High Mountain Guides / What we do / Alpine Mountaineering / Climb The Matterhorn

Climb The Matterhorn

High On The Hornli Ridge, Between The Shoulder & Fixed Ropes. Obergabelhorn, Zinalrothorn & Weisshorn To The Right Of The Climber

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.

2018 Dates & Prices

Latest Matterhorn Conditions

Matterhorn Training Weekends

Matterhorn Summit Strategy & Hut / Accommodation Options

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

Chamonix Mountaineering

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.

Matterhorn Summit Strategy and Hut / Accommodation options

British Guide Jonny Baird leads Aanthony across the Shoulder and then into the start of the upper fixed rope section which provides some scrambling then steep rope hauling to access the upper snow field.

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. We book this hut in consultation with you about your aims and preferences for the itinerary, venue & style of climbing.

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 Chamonix. Day 6 then 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.

  1. Climb to Hörnlihütte on day 1, summit & descent to Zermatt / Chamonix on day 2. Day 3 spare poor weather day / additional climb.
  2. Climb to Hörnlihütte on day 1, summit & descent to Schwarzee Hotel on day 2, descent to Zermatt / Chamonix on day 3 / spare poor weather summit day

    This is the Swiss & main summit and a short and narrow snow / mixed ridge leads to the slightly lower Italian summit. Monte Rosa Massif in the background.

    / additional climb.
  3. 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.

We ask you to make the bookings at both the Hornli Hut and Schwarzee as they both require non-refundable deposits to be made, which you then 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 or here on booking.com. This is more of a hotel than a hut so reservations for the rooms should be honoured / paid for even in the event of poor weather etc whereas they are somewhat more flexible regarding their dortoir rooms. Prices range from dortoir beds for £80 per person for dinner bed & breakfast through to more expensive single / double rooms with Matterhorn views! Free cancellation is available through to the summer months so it may be worth making a booking whilst you reflect on your preferred strategy.

You will also need to arrange accommodation here for your guide. A bed in the shared dortoir is fine for the guide!

Matterhorn Climber Experience & Fitness Pre-Requirements

Low on The Hornli Ridge, with the Monte Rosa Massif, Liskamm & Breithorn beyond.

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.

Matterhorn Preparation Weekend In Snowdonia, UK

For UK based climbers we offer a series of Alpine training weekends based in either the Scottish Highlands or Snowdonia. These run from early Feb through the spring and again in the autumn and are quality Matterhorn training weekends 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 mountaineering skills as a compliment to the physical fitness training you can do closer to home!

Next Courses

Scottish Highlands Matterhorn Training Weekend 21-22 April 2018, £385

Snowdonia Matterhorn Training Weekend 26-27 May, 2018, £375

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.

Equipment List

Alpine Mountaineering

A summary of technical equipment & clothing required for summer alpine mountaineering. The alpine style involves climbing with a small & light pack that has all the essentials, sufficient emergency equipment, an... more>

2018 Course Dates & Prices

Morning sun catches the East Face of The Matterhorn as seen from the ascent of the Rimpfischhorn.

Our Matterhorn courses run between early July and mid September and usually include 6 climbing / guided days. Later in September and even early October is sometimes still possible although generally provides a more difficult ascent with snowy conditions and the Hornli Hut is closed by then.

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.

Guiding Fees

£2375 per person based on 2 guests booking together & sharing a guide for days 1-3 and 1:1 guiding for days 3-6.

£2995 based on an individual booking with 1:1 guiding for days 1-6

£2545 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 £2995 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?

These lights were set up by the Zermatt Guides & Mammut to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Whymper's ill fated first ascent of the mountain. They form a superb sequence along the Hornli Ridge and are lit in ascending order after dusk. A great show!

  • 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
  • Insurance

More details

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.

Climb The Weissmies

Whilst, at 4017m the Weissmies only just makes it into the exclusive club of Alpine 4000m peaks, it has many more attributes to recommend an ascent than just its altitude...

The traverse of the Weissmies is a classic high alpine journey, among some of the Giants of the Swiss Alps, and provides an extremely enjoyable long weekend when combined with its neighboring 4000m peak, the Lagginhorn. This course is suitable for climbers with good fitness and some basic mountaineering experience and is a great progression for higher & more technical alpine ascents.

Climb The Eiger

The colourful history of the Eiger brings this mountain, like few others, in to the popular domain and means it is both famous and notorious not just with mountaineers but with the public at large. A lot of the Eiger's fame comes from its enormous, steep and imposing north face,... more>

Mission Impossible

'The Mission' tackles the 3 highest mountains in the Alps but 'Mission Impossible' challenges you to attempt the Alps 3 most renowned peaks and 3 of the worlds great iconic mountains...The Eiger, The Matterhorn & Mont Blanc. <... more>

Chamonix Alpinist

Chamonix is the capital of World Mountaineering. Put simply, it has it all. Rich in alpine history, ripe with hundreds of superb climbs and overlooked by the spectacular presence of Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Aiguilles. This, is the domain of the 'Alpinist'. On th... more>

Latest Matterhorn Conditions

Please check the comments boxes below for any recent reports from the Matterhorn. If you have been on the Mountain yourself recently please add a short conditions report via the 'New Comment' button:


29th August 2016, Good Dry Conditions On The Hornli Ridge

The continued warm and sunny late summer weather has developed good high summer conditions on the Matterhorn and many teams are climbing via the Hornli Hut and Ridge. The ridge is pretty dry until the shoulder and crampons were required above that for some sections of hard ice above there, on the fixed ropes and upper snow / ice field. Warm sunny weather looks set to continue for a while yet with the odd afternoon thunderstorm.

