Matterhorn

Featured photo of Matterhorn

The Matterhorn is a classic peak, a sharp, isolated rock pyramid with steep narrow ridges jutting from surrounding glaciers. The town of Zermatt, nestled beneath the mountain's north face, is a mountaineering Mecca. One of the most frequently climbed mountains in the world, the Matterhorn's every ridge and face have been scaled, and there are now fixed ropes, ladders, and huts along the normal routes to the summit. Don't let these props, however, provide false security, because much of the climb still requires a great deal of technical expertise, and its death rate is one of the highest in the world.

The isolation of the mountain results in its forming its own weather, which can change rapidly; it is possible for a storm to be raging on the Matterhorn when conditions in the region as a whole are good. One of the largest dangers on the Matterhorn is its popularity, since large numbers of climbers ascending simultaneously guarantees that meeting and overtaking maneuvers will be required, and increases the likelihood that rocks will be dislodged onto lower climbers. (There is much loose rock on the mountain).

Edward Whymper and party's first ascent of the mountain ended in tragedy, as the Rev Charles Hudson, Douglas Hadow, Lord Francis Douglas, and the guide Michel Croz all fell to their deaths on the descent. Only Whymper himself and two Swiss guides (Taugwalder father and son) survived. Lord Francis Douglas' body has never been recovered.

It was the English who made the resort of Zermatt popular with tourists. Here they came hiring locals as guides to guide them towards and often up their chosen mountain. Zermatt is surrounded by many 4000 metre mountains, and these were all climbed during the 'Golden Age' of mountaineering around 1850. The Matterhorn stood aloof for many years after repeated attempts from both Italy and Switzerland. The ascent of this mountain became a symbol of national pride, and wherever it was first climbed from (either Cervinia in Italy, or Zermatt in Switzerland), would reap the benefits from the tourist trade.

There are now many routes to the summit of the Matterhorn, the least difficult being the first ascent route: Hornli Ridge (AD), and the Lion (Italian)Ridge (AD+). However these grades would be much harder were it not for long sections of fixed ropes and ladders to enable local guides to get their clients up as quickly as possible. Away from the popular 'Voies Normales' the experienced climber may tackle classic routes such as the Zmutt and Furggen Ridges (D), while even more experienced climbers can test their skills on the North Face (ED1). Today the Matterhorn remains a significant challenge that should never be underestimated by climbers. The Matterhorn's familiar shape invites more comparison than perhaps any other peak in the world, including Ama Dablam in the Himalaya, Ushba in the Caucasus, Canada's Mount Assiniboine, and Peru's Jirishanca.

Note that the description in Wikipedia of the ascent of the Hornli Ridge as a "scramble" is dangerously misleading. It is a long climb on a high mountain with unstable rock and variable snow conditions. To climb it without guides demands fitness, technical skill, understanding of safety techniques and general mountaineering competence. Many people die each year on this mountain.

Elevation (feet): 14,691
Elevation (meters): 4,478
Continent: Europe
Country: Switzerland/Italy
Range/Region: Savoy Alps
Latitude: 45.976389
Longitude: 7.658333
Difficulty: Technical Climb
Best months for climbing: Jul, Aug, Sep
Year first climbed: 1865
First successful climber(s): Edward Whymper and party (see note below)
Nearest major airport: Geneva, Switzerland
Convenient Center: Zermatt, Switzerland

Trip Reports

NOTE: Trip reports were previously called "Summit Logs" - same feature, new name

There are 64 trip reports for Matterhorn.

Select any entry from the list below:

