Climb The Matterhorn
A long, tough and brilliant day's alpine mountaineering on the world's most iconic mountain, The Matterhorn. There can be few alpine climbers (or even armchair climbers!) who have not dreamed of scaling this strikingly beautiful peak. The classic route starts from the picture postcard Swiss alpine village of Zermatt and ascends the long and sustained (but not as steep as it looks!) 'Hornli Ridge'. We spend 3 days preparing for the ascent in the equally famous alpine resort of Chamonix before moving east to Switzerland for the climb itself.
Our six day Matterhorn course begins in Chamonix which is easily reached from Geneva airport via a simple one hour transfer.
Climb the Matterhorn Aims
- Climb the Matterhorn, the worlds most iconic mountain
- Complete 3 high quality alpine training climbs based in the Chamonnix Valley. These will include rock and snow and mixed terrain to best prepare you for the styles of climbing on the Matterhorn
- Complete another classic alpine climb over Zermatt or Chamonix if weather and energy levels allow
When To Climb the Matterhorn
The main season for climbing the Matterhorn is high summer (late June to mid September). This is when the summit ridges clear of snow and allow easier and swifter progress
6 Day Matterhorn Itinerary
This is a suggested itinerary based on good weather. It may be necessary to change the programme to make best use of local mountain conditions.
- Pre-Course fitness training and, if you have the time, training and acclimatisation training in the hills above Chamonix for a few days before the course starts. We can offer advice on how to get the most out of these pre-course elements as well as discussing appropriate equipment for the trip.
- Days 1-3: Three quality training and acclimatisation days around the Mont Blanc Range & based in the Chamonix Valley. The exact climbs will be decided close to the time according to weather & conditions and based on your experience and aspirations. These climbs will include steep rock, ice and snow in ascent & descent to prepare for the terrain on the Matterhorn. Examples are the Aiguille du Peigne (3009m) in the Chamonix Aiguilles, Traverse of Les Perrons above Vallorcine, Traverse of the Petite Charmoz, Left Edge Route on Mont Blanc du Tacul, The Dent du Geant and many other Chamonix classics. Check our Chamonix Mountaineering Gallery for more information.
- We usually spend the first night of this 3 day training period in a mountain hut to facilitate your acclimatisation for climbing high on the Matterhorn. This will give you a sleeping height of around 3000m in preparation for the night at 3260m in the Hörnli Hut
An impressive collection of galleries giving an insight in to the quality and huge variety of mountaineering within and around the Chamonix Valley. Routes include classic beginners alpine ridges, 1000m+ classic North Faces, winter style Chamonix Goulottes and many more.
- Day 4-5: The Ascent of the Matterhorn. A deliberately leisurely day allows you to relax and let the training and acclimatisation soak in. After driving to Tasch we take the train to Zermatt, lift to Schwarzsee and an easy 2 hour walk to the hut. The Guide will often go and do an afternoon recce on the first part of the climb which is done in the dark next morning. Here you can relax and enjoy the magnificent position of the hut at the base of the Hornli Ridge. Breakfast is taken at 0400 and then a long but brilliant day of constant scrambling begins. We aim to climb and descend the mountain in time to get the last lift down from Schwarzsee to Zermatt.
- Day 6: A spare day to allow for poor weather etc. If all has gone to plan this can be used to enjoy a final climb using the high lift sytems of either Zermatt or Chamonix. The traverse of the Breithorn or alpine climbing from the Aiguille du Midi are both options.
Our classic 6 day course normally spends 2 nights in mountain huts, one during the training & acclimatisation phase and 1-2 during the summit phase.
Training Phase - 3 Days
We often start the course with a Chamonix mountaineering day trip followed by a 2 day overnight hut expedition to the Torino Hut or similar. This order can be reversed if folk already have some acclimatisation prior to the trip.
Summit Phase - 3 Days
Our courses normally make the approach to the Matterhorn's Hornli hut on day 4 of the classic 6 day course and day 1 of the 3 day summit period. This means an early breakfast can be taken at the hut on day 5 followed by the summit attempt. Most teams climb the mountain on this day and return to the hut early afternoon for a drink & rest before the walk back down to Schwarzee, lift to Zermatt and return to Chamon. Day 6 acts as a poor weather contingency or opportunity to do a final day route in Chamonix.
Folk wanting to take the ascent at a steadier pace, if the weather allows, sometimes opt to spend a second night at the lower Hotel Schwarzee. This indeed takes some time pressure off the summit day descent and to reach the lift to Zermatt before it closes. A second night at the Hornli Hut itself achieves a similar aim with a shorter day and both of these do offer the possibility of a 2nd summit attempt on the final day (although this would be a long, tough & fast day from Schwarzee).
A slower & more relaxed descent to Schwarzee and atmospheric night in the mountain Hotel at Schwarzee can be a great conclusion to the Matterhorn ascent and a nice way to appreciate the mountain & reflect on the ascent whilst still almost on it! For those with willing legs it also offers the option for a short final day ascent like the Breithorn or Pollux. It's generally a more expensive option though and there is usually a non refundable deposit which can be lost if the weather is poor, like the Hut itself, see info below.