12th August 2016, Snowy & Tough Conditions But Improving With Good Weather

The last 2 days have been characterised by cool & windy weather and snowy conditions on the Hornli Ridge. Many teams have turned around at the Solvay Hut in difficult and slow conditions with verglassed rock lower down and fresh snow remaining on the ledges higher up. Warm and sunny weather is forecast for the next few days which should help burn things off and bring the ridge back in to more normal summery conditions.

4th August 2016, Good Climbing Conditions On The Matterhorn

Delighted to hear that our 3rd team in 3 days has now also just summitted today - well done Alasdair and Mike, and Marc & Tomaz. Good conditions with both teams doing the aller retour up the Hornli Ridge and down before this evenings storms arrive. Tonight and tomorrow look stormy so the climb will be out of condition for a short while before the hot and sunny weather bring back good conditions by the look of it for later in the weekend and early next week.

Teams had also been climbing the Italian Ridge and reported good dry conditions on that - albeit very busy in the Carrel Bivi Hut. Again this will need a bit of good weather and sun to return the good conditions but it should not take long as we are in full gas mid summer sunshine conditions.

2nd August 2016, Hornli - Summit Aller Retour

After Alberto climbed the Italian Ridge a few days ago in very good dry conditions there has been some bad weather and some precipitation falling as snow high on the mountain. However today showed that the rocky sections were still in reasonable condition and crampons were not worn until near the shoulder.

28th June 2016, Snowy Early Summer Conditions Prevail - Hornli Hut to Open 1st July

Normal guided ascents of the Matterhorn have not commenced yet for this season due to the very snowy hangover from the long cool & wet spring season. The mountain has been plastered in fresh snow and the better recent weather has not been enough yet to clear this. Thus conditions remain difficult and it could still be a week or 2 before things clear and even then only if we get good and warm weather, which actually is the current forecast. Stay posted over the summer for regular updates and please let us know if you have been on the mountain and have a conditions report.

30th September 2015, Too Snowy For The Hornli, Not Snowy Enough For The North Face Yet

Very fine autumnal weather meant this was a great time to be in the mountains above Zermatt. The Hornli Hut has been closed for nearly a couple of weeks now and the mountain is well snowy with plenty of snow below the hut. Both the North & East faces of the mountain look well plastered and few teams, if any were even attempting the mountain. Even more snow is forecast over the weekend and in to next week so this may help to build the icy mixed climbing conditions required for the North Face.

8 September 2015, Excellent Snowy Conditions On The Hornli Ridge

Very enjoyable 8hrs 45 mins return trip on the Hornli via the smart new hut. Snowy conditions prevailed with even some snow & ice on the track below the Hornli Hut. However the cool temperatures and stable weather meant a solid snowy track persisted up the mountain from well below the Solvay Hut and crampons were worn from the old hut (just a wooden log left in the shallow cave left now).

The trickier rock pitches around the Solvay were dry & sunny and thus not any harder than usual but various other dry looser sections worked well with the additional snow cover. The ascent up the easy and normally dry / loose / rocky slabs to the shoulder was a quick & simple snow track for example.

The hut is full tonight for what may prove to be the last summit day of the season tomorrow as more fresh snow arrives after that and could put the mountain in to tough & difficult snowy autumnal conditions although that will of course help to build & improve snow & ice conditions on the North Face!

1st September 2015, Snowy & Good Yesterday, Snowy & Poor Today!

A very busy day on the mountain yesterday with many teams sensing this may be one of the last fine summit days before the arrival of Autumn. Many teams made the ascent to the summit including some of our teams whilst others turned around at the Solvay Hut and Shoulder due to tiredness and a slower pace. Conditions & weather were fine although it's quite snowy with patches around the Hornli Hut and crampons worn from well below the Solvay.

With the poor weather this morning there will be a lot more snow on the mountains and this will certainly take a while to clear with cooler and showery weather over the next few days. Looking warm & sunny in to early next week so there may still be some summit days before the hut closes around the 20th September. We used Schwarzee as a base camp instead of the Hornli Hut which made a nice change and is a great spot but climbers need to be even fitter to go from here with the extra 2 hours or so of walking to reach the Hornli Hut.

