Route finding is one of the major challenges of the Hornli Ridge as the actual crest is rarely followed , especially in the lower half. Getting off route means the rock is not well travelled and will be of poor quality (re-trace your steps back to where it was solid and try again). There is a narrow ‘strip’ which is the normal route and where the rock is well used, slightly paler, scratched by crampons and generally more solid than the rest of the mountain! Sticking to this can be difficult in anything other than perfect conditions. Snow / ice / dark / cloud / rain can all add to the difficulty of finding the right line. Other parties off-route present a considerable stone fall hazard to other teams on the mountain.
Due to the length and sustained nature of the route and despite it’s popularity the Hornli Ridge is a committing undertaking requiring both good conditions and good weather. With too much snow and ice on the lower sections the climbing will be much more time consuming and only very fast parties could successfully complete the climb in a day. To be caught out high on the mountain in an afternoon thunderstorm would be an ‘adventurous’ experience at best. Terrain that can be swiftly negotiated when dry can become painstakingly slow and difficult in a storm. The Matterhorn is no place to be caught out in bad weather. With this in mind parties attempting the ridge should be fit and acclimatised, practised at moving on similar rocky, mixed and icy terrain in ascent and descent and wait for good conditions and good weather. These are most often found in the traditional alpine ‘high summer’ , July, August and the start of September.