The Matterhorn is the world’s most iconic peak and needs little introduction. The summit stands at 4,478m and its perfect shape dominates the skyline. Climbing the Matterhorn is on the 'must do' list of both aspiring and experienced mountaineers alike. To stand on top of the Matterhorn is a worthy goal and a life-defining experience! At Mountain Tracks we have 20 years of experience on the mountain and a fantastic record of summit success. We offer a tried and tested six-day program which includes all the preparation and acclimatisation necessary for an attempt on this challenging summit.
Nestled on the border between Switzerland and Italy, this huge, roughly hewn rock pyramid serves as a defining landmark. The well documented first ascent is an important milestone in the history of climbing, so for most, the ascent is more than physical challenge it is also a journey of discovery.
Climbing the Matterhorn is committing, this means it is essential you have previous alpine mountaineering experience. Specifically, you are comfortable scrambling on steep rock, have good rope skills and familiarity with using crampons on steep snow and ice, both in ascent and descent. Climbing the Matterhorn is more technical than Mont Blanc, but is an achievable objective for fit climbers with a structured plan of training and acclimatisation.
The route we take is via the Hornli Ridge (AD) from Zermatt. The ascent is only moderately technical but it is a very long rock climb with some steep snow at altitude and plenty of exposure. Climbers must be very sure-footed on steep terrain and have lots of endurance. Our standard programme for climbing the Matterhorn is 6 days with 4 days of acclimatization and preparation - at a maximum guide ratio of 1:2, and 2 days for the Matterhorn ascent, which is guided on a 1:1 ratio only.
The summit day itself is long, with tricky scrambling (up to 4,500m in elevation) and requires commitment and concentration for 8+ hours. The climbing on the Matterhorn is delicate and sustained rather than difficult, so it is essential that the correct preparation has been put in place.
This itinerary is based on spending the first 4 days in the Chamonix area, which in our view offers the best terrain for preparation and acclimatisation. The itinerary is very dependent on the local weather and conditions and your guides may need to alter the programme accordingly.
The Hornli Ridge is graded AD and has a vertical ascent of 1300m. Most of the climbing is done with boot soles on dry rock, but crampons are usually worn for the final section to the summit. All climbers attempting the peak need to be comfortable with the environment and well prepared. We advise that climbers should have previously completed a minimum of one week of alpine mountaineering, this experience could have been gained on Mont Blanc or on our Alpine Introduction course. A structured aerobic fitness program before the course starts is highly recommended, this can include hill walking, scrambling, cycling or running. Please see our preparation page for more details.
The huts are run by full-time staff that looks after us on a half-board basis, the cooking is hearty homemade food. Water, beer, wine and a picnic lunch is available at extra cost. The sleeping quarters are communal.
Travel to Chamonix to arrive at our comfortable partner hotel for the 6pm welcome meeting and briefing. There will be a kit check including the option to rent equipment. Stay overnight in Chamonix
The first day is spent on mountain rock, climbing in the sunny Aiguilles Rouges. This serves as an ideal warm up for the bigger mountains. The training concentrates on technical preparation and surefootedness. Possible routes include the Chapelle de la Glière or the L'Index. The night is spent back in our hotel in Chamonix. Total walking and climbing time is 5-6 hours
Three days of high altitude climbing, training and acclimatisation with 2 nights spent in a high mountain refuge. Possible routes include:
one of the steepest and most spectacular summits in the Alps. Initially a snow and glacier climb leading to an impressive rock pinnacle. 4-5 hours to the summit
a snow and glacier climb with some rock at the end. Mostly low angled with some steeper sections. The ascent from the Aiguille du Midi or from the Refuge des Cosmiques takes about 3-4 hours. The descent takes 2 hours
Another interesting climb to the summit of this granite spire, most of which is on rock. Towards the summit there is a narrow and exposed ridge. The descent is down the East Ridge. The starting point is either the Aiguille du Midi or the Refugio Torino. The round trip takes approximately 5 hours
One of the most popular routes in the Mont Blanc Massif. A great mixed and exposed climb on rock, snow and ice usually requiring crampons. The starting point is once again the Aiguille du Midi or Refuge des Cosmiques. The ascent takes 4-5 hours
Travel to Zermatt by road (3 hours). On arrival in Zermatt we take the cable car to Schwarzsee and then continue on foot for 2 hours to the newly renovated Hornli hut (3260m). Here we stay the night, fill up on great food and prepare for an early start the next day
We begin the climb on the Hornli Ridge at around 4am, the first hour is climbed with head-torches. Halfway up the ridge is a small bivouac shelter called the Solvay refuge, this is a useful staging post to rest and evaluate progress. We reach the summit in a total of 5 hours. The descent is by the same route and again takes around 5 hours. Once back at the Hornli Hut we descend back to to Zermatt and return to Chamonix by road. Overnight back in Chamonix and make your onward travel plans for the following day
Depart after breakfast.
