Bishorn Ascent Guide

Climb The Bishorn 4153m

The Bishorn is a classic Swiss alpine 4000m peak and its ascent combines a long and beautiful hut walk, from Zinal, with a night in a superb Swiss mountain hut.  The pre-dawn alpine start, high altitude glacier journey and magnificent views of the surrounding Swiss Valais Giants make this a climb to remember.  Whilst technically quite straightforward, this is a physically tough hut walk and summit climb, and one requiring significant training & preparation.  The significant height gains, demands of high altitude mountaineering and huge vertical descent all require strong mountain legs and are not for the faint hearted!

This 2 day course is suitable for climbers with some basic mountaineering experience, very good mountain fitness and a reasonable level of pre-climb acclimatisation.  For this reason this course usually follows our Chamonix Alpine Intro or Gran Paradiso programmes.  After a rest day or two, this would also be great preparation for our Climb Mont Blanc course.

2023 Course Dates & Prices

Latest Bishorn Conditions & Reports

There are no upcoming courses at this time.

Superb glacier scenery on the Turtmann Glacier above the Tracuit Hut en route to the Bishorn summit.

 Climb the Bishorn, Featuring…

  • A long and beautiful mountain hut walk from the fine Swiss alpine village of Zinal
  • A night spent in the lovely high altitude Swiss mountain hut, The Cabanne Tracuit.  Superb location, hospitable staff, good Swiss mountain food
  • Technically quite easy (alpine grade F in good conditions) glacier journey to the magnificent mountain views from this major alpine summit
  • Great progression (and acclimatisation) towards climbing other 4000m peaks like Mont Blanc
  • Meet other like minded climbers for a sociable overnight mountain hut expedition in the high mountains
  • An action packed long alpine weekend easily done from Geneva Airport & transfer to Chamonix
Superb glacier scenery on the Turtmann Glacier above the Tracuit Hut en route to the Bishorn summit.

Day 1 – Beautiful & Physical Swiss High Altitude Alpine Hut Walk, Zinal – Cabane de Tracuit

Our two day Bishorn programme begins in Chamonix, easily reached from Geneva airport via a simple one hour transfer. Day 1 begins with an early meet in Chamonix for a welcome to the course, introduction to the guide and other guests plus a weather brief and equipment check.  We can also hire out any alpine mountaineering equipment out at this stage. Please check our alpine mountaineering equipment list in advance and let us know what items you will require.  Once everyone is happy with the plan and has suitable alpine mountaineering gear, we make the pleasant 2 hr journey east in to the Swiss Rhone Valley and up the Val d’Anniviers to the pleasant alpine village of Zinal (1675m).

Climbing out of Zinal en route to the Tracuit Hut, with a magnificent view of the big Swiss Valais 4000ers at the head of the Zinal Valley

Here we can stop for a café and look at the map / stock up on sandwiches for the long but beautiful hut walk in.  This is an impressive vertical height gain of 1600m – and the hut is over 3000m, so it is where your training & acclimatisation pays off.   The ascent is taken steadily, around 300m per hour, to allow time to enjoy the superb views of both the major alpine summits and lovely alpine meadows.  Our aim is also to save energy for the big summit climb & descent for tomorrow.  The ascent takes roughly 4-5hrs depending on conditions.   The walking is mainly on rough & stony paths with a very short section of easy scrambling right at the top near the hut.

Despite its high altitude location (3256m) the Cabane de Tracuit is a superb base camp for the ascent of the Bishorn. With great views from the dining room!

The Tracuit Hut is now a superb modern & smart Swiss Mountain Refuge.  Attractive & hospitable, with good food & great views from the dining room.   The hut’s elevation of 3256m is a high sleeping altitude which is why we recommend that you have some pre-course acclimatisation.  Dinner is served around 6.30pm and involves 4 courses including soup, salad, main course & dessert. Bon Appetit!  Drinking water will need to be bought at the hut as there is no running water on this high altitude rocky promontory.  If the price of the bottled water takes your breath away, so will the views of both the sunset and sunrise after a hearty pre-dawn Swiss Alpine Hut breakfast the next morning.

