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Mount Matterhorn, also known as the Matterhorn, is one of the most iconic and fascinating peaks in the world. Situated on the border between Italy and Switzerland, this majestic mountain rises 4,478 meters (13,000 feet) in the heart of the Alps. Its towering pyramidal edge and extraordinary beauty have attracted mountaineers, writers and photographers for centuries.
The history of mountaineering on the Matterhorn began in the 1840s, when British, Italians, and Swiss began making attempts to climb it. The “race to the Matterhorn” culminated in the famous first ascent on July 14, 1865, when a rope team led by Britain’s Edward Whymper reached the summit from the Hörnli Ridge on the Swiss side.
Since then, the Matterhorn has been climbed using several routes, including the more difficult Italian Route, along the Lion Ridge, and the Centennial Route, opened in 1965 to celebrate the centenary of the first ascent.
Mt. Matterhorn has had a significant impact on many areas of popular culture. It inspired writers such as Mark Twain and Mary Shelley, as well as being among the first subjects for the nascent art of alpine photography. The shape of the Matterhorn has become an iconic symbol associated with mountaineering and the Alps and is often used in advertisements, posters, and trademarks.
If you are in the Alpine region, visiting the Matterhorn is an absolute must. Both the Swiss town of Zermatt and the Italian village of Breuil-Cervinia offer a wide range of options for accommodations, restaurants, and recreational activities. During summer, you can enjoy hiking, climbing and mountain biking trails, while in winter, available activities include downhill skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.
In addition, various cable cars and trains provide easy access to scenic viewpoints and high-altitude huts, such as Plateau Rosa on the Italian-Swiss border and the Hörnlihütte, the starting point for mountaineers climbing the Hörnli Ridge on the Swiss side.
Mount Matterhorn is a jewel of the Alps, attracting visitors from all over the world for its breathtaking beauty and rich history of adventure and challenge.
Whether you are an experienced mountaineer or simply a mountain enthusiast, the Matterhorn will envelop you in its charm and make you fall in love with the extraordinary alpine landscape.
What to visit on Matterhorn Mountain
Matterhorn Mountain and the surrounding regions offer a wide range of opportunities to explore and appreciate the alpine landscape and local culture. Here are some of the places to visit and things to do for visitors to the Matterhorn.
The Matterhorn Tour
The Matterhorn Tour is one of the most spectacular hikes in the European Alpine landscape. This is a hiking trail that completely circles Mount Matterhorn, passing through Switzerland and Italy. This itinerary offers visitors a unique experience, embracing breathtaking landscapes, diverse alpine culture and incredible trekking adventures.
The Matterhorn Tour covers a total distance of about 170 kilometers, with a total elevation gain of 10,000 meters. The trek can be completed in 9-10 days, depending on each person’s pace. The trail crosses alpine meadows, forests, canyons, glaciers and mountain passes.
The traditional starting and finishing point for the Matterhorn Tour is the Swiss town of Zermatt. From there, walkers ascend to Theodul Pass via the spectacular Gorner Glacier.
After reaching Theodul Pass, the trail descends to Breuil-Cervinia, Italy, offering breathtaking views of the Italian side of the Matterhorn. Travelers can taste the local cuisine and enjoy the hospitality of Italian mountain resorts before resuming their journey.
Returning to Switzerland, the route leads through the valleys of Matter and Val d’Herens, famous for its rural beauty and important agricultural traditions. This part of the trek offers walkers a glimpse of daily life in Alpine valleys and an opportunity to experience the Swiss rural landscape.
The final stage of the Matterhorn Tour takes walkers back to Zermatt through the picturesque village of Gruben. The final days of trekking offer spectacular views of all sides of the Matterhorn before concluding this trekking adventure at the starting point, Zermatt.
There are many options for overnight stays along the way, from mountain lodges to family guesthouses in villages. It is important to book in advance during the peak season to ensure a place to rest and refuel.
As a challenging mountain trail, the Matterhorn Tour requires a good level of fitness and experience in mountain trekking. It is essential to be prepared with the proper equipment, such as durable hiking shoes, layered clothing for cold and warmth, sunglasses, sunscreen, food and water. In addition, it is always recommended to check the weather and trail conditions in advance.
