Matterhorn – 4478 m
The Matterhorn is one of the most iconic mountains in the World, a stunning and dramatic peak and a very much sought after summit. Normally climbed via the Hornli Ridge, the climb is technically achievable to those with good fitness and stamina, as well as rock climbing and alpine experience. A head for heights is certainly a must but we cover this during the training days.
Adventure Base was incredibly proud to be named the official guiding partner for the Virgin Strive challenge back in 2014, when we guided Sam Branson and his team of ‘strivers’ up the Matterhorn.
Clicking on the ‘Book Now’ button opposite, will open a new tab/window in your browser and direct you to our online tour booking system. Here you can check the course dates and availability.
SUMMER 2017 COURSES
We can always accommodate specific date requests so please get in touch if these dates don’t work for you.
A word on the weather:
The climbing season runs from early July to mid September and between those dates there is no better or worse time to attempt the climb. The beginning and end of the season can be snowy/ cold, and the middle months can be busier and the hotter temperatures can cause afternoon storms.
Summit success varies from season to season but remains consistent throughout the different months. If the weather shuts us down, we will endeavour to find the closest mountain in the area with better the weather, and thanks to our location we are generally able to find an equally beautiful alternative within driving distance in France, Italy or Switzerland.
We split the Matterhorn course between two European alpine capitals, Chamonix and Zermatt. The first three days are spent making the most of the easy access to the high mountains that you find in Chamonix. The last three days are spent in Zermatt, the home of the Matterhorn. Both of these inspiring locations are sure to build up the necessary psyche needed for the summit push.
- Mountain huts at full-board
- Guides expenses
- Guiding fees
- In resort transport
- Chalet accommodation (BnB with packed lunch)
What's not included
- Transport to/from Chamonix
- Equipment rental
- Travel insurance
- Evening meals when in Chamonix
- Snacks, Bottled water, beers, drinks in huts
- Uplifts according to itinerary
Who is this for?
If you have previous experience on alpine grade AD terrain with good physical fitness, it is within your grasp. We aim to do the Matterhorn climb towards the end of the week, after suitable preparation and acclimatisation. If you feel you need more preparation then our Alpine Skills and Swiss 4000ers courses are ideal preparation for the Matterhorn climb week.
Accommodation and huts
Our Matterhorn courses are based out of our Chalet Pele which is located perfectly in Chamonix centre for the first 3 days. Rooms are normally on a twin shared basis with others from your course and all rooms are en-suite. The chalet has WIFI, a lounge and spacious dining area as well as a fun atmosphere. There are often other like minded people staying in the chalet who are on various other courses that we offer. Chamonix’s main high street is a short 5 minute stroll away with plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes as well as mountaineering shops for any last minute rentals or purchases.
What to expect from mountain huts
They are basic but comfortable. They can cater for vegetarians. Food is usually on a set menu basis (3 courses in the evening, hot drink and bread/jam/cereal for breakfast). Often there is no running water and you have to buy water to drink and wash with (no showers). You can usually buy tea, coffee, wine, beer, soft drinks, chocolate bars and snacks.
Sleeping arrangements are normally dormitory style bunkbeds (eg 6 people on the bottom, 6 on the top) with blankets or duvets. No sleeping bags are needed, rather a ‘sheet sleeping bag’ should be brought. The huts provide slippers for wearing around the hut. On this course we ask the hut guardians to provide a packed lunch for the team each day.
You can expect a good atmosphere and a stunning view!
We climb the Matterhorn via the Hornli ridge. Dry conditions and little snow are required to make this route feasible, as it’s a long day of tricky scrambling, requiring full concentration for 8 or more hours. Brilliant but not to be underestimated!
The itinerary is flexible, and weather / condition dependent, but here is a guideline of what to expect.
We meet Sunday evening to go through the weather/conditions and plan for the week. You meet your Guides and can ask them any questions
We take the Aiguille du Midi cable car and spend the day on rocky aretes such as the arete des Cosmiques and arete a Laurence or similar.
Tuesday – Wednesday:
2 days climbing around, and overnighting in, the Torino hut. Typical routes would be traversing the Entreves, the Tour Ronde and the Dent du Geant. This is the final preparation for the real thing, and highly sought after routes themselves.
