15 Facts about the Matterhorn

If you come to Zermatt, you come to see the Matterhorn. It’s one of the world’s most famous and iconic mountains, despite being neither the highest, nor the most difficult to climb.

So why does it exert such a draw on people’s imagination?  We look at some facts about the Matterhorn that you may not know and that have helped build its distinctive reputation:

The serene Swiss Alps

Did you know these facts about the Matterhorn?

1. The Matterhorn is the 12th highest peak in (Western) Europe; the 10th highest mountain in Switzerland; and one of 48 Swiss peaks above 4000m

2. About 3000 climbers summit the Matterhorn per year. In the summer, up to 150 climbers can attempt an ascent each day.

3. Over 500 people have died climbing on the Matterhorn – both on the way up and down from the summit.

4. The number of deaths averages around 5 per year, but this has fallen from around 8 during the 1990s.

5. Air Zermatt flies around 15 missions a year to rescue climbers. Like the number of deaths, the number of rescues has fallen in recent decades. It’s believed this is because more climbers now travel with guides than in the past.


6. Most ascents start from the Hornlihutte before dawn. There are 130 places available in this refuge and the hut is open from July to September.

7. At CHF150 per night, the Hornlihutte is one of the most expensive mountain refuges in the world. In 2015, it was reduced in size and camping forbidden – with a maximum fine of CHF5000 – to try and reduce the number of people attempting the ascent.

8. The Hornli ridge route to the summit is rated at 5.4 or AD (‘assez difficile’) – not particularly difficult by mountaineering standards. The vertical height gain is 1300m when starting from the Hornlihutte.

9. The first ascent was on July 14 1865 – just over 150 years ago. Four of the seven climbers in the group died on the descent.


10. The first woman to climb the Matterhorn was Lucy Walker in 1871. She was also the first woman to summit the Eiger (1864).

11. The oldest person to have summitted the Matterhorn was Ulrich Inderbinen, who achieved the feat at the age of 89 years. Born in Zermatt in 1900, he first climbed the mountain when he was 20.

12. The Swiss-German name for the peak comes from the words Matte meaning ‘meadow’ and horn meaning ‘peak’. It is called Monte Cervino in Italian or Mont Cervin in French.

13. The Matterhorn first appeared on the famous Toblerone packaging in 1960. Before this, an eagle was the main symbol. [Have you spotted the bear in the Matterhorn image on Toblerone. This is a reference to Bern, where Theodor Tobler first invented the bar.]



14. It used to take two days to climb the 1100 meters of Matterhorn’s north face. In the modern era, it takes around 8 to 10 hours when starting from the Hornlihutte.

15. This very famous poster of the Matterhorn was designed by Emil Cardinaux in 1903 and is considered the first modern travel poster.


Accommodation in Zermatt

If you’d like to visit Zermatt and see this wonderful mountain, then please contact Ed or Suzanne from Matterhorn Chalets and we can find the right accommodation for you.

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