  • Log #22399 - by Roy Lindman on Aug 05, 2013
    This is my second climb on the Matterhorn mountain. I was doing some aclimatizing in the Mattertal valley. I did only some, because my time was limited. I had waited my luggage at the Geneva airport...
  • Log #22330 - by Roy Lindman on July 26, 2012
    "Matterhorn is a very demanding mountain to climb...when I was next to Hörnli ridge a few years ago...I felt very sick...now I had trained my brains and my condition.
  • Log #22263 - by Corvus on Dec 10, 2011
    Lion ridge in 1 day from Duca degli Abruzzi....really a nice climbing
  • Log #22063 - by mpazzani on Aug 31, 2010
    Hornli Ridge. Roped to Brent Okita. With Mark O'Day, George Dunn.
  • Log #21969 - by Davidhur on Apr 06, 2010
    My brother and I were led by guides from the Hornli hut to the summit. We walked up to the hut from Zermatt so made no use of telecabins. The weather was perfectly clear and quite chilly at the...
  • Log #21487 - by Alexander Haupt on Oct 29, 2008
    Normal route via Hoernli ridge (NE ridge). Good conditions and breathtaking panorama. After a 3.10 hrs climb, we were the second roped party to reach the summit that day.
  • Log #21168 - by Pavel Barták on Feb 01, 2008
    We went with my Friend Vita up from Cervinia via Lion Ridge on Saturday 4th of August 2007, reached summit the other day at 8 being one of the first in the morning. It was beautifull sunny day...
  • Log #20942 - by Pavel Barták on Aug 09, 2007
    Up from Italy via Cresta del Leone, down to Switzerland via Hornligrat. It was extremly nice sunny day without any clouds. Summit time 8:05 AM
  • Log #20892 - by Tom Golway on July 20, 2007
    Amazing area, fun climb. Go climb the mountain but also stay in Zermatt for a few days and do some other exploring. The area is worth the trip and so is the town.
  • Log #20756 - by Graham Heaton on Apr 25, 2007
    Good Afternoon, after all this time i think its time to share my summit of the Matterhorn with you all. We set of from Hornli Hut at 5am, at this point it was pitch balck, we headed of up with our...
  • Log #20578 - by Kev Williams on Jan 06, 2007
    Zmutt ridge - superb conditions on an outstanding ridge. Exposure was spectacular, only thing that let the day down was the descent down the Hornli Ridge - yuk what a death trap!
  • Log #20522 - by Jesse Kajer on Dec 04, 2006
    One of the most spectacular experieces ever! The peak was such an adventure. Can't wait until the next time.
  • Log #19222 - by Bill Hood on Sep 27, 2006
    Not technically hard but... Be in great shape, especially legs and lungs. Go rock climbing for several months, or use an indoor wall if this is your only option. Learn the proper technique for fixed...
  • Log #19763 - by Torgrim Thingvoll on Sep 27, 2006
    The Matterhorn was climbed in very nice weather, as has been the case for most of this summer (as far as my knowledge). The route was not crowded and the rock was dry, making it possible to climb...
  • Log #20300 - by Olivier Dumon on Sep 27, 2006
    We climbed Italian crossing, starting from Cervinia, slepping at Carrel hut and going down Hornli ridge. One of the most exhausting climb I ever done, more physicaly than technicaly, all difficulties...
  • Log #20338 - by Slobodan Jovanoski -Bob on July 06, 2006
    I was climbing alone. On the way down I rope myself with two english speaking climbers becouse the weather changed on worse. On the top I was about 10a.m..I dont remember that we encountered other...
  • Log #19170 - by Richard Tremellen on Feb 15, 2006
    From the Hornli Hut an early start. Not too cold, good conditions, dry. Three and three quarter hours to the summit. Spectacular views.
  • Log #19048 - by Malcolm Harwood on Feb 14, 2006
    After training for a year with Bob Gaines, Scott Cosgrove, John Long and others, through the climbing school known as 'Vertical Adventures'. I returned to Zermatt and summited on August 23, 1989. I...
  • Log #14823 - by Graham Heaton on Nov 03, 2004
    What a wonderfull mountain, Prehaps the most memorable day of my life upto press. Very tricky and steep in some places with plenty of grade 3 pitches, perfect day too. HAD 2 VERY LARGE ROCK FALLS...
  • Log #14825 - by Miklós Herendi on Sep 21, 2004
    September is the best to climb - we had great weather (all sunny) climbed in a long sleeve + a short sleeve T-shirt and not too many people on the mountain.
  • Log #14826 - by Chad McCormick on Sep 04, 2004