Drive to Zermatt, organised by Adventure Base, take the uplift and approach the Hornli hut where we spend the night.
Friday – Saturday:
Leave the Hornli hut at 4am and climb the Matterhorn. We have added time flexibility for the climb as we will spend a second night in the Hornli hut before returning to Chamonix on Saturday. To maximise the chance of success if the weather is bad on Friday we are able to attempt the climb on Saturday weather permitting. This is not something all companies will offer but we feel it’s essential in providing you with the best opportunity to make the summit.
To maximise your chance of summiting the Matterhorn it is important to get as fit as you possibly can. Good fitness will also make it more fun and less exhausting! The process of training for your goal will help you focus on your goal and having a goal will help you focus on your training. So all in all training is good!
Mountaineering is all about being able to exercise at a moderate intensity for many hours (typically 5 to 12 hours) and your training should reflect this. Probably the best training is going on long days hill walking as this simulates the real thing as closely as possible and prepares the mind (exercising for long periods in poor weather requires mental strength!).
However not everyone has the opportunity to do this and so alternatives such as jogging, cycling and gym workouts are good.
The focus should be on training Cardiovascular Endurance for long days in the mountains, and upper body strength for climbing.
For cardio cycling/running/rowing machines are much better than weight training. Try and exercise for up to a couple of hours at a time, 4 times a week. For climbing, core stability, flexibility and balance are as important as strong arms and shoulders. Don’t just lift weights!
Try yoga, swimming, pilates etc too. Remember to build up your workouts over time. If you are not used to exercising much, your muscles and joints need time to build up to avoid injury.
Try and choose an activity that you enjoy and keep a note of what you do and your times – this really helps with keeping the motivation up. If you are not used to training then your local gym will be able to advise you on a plan and schedule to help you achieve your goals.
Training does not work overnight! The fittest athletes train as part of their lifestyles and have been doing it for years.
Consider training for a good couple of months before coming out to the Alps.
The Effects of Altitude
As one climbs higher the air gets thinner and so there is less oxygen in each breath we take. The higher we go the less oxygen there is. This makes exercising much harder work than at sea level and so we have to slow down to help compensate. Because we have slowed down, we may feel colder.
Because there is less oxygen in the air as we get higher, this can lead to ‘altitude sickness’ or Acute Mountain Sickness which is like the worst hangover you have ever had (headache, nausea, weakness, fatigue, dizziness) and can develop into a very serious and even fatal (in extreme cases) problem.
To avoid these problems, enjoy the climbing and increase our chances of summiting we need to acclimatise by spending several days and nights at progressively higher altitudes, so our bodies can adapt. This is a very important part of our preparation.
1. Ice axe – for general mountaineering (between 50 and 70cm depending on your height)
2. Standard steel mountaineering Crampons – 12 point crampons for general mountaineering with anti-balling plates. Whether strap on or clip on models they must fit your boots well. When buying crampons bring your boots to the shop so they can fit them for you – that way you can avoid buying incompatible ones. Specialised ice climbing crampons are not necessary.
3. Helmet – standard hard plastic climbing helmet.
4. Trekking Poles – We recommend bringing at least 1 trekking pole that can be reduced in size and stored when not needed.
5. Mountaineering B3 Boots and Gaiters – these must fit and be comfortable. If you buy boots try and make sure they are broken in before you arrive to avoid blisters. Your boots should be stiff-soled (also known as B3 grade boots). If your boots are not stiff enough not only will it compromise your comfort when walking/kicking steps in hard snow but also compromise your safety as crampons are more likely to fall off or even break. When buying boots bring your crampons to the shop to make sure they fit well.
Gaiters are essential for keeping snow out of the top of your boots and laces away from your crampons. Boots with built in gaiters work well and generally mean that you don’t need an additional pair.
6. Rucksack – 30-50L with a rain cover feature (even just a thick bin bag) in case of rain.
7. Waterbottle 1L – not a platypus type – they freeze and leak. A light weight thermo bottle for the summit day can be useful too.
