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Mountains & Rocks



Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Idaho, Italy, Europe

Lat/Lon: 45.92090°N / 7.79336°E

Object Title: Castor

Elevation: 13864 ft / 4226 m


Page By: JScoles

Created/Edited: Sep 7, 2001 / Apr 21, 2016

Object ID: 150540

Hits: 52730 

Page Score: 97.35%  - 68 Votes 

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One of the classic mountains of the Zermatt area along with its lower near neibour Pollux forms "the twins" or zwillinge as the locals call it. Located between the Monta Rosa Massif and Breithorn and behind Lyskamm it is an execlent peak to hone one's alpine skills on.

The classic route starts at the Monte Rosa hut up and over the Zwillingsgletscher to the border ridge to the summit. This is a long hump over 6-8 hours one way. Because of crevasses it is not recommend as a solo route.

With the advent of the Kline Matterhorn cable car it can be climbed directly by traversing south-east across the glacier for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to the summit base then about a 45 minute push to the top.

There is a danger of avalanche depending on snow conditions and the odd crevasse but mostly one has to watch out for the large number of other climbers. It is a very popular climb for guides with beginners so the summit can have upwards of 100+ people on it.

One interesting tidbit a guide passed on to me was that in winter when one is traversing under the Breithorn one must keep a constant eye out for skiers coming down. There have been quite a few incidents of skiers getting clothes lined when trying to pass between members of a climbing party causing both parties to come to grief

Getting There

Look at the Monte Rosa hut post for the best way to get there.

The Klein Matterhorn Cable Car station can be reached by taking the Cable Car all the way from Zermatt or one can hike up to it from the Gandegg hut in about a 1/2 to 1 hour walk.

One could also stay at the Hotel Schwarzsee which is furter away than Gandegg at about 1-1/2 hours hike.

From the Italian Side you could try the following;

Two sub-valleys of Val d'Aosta drive to Castor.

Gressoney valley - from this one you can get the Rif. Quintino Sella (3585m) where the start of the italian normal route at Colle di Felik (4061m) can easily be reached.

Ayas valley - from this one you can get the Rif. Mezzalama (3004m) from wich you can reach the summit in 3 different ways :
- south wall and SW ridge - AD
- NW wall of SW spur - TD/ED
- NW ridge - the ski-mountaneering route from south : with ski till Colle di Verra (3848m)

Castor is the main difficulty of the famous ski-mountaneering contest "trofeo Mezzalama", a big course with ski that starts from Teodulo (Cervinia) and ends in Gressoney, after having passed the Liskamm nose.

Red Tape

None. But do get the rescue insurance for 30fr from air Zermatt and a cell phone incase you get in trouble.

When To Climb

Good at all times except when there are heavy snow conditions can cause local avalanches. It is very crowded from July to September with 100+ people on the route not uncommon.



What's In a Name

"The Twins" is actually a apt name for two mountains that look almost exactly alike and sit close to each other. This is the name the locals most likely used for many years (Just a guess on my part).

The first asscent was in 1861 by two englishme W. Mathews and F. W. Jacomb.

What I do know that the individual names Castor and Pollox (more properly Polydeuces in greek and Pollox in Latin) come from Greek mythology. Like most geek myths there are many different versions of the story of the Twins.

According to one they were sons of Zeus born out of swan's eggs (actually quite apt metaphor when one see the peaks) by another they were sons of Tyndareus and Leda and had a minor role in the battle of troy.

No matter how you slice it looks to me that these names were transplanted to the peaks by 18th and 19th century visitors, Greek and Roman mythology was very popular at that time and it makes good sense.

The idea that they are named for the constellation Gemini I think is far fetched even though the actual contellation Gemini does represent these twins and a quick check with a computer program I have confirms that the contilation Gemin does rise above this spot in the summer if you happen to be sitting on top of Gornergrat. Though you can barely make them out from there as they are obscured by Liskamm.

Check out the Miscellaneous Info comments for a quick review of one version of the Twins Myth from OM.

External Links

Additions and Corrections

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Viewing: 1-7 of 7    
JoshUntitled Comment


Hasn't voted

It is possible to choose multiple countries when submitting a mountain. The countries will be displayed as "Country1/Country2" in alphabetical order ....however, I think this is broken right now on the mountain edit page. So, I just altered the country for Castor myself. It's now "Italy/Switzerland."

The other mountains that had multiple countries in non-alphabetical order have been fixed. I think that was an artifact from the time when countries were entered free-form.
Posted Sep 8, 2001 11:34 am
JScolesUntitled Comment


Hasn't voted

Yes it is is true the peak does straddle the border but which country to put it in?

