Every season, up to 3,000 climbers want to conquer the Matterhorn. Not all of them make it to the summit. If you want to be safe and don’t want to risk your life, climb the mountain with an experienced mountain guide. The starting point of the most popular route is the Hörnlihütte at 3260 m. It is an alpine refuge at the foot of the Matterhorn. Most mountaineers start their ascent of the Matterhorn from here.
On peak days, up to 130 climbers attempt to reach the summit via the Hörnlihütte. Between 8 and 10 people die on the Matterhorn every year. Almost 600 climbers have lost their lives since the first ascent. Several dozen of those who have fallen have never been found. The Matterhorn is the deadliest mountain in Switzerland and one of the deadliest in Europe.
Requirements for climbing the Matterhorn
Climbing skills up to UIAA 3+ are required for the Matterhorn and safe use of crampons and ice axe is essential. Good acclimatization and very good fitness are basic requirements.
UIAA stands for “Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme” and is the international umbrella organization for mountain sports. UIAA grades are used to assess the difficulty of a climbing route or via ferrata.
A UIAA 3+ climbing route is a route that is relatively straight but still requires some easy climbing passages. Climbers should be able to move safely on the rope and use simple climbing techniques in order to successfully complete a UIAA 3+ route.
Tip: A preparation tour is recommended for better preparation and acclimatization. For example, Zinalrothorn, complete Spaghetti Round, Breithorn crossing, climbing on the Riffelhorn.
Spaghetti round as preparation
The Spaghetti Round is a series of alpine climbing tours that can serve as preparation for climbing the Matterhorn. It leads through the high alpine area of the Valais mountain massif in Switzerland. A proud 18 four-thousand-metre peaks are lined up here, including the highest peak in Switzerland, the Dufourspitze (4,634 m), 156 m higher than the Matterhorn (4,478 m). The classic route starts at the Monte Rosa hut in Zermatt, runs along the border between Italy and Switzerland and ends at the Klein Matterhorn mountain station.
The Spaghetti Round has been given its name over the years due to its location on the Italian south side of the Mt. Rosa massif, although the start and finish of the tour are in the Swiss canton of Valais. During the tour, climbers often spend the night in Italian huts, where pasta or minestrone is usually served as an appetizer. The name “Spaghetti Round” is therefore derived from this tradition.
The Spaghetti Round is considered to be very demanding and requires solid climbing skills as well as good fitness and experience in alpine terrain. The tour includes some difficult climbing passages with UIAA grades up to 5c and 6a, as well as glacier passages and abseils.
The Spaghetti Round is a popular practice tour for mountaineers who want to climb the Matterhorn, as it offers a good opportunity to get used to the alpine terrain and the technical demands of such an expedition.
Safety is the be-all and end-all on the Matterhorn
Climbing the Matterhorn without a mountain guide involves a high level of risk and is only for absolute professionals who know the route in detail or have already climbed the Matterhorn with a mountain guide.
Important: Anyone who climbs the Matterhorn without a mountain guide and gets into difficulties not only risks their own life, but also endangers other climbers on the tour!
You can find more information on preparing and booking an experienced mountain guide in the attached video and at ZERMATTERS
Note: If you have overestimated yourself and are too inexperienced or too slow in this terrain, so that the mountain guide cannot guarantee a safe tour, he reserves the right to cancel the tour at any time for safety reasons.
Normal route via Hörnligrad
On the evening before the tour, the guest and mountain guide meet at the Matterhorn hut before dinner. After a short night, the ascent begins in the dark the following morning. The ascent takes about 4 hours. The descent takes the same amount of time.
The ascent of the Matterhorn from the Hörnihütte to the summit takes 4-6 hours if the climber is confident in alpine terrain and on a short rope and the conditions are good, otherwise it can take considerably longer!
The ascent and descent is exclusively on rock and ice and requires good physical condition, alpine experience and safe rock climbing with and without crampons.
The normal route via the Hörnligrat ridge is very difficult to find in the dark morning hours up to the Solvayhütte and leads partly over loose rock.
The Solvayhütte at 4003 m is a refuge of the Swiss Alpine Club on the Matterhorn and is located on the most frequented ascent route, the Hörnligrat, the north-east ridge of the Matterhorn. There are often a lot of people on the route, which means you have to plan for waiting times and falling rocks!
The descent is via the ascent route.
If you are seriously considering climbing the Matterhorn, you should first watch the following video:
Video On the Matterhorn with a mountain guide | Reportage | SRF
No other mountain in the world exerts such an attraction. The Matterhorn, or “Horu” as the people of Zermatt call it, is a magnet for mountaineers from all over the world. They spare no effort or expense to stand on the famous summit.
Video High-altitude tour in Valais: spaghetti round
The Spaghetti Round is an impressive but challenging high-altitude tour in Valais, on which twelve 4,000-metre peaks are climbed. Wide glaciers, narrow ridges and airy climbing passages make the tour from the Klein Matterhorn to the Dufourspitze and from there down towards Gornergrat a high-alpine undertaking that is only recommended for experienced mountaineers.