Hörnliweg

This trail leads to what is probably the key location in Zermatt, the Hörnli hut at the foot of the Matterhorn. Historically this has been the heart of all the action, and remains so today.

Best season

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Description

Anyone visiting Zermatt should take this path at least once. It was here that the first climbers to conquer the Matterhorn set off for their ascent on 14 July 1865. Of the seven mountaineers, only three returned to the village of Zermatt, including the British climber Edward Whymper.

At the Hörnli hut, visitors can really feel, touch and experience the Matterhorn, which towers majestically above the building. The climbing route leads from here via the Hörnligrat ridge up to the summit. From the hut’s terrace, visitors can watch the mountaineers (binoculars required) beginning their ascent before dawn, equipped with head torches. It’s fascinating to watch. Is it a smooth climb? Have they reached the Solvay hut (4,003 m) yet? Are they managing to scale the “shoulder”? How quickly will they reach the summit?

  • Trail leads past the idyllic Schwarzsee lake with chapel
  • Accommodation in the Hörnli hut (reservations required)
  • Best time of year for spotting mountaineers scaling the Hörnligrat: August–September
  • Photographic subject: the Matterhorn, close up
Schwarzsee - Hörnli hut

(Hiking time for the walk back: approx. 1h 30)

Caution! The Hörnli hut is closed during summer 2014 for renovation. Reopening July 2015.

We recommend:
  • Good footwear
  • Hiking poles (optional)
  • Clothing suitable for the weather (always carry a waterproof)
  • Binoculars
  • Camera / Telephoto

Important! A good head for heights, a sure foot  are needed

The trail features open-grilled metal walkways suspended over the void; this can prove a challenge for those who do not have a good head for heights. The path is exposed in places.

A must for those interested in the Matterhorn: Zermatlantis, the Matterhorn Museum, brings the story of the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865 vividly to life. Exhibits include pictures, the original snapped rope from the first ascent, artefacts, finds from the mortal accident…

The mountain landscape around Zermatt, with 38 summits above 4,000 metres, offers breathtaking panoramic views and is home to a wealth of fauna and flora.

Additional information and recommendations are available from the guest information centre on Bahnhofplatz (by the railway station).
  • Plan every mountain tour carefully and adapt to participants’ fitness level as well as the weather and season.
  • Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains. Appropriate clothing is therefore essential, along with adequate supplies of food and water. In uncertain weather, turn back in good time.
  • Inform others of planned route, and whenever possible avoid going alone.
  • Do not leave the marked routes; do not venture onto glaciers without a mountain guide.
  • It is forbidden to walk on the ski pistes.
  • Please be considerate to other walkers and to plants and animals.
  • Take note of the warning signs drawing attention to the constant danger in river beds and along watercourses below dams and reservoirs.
Zermatt is car-free. Private vehicles are permitted only as far as Täsch (5 km before Zermatt). The Täsch–Zermatt road is closed to the public.

Onward travel to Zermatt is either by private taxi or shuttle train. Trains depart every 20 minutes; the journey takes about 12 minutes, and ends at the Bahnhofplatz in Zermatt.
Täsch has car parks with both covered and open-air parking – e.g. at the Matterhorn Terminal or privately operated facilities.

Onward travel: see “Getting there”.
By train to the Matterhorn village: 3½ hours from Zürich airport or 4 hours from Geneva airport. Change at Visp onto the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (Matterhorn Gotthard Railway). From Visp, the railway leads through the Mattertal valley past idyllic small villages to Zermatt.

Zermatt is also the start and finish point for the world-famous Glacier Express panoramic train journey (Zermatt to St. Moritz or Davos).
"Der Wächter des Matterhorns – mein Leben auf der Hörnlihütte", Kurt Lauber. Droemer Verlag 2012. Deutsch, evtl. Japanisch. ISBN 978-3-426-27573-3. "Der Wahrheit näher – die Katastrophe am Matterhorn von 1865", Hannes Taugwalder und Martin Jaggi, Glendyn Verlag Aarau, 2013. Deutsch. Ohne ISBN-Nr. Erhältlich in der Buchhandlung ZAP, Zermatt. „Scrambles Amongst the Alps – in the Years 1860-1869“. Edward Whymper, National Geographic Adventure Classics, Washington D.C., Englisch. ISBN 0-7922-6923-3. "Ulrich Inderbinen", Heidi Lanz / Liniane De Meester, Rotten Verlag, CH-3930 Visp, 1996. Auflage in Deutsch in Vorbereitung. English, Französisch. „Visionäre Bahnprojekte – die Schweiz im Aufbruch 1870 – 1939“, Heinz Schild, AS Verlag Zürich, Deutsch. ISBN 978-3-906055-13-8
A walking map (1:25,000) is available from Zermatt Tourism’s guest information centre, along with brochures containing tips and recommendations.

Map and arrival

Condition 

Technique 

Experience 

Landscape 

Difficulty hard
Distance 4.29 km
Ascent 743 m
Descent 61 m
Duration 2,15 h
Lowest point 2559 m
Highest point 3259 m

Starting point of the tour:

Schwarzsee (2'583 m)

Destination of the tour:

Hörnlihütte SAC (3'260 m)

Properties:

  • Nice views
  • Geological highlights
  • Faunistic highlights
  • Tour route
  • With refreshment stops
  • Cultural/historical value
  • Botanical highlights
  • Mountain railway ascent/descent

Download

Tour information (PDF)
Tour map (PDF)
Google-Earth
GPS-Track