This is a mountaineering equipment required for climbing the Hornli Ridge on the Matterhorn with a mountain Guide in normal summer conditions. Equipment requirements may vary according to weather and conditions so this is only a starting point to use when considering what equipment you will and will not need. Equipment links are to recommended makes and models as one example only. Many others will also be fine!
Keep your rucksack light by having a light and simple pack with all the essential equipment in, and nothing else! See our packing tips below.
Whilst equipment is important, mountaineering skill and fitness is even more important, so if in doubt about your abilities please check out our Matterhorn training courses & Matterhorn summit guiding.
- Alpine Mountaineering Boots. Summer alpine boots designed for mountaineering and able to take crampons effectively. If the manufacturers description of the boots includes ‘trekking’ or ‘trail walking’ they are unlikely to be suitable. Light summer alpine boots are neat and precise to scramble and rock climb in but fine to also use with crampons like higher on the Matterhorn. These boots are generally lighter and less warm than our suggestions for climbing Mont Blanc, but great to climb in!
- Examples of good summer Hornli Ridge Matterhorn boots are Scarpa Ribelle Tech OD, Charmoz and La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX.
- 30-40L Rucksack that fits your back size. A light & simple pack is far preferable to one with lots of straps, zips, bells and whistles! This should be a climbers pack which are simple, neat and narrow. They are harder to pack than trekking packs with lots of pockets, but that gives improved performance during the ascent! Please see our rucksack packing advice below.
- Crampons with anti-balling plates. General 12 point steel mountaineering crampons are ideal e.g. Petzl Vasak, Grivel G12 or Black Diamond Serac. Make sure they fit your boots well. Avoid very lightweight walking / ski touring crampons or heavy technical ice climbing crampons as the former may break and the latter are too stiff and heavy.
- Light / Low Ankle Gaiters are useful for keeping your lower legs warm and boot laces away from your crampons! Take some time ensuring gaiters are a neat fit and that there are no straps sticking out on the inside of your boots. Boots with built in gaiters work well and generally mean that you don’t need an additional pair. Short, shin height gaiters are fine and lighter and better than knee length for summer alpinism, eg the Black Diamond Cirque gaiters.
- Helmet. General mountaineering helmet essential e.g. Black Diamond Vector / Vapour or Petzl Elios
- Harness. General mountaineering harness ideal e.g. Black Diamond Technician, with 2 X screw gate Karabiners. If you already have a rock climbing harness this will be fine as long as it is large enough to wear over multiple bulky warm layers.
- Ice axe. A simple mountaineering ice axe is ideal and preferable to technical climbing models. Petzl summit, Black Diamond Venom, Grivel air-tech and, cheapest but still totally fine, DMM Cirque. Any straps or leashes on your ice axe should be removed.
- Waterproof Jacket and Trousers. These form your important ‘shell layer’ protecting you from the wind as well as rain and snow. They need to be waterproof but not warm as your insulation comes from other layers so lightweight is good. A large hood to go over your helmet is ideal and full length zips mean the trousers can be taken off over boots / crampons.
- Mountain Trousers. A tough, stretchy soft shell fabric is ideal and these can be worn without leggings or over trousers most of the time e.g. Patagonia Simple Guide Pant. Lighter trekking trousers are fine too but only with leggings to make them warmer for summit day.
- Thermal Layer. A long sleeved synthetic or wool layer to wear next to the skin as a first layer of insulation when cool or as an outer layer on the glacier when warm. A zip neck is useful for ventilation.
- Mid-Layer Jacket. Fleece or, ideally a ‘soft shell’ style jacket with a thin insulation layer. Worn over the thermal layer and under the waterproof jacket when cold / windy.
- Light Weight Duvet Jacket. A warm insulation layer in a generous size so that it can be worn over all your other layers. Ideally a lightweight down or synthetic duvet jacket with a large hood e.g. e.g. Arcteryx have a good selection of insulated jackets or Rab Photon / Infinity or Marmot Ama Dablam Jackets. This will often stay in your pack during the ascent so you ideally want a relatively light down / synthetic duvet jacket.
- Lightweight Climbing Gloves for general use and mainly it is these that are worn for most if not all of summit day. They need to be close fitting, dextrous and have a leather palm / fingers. Petzl cordex are another example.
- Warmer Insulated Gloves which often stay in the pack but are required as a spare or for cold & windy conditions. Lots of examples of this and Arcteryx and Black Diamond particularly good.
- Warm Hat which will fit neatly under your helmet.
- Socks A thin liner pair for walking in to the hut and a warmer, medium thickness, pair for use on the summit day.
- Sun Glasses. Good quality sunglasses.
- Sun Cream & Lip Protection. Bring both and use liberally every day regardless of the weather. At least factor 30 and factor 50 preferable. Small bottles are ideal to save weight.
- Water Bottle. A tough 1L ‘Nalgene’ style water bottle is ideal and, if required, can be supplemented with another 0.5L bottle of sports drink etc. for the summit day. These drinks and sweet tea are available in the Hornli Hut.
- Snacks / Hill food. Bring your favourite snacks for the hill, energy bars / gels, cereal bars, chocolate, energy etc. and make sure you have tried them out before summit day so you know your stomach agrees with them!
- Head Torch. With fresh batteries. Necessary for the pre-dawn start. Small, light LED headtorch like the Petzl Tikka is fine.
- Personal Medical Items. Blister kit, plasters, painkillers, glasses / contact lenses as necessary
- Personal Admin Items. Mobile Phone, Cash (lots of it as this is Zermatt and everything, even bottled water is pricey!), Insurance details – see our Insurance FAQ
Extra Kit For The Hut
- Very thin / light sheet sleeping bag / liner. This is a very small / light item and not a normal sleeping back (which is not required).
- Ear Plugs
- Hut discount card / Alpine club membership
- Trekking Pole(s) can be left at the Hornli Hut during the ascent
- If you have packed things that are not on this list, check with your Guide that you really need them because ‘excess baggage’ really slows you down, tires you out and is a big problem during a long day when the emphasis is on swift and efficient momentum up and down the mountain.
Equipment Provided by the Guide
- Mountaineering Hardware / Protection
- First Aid Kit
- Group Shelter
- Guide book / local knowledge!
Rucksack Packing Advice
- Try hard to get your rucksack as light as possible. This will make a big difference to your enjoyment, speed and chances of success on the Matterhorn. Think “Light is “Right” and “The only thing that weights nothing….is nothing!”
- Pack the items in your sack according to how frequently you use them. The bottom of your sack is reserved for things like duvet jacket & warm gloves. Think about using your pockets if you can for handy items like tiny water bottles / snacks / your camera so you don’t need to take your pack off to get them out.
- Think about removing unnecessary bits from your pack if it’s a modular system, like waist belt or lid.
- Develop a system for where items are stored in your rucksack and stick to it.