Alpenglow…with a great view of the Bishorn ascent via the Turtmann Glacier. The Weisshorn N Ridge continues on the right…

As well as a sociable evening in the hut there will be a session refreshing your glacier travel skills and simple crevasse rescue problem solving.

Day 2 – Bishorn Summit Day

On summit day, depending on the time of year, breakfast is served at around 4am and our intention will be to leave the hut 45 mins after that. A rough & rocky path leads across towards the start of the Turtmann Glacier where a great view of the mountain and the route unfolds.  Hopefully there will be a good track in place navigating its way through the lower crevasse fields.   The team move steady up the glacier, roped together at all times.

The long glacier journey continues, just after dawn on the Turtmann Glacier…with plenty of crevasses!

The ascent of the Turtmann Glacier is steady and technically easy but long and physical.  There are some crevasses to avoid but usually a good track and the main focus becomes maintaining a good steady pace and ascent rate.   The mountain takes its name from the ‘Bise‘, a cold wind that blows from the North East and this is indeed one of the most northerly of the big peaks South of The Rhone Valley.  Take plenty of high altitude warm weather gear and this ascent is good training for other big & cold peaks like Mont Blanc and the Monte Rosa.

Climbing The Bishorn
Nice fresh snow and good conditions for the Bishorn ascent from Zinal – Tracuit. Photo James Carr.

Very high on the ascent, there is a tiny col where the final steep snow slope leads directly to the summit.  Here trekking poles can be left and an ice axe is used for this short pitch of steeper snow and / or ice.   Magnificent views from the summit directly across to the spectacular and huge arc of the Weisshorn 4506m North East Face as well as across the Rhone Valley to the Bernese Oberland and around much of these northern Alps!  Guide book time from the hut to the summit, 900m and around 3 hours.

The ascent of the Bishorn culminates in this short steep snow / ice slope. A good track today and fine conditions, but still hard work at 4150m!

The descent of the mountain is made by the same route and this gives, for strong legs, a rapid loss of height and swift return to the welcome break, drinks and snacks at the Tracuit Hut.   Around 1.5 hours from summit to hut.   There then remains the long descent to Zinal.  After the short rocky down climb, the path is easy and gives plenty of time to enjoy the superb ambiance of this beautiful high alpine valley and let the satisfaction of a high alpine ascent soak in.   After a celebratory drink in Zinal the return journey takes the team back to Chamonix for late afternoon / early evening.

Team descending the final summit slopes on the Bishorn.

View The Full Zinal – Tracuit – Bishorn Ascent Route On Strava Here

Required Fitness and Experience Levels

Some basic previous mountaineering experience is required for the ascent of the Bishorn. Those who have never worn crampons before should investigate our Chamonix Alpine Intro and Climb the Gran Paradiso courses or arrange some private guiding & mountaineering training prior to the course.

Pre course acclimatisation is also required with previous days spent above 3000m and ideally a night spent in a mountain hut.  our Chamonix Alpine Intro course runs the week before and this is an ideal extension to that after the rest day in-between.

A very good level of fitness & stamina is also required for the long walk to the hut (around 5 hours) and then nearly 1000m summit climb to 4153mm on the summit days (c. 3-4 hours).  Some mountain walking experience is also required in order to be able to deal effectively with the rough paths and very long descent from the summit back to Zinal on the 2nd day of the course.  This presents a whopping 2500m descent!

The descent from the Bishorn is long and has a huge vertical descent of 2500m+. Plenty of advance training is required for this!

Suggested Course Progression

A good build up to climbing the Bishorn would be completing our Chamonix Intro Alpine Course and /or Climbing the Gran Paradiso. This would then set you up well for Climbing Mont Blanc or our Monte Rosa Mountaineer programme.  After that a good technical progression would be Climb The Weissmies, Chamonix Private Guiding and Climb The Matterhorn.

Superb evening views of the sunset from the Cabane de Tracuit. A chilly photo session!