    One of the most photogenic mountains in the world. An exceptional experience to summit such a bold peak. Truely a near life experience! -Jess, you the man!
  • Log #14827 - by Stephen Klemich on July 31, 2004
    A majestic mountain. A big day out on a big hill. Worth doing even though there are nicer climbs than this.
  • Log #14828 - by John Gaefke on July 15, 2004
    My guides name was Rony Inderbinen. Is he related to the late Ulrich who just passed away?
  • Log #14829 - by Klaus Tscherrig on July 14, 2004
    The Matterhorn is not waiting for you! But we offer a special training programm for the climb and summit 90% with our clients . See you soon.
  • Log #14830 - by Marty DeMers on June 28, 2004
    Most beautiful mountain in the world. Climbed the Hornli Ridge and descended down the Italian Ridge(Lion grat). Fantastic experience.
  • Log #14831 - by Bill Brotzman on June 08, 2004
    I began the peak at 6:00 AM. I climbed the steep cliff and then it happened. Ninjas. Houndreds of 'em. The rained down from the cliff edge.
  • Log #14832 - by D.A. Mills on May 25, 2004
    Solo of Hornli Ridge. Mountain was "closed and unstable". Guides refused to climb, and I refused to pay, which is great because I was the only one on the route. Perhaps the only summit of...
  • Log #14833 - by Donna Lee on May 23, 2004
    I always wanted to climb Matterhorn since my mother went to Europe and brought back stories about her wonderful stay in Zermatt. The day I climbed Matterhorn, I got up very early, when it was still...
  • Log #14834 - by Christopher Plumb on Mar 22, 2004
    I had always wanted to climb the Matterhorn ever since my grandmother climbed it in 1957 when she was 48 years old. I got my chance when I was 16 while doing the European tour that summer. I had the...
  • Log #14835 - by Barbara Gates on Mar 11, 2004
    The Matterhorn is a "dream" to me. It symbolizes strength, beauty and an unforgiving demeanor. I have drawn her, painted her but never been close to her other than in pictures and I feel...
  • Log #14836 - by katie atwood on Mar 09, 2004
    I am doing a report on the matterhorn from the book called banner in the sky and i was wondering if you could send me some info on the people who have climbed the matterhorn.
  • Log #14837 - by Dirk Johnson on Mar 03, 2004
    Both times were absolutely fantastic weather. I feel very blessed to have had such wonderful views each time. However, I twisted my knee on decent second time. I was just being stupid and tired.
  • Log #14838 - by Paul Andrews on Feb 23, 2004
    I wish I could say I made it to the top of the murderhorn. Upon reaching the Sulve hut I cut my losses with what I had accomplished. The blisters on my feet made for incredible pain. I spent two days...
  • Log #14839 - by Henk de Dreu on Feb 15, 2004
    I did it without a guide and with little experience. (Hörnli Ridge) first attempt: half way (I was not sure of the right way) second attempt: ice and snow from the start of the climb. I reached...
  • Log #14840 - by Klaus Tscherrig on Feb 14, 2004
    You like to climb the Matterhorn? We are local UIAGM mountain guides and offer special training and guide services for the Matterhorn and all other mountains in the Alps. SEE YOU SOON!
  • Log #14841 - by Peter J. Laramy on Feb 13, 2004
    I've come close to topping the beast, but rapidly declining weather conditions sent me and my guide scurrying (as carefully and quickly as possible in fog and rain) back down again when we were on...
  • Log #14842 - by Pim on Jan 13, 2004
    It was my second 4000+ mountain, so it was quite exiting. The climb was very busy (lots and lots of guides and clients)but also very nice. ON the upper part (on the so called "roof" i wa...
  • Log #14843 - by John Duignan on Jan 02, 2004
    Bottom 2/3 has a lot of loose scree - offputting when you go off route ! Watch out for stonefall from other parties Historic ticklist mountain Zermatt beautiful Did Hornli Ridge
  • Log #14844 - by André Imboden on Dec 26, 2003
    Your mountainguide for all summits around the world. Special training and preparation for the Matterhorn.
  • Log #14845 - by Scott Hardiment on Dec 26, 2003
    I was involved on the 30th May 03 in a climbing accident leaving me with unstable fracture of L1, a ruptured ACL and 2 fractured heels.Three operatons later i was ready to climb again and on the 20th...
  • Log #14846 - by John Kearney on Nov 26, 2003
    Good climb. Too many people, most of whom underestimated the length and exposure of the climb. Weather started to turn bad, but we made it down ahead of the fog.
