Matterhorn, the German term, is from the words Matte that stands for “meadow” and horn meaning “pinnacle.” Cervino, the Italian terms, and Cervin, the French work, have originated from the Latin words cervus and -inus manifesting “place of Cervus.” Cervus is a group of deer that includes elk.

High Peaks of Switzerland

The Matterhorn is acknowledged as the tenth highest mountain in Switzerland, and counted as one of 48 Swiss peaks which are more than 4,000 meters in height.

The four faces of the Matterhorn are directed to four cardinal directions—north, east, south, and west.


Elevation 4,478 m (14,692 ft)
Prominence 1,040 m (3,412 ft) 
Parent Peak Weisshorn
Matterhorn Location
Location  Italy /  Switzerland
Range Pennine Alps
Coordinates 45°58′35″N 7°39′30″E
Topo Map Swisstopo 1347 Matterhorn
Matterhorn Climbing
First Ascent July 14, 1865 by
Edward Whymper
Charles Hudson
Francis Douglas
Douglas Robert Hadow
Michel Croz
Peter Taugwalder (father)
Peter Taugwalder (son)
Easiest Route Hörnli ridge (AD, rock/mixed climb)



Scaling History of Matterhorn

Maiden scaling was accomplished on July 14, 1865 by Edward Whymper, Charles Hudson, Lord Francis Douglas, Douglas Robert Hadow, guide Michel Croz, and the father and son guides Peter and Peter Taugwalder via the Hörnli Ridge, the most popular route of ascent today. Just below the summit on the slop, Hadow slipped, hitting Croz off the mountain. The rope became tight and pulled Hudson, Douglas and the four other climbers tumbled down the north face. The elder Taugwalder was suspended with the rope over a rock projection, but the pressure broke the rope, saving the Taugwalders and Whymper from instant death. The ascent and incident is registered in Whymper’s classic book

The second ascent was accomplished three days after the initial one, on July 17, 1865, from the Italian side. The troop was headed by guides Jean-Antoine Carrel and Jean-Baptiste Bich.

The dangerous North side, one of the biggest north face climbs in the Alps, was first conquered on July 31 and August 1, 1931 by Franz and Toni Schmid.

The typical climbing route is up the Hörnli ridge on the northern east, which is the middle ridge viewed from Zermatt. The route, graded 5.4, manifests 4,000 feet of climbing, generally on rock (4th Class) but with some snow based on seasons, and takes 10 hours of round-trip. Some of the mounting is very exposed and people need to be proficient at climbing rock with crampons on their boots. The route, mostly guided, is tough but not for adept alpinists. Fixed ropes are suspended on difficult sections. Route finding is difficult in some places, especially on the lower face which is generally covered in the dark. The descent, when most accidents are registered, is of similar length as the ascent. Most climbers begin their ascent by 3:30 in the morning to avoid summer thunderstorms and lightning.

On September 6, 2007 Anthamatten and Michael Lerjen was guided by Zermatt, who ascended the Hörnli Ridge and came back in a very less time of 2 hours 33 minutes. Although their ascending time was 1 hour 40 minutes but they took only 53 minutes to reach the base.

Statistics of Matterhorn

This mounting of Matterhorn has taken lives of 500 people since 1865’s tragic accident, many on the descent. Now the average deaths are recorded as 12 per annum. Deaths are due to falls, lack of expertise, underestimating the mountain, falling rocks, and bad weather. Many of the mountain’s victims, along with three from the first ascent tragedy, are resting in Zermatt’s downtown cemetery.

Disneyland in Anaheim, California showcases a 1/100 scale and 147 feet high replica of the Matterhorn. Matterhorn Bobsleds is a famous ride on the peak. Disneyland’s website explains, “Scale the snowy summit in your racing toboggan and then speed, screaming down the slopes, to a sensational splashdown.” Also Mickey Mouse and friends, climbers in disguise, often climb it.

The Matterhorn also appears in two Warner Brothers cartoons. In Pikes Peaker Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam, a 1957 cartoon, competed to the peak of the Schmatterhorn. In A Scent of the Matterhorn, which is the cartoon of 1961, the skunk Pepe Le Pew chases a female cat, who he believes is a fellow skunk, past the Matterhorn.

Weather of Matterhorn

The climate in Switzerland is moderate year round and in winters it may appear to be severe to tourists coming from warmer climates. The weather is not that hot, cold or humid but pleasant. The temperature may range from 18 to 28 °C (65° - 82° F) in the day times of summer months i.e. July to August. The temperature in autumn and spring days spans between 8 to 15 °C (46° - 59° F) and the winter is colder with temperatures fluctuating from -2 to 7 °C (28° - 45° F) during January and February.

Climbing Routes in Matterhorn

  Routes Start Time of Ascent Difficulty
Ridges Hörnli Hörnli Hut 6 hours AD+/III+
Zmutt Hörnli Hut (or Schönbiel Hut) 7 hours (10 hours) D/IV
Lion Carrel Hut 5 hours AD+/III
Furggen Bivacco Bossi 7 hours TD/V+
Faces North Hörnli Hut 14 hours TD/V
West Schönbiel Hut 12 hours TD/V+
South Rifugio Duca degli Abruzzi 15 hours TD+/V+
East Hörnli Hut 14 hours TD

Matterhorn Filmography

  • Fight for the Matterhorn (1928)
  • The Mountain Calls (1938)
  • The Challenge (1938)
  • Climbing the Matterhorn (1947)
  • Third Man on the Mountain (1959)

Matterhorn Bibliography

  • Charles Gos, Le Cervin (Attinger, 1948)
  • Yvan Hostettler, Matterhorn: Alpine Top Model (Olizane Edition, Geneva, 2006).
  • R. L. G. Irving, Ten Great Mountains (London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1940).
  • Beat P. Truffler, The History of the Matterhorn: First Ascents, Projects and Adventures, 4th ed., (Aroleit-Verlag, Zurich, 1998).
  • Edward Whymper, Scrambles Amongst the Alps (1871)
  • The book, Banner in the Sky, by James Ramsey Ullman is based on Edward Whympers ascent.