"Snowball Expeditions website is supported by its readers. Please assume all links are affiliate links. If you purchase something from one of our links we make a small commission from Amazon. It helps us pay for the running of this website. Thank you!"

Climbing The Matterhorn – The Perfect Shaped Mountain

matterhorn, zermatt, mountains

Climbing Switzerland

The Matterhorn, the perfect shaped mountain and the most easily recognisable peak in the world, isolated at the head of the Zermatt valley. It continues to top the must-do list of thousands of climbers aspiring to ascend it every year.

If you visit Zermatt the first time and look up at The Matterhorn, you would imagine an almost unfeasible venture. The peak seems terrifying, and the ascent looks unpromising and impossibly steep. Three attributes are needed for a successful ascent of Matterhorn; determination, fitness and a willingness to push yourself. You must be prepared for 9 – 12 hours of grade 2 or 3 scrambling terrain to get to the peak.

To climb to the summit, you need to be fit enough to climb non-stop for 9 – 12 hours. Climbing Matterhorn is physically challenging, so you need to be prepared and you need to be fit!

switzerland, zermatt, mountains

To conquer Matterhorn you must be as sure-footed as a mountain goat, you need to be dexterous and agile while climbing on every surface, be it rock and snow or ice. It is advised to develop your climbing skills on easier routes , when climbing The Matterhorn, it is essential not to think about the fall because climbing Matterhorn can be mentally difficult as well as physically.

Just as every adventure needs determination, climbing Matterhorn also needs courage. However, the courage of a lion cannot make up for a lack of fitness. Fitness is the essential factor to be considered before climbing mount Matterhorn. Build up your cardio in the gym, do the groundwork and prepare yourself mentally before taking on this challenge of a lifetime.

Another factor to be considered here is exposure, you can be physically fit but lack the ability to deal with the elements. I have seen so many climbers who appear fit but can’t handle the intense climates you experience on your way to the summit. You need to have a strong desire to begin the climb and an even stronger desire to reach the summit; otherwise, there will be a quick return back to base with your tail between your legs.

A lot is expected from the climber for a successful ascent of the Matterhorn. You will need experience using crampons on snow and ice, scrambling up the Culin Ridge or conquering Snowdonia would be seen as appropriate training for this beast. Controlling your body when climbing down and having a high level of physical and mental fitness are crucial and even a period of acclimation is advised of about four to five days which includes sleeping at altitude, mountain tracks offer this training. They do this by mimicking so many Matterhorn style grade 2 and 3 scrambles until you feel comfortable.

matterhorn, hörnligrat, cold

Before climbing Matterhorn, it is key to acquire the appropriate knowledge and skills before attempting this adventure. During the summer, the weather starts out very cold and gradually become hot later in the afternoon. Because of this, it is essential to have adequate clothing as the weather changes. Matterhorn is a unique mountain that is considered to be a especially tactical climb. Despite there being no serac, crevasse or avalanche hazards, altitude, complicated routes, rock fall andthe sheer length of the climb make it a big challenge. There are four routes up the Matterhorn that climber regularly uses from Zermatt. The most frequented of all the routes is North-East or Hörnli Ridge (AD III-). Hörnli Ridge (AD III-) was the line of the first ascent which is very unusual to see 100 mountaineers per day tempting it in the summer season. The other routes are the classic North Face or Schmid Route TD, North-West or Zmutt Ridge D III+ and South West/Italian Ridge (or Lion Ridge) AD+ III.

When climbing Matterhorn, moving together is simple. Both climbers move at the same time within a short inch length of rope using short pitching and intermediate runners where necessary.

Climbing the Hörnli Ridge does not take large rack. Hörnli Ridge is an intimidating place to be. It is surrounded by guides jostling for position. If the confidant of your techniques is not refined, you will be left for dust.

mountain, lake, landscape


Climbing Matterhorn is not easy, both the descent and ascent are physically and technically demanding given the mixed terrain and the high altitude weather conditions. Though climbing Matterhorn is the primary goal of many climbers, climbing it is a difficult task. This type of climb is not easy to describe to new climber Who has not been to the Alps. To climb Matterhorn, you must climb it with climbing boots, lightweight Alpine and sometimes with crampon.

