7-day Traverse of Monte Rosa & Matterhorn


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Maximum Ratio
1 climber per guide

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Matterhorn Conditions

5-day Monte Rosa Traverse program

9-day Jungfrau, Monte Rosa & Mont Blanc Program

Climbing on the Breithorn Half Traverse

This is an ambitious program that takes in both the traverse of the entire Monte Rosa group, as well as an ascent of the Matterhorn.

Monte Rosa is the highest peak in Switzerland and its traverse gives us 3 nights in high huts, as well as climbing several 4000 meter summits along the way. When it comes time to do the Matterhorn, we should be well acclimated and quite ready for the additional challenges this climb presents.

For this program we prefer to climb at a 1 to 1 ratio, that is, one climber per guide. while this is essential for safety reasons on the Matterhorn, it also is advisable for the more difficult variations on the Monte Rosa Traverse.


This is a challenging program for experienced climbers. The Monte Rosa traverse includes both rock and ice, and is especially exposed on the traverse of the Liskamm ridge. Here, we have a mix of snow and rock on a very airy crest. Surefootedness is essential.

The Matterhorn is more difficult still, and is primarily a rock climb, with some steep snow. The challenge on this peak is to keep to good time while climbing carefully and smoothly. In technical terms the difficulties are not extreme, being only about 5.6 (French 4c). But this route is very exposed and entail thousands of feet of steep rock that must be climbed quickly and surely, over 4000 feet of steep climbing from hut to summit, which must be descended as well. Climbers must be able to keep to a pace which allows an ascent in 4 to 5 hours. The descent takes about the same amount of time.

The Matterhorn needs to be in good, relatively dry (snow free) climbing condition to be a reasonable objective. Please see our Matterhorn Conditions page for a much more detailed discussion of this.


Participants for this 7-day program must have previous rock and ice climbing experience and be in very good condition. You should be able to climb 5.7 (French 5a) rock on a top rope quickly and with little difficulty. You should have extensive experience scrambling on steep rock, such as climbing in the Sierra, Cascades or Tetons. You need to be comfortable cramponing on steep 50 degree frozen snow or soft ice, both in ascent and descent.

Climbing on the Matterhorn
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Monte Rosa Traverse & the Matterhorn

Day 0

Meet in Zermatt in the evening to go over equipment and logistics.

Day 1

Take the aerial tramway to the Klein Matterhorn, traverse the Verra glacier to climb the Breithorn Half Traverse, then continue on to the Guide d'Ayas Hut for the night (3420m or 11217 feet). The half Traverse is mixed with great exposure in many places. It is one of our favorites in the area.

Day 2

Climb Castor (4,223 m. 13851 feet) via its glaciated west side. We descend along the scenic Southeast Ridge to the Felikjoch, enjoying impressive close up views of the massive Liskamm ridge, and then south down easy glaciated slopes to the Sella hut (3858m, or 12,654 feet).

Day 3

Our goal for day 3 is to reach the high Margherita hut. We have two different options. The usual variation is to traverse over the entire Liskamm Ridge, including the West and East summits (4527m, or 14850 feet). This requires excellent fitness and solid cramponing skills, a head for heights, good snow conditions, and calm weather. The climbing involves extremely exposed, often knife-edged snow, some easy rock, and short steep traverses below the crest. The distance covered on the ridge is about 5 km.

If conditions or weather are not good we can traverse below the enormous south face of Liskamm, over the steep "ice nose" to the eastern lobe of the Lysgletscher, and then climb easily to the Margherita hut.

Day 4

Starting at first light, we traverse the Zumsteinspitze en route to Monte Rosa's highest peak, the Dufourspitze (4618m or 15150 feet). We enjoy dramatic views and airy situations while scrambling among towers and along the ridge to the tiny summit. The descent via the normal route continues on exposed rock ridge for the first several hundred feet, then down easy glacier and moraine for several thousand feet to the Monte Rosa hut. A further 2 hours or so of flat dry glacier and an uphill trail at the end, lead us to the Gornergrat railway station at Rotenboden, and we descend back to Zermatt by train.

Day 5

Tramway and hike to the Hörnli Hut on the Matterhorn. This is an easy day. We arrive at the hut in the early afternoon, rested and ready to climb.

Day 6 Climb the Matterhorn (4478 m, 14,687 feet) via the Hörnli ridge and descend to Zermatt for the night.
Day 7 Extra day as needed for weather, conditions, training, or acclimatization.

Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
UIAGM Internationally Licensed Mountain Guides

AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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