GUIDE: Top Climbing Routes on the Matterhorn

April 30, 2024
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Top Climbing Routes on the Matterhorn

The Matterhorn, standing tall at 4,478 meters, is one of the most iconic peaks in the Alps, straddling the border between Switzerland and Italy. This article guides you through the most popular routes to help you plan your ascent.

Hörnli Ridge – The Classic Path

Route Overview

The Hörnli Ridge (Hörnligrat) is the most commonly chosen route for those aiming to reach the summit of the Matterhorn. It starts from the Hörnli Hut at 3,260 meters, accessible from Zermatt.

What to Expect of This Route

The Hörnli Ridge starts from the Hörnli Hut at an elevation of 3,260 meters, making it the most accessible and therefore the most popular route to the summit. The terrain here is primarily rocky, with intermittent patches of ice and snow depending on the season. Though it is considered the standard route, climbers must be in excellent physical condition and possess solid climbing skills. The route is marked by steep and exposed ridges and occasionally utilizes fixed ropes to navigate particularly challenging sections. Climbers typically begin their ascent around 2 AM to make the most of the daylight for both ascending and descending.

Hörnli Ridge: The most common route

The Lion Ridge – The Italian Challenge

Route Overview

Also known as the Liongrat, this route begins at the Carrel Hut (3,830 m), which can be approached from the Italian side of Cervinia.

What to Expect of This Route

The Lion Ridge is a less traveled but equally challenging alternative to the Hörnli Ridge. This route features sharp rock formations and requires climbers to navigate steep, technical climbs. The Lion Ridge offers a more solitary experience and is known for its dramatic rocky scenery that provides a stern challenge even for the most seasoned climbers.

Zmutt Ridge – For the Experienced Adventurer

Route Overview

This less frequented route is known for its solitude and pristine alpine environment. You start either from Hörnli hut, or Schönbühl hut. The route from Schönbühl is longer and about 600m of extra vertical, but the route from Hörnli is more difficult and dangerous. This ridge should only be climbed during good conditions.

What to Expect of This Route

For those seeking solitude and a test of their advanced mountaineering skills, the Zmutt Ridge presents an ideal choice. The route starts from either Hörnli hut, or Schönbiel hut. It's a bit harder from the Hörnli hut, but it's about 600 vertical meters more if you go via Schönbiel. This route is significantly less crowded and is characterized by its complex navigation through mixed terrain including rock faces and expansive ice fields. The Zmutt Ridge is the longest route to the summit, demanding a high degree of self-sufficiency, excellent route-finding abilities, and a robust mental and physical preparation.

Furggen Ridge – The Technical Test

Route Overview

The Furggen Ridge is the most technical and least climbed among the major routes. It starts near the Furggen mountain station and involves intricate rock climbing.

What to Expect of This Route

Known for its technical difficulty, the Furggen Ridge is the least climbed of the major routes on the Matterhorn. Starting near the Furggen mountain station, climbers on this route face intricate rock climbing challenges right from the outset. The climb involves navigating sharp rocks and managing near-vertical ascents, making it suitable only for climbers with considerable experience in technical climbing. The Furggen Ridge offers a thrilling and intense climbing experience, pushing even veteran climbers to their limits.

Preparing for Your Climb

Essential Tips

Before you set out, ensure you're well-prepared with the right gear, have checked the weather, and are physically and mentally ready for the challenge. For an in-depth on what you need to know before climbing the Matterhorn, see our blog article: Climbing the Matterhorn - What You Need to Know. Consider hiring a guide through Guidezone to enhance your climbing experience.


Choosing the right route on the Matterhorn depends greatly on your experience, skill level, and climbing style. Regardless of the path you choose, each offers a unique adventure with breathtaking views and thrilling challenges.

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Guidezone team

Skiing and mountaineering experts

We are a group of outdoor enthusiasts who love adventure. At Guidezone, we connect people with professional mountain guides to safely enjoy the mountains, for both skiing and mountaineering.

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