8. Harness (adjustable so that it is comfortable over all your layers), with 2 screw gate carabiners.
9. Sun protection including: sunglasses (category 4), goggles, sun hat, Factor 50 High Mountain sunscreen, lip salve/block.
10. 3 sets of socks and thermal tops.
11. Lightweight GORE-TEX® (or similar) hooded top & bottoms – make sure pockets are accessible even when wearing a harness.
12. Warm hat and 2 pairs of gloves. One pair should be warm, thick mountaineering gloves suitable for conditions at 5000m. The second pair should be a thinner pair that is suitable for mid mountain conditions.
13. Insulating layers. We suggest a thin ‘100’ weight fleece and a synthetic duvet jacket. I think a synthetic or down duvet jacket is perfect because you can put it over all your other layers (including GORE-TEX®) if it is really cold without taking anything off. This is very quick and very warm and practical. If you don’t have a down jacketthen make sure you have 1 or 2 thick fleece layers instead.
14. Mountaineering trousers – there are many brands of wind proof/water resistant trousers for hillwalking/mountaineering. ‘Schoeller’ fabric garments are great but there lots of other good ones too. Bring a pair of lightweight thermal leggings (longjons) too – it can be very chilly on the summit day.
15. Personal first aid – blister kit, aspirin, or Paracetamol.
16. Head torch and spare batteries.
17. Earplugs (there is always someone snoring at night!)
18. Sleeping bag liner for huts (you don’t need a sleeping bag itself as blankets/duvets are provided)
19. Cash (euros) for extra drinks / snacks in huts (allow €20 per hut night but you may well not spend it!)
20. ID, Snack food, if you have an alpine membership card its worth bringing that too. You may also want to bring a small bag of your favourite tea bags as tea bags in the huts are often a bit weak.
Remember: kit should be lightweight but functional – you have to carry it.
We can offer equipment rental once you arrive in Chamonix but please let us know in advance as we have limited stock. Alternatively you can rent almost all of the above from our partners at Concept Pro Shop Chamonix.
Please note this is a guide and you may be required to rent or purchase last minute equipment on arrival dependent on the weather and changes in itinerary.
To find out more about our course, availability, or to ask any questions, please get in touch through the website or by phone on +33 (0)845 527 58 12.
We take a 20% deposit to secure your place on one of our courses, and we ask for the balance to be paid 6 weeks before the course start date.
We strongly recommend getting specialist travel insurance that covers cancellation, medical and mountain rescue.
Make sure that it covers glaciated mountaineering and climbing. We recommend the Dogtag (www.dogtag.co.uk) – they have comprehensive policies and a good reputation.
Getting to Chamonix
It is best to book flights and airport transfers well in advance of your departure.
Easyjet have many cheap flights to Geneva from all over the UK. Swiss Air have cheap and convenient flights from London to Geneva.
Booking a place on a minibus airport transfer service is by far the best way to get from Geneva airport to Chamonix (it takes about an hour or so, is cost effective and is a door to door service). We can book your airport transfers at a competitive rate – just email us with your flight details…
Will I definitely make it to the summit?
In short, no. Whilst we will always strive to get you to the summit safely, sometimes the weather or the conditions of the mountain don’t play ball. When there is precipitation, high winds and low visibility for example, we cannot guarantee reaching the summit and will sometimes recommend an alternative. Each Matterhorn course has a lead guide. The lead guide will always conduct a meeting with the clients and other guides the day before the Matterhorn ascent is due to begin (Usually the evening before we leave Chamonix for Zermatt). During this meeting the latest weather forecast, conditions of the mountain, and the clients own ability to reach the summit will be discussed. Clients and guides alike will voice their opinions and/or concerns at the time and then decide how best to proceed. We fully trust our guides to make these final decisions based on their years of experience on the mountain. They are entrusted to make the final call and the client must accept any decision made. All decisions will have client safety as a top priority.
What type of boots do I need for Matterhorn?
You will either need B2 or B3 mountaineering boots for the Matterhorn. All mountaineering boots are graded in a B1, B2, B3 system.
This will greatly depend on the conditions of the Matterhorn. If it is dry and warm B2 boots will be suitable. If it’s a little snowy and cold, B3 boots will be required. Both can be rented locally.