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Price for 1 person booking a private trip is £3,495
Price for group of 2 or more (maximum 6) is £2,895 per person.
The price includes all guiding fees & expenses for 6 days climbing, b&b hotel accommodation (twin room) in Chamonix; half-board accommodation in mountain huts, transport from Chamonix to Zermatt return.
The price does not include evening meals when staying in the valley, lunches & drinks, travel to and from Chamonix and uplift costs.
Single-room occupancy in valley hotels may incur an additional cost. Contact us for details.
On our Matterhorn weeks we estimate that the cost of the uplift will be in the region of £120 - £150 per person. This cost is not included and needs to be paid for locally in both Euros (when in Chamonix) and Swiss Francs (in Zermatt).
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This list contains our recommended clothing and equipment for our Matterhorn Climber weeks.
In the summer months, the days generally start very cold and warm up during the morning to become hot in the afternoon. It is therefore essential that you have 2-3 thin layers that you are able to put on/take off as the conditions change. Thin layers also allow better movement as opposed to one layer of bulky clothing.
If you are uncertain or need further information, please contact us.
• Base Layer Top and Bottoms – a few base layer tops, usually long sleeved is best, wool base layers form Smartwool or Icebreaker are good as they offer good wicking properties and dry quickly. For your legs a couple of pairs of long or ¾ length bottoms are best.
• Mid-layer fleece tops – a couple of fleece type jacket or tops that can be worn between your base layer and outer layers. The “Layering” approach offers the best heat retention and flexibility in warm and cold weather.
• Insulation Layer - a down or primalotf jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.
• Lightweight softshell type trousers - you want to wear a lightweight softshell or similar material on your legs, these types of trouser offer good protection from snow/ice as well as abrasion on rock and are comfortable to move in.
• Walking shorts or pair of trousers with zip-off legs. Useful for walk-ins to huts on hot days.
• Gore-Tex Jacket - Gore-Tex or other waterproof breathable jacket. Best to have a lightweight jacket that can be worn in the event of wet or windy weather but is packable enough to fit in your rucksack. Your insulated ski jacket will be overkill and too hot and bulky.
• Gore-Tex Pants - Gore-Tex or other waterproof breathable trousers. Lightweight is important plus side zips for putting on over your boots and crampons. Used in cold, wet and windy weather.
• Sun hat and warm hat – bring a wide-brimmed sun hat or baseball cap plus a warm beanie style hat.
• Light, thin gloves – a thin pair of fleece or softshell gloves for warm weather are a must.
• Insulated gloves - You need to have a pair of waterproof warm gloves to wear on cold days.
• Gaiters – these are useful to wear to keep snow out of your boots.
• Socks - 3-4 pairs of medium weight socks usually mid-calf length is good.
There are 2 grades of boots for alpine trekking and mountaineering: B1 and B2
• B1 boots are usually lightweight boots offering more flexibility when walking and are usually suitable only for trekking, easy glacier walking and Via Ferrata trips.
• B2 boots are semi-rigid boots that are the best option for summer alpine mountaineering trips. There are leather and plastic/composite options. Leather boots tend to be more comfortable and breathable whereas plastic/composite boots are warmer and more waterproof.
B2 boots are compatible with C1 and C2 crampons.
Key features of a good alpine boot include Vibram soles, a reversed leather upper (which protect the best side of the leather from scuffing and abrasion and improves durability and water resistance) and ankle flex and a higher cut which give control, mobility and support.