7th August 2015 - Good Dry Conditions On The Hornli Ridge

An 0420 departure from the Hornli Hut this morning gave a quick 0430 departure from the base of the fixed ropes. We did not want to quite hold the blistering pace of the front Zermatt Guides but made good steady progress nonetheless and enjoyed the view of sun rising over the Alphubel from the Solvay Hut at 4000m after 1hr 45mins of climbing. Crampons were worn from the base of the fixed rope for the odd snow patch on the north face and then a decent snowy / icy track on the upper fixed ropes and over the roof to the summit. The mountain remains in very dry conditions with only patches of snow on the summit ridge. However the snow last Saturday has coated much of the loose debris on the summit snow fields and thus improved the situation there with regard to loose rock & stone fall. A very enjoyable ascent topped off with a 10/10 Rosti on the terrace outside the flash new Hornli Hut!

30 July 2015 - Very Dry & Swift Matterhorn Conditions

The hot weather has removed so much of the snow from the roof of the Matterhorn it was possible to climb today to the summit without ice axe & crampons. A swift ascent with our Norweigan guest this week, Sture who arrived fighting fit and raring to go and made a great job of climbing the mountain in just 3hrs from the base to summit. As is often the case, the descent took longer than the climb but the team were still back at the new Hornli Hut for a 2nd breakfast!

10 July 2015, Matterhorn Conditions

In contrast to the difficulties of summer 2014 on the Matterhorn, this year has started well. Last summer we had considerable early season snow covering the rocks that never melted in the cool and very wet weather of July & August. This year we had quite a snowy start but the very hot sustained weather in late June and early July has cleared things well and the mountain is now getting climbed, in good conditions, from the flash new hut Hornli Hut on the Zermatt / Swiss side of the mountain. Good timing as there will be lots of ascents in the build up to the 150th anniversary of the 1st ascent on the 14th July (although the mountain is technically 'closed' on that date as a mark of respect to those killed during the first descent of the mountain).

Summer 2013 Climb the Matterhorn - Expenses Details

Here is a rough breakdown of costs for a 2 day climb the Matterhorn trip from Tasch / Zermatt:

All prices in CHF Swiss Francs

- 16, Return train trip from Tasch to Zermatt
- 28, Parking at Tasch train station for 2 days
- 24.50, Guides return lift from Zermatt to Schwarzee
- 32, Zermatt - Schwarzee
- 75, dinner, bed & breakfast per person at the Hornli Hut (no discount for Guides as this is a private hut - not CAS)

5th September 2013, Perfect Late Summer Conditions on the Matterhorn Hornli Ridge

Great conditions continue on the Matterhorn with dry rock for scrambling and a great snowy track on the summit snow slopes. The Hornli Hut had 80 people in it yesterday - full at the currently reduced capacity due to building works. However in the perfect conditions and fantastic weather the teams soon spread out with the very fast parties climbing the mountain in less than 6 hours.

Our return trip from the hut was just over 8 hours whilst many teams took a lot longer - fine as it turned out with no afternoon / evening thunderstorm.

Renovations at the Hornli Hut will now continue until July 2015 when the hut will fully reopen. In the meantime other strategies for climbing the Matterhorn including using the nice hotel at Schwarzee, camping near the hut, bivvying on the ridge itself or climbing from the Italian side via the Carrel Hut.

23rd August 2013, Continuing Excellent Conditions on the Matterhorn

Dry rock up to the shoulder and good snow conditions on the summit snow fields mean teams are still enjoying great conditions on the Matterhorn.

We did not make the summit today due to David's tired legs on the sustained scrambling ground but there was still a great ambiance on the mountain with a very bright full moon and only 20 odd teams climbing.

It was great to see Jamie Andrew moving strongly and still smiling after 15 hours on the go on the Hornli Ridge yesterday.

Snow down to well below hut level this weekend will most likely put the mountain out of good condition for a few days.

19th September 2012, Matterhorn's Hornli Ridge in Good Condition as the Hut Closes

Recent snow storms deposited less fresh snow in the Swiss Valais than in the Chamoix Valley. Subsequently the last few days of warm sunny weather have brought the mountain back in to good, normal summer, conditions and there were quite a few teams enjoying the last night of the season in the hut to make the most of them.

Conditions were good on the ridge, dry right up to the start of the main fixed ropes. The ice field had benefited from a recent top up and the decent conditions that have prevailed for most of the season continue. Conditions will remain good over the next day or so whilst the weather remains stable but only the winter room will be open at the hut. Check with the Zermatt Guides Bureau for more details.

Our Matterhorn courses are already filling up for summer 2013 so get in touch to arrange your tailor made programme soon, Rob.

21/08/12 Near Perfect Conditions on Both the Matterhorn's Hornli & Italian Ridges

Despite warm, heavy showers the previous evening conditions on the Hornli Ridge this morning were near perfect. A small amount of verglass and graupel was encountered on the rocks just below the shoulder but by then it was time to put crampons on anyway and this had all disappeared with just a little warming from the sun for our descent. Plenty of teams climbed the mountain from both the Hornli and Carrel Huts and very good conditions were also reported on the Lion / Italian Ridge. The upper snow / ice field on the Hornli route currently has a good track in firm snow ice and with pleasant warm dry rock lower down conditions are good for a fast ascent. We climbed up in 4 hours and descended in 4 hours to make a satisfying round trip and make it back to the Hornli Hutte for lunch.

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