Climbing the Matterhorn (4478 m)

...and Other Cool Swiss 4000ers

Incredibly productive 7 days in the Alps, to build up your Matterhorn Climb with several other 4000 meter peaks.

Climbing the Matterhorn (4478 m)

Only a handful of our clients have enough experience to take on a Matterhorn climb, but many are close. You may be able to safely ascend this incredible and powerful peak if you had the chance to get substantial practice beforehand. There are only two remedies for a lack of climbing experience: climbing and climbing. You see, many climbers hit a plateau around grade III alpine climbing and it takes much more work to advance from there. Your success depends on the intensiveness of the preparation.

The experience you need to climb the Matterhorn with a very good guide can be gained by summiting a few preparatory 4000ers over the course of an intensive week of instruction and climbing.

Taking a few days to get ready for and summit the Matterhorn greatly increases your chances. Whenever you are ready and the conditions are just right, you can shoot straight up from Zermatt to Hörnli Hütte and be standing on the summit the following day.

You are guaranteed an exhilarating and successful climbing vacation. Think about it: even if the Matterhorn climb falls through, you will be richer by several other 4.000ers and a huge amount of experience that you can only gain from guides who have been over 8.000 meters a multitude of times.

The preaparation climbs are not included in the price! Please contact us for a tailor-made itinerary, depending on your previous experience.

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Physical Difficulty
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The preaparation climbs are not included in the price! Please contact us for a tailor-made itinerary, depending on your previous experience.

The itinerary of the 7-day “Matterhorn & Co.” climb itself is pretty straightforward: you meet your guide in Zermatt, where you will be bagging peaks and eating Swiss cheese for the next 7 days. During the 7 days with your mountain guide, you will definitely advance your skills possibly more than ever before. You will be a more experienced and better mountaineer after this intensive mountain vacation. This leap in skills and experience is – you’ll agree – pretty hard to obtain otherwise.

Here are some of the peaks where you may prepare for your ascent, climbing the Matterhorn. This is just a possibility; the itinerary will be heavily influenced by conditions, what you have climbed before and ultimately, what you and your guide decide upon.

So, don’t worry if you’ve done any of the below peaks and you’d do something different. These 7 days are about you and you only, so you’ll have a great say in what you climb.

Preparatory climbs around Saas and Zermatt

  • Breithorn: 4.164 meters. A classic peak, one of the most climbed four-thousander of the Alps. You take the cable car from Zermatt all the way to 3.825 meters and take the easy walk on large snowfields to the summit. Banking on an early start, you can be relaxing in Zermatt by late afternoon. The ride up the cable car to Klein Matterhorn is Europe’s highest lift with stunning views. Be careful not to take too many photos on your way up the cablecar, because you’ll need memory space for Breithorn itself. This peak makes a good acclimatisation climb.
  • Rimpfischhorn – 4.199 meters. A mountain less climbed in the area, Rimpfischhorn isn’t a particularly easy hill, but doesn’t require a great deal of technical experience either. From Zermatt, you’ll need about a day-and-a-half, two days for this baby.
  • Castor – 4.226 meters. Beautiful, varied climb. On a Castor climb, your guide will be able to tell you with certainty how fit you are for your big Matterhorn project.
  • Various rock-routes: you may climb some rock faces, such as the Riffelhorn, which is pretty much clear of snow in the summer. On these routes, you set out with friends and hexes. The axe and crampons stay in the valley today.

There are variations where you climb peaks accessible from the Saas-Valley, from where you also have wonderful opportunities to get ready for climbing the Matterhorn.

The Matterhorn climb itself looks somewhat like this:

Day 1: Hörnli Hütte (3.260 m)

All fresh, you set out for the mountain of mountain. You take a cabin lift from Zermatt to Schwarzsee. From the “Black Lake”, which is what Schwarzsee means, a nice and easy two-hour trek takes you to the Hörnli refuge, where you spend the short night.

Day 2: Matterhorn climb (4.478 m)

The night will be short indeed, as you awake before dawn to tackle what may be one of the most popular mountains worldwide. Weather permitting, you should expect a 5-6-hour grueling climb to take on the 1.200 meters of elevation separating you from the summit. This is grade III- climbing (UIAA) or AD-. There are fixed ropes in several places, so if you use them, it actually gets easier than III-/AD-. Before noon, you are standing on the summit.

On the pyramid-shaped summit there is a narrow, short ridge that you have to cross to get to the main summit. The summit of Matterhorn is extremely exposed, you will want to be careful here. No time for a long rest, as inclement weather may be coming for the afternoon. The descent is technically difficult, but you’ll feel more than safe on your guide’s rope.

Congratulations! A successful climb of the Matterhorn is an outstanding achievement. You’ll probably spend the night at Hörnli hut again, or you may walk to Schwarzsee and take the lift down to Zermatt.

Equipment and Info

Experience Needed for Matterhorn

You need good “mountaineering” stamina to climb Matterhorn. The summit day may last up to 12 hours with a gruelling 1.200 meters of vertical to fight. Here, we provide you with some pointers, a checklist you should consider when applying for a 4-day Matterhorn ascent. Obviously, for the 7-day program, we have time to work on 1-3 together, but you’ll still need no. 4: stamina.

  1. 3-4 alpine peaks over 4000 meters
  2. Ability to comfortably climb 5.7/4c/V rock in top rope
  3. Having climbed 1-2 multi-pitch and exposed 5.4/3c/III alpine route
  4. Ability to run 10 km (6 mi) in under 90 minutes (and still be able to walk the day after)

When you book your climb, we will discuss about your preparation and give you tips.

In order for you to get the most out of this week-long mountaineering vacation, we made the itinerary as flexible as possible. As the program depends on you and the weather, we can’t say how much time we’ll spend in Zermatt and on the mountain, so we took out the expense of lodging and meals, as well as the lift costs from the price. We don’t want you to overpay, if, say, you decide to skip climbing the Breithorn – where the cabin lift ticket is really expensive. Even if you decide to shorten this trip by a day or two, you won’t throw out money for excess accommodation and meals. It’s fair, isn’t it?

You don’t need to worry about booking hotels or huts, or even transfers from airports. We’ll do this all for you.


Alpine summer – you need to prepare yourself for rain, snow and cold; 6-8 degrees below freezing on mornings at 3.000-3.200 m. If you need advice on clothing and equipment, let us know via the form below. Your guide will be more than happy to help.


The price includes equipment hire, so you need not worry about technical gear. Of course, you may bring your own gear if you prefer, but regrettably, we can’t discount the price of the trip should you bring your own stuff.

What you do need to bring is good climbing boots broken in, so they won’t hurt your feet. Not sure if your boots are OK or you want to get a pair? Read our tips here.

Here is a list that may be helpful to get yourself organized before the trip:

  • underclothing
  • trekking socks
  • backpack – 35-45 liters (and preferably equipped with these features)
  • waterproof pants – make sure you treat them with water-repellent prior to your trip
  • waterproof jacket/softshell – make sure you treat it with water-repellent prior to your trip
  • two pairs of gloves
  • warm hat
  • bandana/cap against the sun
  • sunscreen (min. factor 30) and lip balm
  • sunglasses
  • 2 fleece sweaters/vest
  • light and thin sleeping bag for huts
  • climbing boots
  • sandals/running shoes for life in the valley

If you want more information on proper equipment, here’s a detailed guide about the three layers, with specific tips on what to bring.


Food and Drinks

Like generally in the Alps, you can buy food at the Hut but it is a good idea to bring your own stuff as well. Get some practical advice on Mountain Food so you maximize your performance – here.

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