Boots can be hired in resort but to avoid discomfort we do strongly recommend that you have your own pair which needs to be well worn-in prior to your trip.
Alpine huts supply hut slippers so that you don't need to take any other footwear apart from your boots. Boots are not allowed in the dining room or dormitories and must be left in the foyer.
These items are essential for all alpine mountaineering courses
All items can be hired from Mountain Tracks or from sport shops in the Alps.
• Climbing helmet
• Ice Axe - General mountaineering / alpine pick 55-70cms long depending on your height.
• Boot crampons - with anti-balling plates.
• Climbing Harness – adjustable leg loops are useful for easy of putting on over your boots.
• Adjustable trekking pole(s)
• Rucksack - A simple and lightweight pack with a capacity of between 35-45 liters is recommended. You need to have one loop for carrying an ice axe on your rucksack.
• Lightweight sleeping bag liner – a silk or cotton sleeping bag liner is now compulsory in all mountain huts.
• Water bottle or Thermos – a water bottle or hydration system is needed.
• Head torch with spare batteries
• Personal first Aid Kit - Should contain:
Plasters – of various sizes and possibly some adhesive wound dressings.
Pain Killers – aspirin or Paracetamol/Nurofen
Antiseptic cream or wipes
Blister kit – compeed and elastic tape to hold it in place (essential)!
(Note: Guides will have comprehensive first aid kits and are qualified in mountain first aid)
• Sun Glasses - minimum category 3.
• Ski Goggles – these can be very useful if you encounter strong winds and poor weather.
• Sunscreen and Lip Protection
• Ear Plugs - For noisy huts!!
• Hold-all bag - for gear not required on trek. Will be left at first hotel and collected on return.
• Money - You will need some cash for food and drinks. There are some ATMs and most hotels, shops and restaurants will accept credit cards, but most huts still accept cash only. You should allow about 30-40 Swiss Francs or 25-35 Euros per day for lunch and drinks (amount approximate and depends on consumption).
• Toiletries – Should contain:
Toothbrush and paste - a mini one is ideal
Anti-bacterial hand cleaner
Wet wipes – essential to try to maintain hygiene
Tissues and toilet roll
Small light quick dry towel e.g. a Lifeventure Soft fiber towel
(Any other essentials you need but remember there are no shower facilities and generally no running water in the huts and you have to carry everything with you!)
• Alpine club card - If you're a member.
• Book, pack of cards and or Ipod/MP3 player – It’s nice to have something to read or listen to when you are in the huts or to challenge your fellow travelers to a game of card. These items are not essential but if you have space you might appreciate them.
It is possible to hire boots and the technical items needed for the Mont Blanc Climber week in Chamonix and guideline prices for 6 days hire are:
Mountaineering boots €55
Ice Axe €30
Boot crampons €35
If you wish to hire any technical kit please contact us in advance with your requirements.
Zermatt is a charming alpine village. It is car-free and reached only by a 15 minute train journey from the valley station of Tasch. As you would expect given its location it is one of Europe's main centres of alpinism and is a bustling town in both winter and summer.
Surely there is no more dramatic sight in the Alps than the distinctive shape of the Matterhorn! At 4,478m it may not be the highest mountain in the Alps, but it is easily the most recognised.
All three of Zermatt's main ski areas soar to at least 3,100m. Good snow conditions are almost guaranteed and there are some superb long runs back down to the village. At 3,883m the Klein Matterhorn lift is one of the highest cable car in the world. The ski down from here is almost 13 kilometres - with 2,200 vertical metres of varied descent. Zermatt has extensive off-piste terrain and thanks to the extremely high altitude and abundance of north facing slopes, powder snow can still be found many days after it falls. In spring especially, huge areas of both powder and spring snow can be found off piste.
Zermatt is the Alps' biggest heliskiing center and its helicopter pad in the village is very busy during the winter months. Many of the runs do not require excellent skiing ability. The scenery, as you'd expect, is truly spectacular.