  • Log #14847 - by Mark on Nov 26, 2003
    Made it in June 2002 through the H3rnli ridge. I had attempted twice before, but due to weather and exhaustion, never made it before.
  • Log #14848 - by Spyridopoulos Alexandros on Nov 21, 2003
    In the mid of August this summer, i attempted the classic ascent of the Matterhorn via the Horli Hut. I come from the "Vrilissos Mountaineering Club" of Athens and the attempt was made...
  • Log #14849 - by Andrew Tees on Nov 11, 2003
    Summited by the Hornli Ridge in superb conditions. This was the first day that the mountain had been reopened after it was closed for several days due to a large rockfall low on the ridge.
  • Log #14850 - by heidi on Nov 03, 2003
    i'm doing a report on matterhorn, so if you could give me any info. at all, that would be helpful to me!
  • Log #14851 - by Charles Hansel on Oct 25, 2003
    Wondeful trip aside from the climb! Not at all what I expected.
  • Log #14852 - by Ciprian Moruzan on Oct 20, 2003
    It was an awesome climb, on Hornli Ridge, I think one of the most beautifull classic routes in the Alpes. Ciprian Moruzan(RO) & Steinthor Nilson(IS)
  • Log #14853 - by Matej on Oct 06, 2003
    Hi everybody, I need some information about climbing east wall of Matterhorn. I was there last summer, but on HornliGraff were a lot of people. Thanks in advance
  • Log #14854 - by Nyle K Walton on Sep 30, 2003
    I would like to add some facts about my ascent of the Matterhorn accomplished 48 years ago last August 3. After returning to my army post in Rochefort from Zermatt, I read in the Stars and Stripes a...
  • Log #14855 - by Gregory Witt on Sep 19, 2003
    This is a great climb. We chose to climb it without a guide, and are glad we did. It involved some additional routefinding and jostling with guides on some of the fixed ropes. As a result, we took...
  • Log #14856 - by Finley on Sep 17, 2003
    Never in my life have I been so frustrated, frightened and exhilirated all at one time. I was lucky enough to have absolutely perfect conditions. Clear skies with a full moon at the start which...
  • Log #14857 - by Darko Spirovski on Sep 12, 2003
    Impressive peak. It change my feeling for climbing at constructive way. After Matterhorn I am climbing more relaxed with more passion and enthusiastic
  • Log #14858 - by Ben Bonnaerens on Sep 09, 2003
    Stood on top of this magnificent mountain after a steady 4,5 hour climb over the Hornli ridge. A bit crowded at The Roof but big fun when standing on the summit and looking into the Swiss and...
  • Log #14860 - by Spunt on Aug 25, 2003
    wonderful mountain, awesome climb, great weather, really like a dream
  • Log #14861 - by Cheryl Mucci on Aug 16, 2003
    respectfully left the ashes of my Father, Frederick J. Mucci (1940-2003) at 9105 ft.
  • Log #14862 - by GRAHAM POTTS on July 30, 2003
    IT WAS WAR ON THE HORNLI
  • Log #14863 - by André Imboden on July 28, 2003
    Your mountain guide for all summits around the world. Special training and preparation for the Matterhorn.
  • Log #14864 - by Nyle Walton on July 27, 2003
    While Serving in Uncle Sam's army, I took leave and trains to Zermatt where I hired a guide, Emile Julen, and climbed to the top of the "Tiger of the Alps." It was the realization of my you...
  • Log #14866 - by Emily Schindler & Laurie Dexter on July 27, 2003
    We experience great weather and an incredible view from the summit.
  • Log #14867 - by ARTURAS on June 16, 2003
    After ascending many peaks in Caucasus, Tian Shan, Altai I am going to try Matterhorn.
  • Log #14869 - by Howard Jones on May 23, 2003
    We had to spend several days at the Hornli Hut before the weather cleared. A long, tiring and slightly scary day, but a fantastic climb
  • Log #14870 - by Bob Guillot on May 20, 2003
    The Matterhorn: Conquered by two Greenhorns...Reiner Kling(Berlin) and Bob Guillot(USA) on 25 August, 1981. Veni,Vidi,Vici!
  • Log #14871 - by Patrick Deykers on Apr 05, 2003
    In 1984 I became deaf and after this year I startet to climb to get out of this valley. First Rockclimbs and later more and more Alps Summits. 21 june 1995: soloclimb Hornli ridge of the Matterhorn.
  • Log #14872 - by Melvyn Little on Feb 17, 2003
    Climbed with swiss guide Tommy (smokoe time at every rest stop)glorious day - fairly slow accent,5 hours to summit,4 hours down.Almost ended on the shoulder when my crampons went tumbling down the...