Can I store my belongings with Adventure Base when I’m in the huts?
Yes. From when you arrive till when you depart you are allocated a room in our Chamonix chalet and this will not be occupied by anyone else during that period. Please note rooms are usually allocated on a twin share basis, in most cases sharing with others from your course.
Is there wifi in the mountain huts?
No. All mountain huts are fairly basic and do not have access to WIFI. Some huts will have phone signal and some will even have 3g signal but we cannot guarantee this will work at all times.
What are the mountain huts like?
The mountain huts we use for our Matterhorn course are fairly basic but comfortable. You will sleep in dormitories on a shared basis, usually 6-8 per room. The huts provide breakfast, lunch and a 3 course dinner. In Chamonix we tend to use the Refugio Torino and Cosmiques Refuge. For your Matterhorn climb we use the Hornli Hutte which is situated at the base of the Hornli ridge.
What kind of fitness level do I need?
You need to be able to hike for 6-8 hours at a moderate pace. Mountaineering is all about having good cardiovascular endurance to be able to continue being active for long periods. As well as this you will need to have a good head for heights and good overall body balance.
Do I need to have previous experience?
Yes. If you have previous experience on alpine grade AD terrain with good physical fitness, the Matterhorn is within your grasp. We aim to attempt the Matterhorn climb towards the end of the week, after suitable preparation and acclimatisation. You must have a good head for heights and a good level of balance control whilst walking along narrow exposed ridges.
Our Alpine Skills Week or Private Guiding are excellent preparation courses for the Matterhorn if you don’t have any previous experience.
What size backpack should I bring?
Your backpack should be no bigger than 50l and no smaller than 30l. It is important that your backpack has an ice axe strap to stash your ice axe when you are not using it. Your backpack must also have a rain-proof cover.
What are the guides like?
All of our guides are highly experienced. They have all been hand picked by us over the many years we’ve been in the guiding industry. Our guides all speak a good level of English and are very attentive. Their primary role is to get you to the summit safely, but they also provide a high level of customer service along the way and are very interesting people to spend time with. They like to share their knowledge of the mountains and their experiences, so don’t hesitate to ask questions and pick their brains. Lastly, they know the route on the Matterhorn like the back of their hands and this is the most important thing when it comes down to making key decisions in the mountains and providing the safest experience for our clients.
What will we do if the weather is bad?
This depends on a few factors and how bad the weather actually is. Should the Matterhorn be unsafe, we will study the conditions on other peaks in the region, like Monta Rosa. Should conditions be a lot better elsewhere, we will propose this to you as an option.
Strong high winds – this means reaching the summit is unlikely. High winds on the ridge will put us in danger and therefore we will likely look for an alternative.
Precipitation – When it snows on the Matterhorn it usually means a summit attempt will be very difficult. The route to the summit of the Matterhorn is a rocky ridge and if its covered in snow and ice it becomes a treacherous task. Route finding in a snow storm is also unsafe.
Whiteout – A cloudy whiteout will make a summit attempt difficult. Route finding in a whiteout is generally unsafe and therefore we will encourage you to consider an alternative.
Heat – This doesn’t tend to offer up any problems. When the Alps is hit with high temperatures and dry conditions, the Matterhorn is in good climbing condition.
How many clients per guide?
For the three training days at the beginning of the week we have a 2 client:1 guide ratio. For your Matterhorn attempt our ratio is 1 client:1 guide.
Why choose Adventure Base?
3 reasons to choose Adventure Base for all your mountain adventures.
1. Safety means success – We have been guiding clients on the Matterhorn for over 8 years with a very high safety and success rate. To date we have had no major incidents or injuries. This is due to us taking great care in training our clients and then monitoring the weather and mountain conditions closely.
2. Fun times – We believe in fun times. Climbing mountains is a serious challenge. But who says it can’t be fun too? Our guides are full of energy, fun facts and big smiles. They help create lasting memories.
3. Word of Mouth – Over 70% of new clients have been recommended to us by a friend or colleague. We don’t spend big on marketing campaigns, we stay true to our product, we pay attention to every detail and then let you do the talking.