This makes climbing Matterhorn hard as it sometimes takes long to get used to it. The altitude, needed for speed, scrambling, and the sustained nature of the climbing makes the Matterhorn a very athletic endeavour. When it comes to Matterhorn climbing, the day usually starts around 4 am at the Hornli  Hut at an elevation of 10,600ft, which means there are an approx 4000 ft of steep needed to be done in less than 10 hours. Climbing Matterhorn is easy for those with rock climbing experience but very exposed. With a guide, you can move together roped without an anchor for much of the route. The mountain is not an exceptional alpine to climb when attended with a guide. It requires physical shape and skill set, which allows the climber to move fast and efficiently on exposed rock.

matterhorn, mountain, berggipifel

How much does it cost to climb the Matterhorn?

The ascent of the Matterhorn is the most dramatic and beautiful in an alpinist’s lifetime. The price starts from €2860 based on two people. This price includes:


High mountain guides for three days; 1 for the first day,

2 people for the 2 – 3 day Matterhorn ascent.

Three picnics.

Safety equipment (rope, carabiniers etc.) provided by guides.


Schwarzer cable car one way.


More extended programs that include an acclimation day cost more. The cost can be between €2000 and €6000.

switzerland, valais, mountains

Is the Matterhorn dangerous?

Over the years, many have lost their lives trying to climb Matterhorn. This is as a result of unexpected high technical difficulties, sudden avalanches and rock fall and overcrowding of the climbing route. The mountain is said to be too unstable and dangerous to climb. A study released in 2019 by PermaSense project found that receding glaciers and melting permafrost have made rock fall an even greater danger on hot summer days.

Snow fills the gaps between loose in winters making the rock on the upper layers of the Alps unstable. This snow then turns to ice at freezing altitude which acts as a glue keeping the rock in place. Snowier winter and colder will create more ice. Scorching hot summer like those in recent years melt it, and causes an increased risk of rock fall.

Climbing Matterhorn is dangerous; each route has its danger. In a Matterhorn route, you will find long rock climb with steep snow at the altitude and plenty of exposure. Instability and the dangers of the mountain have resulted in the call that the mountain should be closed in other to stop more dangers from happening.

matterhorn, mountain, meadow

Can you climb the Matterhorn without a guide?

Firstly I think enough experience is needed to climb the Matterhorn safely and enjoyably. Matterhorn is over 1000 meter long, so even though it is technically straight forward, it shouldn’t be underestimated. But if you don’t have the experience and you want to climb the mountain, the guide is an essential and adequate tool to make the adventure successfully.

Because of the popularity of the Matterhorn, the Zermatt guide devised an order to minimise queue and safety. This is done in a way that the Zermatt guide leave the hut first, followed by other guides before the independent climbers. This is essential because if the first team to leave the hut is low or maybe take the wrong route, it can cause a problem with other parties that are following as they are taking the wrong way. This can cause frustration and dangerous traffic jam because by taking the wrong route, there is every possibility of meeting other climbers on the way.

matterhorn, hörnligrat, zermatt

Climbing Matterhorn without a guide is critical because when climbing, there is a route to take. Route finding on the Matterhorn is not easy. Finding the route make the most significant difference. If you find the route and follow it, you will discover that the rock is relatively solid and compact.

Another reason why you cannot climb Matterhorn without a guide is the equipment. You need a guide on how to use the equipment. There are types of equipment to consider when climbing. You need to be guided to know the right stuff to climb the Matterhorn. In my opinion, the right set of boots is the essential equipment for climbing.

The Zermatt guide knows the up to date route better than anyone. This is because they climb the Hörnli ridge back to back most of the seasons and they have a strict turn around time. Climbing Matterhorn with a guide will ensure your safety and give you direction on how to reach the summit. With a guide, you are sure of climbing to the peak faster than when you climb on your own.

Related articles to read:

Snowing at Matterhorn Mountain, Switzerland, The Alps

Matterhorn Summit Route


Latest Posts

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.
On Key

Related Posts

Apple Watch Series 3

Apple Watch Series 3

Apple, much as they have with smartphones and tablets, seem to be taking over the world of GPS and smartwatches device after device. The Series