The Matterhorn is Switzerland’s most iconic mountain. With its epic pyramid shape and towering summit, it has drawn countless climbers over the years.
It is also one of the many reasons people come to Zermatt, a car-free town full of endless things to do.
So, if you want to learn more about this stunning Swiss mountain, keep reading…
Below is all the information you need to know about the Matterhorn. Including some fun facts you might have never heard
The Matterhorn rises 4,478 m (14,692 ft) above sea level. However, it is only the tenth-highest mountain in Switzerland.
There are only 48 peaks over 4000m in Switzerland, so the Matterhorn is definitely in an exclusive high-altitude club.
The Matterhorn is also called Mont Cervin in French and Monte Cervino in Italian. It has these three names because it is in both Switzerland and Italy, but also because Switzerland’s three languages are German, French and Italian.
The Matterhorn has quite a unique pyramid shape with four faces. These four faces each point in the four points of a compass .
Three of those faces are on the Swiss side of the mountain and point north, east and west. The other south-facing side points towards the Valtournenche valley in Italy.
The Matterhorn actually spans two countries – Italy and Switzerland. When you ski in below the Matterhorn in Zermatt you can actually ski in both countries.
The main climbing routes are also from different countries with the Hörnli ridge climbing from the Swiss side and the Lion ridge from the Italian side.
Climbing the Matterhorn is far more deadly than many people know. Over 500 people have died climbing the Matterhorn. With at least two so far in 2023 and an average of 12 yearly.
Starting their climb on July 13th, 1865 the first ascent of the Matterhorn was completed by a seven-person party led by Edward Whymper. It started in the town of Zermatt, using the Horli route to reach the top. Although their summit bid was successful, only four of the original team returned.
A typical climb of the Matterhorn takes 9-12 hours. This includes starting at the Hörnlihütte, ascending the Matterhorn to the summit, and then returning to the mountain hut.
In order to climb the Matterhorn, you first have to get a cable car to the Schwarzsee and hike to the Hörnlihütte, staying overnight and starting your climb at 4 am. You can read more about this stage of the climb here.
Currently, nearly 4000 people climb the Matterhorn each year. Of those, around 300-400 climb with a guide, while the remaining 3500 climb without one.
Around 65 % of people who attempt to climb the Matterhorn succeed. Climbing the Matterhorn is both difficult and dangerous. Factors such as altitude, weather and experience mean that less than half of those who climb the mountain reach the top.