Front Range Mountain Guides of Colorado


The Matterhorn : 14,691 ', The Breithorn : 13,661 ', Castor : 13,871 '

9 days
( Maximum 4 Participants )

Truly a legend of a mountain in a wonderful setting, with great climbing to a spectacular summit ridge

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Situated on the Swiss-Italian border in the heart of the Valais of Pennine Alps, the infamous Matterhorn completely dominates the landscape. It can be easily be argued that no other peak in the entire world is more readily recognized by its shape or even its name. Obviously this remarkable peak is one of the summits most coveted by climbers from around the globe who at some point in their climbing career are compelled to do this ultra-classic.

The mountain is made up of four steep ridges rising to converge at a horizontal 85 meter long crest, sitting at 4,478 meters, or 14,691' in altitude. This summit ridge lies in both Switzerland and Italy.

The mountainís 3,300' east face and 3,900' West Face are seldom climbed due to poor rock and the dangers associated with such terrain. Because of the unique features of this mountain, all routes to the summit are relatively serious endeavors, making the summit a prize for anyone who stands on its top.

Our objective is the Hornli Ridge, first climbed in July of 1865 by the famous Whymper party which lost several of its members on the descent. It still remains a formidable challenge and should not be taken lightly as grades in books belie the effort, respect, and care this route should be approached with. Constant rock fall is only a few yards away on the route, it can ice up quickly and become unclimable by mere mortals. Clouds can come in and make visibility nearly non-existent. The ropes that you may hear about on the harder sections are often covered in snow and may be unusable.

On any given day, only about 1/3 of the parties starting out actually see the summit. Inexperience, underestimating the difficulty, lack of climbing skills and not allowing the time needed to succeed are major contributions to this poor success rate. We have been quite successful on this peak for a variety of reasons stemming from years of technical climbing experience combined with a very conservative and respectful attitude we have toward climbing this peak. We climb with a ratio of one person per guide, so you are closely watched the entire time by your guide.

Unlike the local guides, we are more choosey in who we allow to rope up with us to climb it. We believe that a climber who wishes to attempt this peak should be familiar and comfortable with climbing both up and down steep, fourth and low fifth class terrain, while in stiff mountaineering boots, not rock shoes. Most people have not experienced this type of climbing, so they will need some practice. If you have experience on climbing rock up thru the 5.6 level, some mountaineering experience, and are in very good aerobic condition as well as overall good health, and have good knees, we can teach you the additional specialized skills necessary to do this classic. Persons with previous technical rock experience can learn while in Zermatt. Others will need to either take a 2 day 'prep' course in Colorado beforehand. Call us for details.

Our trips are scheduled to take place in late July thru mid August, which is the prime time to be here. There are only a few weeks when this mountain is in optimal climbing conditions so you need to make the effort to be there at that time.

Our Switzerland trip begins in Zermatt, where we meet you when you arrive by cog rail. After several days of hiking and practice climbs, which also serve as acclimating time, we head up higher in elevation to climb either the Breithorn or Caster. Both fun climbs involving climbing mixed terrain with crampons on. These ascents are close by, and give us spectacular views of the Matterhorn and the Hornli ridge in profile.

We stay in mountain huts each evening which are a real treat. these huts are complete with bunks with bedding, hot meals and great company, not to mention the great views.

By the fifth day our acclimating process is paying off and we are ready to head to the Hornli hut where we will stay the afternoon and evening before the climb. this hut also provides very comfortable accommodations.

Our Matterhorn summit day begins with breakfast at 4am. We then head out of the hut into the chilly morning air at 4:30am to begin our ascent. 4,400' of sustained scrambling and rock climbing over the next 6 hours, at times with spectacular exposure, always with incredible views of Zermatt, Monte Rosa (also known as the Dulferspitz, ), Castor, Pollux and the Breithhorn.

The summit of the Matterhorn is a unique experience, something that you will undoubtedly remember your entire life as we can testify. Its steep and exposed position, the almost 4,000' dropping below our feet to the Northeast, all make it truly special on the summit ridge. At the top we take photos and head back down. Descending from this mountain requires one to be slow and careful to assure a safe return.

We schedule an extra day to use in the case of poor weather on our summit day. Normally, at this time of year, it is not necessary to use the second day, but it's nice to know it's included in the schedule just in case. If we donít use it, many people like to hike through the nearby mountains and take photos of the Matterhorn the day after, then head back to Geneva to fly home or go on to other adventures in the Alps.

We also offer a climb of Mont Blanc and you can combine these two trips for a great Swiss/French alpine adventure. Email or call us for the additional details of adding Mont Blanc or other European classics to this trip.

We hope you will be able to join us on this special mountaineering experience.

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