When To Climb The Bishorn

The main season for climbing the Bishorn is high summer (late June to early September) and that is when the logical base camp of the Cabane de Tracuit is open.  You can keep an eye on current conditions via their webcam here!  It is also possible to make a ski ascent of the mountain in spring and again the hut is open for that option in April and we offer private ski mountaineering guiding for bespoke programmes.

Those looking for a quieter and even tougher climbing experience may choose to climb in the Autumn when the mountain hut is not guarded.  Depending on conditions an ascent at this time may still be possible, using the hut’s ‘winter room’, and indeed this can provide a great demanding expedition with a remote feel and a magical mountain journey.

Lovely early autumn afternoon light for the final leg of the long ascent to Tracuit. Great views of the Zinalrothorn and its classic North Ridge

Mountaineering Equipment

Please refer to our classic alpine mountaineering equipment list for a summer ascent of the Bishorn.  Please note that it’s a high altitude, snowy and glacier ascent, so warm alpine mountaineering boots are required.   There are no long or difficult rock sections so very neat alpine boots are not required.   The hut approach is long however and, in high summer conditions, some folk prefer to take trainers for a more comfortable approach / descent and these can be left at the hut during the summit climb.

Phil on the summit of the Bishorn in September 2017. The ascent is technically one of the easiest of the 4000m peaks, but the height gain from Zinal and physical factor is high!

Phil Tucker, Bishorn Ascent, Early September 2017

A memorable 2 days with Rob in the beautiful Zinal Valley and the big climb up to the hut!  Brilliant hut, great views, superb food….expensive water!  Early alpine start & impressive glacier before the long & demanding snow slope…”Keep the pace going!”  At last, the col and a short ice climb to the summit!  We dashed back down for well earned break at the hut before the descent to the valley (descent not to be underestimated!)  A physically tough but hugely rewarding ascent & Great training!  

Climb The Bishorn – Course Dates & Prices

Please check our individual course dates below and visit that page to reserve your place.

There are no upcoming courses at this time.

2023 Course Price £495.00

An ideal way to train and acclimatise for this ascent would be to do our 5 day Chamonix Alpine Intro the week before.


Please visit the specific Bishorn course dates above to complete a booking form, make a payment and confirm your place.

What’s included in the Price?

  • 2 days mountain guiding with an IFMGA Mountain Guide
  • Transport during the course from Chamonix to the Swiss Alps & back
  • Discounted equipment hire prices if required
  • Trip management & booking of mountain huts

What’s not included?

  • Dinner, bed and breakfast in the mountain hut, c. 95 CHF Swiss Francs per person per night. Discounted if you are a member of an alpine club.
  • The guides dinner bed & breakfast at a discounted rate split between group members. E.g with 4 clients this would be c. 10-15 Swiss Francs each.
  • Chamonix Valley accommodation – please see our Chamonix Accommodation notes. Prices start from camping at C.10 euros per night, Bunkhouse for C.20 euros per night and hotel accommodation from around 50 euros upwards.
  • Lunches, drinks and snacks
  • Flights and transfers to Chamonix
  • Mountaineering equipment. Check the kit list above
  • Insurance suitable for alpine mountaineering in Europe
Superb views, although pretty chilly out! Sunset at the Cabane de Tracuit 3256m

Latest Bishorn Conditions & Reports

Please let us know if you have been on the mountain and have any conditions info we can add to this conditions feed…

28 June 2020, Pristine snow conditions and a bit of luck with a weather window. Good early summer season conditions…

28 June 2020, Chamonix, Mont Blanc & Alpine Mountaineering Conditions

15 July 2019, Good Conditions But Poor Weather & No Summit For Our Bishorn Course

Our Bishorn team were well warmed up and acclimatised from our Chamonix Intro Mountaineering course last week, the conditions on the Bishorn were reported to be good, but this morning, the team woke to 20cms of fresh snow at the hut!  There was also windy and cloudy weather for much of the morning until it cleared in the afternoon.   By which time the team had broken trail back down the path with fresh tracks in the snow down to around 2400m.  We have another team attempting the route in a couple of weeks so stay tuned for another update in early August.

5-6th September 2017, Bishorn Expedition Via Tracuit Hut