Breithorn, Normal Route


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Tony on the summit

The Breithorn (4164 meters, 13,658 feet) comprises a long ridge line which makes up the western end of the still more massive frontier crest stretching from Monte Rosa, over the multiple summits of the Liskamm Gruppe, and past the twin peaks of Castor and Pollux.

The normal route, the SSW Flank, is an easy climb on 35 degree snow or ice. It is accessible by cable car, and therefore makes an enjoyable day climb for training and acclimatization. It also affords incredible views.

If it were not for the Klein Matterhorn cable car, which whisks climbers and skiers up to over 3800 meters, 12,450 feet, the Breithorn would be a long climb by any route. But the lift has turned the SSW Flank route on the Breithorn into one of the most climbed 4000 meter peaks of the Alps. This is a snow and glacier route. The primary challenges are those normally associated with high altitude climbing, that is fitness, pace, and basic crampon technique. In poor weather, or when avalanche hazard exists on this side of the peak, the climb takes on another character, and lives have been lost in these conditions. Most of the time, however, this peak offers an enjoyable outing with incredible views, and a rewarding summit.

From Zermatt we take the Klein Matterhorn lift (actually a series of lifts) to easily reach the Breithorn Plateau, a high level area on the frontier between Switzerland and Italy. We rope up for the glacier travel across the plateau, then climb the snow and ice SSW face, arriving on the west ridge, not far from the summit.

Sunset on the Breithorn
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Zermatt and the Breithorn


The Breithorn normal route is probably the easiest 4000 meter peak in the Alps. The approach is very quick via cable car, and the climbing generally easy on mostly moderate snow and ice. Basic cramponing is all that is really needed though we must also rope up for the crossing of the glacier. One must remember, however that the peak is almost 14,000 feet high, and the thin air will be felt!


This is a good route for beginners. Given adequate fitness and good health, this high summit is normally accessible to most climbers.


Further along the ridge to the east are the twin peaks of Pollux and Castor. By staying in the Guide d'Ayas hut on the Italian side, one, or perhaps both of these can be climbed along with the Breithorn.

Breithorn from the east summit
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Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
UIAGM Internationally Licensed Mountain Guides

AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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