One of the world’s most famous and recognizable peaks, the Matterhorn has only a half of the size of Mount Everest and it’s not even the highest mountain in Europe, but it’s certainly an inviting location for any hiker or climber.

Whether you dare to climb it or decide to enjoy the view of the Matterhorn from below,  it will simply be an unforgettable experience. Here are ten interesting facts about the Matterhorn that you might not know.

the Matterhorn
The famous peak captured during one of our WeHikes. Credit: Daniel Garcia Gutierrez

1. The Matterhorn is famous due to its pyramidal shape – this majestic mountain forms almost perfect four-sided pyramid. And each side of the mountain points toward the four cardinal compass directions – east, west, north, and south. The top of the Matterhorn is accessible from each side.

2. The name of the Matterhorn comes from the German words Matte, which means valley or meadow, and Horn, which means peak. But, Italians call it Monte Cervino and it’s known as the Mont Cervin in French.

3. The Matterhorn is located on the border between Italy and Switzerland, and it overlooks the famous town of Zermatt to the north-east and the town of Breuil-Cervinia to the south, towards Italy.

4. The areas near the Matterhorn are full of magnificent mountain lakes. The reflection of the pyramidal peak on a crystal-clear, still water surface is simply a breathtaking view.

Matterhorn Stellisee
The Lake of Stellise. Credit: Daniel Garcia Gutierrez

4. The hut and refuge network in the Swiss Alps is truly amazing. Huts are located almost everywhere, but the location of the famous Solvay Hut just gives chills down the spine! It’s situated on the north-eastern ridge of the Matterhorn, and with its humble construction offers a shelter for climbers but only in the case of an emergency. This is the highest mountain hut owned by the Swiss Alpine Club, built in 1912. It is located at the elevation of 4,003 meters (13,133 ft).

WeHike Solvay Hut Matterhorn
The famous Solvay Hut situated on a quite inhospitable ridge of the Matterhorn. Image Source: Reddit

5. On July 15, 1865, the Matterhorn was conquered for the first time. The expedition was led by Edward Whymper. Unfortunately, the first ascent of the Matterhorn ended in tragedy when four of the members lost their lives during the descent. This event is considered as the ending of the golden era of mountaineering but also as the beginning of modern mountaineering.

6. Since the first ascent of the Matterhorn, the peak became a bucket list for climbers and alpinists. Approximately 3000 climbers reach the top of this glorious peak every year. The climb is extremely challenging and the paths are quite dangerous and exposed. More than 500 people have died since the first ascent in 1865.


7. The first female climb of the Matterhorn happened in 1871, just six years after the ascent led by Edward Whymper. Lucy Walker, a British mountaineer, summited the Matterhorn, winning the race over Meta Brevoort, who was also preparing to climb the peak. When Brevoort arrived in Zermatt to start her climb, Walker has already conquered the peak.

8. Due to its isolated location, form, and height, the Matterhorn has its own microclimate, forming its own weather conditions. The Matterhorn is therefore prone to the extreme and rapid weather changes such as heavy winds, dense fog or picturesque so-called banner clouds.

Matterhorn WeHike
Photographed on the Europaweg and Matterhorn WeHike. Credit: Jean-Christophe Garnier

9. The oldest person to climb the Matterhorn was Swiss mountain guide Ulrich Inderbinen at the age of 90. Famous for his modesty and longevity,  he died in 2004, at the age of 104, and during his lifetime he never owned a telephone.

10. The world-renowned alpinist Ueli Steck from Switzerland, who died last year in Nepal, set the record in climbing the north face of the Matterhorn in 2009. He reached the summit by Schmid route in just one hour and 56 minutes!

Have you seen the Matterhorn ‘up-close’ yet? Is it on your bucket list? If you want to witness the magnificent beauty of the Matterhorn, join us on our first Leave No Trace monitor WeHike next weekend in front of the Matterhorn!


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