Description: This is the
classic high mountain trail to the climbers' hut at the very base
of the Matterhorn. This hike features unrivalled close-up views to the
majestic north-east face. There are also excellent views to Zermatt's
other big mountains, and the impressive glaciers at the Matterhorn's
base. This is a 'must-do' hike for Matterhorn lovers. This hike is also
remarkable in that of all the hikes to the high climbers' huts, this one
features constant superb views to the very mountain the trail ascends.
Time required: About four hours
(2½ hours uphill at start
A rocky mountain
Begins at: Schwarzsee (2575m altitude)
Ends at: Schwarzsee
Goes via: Hirli (2775m - 50
mins walk from Schwarzsee), Hörnli (or Matterhorn) hut (3260m - 2½
Track Notes: Good shoes
with excellent grip are required for this rocky walk. There is the
possibility of encountering patches of snow and ice towards the hut. Be
prepared for cold and windy conditions, as most of the trail
is completely exposed on the Hörnli ridge. Equally sunscreen is
normally a necessity.
Schwarzsee lift costs - return trip: Adults: sFr.50 Children 9-15: 50% off. Children up to 8: free. ID for
children's prices required.
Variants: Stay at the newly
Hut - 'Matterhorn base camp' - for a memorable night with the climbers (170
beds, up to six beds per room - sFr.150 per person, including breakfast
and dinner. Plenty of blankets provided. Also a few quad, triple and double
rooms. Double rooms: 450 per person. Reservations highly recommended. Phone 027 - 967
The walk begins and ends in the mountains at the Schwarzsee lift station and hotel/restaurant (2575m altitude). To
get up to Schwarzsee from Zermatt you can walk (3 hours uphill), but for this
hike we recommend taking the lifts. You can find the lower lift
station in Zermatt at the southern (Matterhorn) end of town. Look for
one of a multitude of signs pointing towards the gondolas of the
"Matterhorn Bahnen" (Matterhorn lifts). Alternatively just follow Zermatt's main river upstream until
the gondola lifts come into view. The gondolas are on the east side of
the river, but there is a foot bridge just before the lifts and various
signs point the way. You can buy tickets just outside the lift
In recent glossy brochures the most popular lift-accessible
peaks above Zermatt have their names complicated with the marketing
department's idea of 'paradise'. These days Schwarzsee, Sunnegga and Unter
Rothorn are also promoted as Schwarzsee Paradise, Sunnegga Paradise, and
Rothorn Paradise. While the views from these areas are
spectacular, the blight of nearby machinery and earthworks in summer
is far from my own idea of paradise. Presumably it won't be too long
before these places are known by their ancient humble names again. The
Walking Guide uses the simpler original 'Schwarzsee, Sunnegga and Unter
your ticket and board the gondola lift for the first stage up to Furi.
Pleasant views out the Gondola are a feature over pastures and the
mountain hamlets of Blatten and Zum
See. After a few minutes arrive at the massive (and none too
pretty) lift station of Furi (1850m). Here one leaves the gondola and
boards the cable car directly to Schwarzsee (2575m).
the Schwarzsee cable car station and enjoy the beautiful panorama and
superb view to the Matterhorn. Follow the obvious path down to the
pretty "Black Lake" (Schwarzsee) with its ancient chapel.
Continue from there directly up the steep grassy hill south west in the direction
of the Matterhorn. A multitude of choices offer different zigzagging
routes up the grassy knoll behind the lake, and then on over rocky
slopes to the top of a winter ski lift known as Hirli (2775m). By now
vegetation is scarce and you are entering the rocky scree of the high
mountains. The Matterhorn looms ever closer and the trail leaves no
doubt as to its final destination.
trail ascends up and across to the left of the massive rocky outcrop - a
true flank of the Matterhorn - known as Hirli. Shortly a metal staircase
and gangway skirt the shear east face of Hirli, before a zigzag
takes one to its crest (2870m). Follow this pleasant easy track across
slopes of rubble directly towards the Matterhorn. After about 15 minutes
the trail reaches the final steep ascent to the hut.
is the only difficult and dangerous section of the track. It requires
fine weather and a
reasonable head for heights. The path ascends the very steep base of the
Matterhorn by a series of zigzags, taking another 40 minutes to the hut
(3260m). These steep slopes face north and receive little sun,
consequently it will be cold on the warmest summer's day. Beware of
ice and snow on the path at any time of year, although there are some
fixed ropes for handholds should the path be slippery. Beware also of
dislodging loose stones, since they will likely tumble downhill,
endangering anyone on the path below.
of the most exciting sections of the walk is a very short two yard/metre wide
section of path with a shear drop of a thousand feet (300 metres) on both sides (and
no rope handholds). Needless to say some people with a fear of heights
difficulties here. It is certainly not a section I would want to cross in high winds
or icy conditions!
Not long after this the hut comes into view above and the final walk up
the slopes of rubble passes quickly.
the Hörnli hut are brilliant views in all directions to all of
Zermatt's great mountains. The Matterhorn itself towers over the hut,
and interestingly, this climber's hut is the only one in the area
clear view of the mountain on whose flanks it rests.
Drinks and meals are available at the hut, but they are not cheap (sFr.8+
for a 500ml Coke). Everything has to be brought in by helicopter.
is worth the easy walk up another five minutes beyond the hut to the very
beginning of the climb proper. A series of fixed vertical ropes and
various plaques in the cliff face mark the start of this most famous of climbs.
Available in Half Size -
101kb or Full size -
Although quite a few hikers make it up to the hut, not many stay the
night with the climbers. It can be quite an experience to stay at the
hut and chat with the brave mountain men. Sunrises and sunsets are quite spectacular from the Hörnli hut.
But be sure to
bring extra warm clothes for the evenings. As soon as the sun disappears
temperatures drop to freezing. Mountain huts may have no running hot water
and only the common dining rooms are heated.
Due to the very high altitude, many people do not experience
a perfect night's sleep. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids. It is very
easy to get dehydrated at this altitude, even if the temperature is cold.
descent from the hut is quite fast. It is easy to return to Schwarzsee
in just over an hour, and even walk back to Zermatt in two and a half
hours if one hurries.
fascinated by the Matterhorn? Join the climbers on our
special photo tour
which continues from the Hörnli hut up to the very summit
of the Matterhorn.
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