On this page:
Lifts to the summits
Walks and hiking
Virtual Matterhorn Climb
Weather & snow report
more summer photos
Warm summer days offer a huge variety of walks and hikes amongst some of the world's most stunning mountains. But mountain biking, paragliding, mountaineering, and wonderful summer skiing also make exciting summer pastimes in Zermatt. For the less energetic there are lift-rides to spectacular mountain peaks, as well as regular summer favourites such as tennis, sunbathing and swimming.
A ride on a mountain lift to one of the high summits above Zermatt should be a top priority for most visitors. Zermatt offers a choice of three (year-round, lift-serviced) peaks - Gornergrat, Klein Matterhorn and Rothorn. Each are beautiful and appeal for different reasons..
Most popular and famous is a visit to Gornergrat (3130m/10,300ft) - the mountain with a magical panorama. From the gentle summit unfolds a world-class vista of tumbling glaciers and soaring alpine peaks. In fact twenty-nine of Switzerland's thirty-five highest summits (above 4000 meters/ 13,000 ft) are immediately visible. A restaurant and hotel/observatory are located at the top.
|You can reach Gornergrat easily by (heated) mountain train (the "Gornergratbahn"), which is located just opposite the main BVZ train station in town. Views are excellent from both sides of the train and the entire journey takes about 45 minutes each way.|
The mountain train to Gornergrat.
Tip: Get the Zermatt Walking Guide to make the most of your time in Zermatt.
|Also with exceptional views is the Klein Matterhorn (meaning 'Little' Matterhorn 3885m/12,780ft). This is the highest lift-serviced summit in Europe and is best visited in fine weather.|
The lifts are not heated and the glass of the cable cars tend to have been a bit scratched by skis, but the final cable car soars a thousand feet above vast glaciers and takes one into the middle of the eternal ice world. Views from the Klein Matterhorn summit (and Trockener Steg mid-station) are excellent. Try to ascertain before you buy your ticket if the "Gipfel-lift" is open. This little elevator takes one right up to the absolute craggy summit of the Klein Matterhorn and gives one an extra special 360° panorama. Views over much of Switzerland, deep into Italy and even to France (Mont Blanc - 68km away) are amazing. On a clear day it is possible to see forty peaks over 4000 metres elevation and 200km to the Maritime Alps close to the Mediterranean sea. As a comparison, to stand at the top you are higher than all the highest mountains in Austria and New Zealand. The Gipfel-lift elevator is located in the middle left of the Klein Matterhorn tunnel, and many people unknowingly pass it by.
By continuing on through the tunnel one arrives at the summer ski slopes. The views from the ski slopes are still very worthwhile, but not generally 360°. One can happily play with and explore the snow which lies thick here year-round. It is quite safe to walk around in the snow, provided it isn't too icy and you don't cross the obvious rope barriers marking the ski slopes. Beyond the ropes there is danger of unmarked crevasses - often hidden, very deep fissures in the permanent glacial ice.
|Also worth a look is the free glacier grotto at Klein Matterhorn. There are underground tunnels, rooms and ice sculptures in the fantastic blue glacial ice to explore - at the 'highest and largest' glacier grottos in the World. Walk outside through the tunnel and follow the signs to the 'Gletschergrotto'.|
The lifts to Klein Matterhorn begin from the southern end of town, about fifteen minutes walk from the main "BVZ" train station. The journey is in three (sometimes four) spectacular stages and takes approximately 50 minutes each way. A rather soulless restaurant is available at the Trockener Steg mid-station. Nothing exists at Klein Matterhorn but simple WC facilities and a snack bar. A good option for charming Zermatt restaurants in this area exists at Furi (1864m) and below.
There is a slight risk of altitude sickness at the heights of Gornergrat and (more so) at Klein Matterhorn. A common symptom is shortness of breath. Less common are feelings of dizziness, nausea, or headache. On very rare occasions some people even faint. You can minimise the risk by not ascending the highest lifts on the day you arrive in Zermatt. Also avoid over-exertion at high altitudes. Those with a heart condition should best consult their doctor before ascents above 2500m.
Anyone effected by these symptoms can find immediate relief by simply descending back to a lower altitude. It must be said that the fresh air of the mountains is very good for one's health and some people return to the "flatlands" feeling like Superman.
Rothorn (or Unterrothorn - 3103m/10,200ft) boasts its own beautiful and worthwhile panorama. Rothorn offers a perfect symmetrical view of the Matterhorn and it is cheaper to ascend than Gornergrat or Klein Matterhorn. Popular with paragliders, Rothorn also offers occasional dawn breakfasts with a brilliant sunrise view on the Matterhorn. However Rothorn offers less spectacular views of the summer snows and glaciers than from Gornergrat or Klein Matterhorn.
