches. Halfway up the ridge is a small bivouac shelter called the Solvay refuge, this is a useful staging post to rest and evaluate progress. We reach the summit in a total of 5 hours. The descent is by the same route and again takes around 5 hours. Once back at the Hornli Hut we descend back to to Zermatt and return to Chamonix by road. Overnight back in Chamonix and make your onward travel plans for the following day
Day 8 - Depart after breakfast.
- all guiding fees & expenses for 6 days climbing
- B&b hotel accommodation (twin room) in Chamonix
- Half-board accommodation in mountain huts
- Transport from Chamonix to Zermatt return.
- Evening meals when staying in the valley
- Lunches & drinks
- Travel to and from Chamonix and uplift costs
- Single-room occupancy in valley hotels may incur an additional cost.