These 3 different options can thus be summarised as per below with the days referring to the 3 day summit period. They can all of course be disrupted at the time due to the prevailing weather & conditions on the mountain - but we choose a Plan A to run with in advance and make bookings accordingly.
- Climb to Hörnlihütte on day 1, summit & descent to Zermatt / Chamonix on day 2. Day 3 spare poor weather day / additional climb.
- Climb to Hörnlihütte on day 1, summit & descent to Hörnlihütte on day 2, descent to Zermatt / Chamonix on day 3 / spare poor weather summit day
- Climb to Hörnlihütte on day 1, summit & descent to Schwarzee on day 2, descent to Zermatt / Chamonix on day 3 / spare poor weather summit day / additional climb.
We ask you to make the bookings at both the Hornli Hut and Schwarzee as there are non-refundable deposits to be made which you take the liability for.
Bookings can be made on the Hornli Hut Reservations Page. Each booking carries a 50CHF non refundable deposit (e.g. no refund for poor weather or any other reason) and a bed in a shared dormitory is 150CHF including dinner and breakfast.
Bookings can also be made for Hotel Schwarzee on their website. This is more of a hotel than a hut so reservations for the rooms should be honoured even in the event of poor weather etc whereas they are somewhat more flexible regarding their dortoir rooms.
Matterhorn Climber Experience & Fitness Pre-Requirements
An ascent of the Matterhorn by any route will be a long and tough day and you should be prepared for up to 11 hours of sustained mountaineering. High levels of fitness and stamina are required as well as head for heights and decent movement skills on scrambling and easy climbing ground. Basic but sound cramponing skills are also required. Folk preparing for this ascent should aim to spend lots of time in advance scrambling and easy rock climbing with a rucksack and mountain boots. We would be delighted to offer some guidance on suitable training peaks and routes.
Consider booking another alpine mountaineering course beforehand to greatly assist your training, fitness, acclimatisation and thus chances of climbing the Matterhorn.
For UK based climbers we offer a series of Alpine training weekends based in either the Scottish Highlands or Snowdonia. These culminate in June with a quality Matterhorn training weekend where you can develop your scrambling and easy rock climbing skills and cover lots of terrain similar to the Hornli Ridge on the Matterhorn. This is an ideal way to hone your skills at the start of the summer when you are planning to make a summit attempt later in the season.
Matterhorn Climb Reports
Check out Paul Antrobus's entertaining Matterhorn blog of our ascent of the mountain in August 2015. Paul describes his experiences on the ascent and there are links to his fundraising page where he has raised over $220,000 for Cancer Research UK as part of a series of mountain climbing, skiing and running endurance challenges over a year.
Our Matterhorn courses run between early July and mid September and usually include 6 climbing / guided days.
The maximum Guide to guest ratio is 1:2 for the training days 1-3 and 1:1 for the summit days 3-6.
Get in touch to discuss your own preferred dates and we can tailor make a programme with a rest day between the training & summit periods if preferred.
£2295 per person based on 2 guests booking together & sharing a guide for days 1-3 and 1:1 guiding for days 3-6.
£2975 based on an individual booking with 1:1 guiding for days 1-6
£2445 based on an individual booking & sharing a guide with another guest for days 1-3 and 1:1 guiding for days 3-6. Please note that the £2895 payment is required initially and if another suitable guest is found, a refund of £450 is provided.
What’s included in the Price?
Our courses are priced on a 'guiding only' basis which means you pay the exact cost price for all other expenses like hotels, mountain huts and lift passes. These expenses amount to about 600 euros which includes 6 nights half board accommodation in a hotel & mountain huts & lift passes. You could reduce this figure if you wanted to stay in a gite or camp and increase it if you want to stay in a more luxury hotel.
- 6 full days mountain guiding with an IFMGA Mountain Guide
- Course planning. A tailor made itinerary and booking of mountain huts
- Car transport during the course
What’s not included?
- Valley accommodation. This course is based in Chamonix and a variety of accommodation options are available. Please see our Chamonix Accommodation Notes with overnight rates starting at C. 20 euros per night for guest house style accommodation through to 5* Hotel options.
- Mountain huts & lift passes, for you and the guides. Allow about 50 euros per night half board accommodation. The guides expenses are split between the group members and are discounted in huts, hotels and on lifts and trains. The best way to deal with these expenses is to make a communal group 'kitty' which you contribute to and all expenses are paid out of.
- Parking in Tasch and the train to Zermatt for both the clients and guides.
- Your personal mountaineering equipment - see our alpine mountaineering kit list and options for mountain equipment hire.
- Flights and transfer from the airport to Chamonix.
- Lunches, extra drinks, snacks etc during the course
For more details on our terms & conditions, to fill in a booking form and make a payment, please visit our booking page via the link below
Other Relevant Courses
Here are some other relevant alpine courses. Also check out our Snowdonia Matterhorn Preparation Weekend.
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