Gornergrat is a popular viewpoint located above the Swiss village of Zermatt in the Pennine Alps. It is famous for its breathtaking views of the Matterhorn, numerous surrounding peaks and the Gorner Glacier-the second largest glacier in the Alps.
The Gornergrat is located at an altitude of 3,135 meters. On its summit is the Gornergrat Kulm Hotel, which boasts of being the highest hotel in Europe. In addition to the hotel, there is also an astronomical observatory, operated by the University of Bern.
Gornergrat can be reached by the Gornergrat Bahn, Switzerland’s oldest electric-powered rack-and-pinion cable car. The railway line, opened in 1898, covers an elevation gain of 1,469 meters to the summit in about 33 minutes. During the journey, passengers can enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding valley, the Matterhorn and the many surrounding peaks.
The Gornergrat region offers a wide variety of activities throughout the year.
During the winter, the area is a skier’s paradise thanks to its many slopes and access to Switzerland’s largest ski area. The slopes offer a variety of runs for all levels, from beginner slopes to those for experienced skiers.
In the summer months, Gornergrat is a popular starting point for hiking and trekking through the Swiss mountain landscape. The Gornergrat Panorama Trail (Riffelsee – Rotenboden – Gornergrat), for example, is a two-hour walk that offers incredible views of the Matterhorn and Gorner Glacier, along with an abundance of alpine flowers and opportunities to spot local wildlife.
The Little Matterhorn, also known as the Klein Matterhorn, is a peak that rises 3,883 meters in the Pennine Alps.
To get to the Little Matterhorn, one can take a ride in the cable car, which, at 3820 meters above sea level, holds the record as Europe’s highest cable car. This route offers incredible panoramic views of a world of snow, ice, and Alpine peaks, including the famous Matterhorn to the west and Monte Rosa to the east.
Little Matterhorn is part of the Matterhorn Ski Paradise ski area, which serves the resorts of Breuil-Cervinia and Zermatt. Here, both beginners and experts can enjoy snowy roads and scenic ski slopes.
One of the most fascinating experiences to be had on the Little Matterhorn is definitely a visit to the Ice Palace, the highest in the world. This palace, located 3883 meters above sea level in Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, gives visitors an extraordinary journey into the world of perennial ice, including intricate ice sculptures and centuries-old ice formations.
The countries under the Matterhorn Mountain
Zermatt is a charming Swiss town located at the foot of the Matterhorn. Famous for its ski resorts in the winter, Zermatt transforms into a hiker’s paradise during the summer. The town boasts a number of excellent restaurants where traditional alpine dishes can be enjoyed, as well as a Matterhorn Museum that features a reconstruction of a 19th-century alpine village and the events surrounding the conquest of the Matterhorn.
On the Italian side, Breuil-Cervinia offers an enchanting view of the south side of the Matterhorn. The city is renowned for its ski resorts that offer slopes for all skill levels. During the summer, outdoor sports enthusiasts can enjoy activities such as hiking, golf, and mountain biking.The complete guide to Cervinia
How to get to Matterhorn Mountain
There is no easy or direct route to the summit of the Matterhorn, as it is one of the most challenging mountains to climb in the mountaineering world.
To climb the Matterhorn from the Swiss side, the most common starting point is Zermatt. From here, the more typical route goes up the northeast side of the mountain (also called the “Hörnli”) to the Hörnli Hut, from where the actual ascent begins. The route requires advanced mountaineering skills and is usually done in two days. The Italian side of the Matterhorn, starting from Breuil-Cervinia, also requires mountaineering skills and experience to take on the challenge of the Lion route (or Italian normal route).
For those without mountaineering skills, there are several alternatives for enjoying the view of the Matterhorn. From Zermatt, for example, you can take the cable car up to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, which, although it does not reach the summit of the Matterhorn, still offers breathtaking views of the mountain. From Breuil-Cervinia, however, you can take the cable car to Plateau Rosa, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Matterhorn and the surrounding ski area.
Finally, if you are planning a climb, it is strongly recommended that you do so with a professional guide as the climbs are very technical and present several challenges along the way; accidents are not uncommon and it is important to have a good knowledge of mountaineering safety techniques.
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