matterhorn sample itinerary...
Most days involve an early “alpine start” and you will be mountaineering for 6 to 8 hours each day (with a longer day on summit day). We stay overnight in a succession of high mountain refuges in order to gain acclimatisation. These refuges are spectacularly located, provide comfortable accommodation and good food and also give us the chance to meet up with a cosmopolitan bunch of mountaineers and trekkers. Staying in huts whilst in the mountains means that we can travel with reasonably light rucksacks, a very important factor that makes the effort easier, safer and a lot more fun. However, this is a physically and mentally strenuous week and you will need to be fit before arrival.
Strenuous multi day, mountaineering in a high mountain environment (Maximum Altitude – Summit of Matterhorn 4478m). This is a mountaineering adventure for people with a very good level of fitness and able to carry a rucksack for an extended period (up to 10 hours). Some previous experience in scrambling or lower grade rock climbing at grade III in mountain boots is required as a minimum. Endurance sports, rather than a quick 30mins on a step trainer will provide the best pre-training. Ideally, you will regularly hill/trail walk with a reasonable weight (10kg) in your rucksack, whilst doing this, a rate of ascent of 4km per hour and 1 minute for each 10m of vertical height gained and/or being able to scramble over easy terrain at a rate of 300m per hour for an extended period would be considered a good measure of ability. A commitment to training beforehand will make your ascent of the Matterhorn more pleasurable and safer as you will adjust to the altitude better. A basic knowledge of mountaineering techniques is helpful, but not necessary as we will provide instruction and training in all the necessary techniques during the course of the trip. If you are unsure as to your ability for this itinerary, feel free to contact us to discuss the issue. The Guide on our trips will not allow you to continue if they feel that your safety or well being is compromised because of the minimum requirement of ability. We run Custom Guiding throughout the Summer, which provides a perfect opportunity to assess your skill level and learn the appropriate techniques before committing yourself to such a strenuous objective.
For the duration of this 6 day itinerary we have a maximum of 1 client for each Guide. This means that you will get to know your Guide and they will get to know you. Your training and acclimatisation is more specific and you will be with the same Guide on summit day. We believe that our approach enables us to move more efficiently and safely in the mountains, gives you the maximum flexibility and generally makes for the most positive experience. This is reflected in our very high success rate and the positive feedback from our previous clients.
Important – This day to day schedule should be taken only as a general guide. Although we update our itineraries regularly, it is not possible to guarantee that any of our trips will run exactly according to the proposed itinerary. A variety of factors, for example, adverse weather and/or mountain conditions can lead to enforced changes. The Guide will make any changes that are necessary.
We run our trips on a Guiding only basis with no fixed dates apart from that we accept bookings between early July and mid September each year. Please contact us to discuss availability.
Arrival by 18.00hrs in Chamonix
You will rendezvous at a hotel/chalet/accommodation in the Chamonix Valley. In the evening, you will meet your Guide and have an informal chat about the trip. If you are proposing to hire items of equipment, you will pick these up on this day or before setting out in the morning.
Day 1 – To the Almagellerhütte
In the morning, we have the chance to go through our equipment to make sure we have all necessary items for the week. After hiring or buying any last minute equipment and snack food, we have a coffee in Chamonix and then transfer to the picture postcard village of Saas Almagell in Switzerland. We will walk on a slowly changing path through the treeline using a via ferrata and trails until we near the Dri Horlini, a rocky peak not far from our overnight accommodation. Here, we will cover some essential skills in scrambling and climbing before spending our first overnight at the Almagellerhütte at 2894m (4-5 hours).
Day 2 – Weissmies
We leave the hut in the morning and make our way up a rocky trail to the Zwischbergenpass, a small col between the Portjenhorn and the Weissmies. We turn northwards and with increasing exposure and difficulty, climb the superb rocky south ridge. The rock scrambling ends and we have a dramatic final traverse on a snow arête to the summit (4017m). We now descend down the easy northern flank, which is in contrast to our line of ascent as it is entirely on glaciated snow. On reaching Hohsass, we can have a lunchtime stop which is an ideal opportunity to sample the Swiss dish of Rösti, before descending via télécabine or the off road-scooters to the village of Saas Grund where we will spend the night in a comfortable hotel (8 hours).
Day 3 – Pollux
This morning we transfer to Zermatt and use the téléphèrique system to transport us to Kleine Matterhorn at 3883m. We travel over the glacier to the toe of Pollux. we scramble over rocky ground following the SW ridge until we reach some fixed chains. We use these to aid our way up the final steep wall and then follow another impressive snow arête to the summit (4092m). We descend via the same route and then negociate our way to the Rifugio Guide del Val d'Ayas at 3394m (4-6 hours).
Day 4 – Traverse of the Breithorn
We have an early start from the hut and we follow our footsteps back towards the Kleine Matterhorn, breaking off the trail to head northwards to join the ridge of the Breithorn. We climb along the ridge over exposed rock and up and over the satellite summits and eventually ascend a fine snow arête to the main summit at 4164m. We descend via the normal route and then back to the Kleine Matterhorn and overnight in a small, comfortable hotel in Zermatt. (6 hours)
Day 5 – To the Hörnlihütte
We have a more relaxed start after the exertions of the previous days. We resupply with snacks before taking the télécabines up to Schwarzsee. Here we have an impressive view of the Matterhorn as it dominates our approach to the Hörnlihütte. We have time in the afternoon to walk up to the start of the ridge and try out some of the first moves that we will be doing in the dark the following morning.
Day 6 – Matterhorn summit day
An early start from the hut, leaving in a trail of headtorches at around 4.00am. Soon the teams spread out and we will be moving swiftly and confidently over scrambling terrain which weaves an intricate line up the mountain. Some pitched sections of climbing below and above the Solvayhütte - a small emergency shelter and we are up on the shoulder, where we will normally put our crampons on. Strenuous climbing using the fixed ropes lead us to the final snow slopes, we climb this to the narrow summit ridge and the summit itself at 4478m where you are rewarded with a 360 degree panarama of 4000m peaks. Descending by the same route, initially negociating our way past teams that are still on the way up. We will soon pass them and then work our way down the mountain to the Hörnlihütte where we will have a break and then make our way to Zermatt where we can relax and have a well-deserved beer whilst looking up at our achievement.
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