A Guide to Matterhorn Skiing: Everything You Need to Know
The Matterhorn is one of the most famed ski mountains in the world. Bordering Switzerland and Italy, the slopes are home to some of the most celebrated resorts in the Alps. If you’re looking for top class skiing set against a truly iconic backdrop, this is the place for you. Here’s our guide to Matterhorn skiing, this is everything you need to know.
Where is the Matterhorn?
Located in the extended Monte Rosa area of the Pennine Alps, the Matterhorn’s North, East and West faces sit on the Swiss side of the border while the South face is in Italian Valtournenche valley.
The closest airports to the mountain are Geneva or Zurich in Switzerland.
What Makes the Matterhorn So Special?
“On the beautiful pyramid of the Cervin, more wonderful than aught else in sight, rising from its bed of ice to a height of 5,000 feet, a spectacle of indescribably grandeur” – William Brockedon (English painter, writer and inventor).
For many years, the main allure of the Matterhorn has been its extraordinary triangular form. Its faces point towards the four cardinal directions and are so steep only small patches of snow cling to them. Avalanches regularly deposit snow on the glaciers found at its base.
The mountain itself remained unclimbed long after the majority of Alpine summits were conquered. This wasn’t a result of its difficult but instead the perceived fear mountaineers had for the great natural structure. Early attempts to reach its peak proved unsuccessful until 14th July 1865.
To this day, the Matterhorn remains one of the most famous and recognised mountains in Europe (and possibly, the world). Its panoramic view of the Alps is breath-taking and a spectacle that’s captured the imagination for many years.
Resorts Near the Matterhorn
So, you’re already packing your bags and dreaming of hitting the slopes of this historic juggernaut? Now, you just need to know what ski resorts are nearby – it would appear you’re in luck. The Matterhorn is home to two seriously impressive ski resorts.
Zermatt Ski Resort
Zermatt is up there with the best ski resorts in the Alps, it’s certainly one of Switzerland’s greatest ski offerings. The resort itself is quaint and beautiful while offering all the amenities you’d ask for. It has a friendly, buzzy vibe with a great selection of restaurants and bars.
It doesn’t come cheap and certainly isn’t recommended for a budget getaway though the surrounding 38 summits above 4,000m justify every penny spent.
Zermatt is ideal for everyone from families to intermediates and even expert skiers. It has something for everyone and great off-piste options.
The resort is technically open year-round so you can ski on the glacier in the height of summer. There’s usually great coverage of natural snow by December.
- Runs – 147
- Pistes – 360km
- Lifts – 54
- Longest run – 25km
You may also like: Zermatt Holidays – true gold for those visiting the Swiss Alps
Breuil – Cervinia Ski Resort
If you’re a beginner or intermediate, this is the place to be. Having said that, it also offers a few interesting options for experienced skiers too. Sitting on the Italian side of the border, your lift pass will also get you access to Zermatt (along with 350km of pistes and 59 lifts!).
The resort is set in a high-altitude basin which benefits from some of the most spectacular views you’ll find. The skiing is top notch and powder’s undeniably soft when the weather’s good. In fact, it’s been heralded as Italy’s most snow-sure resort. Look out for bad weather warnings, they’re rare but can completely spoil your day.
If you’re looking for a family friendly resort, this is one of the best you’ll find. There are plenty of off-slope activities to keep the kids happy as well as some top class restaurants too!
- Runs – 38
- Pistes – 107km
- Lifts – 15
- Longest run – 20km
Matterhorn Facts & Figures
Okay, so let’s scrub up on some general knowledge to impress your friends and family when on your trip to the Matterhorn. Here are some essential stats and fun facts about the mountain.
- The mountain stands at 4,478 metres (14,690 feet)
- The mountain’s formation began around 50-60 million years ago
- It was originally named ‘Mons Silvius’ by the Romans
- Walt Disney began construction of the famous Matterhorn bobsled ride after regular family holidays to Zermatt
- It takes six hours to climb the Matterhorn and five to descend
- The first ascent on July 14th 1865 was shortly followed by a rival Italian climbing group who arrived at the peak only three days later
- About 3,000 people summit the Matterhorn each year
- Emil Carinaux’s 1908 poster of the Matterhorn is considered the first ever tourism poster printed
- You may recognise the Matterhorn as the mountain image featured on the Toblerone chocolate bar
- The oldest person to reach the mountain’s peak was Ulrich Inderbinen who made his final ascent at age 89
High Peaks, Low Transfers
If you’re thinking about travelling to Zermatt or Breuil – Cervinia to experience skiing at the Matterhorn for yourself, we can get you there! The peak may be high but that doesn’t mean your transfer costs should be too. Compare quotes from different ski transfer providers to ensure you get the best deal!