Interesting facts about the Matterhorn


The Matterhorn is one of the highest summits in the Alps and Europe.

At 4,478 meters (14,692 feet) above sea level, the Matterhorn is the 12th highest summit in the Alps.

It is perhaps the most recognizable of the peaks that make up the Alps.

The Matterhorn is located on the border between Switzerland and Italy.

The mountain overlooks the Swiss town of Zermatt in the canton of Valais to the north-east and the Italian town of Breuil-Cervinia in the Aosta Valley to the south.

The pyramid shaped colossus of a mountain, which is very difficult to climb, is said to be the most-photographed mountain in the world.


The resulting pyramid-shaped peak has four distinct sides that align with the cardinal directions: north, south, east and west.

The first ascent of the Matterhorn was made in 1865 from Zermatt by a party led by Edward Whymper but ended disastrously when four of its members fell to their deaths on the descent.

On August 22, 1871, while wearing a white print dress, Lucy Walker became the first woman to reach the summit of the Matterhorn, followed a few weeks later by her rival Meta Brevoort.

matterhorn first ascent

The oldest person to climb the Matterhorn was mountain guide Ulrich Inderbinen at the age of 90.

On August 20, 1992 Italian alpinist Hans Kammerlander  and Swiss alpine guide Diego Wellig climbed all 4 Matterhorn ridges in just 23 hours and 26 minutes.

matterhorn peak

There is a record of climbing Matterhorn from the village Breuil-Cervinia, of 2 h 10 min by Bruno Brunod (it) in 1995; and from Breuil-Cervinia to Matterhorn and back, of 3:14:44 by Bruno Brunod in 1995.

On August 21, 2013, the Spanish mountain runner Kilian Jornet broke Brunod’s record as it took him 1 hour, 56 min to the top, and 2 hours, 52 minutes from Breuil-Cervinia to the top and back.

matterhorn climbing

In 2015 the route of the first explorers to ever conquer the Swiss Matterhorn has been lit up to mark 150 years since their climb. Lamps have been positioned along the historic route taken by Edward Whymper and his roped team when they scaled the iconic mountain.

matterhorn 150th anniversary

It is estimated that over 500 alpinists have died on the Matterhorn since the first climb in 1865, making it one of the deadliest peaks in the world.

With its isolated geographical position and enormous height, the Matterhorn forms its own weather, exposing rescuers to rapid changes in conditions: Heavy fog, gusty winds and icing of helicopter rotors are some of the biggest dangers.

Today, all ridges and faces of the Matterhorn have been ascended in all seasons, and mountain guides take a large number of people up the northeast Hörnli route each summer.

In total, up to 150 climbers attempt the Matterhorn each day during summer.

matterhorn climber

Around 3,000 people climb the Matterhorn every year.

The Matterhorn has three common names. The German name Matterhorn derives from the words for “meadow” and “peak.” The Italian name (Cervino) and French (Cervin) likely originated with the Latin word for forest, silva, though some believe it comes from the Italian and French words for “deer.”

Sometimes referred to as the Mountain of Mountains, the Matterhorn has become an iconic emblem of the Swiss Alps and of the Alps in general.


The Matterhorn is part of the Swiss Federal Inventory of Natural Monuments since 1983.

Since the end of the 19th century, when railways were built in the area, it has attracted increasing numbers of visitors and climbers.

matterhorn train

The peak of the Matterhorn is actually African rock. The mountain is the result of the collision of two pieces of Earth‘s crust, the African continental plate and the Laurasian, or European plate. The peak is actually from the African continental plate.

Carved out of snow and ice, Iglu-Dorf in the town of Zermatt at the base of the Matterhorn is the world’s largest snow igloo, measuring an impressive 10.5 meters (34 feet 4 inches) tall, with a vast internal diameter of 12.9 meters (42 feet 4 inches). The Guinness Book of World Records confirmed it as the largest in 2016, after construction was completed in January.


The triangular shape of the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps is commonly believed to have given Theodor Tobler his inspiration for the shape of Toblerone. The image of the Matterhorn first appeared on Toblerone chocolate bars in 1960.

Disneyland in Anaheim, California features a 1/100 scale replica of the Matterhorn that is 45 meters (147 feet) high.

The mountain figures in two Warner Brothers cartoons: 1957’s “Pikes Peaker,” in which Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam race to the top of the Schmatterhorn; and 1961’s “A Scent of the Matterhorn,” featuring amorous skunk Pepé Le Pew mistakenly pursuing a female feline around the Matterhorn.