The Matterhorn’s Zmuttgrat climb

ZmuttgratWhen visiting the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt, located at the foot of the great Matterhorn, you may be intrigued by the thought of climbing the famous Swiss Alp.  The Matterhorn is the most famous peak in the Swiss Alps and is well known for its appeal to alpinists.  While most people come for the excellent Zermatt skiing conditions, some come to Zermatt specifically to climb the great mountain.  One of the famous routes up the mountain is the Zmuttgrat.

The first ascent along the Zmuttgrat path was in 1879 by Alfred Mummery and his guides, Johann Petrus, Alexander Burgener and Augustin Gentinetta.  The route is only attempted a few times each year because of its difficult ridge ascent.  Because the ridge faces northwest, it receives very little sun; therefore, the snow does not melt creating a more difficult climb.  The difficulty with the snow is that it covers the rocks making it far more difficult to navigate a safe climb up the ridge.  The Lonza hut was constructed in 1997 (funded by a Swiss pharmaceutical company) in an attempt to make the climb a little easier.  However, an avalanche destroyed the hut two years after it was completed.  Climbers usually struggle to find descent rock to climb on their ascent up this ridge.

The Zmuttgrat is not for novices – this path is for skilled and experienced alpinists.  Rock climbing is necessary and for most of the route climbers are dealing with snow-covered rocks that are deceptive about the danger lying beneath the snow.  Due to the difficult climb and the high altitude, climbers should be in excellent physical shape before attempting an ascent on the Zmuttgrat.  The ascent alone can take up to ten or more hours after which alpinists are faced with a difficult descent down the Hörnli ridge.  While it may be a difficult climb, the Zmuttgrat is an excellent ascent route for experienced alpinists.

For tourists who are not up to the challenge of climbing the Matterhorn, they can still enjoy the excellent skiing conditions and the exceptional Zermatt weather conditions.  Even during the warmer months, Zermatt has great skiing in the higher elevations.  Check our hotels section for a great selection of Zermatt hotels that provide exceptional service and quality for the price.

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