Our top reasons to visit Zermatt
Resort Height: 1,650m
Highest Lift: 3,883m
Nearest Airport: Zurich or Geneva
Transfer Options: We recommend you take the train from Zurich or Geneva airport to Zermatt. Connections are regular and the its takes approximatly 4hrs from Geneva with 1 change and 3hrs 30 mins with 1 or 2 cahnged from Zurich airport. To look up train timetables use this link Swiss Railway Timetables
More about the Matterhorn
The week is a physically demanding one, on the summit days you will be climbing for 9 -12 hours on varied terrain carrying a rucksack of 10-15kg.
Fitness preparation is absolutely essential and will make your week considerably more enjoyable. Participating in sports and activity that increase your aerobic fitness are key. So when preparing for this trip nothing beats activities that increase your heart rate and build your aerobic levels e.g. hill walking (with a rucksack), running, cycling and swimming.
Movement skills are also very important for this trip - agility, balance and flexibility will allow you to adjust to the ever changing terrain. The best prep you can do is to get out climbing; outdoor climbing is ideal but indoors also works. Try to climb at least once a week leading up to the start of the week. Scrambling in the British hills is also excellent preparation; try to include a few long days with a rucksack.
It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.
For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
The most convenient airport is Geneva which is served by many UK and International airports.
The transfer time from the airport is about 75 minutes to Chamonix and to get to the resort we recommend that you book a seat with one of the many transfer companies who offer shared minibus transfers to and from the airport. Mountain Tracks recommends Mountain Dropoffs or Cham Van who both offer comparatively priced transfers and run a regular and efficient service.
All our mountaineering trips are run by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks.
For our Matterhorn weeks the first 4 training days are guided on a 1:2 basis, the summit 2 days are guided on a 1:1 basis only.
In Chamonix you'll stay on a B&B basis in one of the town's comfortable 2* hotels. Our usual hotel in Chamonix is the Hotel Les Lanchers located in Les Praz, this is a comfortable 3* hotel with modern light and airy rooms, a great restaurant and a comfortable bar and lounge area; as well as outside seating to enjoy the sunshine and views of the mountains. We offer accommodation on a twin share basis in their standard rooms, all with en-suite showers. Their restaurant "Rendezvous" serves local and international cuisine and offers a set menu during the summer months. Their chef can cater for any dietary requirements our guests may have. They serve a hearty breakfast and offer packed lunches for guests to purchase for their climbing days. You can view more details on the hotel here http://www.hotel-lanchers-chamonix.com/en/home
We also schedule for 3 nights to be spent on a half-board basis in alpine mountain huts. In the huts evening meals are included and are generally nourishing and plentiful.
The Alps generally have a very pleasant climate throughout the spring, summer and autumn with warm days and cool nights, with daytime temperatures in the valley around 25 - 30°C. At high altitude the temperature often goes down below -10 and can feel even colder with wind chill.
I have no previous mountaineering experience but I am keen to learn the basics of using crampons and an ice axe and rope work. I would enjoy ascending rocky scrambles and easy angled snow and ice. I am a regular hill walker summer and winter and used to long days out, I am happy to walk for 6-8hrs per day carrying all my gear in my rucksack. For Via Ferrata trips a head for heights and some upper body strength is useful.
I have undertaken some previous rocky scrambling and short rock climbs, ice or easy alpine climbing. I am comfortable moving on rocky and snowy ridges and slopes of up to 40 degrees. I enjoy the challenge of more remote technical terrain. I would like to learn more about alpine rope work. I can improve my crampon / ice axe technique and could scramble on rock with greater efficiency.
I have previous experience climbing alpine PD+ or harder. I am undeterred by scrambling and have done some pitched climbing on rock or ice. I have a firm grasp of the rope techniques necessary for pitched climbing and crossing glaciers. I am confident when using crampons and ice axe. I relish the thought of climbing steep rock and ice or traversing an exposed ridge covered in snow and ice. I can abseil, know how to use a prussic knot and make myself safe on basic belay stances.
IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV
The IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV symbol is the logo of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association.
Nick, Olly and Matt are all fully-qualified UIAGM Mountain Guides and members of the British Mountain Guides Association.
The International Ski Instructors Association is the world body for professional ski instructors.
The ISIA was formed in 1971 and there are currently 39 member nations representing the very best in ski instruction around the world.