What to bring.... It is strongly recommended that you take a few things with you when going high into the mountains, including a camera, something to eat (eg. Swiss chocolate.. yum!), sunglasses, suncream, a spare sweater/jumper and a windproof jacket. It is not unusual for it feel very warm in the mountains when it is windless and sunny. It is possible to find girls summer skiing in bikinis! But it can be quite cold and windy at high altitudes, even when calm and warm in Zermatt. Always expect it to be 15-20 degrees cooler at Klein Matterhorn than in Zermatt. When ascending to the higher altitudes, it is best to "be prepared".
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Scenic walks and hikes
|Zermatt offers some of the World's most stunning mountain walks amongst classic high-alpine scenery. There are numerous footpaths - some 400 kilometres ( 250 miles ) in all.|
Alpine paths lead through a wide range of environments - from pine scented mountain forests, to calm Alpine lakes, to stunning ice-blue glaciers and lookouts over all of Europe's highest peaks.
Read our complete Walking Guide to Zermatt and the Matterhorn.
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Summer Skiing on the Glaciers
Mountaineering around Zermatt
- and Climbing the Matterhorn
Some of the most challenging peaks of the entire alpine region surround Zermatt. A famous circle of 'four-thousanders', or peaks above 4000m (13,000 feet), attract international climbers to this region year after year. The most famous climb from Zermatt is, of course, of the Matterhorn..
Climbing the Matterhorn - 4478m / 14,692ft
(Info supplied by Alpine Center Zermatt)
The Hörni ridge - first climbed by Edward Whymper in 1865 and still most popular today.
|The Matterhorn is one of the most impressive and famous peaks in Switzerland and the Alps. It has increasingly become a fashionable climb in the past few years, but it must be firmly stated that climbing the Matterhorn still has to be taken seriously. Even for experienced climbers hiring a guide is recommended. Inexperienced climbers are advised not to attempt such a difficult mountain as the Matterhorn for their first climb. They should rather attempt an easier, but possibly just as beautiful, 4000 m high peak in the Zermatt area to get some experience. |
To attempt climbing the Matterhorn you need to be in top physical condition, to have some rock climbing experience and to have had some practice with crampons. You should keep fit throughout the year with weekly training. It is also necessary to spend at least one week to 10 days acclimatising and training in the Zermatt area (hiking daily 1000 m - 1500 m altitude difference, at an altitude difference of 400 m an hour, including rest stops).
The Mountain Guides Office of Zermatt recommends to make several other climbing tours before you start climbing the Matterhorn, such as:
|Rock climbing at the Riffelhorn 2980 m: a one-day tour starting from Rotenboden.|
|Half traverse of the Breithorn 4165 m. : a very interesting and varied day-tour starting from the Klein Matterhorn.|
|Pollux 4092 m. : varied day-tour (rock and ice/snow), starting from the Klein Matterhorn|
|Rimpfischhorn 4199 m. : two-day tour. Optimal training tour for the Matterhorn.|
The best time to attempt climbing the Matterhorn is mid-July to mid-September, depending on the amount of snow on the mountain. If possible, you should not choose the high-season (1st to 15th August) for climbing the Matterhorn. You will meet your guide the evening before the ascent at the Matterhorn hut. The next morning at 4.00 a.m. / 5.00 a.m. the challenging ascent begins. It takes about 4 hours to reach the summit, and it takes the same time for the descent. For safety reasons the guide only takes one client for the climb.
|Equipment : crampons, harness, a helmet is recommended (all this technical equipment can be rented in a local sports shop), rucksack (30 liter), climbing boots with good rubber soles, warm mountain clothes, hat, gloves, sunglasses, sun cream, lip cream, headlamp, some energy-providing food for the climb, thermos flask or drinking bottle (tea can be obtained at the hut).|
Total Costs for climbing the Matterhorn are approximately 1600 sFr. Inclusive in this amount :
|Guide's fee |
|1 overnight stay with half-board in the hut for yourself and the guide|
|Transport costs Zermatt-Schwarzsee-Zermatt (the ticket can be obtained at the Alpin Center/Mountain Guides Office at a group rate)|
For climbing the Matterhorn, we give first priority to those people who have trained for a few days in Zermatt or who have completed other tours. We kindly ask for your understanding. After the successful climb of the Matterhorn the guide will give you a diploma in the hut.
Private insurance : Each climber must be insured for mountain accidents and possible rescue transportation.
Reservations : at least 2 weeks before the planned date. On arrival in Zermatt you should visit us in the mountain guides office Alpine Center on the main street (about 200m from the railway station, in the direction of the Matterhorn) in order to make a definite reservation.
This information was kindly supplied by the Mountain Guides Office of Zermatt. You can contact them directly for any further information about mountain guides.
Mountain Guides Office / Alpine Center Zermatt
Bahnhofstrasse, 3920 Zermatt, Switzerland.
Tel ++41 (0)27 966 24 60 Fax ++41 (0)27 966 24 69 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Office hours : from the end of June until about the end of September
08.30 a.m. to 12.00 noon and from 4.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m.
Alternatively try this link to good climbing information on local Zermatt mountains. We also welcome written contributions from people with experience climbing around Zermatt.
For any further information please contact us !
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