I had a look at the Swiss topo-map in my collection and surprise surprise the peak (?? It has no real pointy bit per say just a rounded top) is on the Swiss side. I am sure if I had the Italian topo map the Peak would be in Italy.

This is a long running battle between cartographers who draw the maps and politicians who then add in the borders.

The most famous of these in the Zermatte area is the Matterhorn/Cervinia where the summit has passed between Italy and Switzerland many times.

Another good one is Kilimanjaro where the border was moved about 200 miles or so NE at the instance of none other that Queen Victoria herself, so the mountain would fall into German East Africa (Tanzania) instead of British East Africa (Kenya) because England already had the greatest falls and second highest peak so it was only fair that Germany got the highest peak.

Posted Sep 11, 2001 4:38 am
Rahel Maria LiuUntitled Comment

Rahel Maria Liu

Voted 10/10

Hi John,

I copy some infos how to get to Zermatt from my Lyskamm-page:

To the MONTE-ROSA-HÜTTE (2795m):

You reach the hut from the station Rotenboden (Gornergrat cable car) over the Gornerglacier in 2 - 2,5 h, 200hm up and down. The way over the glacier is partly marked by poles. From the station Rotenboden, you choose the way with S-direction to the ridge saddle in the E of the Riffelhorn (signs). After a few 100 meters, the way goes up over the Gornerglacier to the E and slightly down to the S-flank of the Gorner-ridge. You reach the Grenzglaicer and traverse it to the S till you reach the E-side of the Grenzglacier. You climb up on the glacier below the hut. You reach via the moraine in short zigzag (100hm).

You can also come from the station Stockhorn. You pass the Stockhorn in 30 min. to the E to the Stockhornpass and traverse the Gornerglacier at the foot of the Nordend (NW). Then you go at the left side down and along the Monte-Rosa-Glacierbreak and the rocks. You reach the edge on about 3120m (pole). You go up slightly on the S-side and traverse the middle tongue of the Monte-Rosa-glacier to the Unteren Plattje and the hut (2-3h)

You can also make the long ascent over the whole Gornerglacier (about 9 km from Furi, 4 h, 940 hm). About 1 km northwestern of the icy glacier-tongue, the road from Furi ends.

You reach the train to the Gornerridge from Zermatt.

You reach Zermatt (1616m) with car or bus from Visp/Brig and by train from Täsch. Zermatt is well-know in the whole world as one center of the Walliser Alps. You are not allowed to drive your car in the village.

Brig is the main city of the upper Wallis and the junction of the trains:

a. Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon-Domodossola

b. Furka-Oberalppass (Andermatt/Disentis, Glacierexpress)

c. Brig-Visp-Zermatt

d. Lake of Geneva-Milano

In Brig, many busses arrive as well:

a. Simplon-Gondo

b. Saastal

c. Blatten

d. Mund

e. Rosswald

You reach Visp/Brig by car:

a. from the West: From Geneva (airport) on the A1 to Lausanne, on the A9 via Montreux, Martigny and Sion to Sierre. From Sierre the road no. 9 with direction to Brig. But at Visp, you turn already right to the S with directin to the Saaser valley. In Stalden, you turn right and leave the Saaser valley to the left. Here, the Matter valley beginns. Via St. Niklaus, Randa and Täsch, you reach Zermatt.

b. from the North: from Bern on the A6 to Spiez, from here the road to Kandersteg, at Kandersteg, you drive your car on a train and go by train through a tunnel; end of the tunnel: Goppenstein; you continue the road to the S and reach the main road from Sierre. On the crossroad, you turn left (E) and reach Visp. From here, continue as route a.

c. from the East: from Bregenz on the A13 to Chur; turn off at Reichenau and continue the road no. 19 to Brig/Visp via Flims - Sedrun - Andermatt - Gletsch - Fiesch. From Visp, continue as described in a.

d. from the South: either from Como on the A2 via Bellinzona to Airollo, then road no.2 till Hospental and here to the left on the road no. 19 to Brig/Visp or from Arona till the end von the A26 and then the E62 via Domodóssola to Brig.

Posted Jan 23, 2002 9:17 am
GarfieldUntitled Comment

Hasn't voted

Posted Dec 13, 2005 2:42 am
asWrong Coordinates


Hasn't voted

The correct coordinates are: Latitude=45.9208 Longitude=7.79317

Posted Sep 16, 2008 7:18 am
selinunte01Important Italian hut missing


Hasn't voted

Please note that the Rifugio Mezzalama above Ayas valley is no longer the main trailhead / hut for the Castor (and for sure: Pollux, Roccia Nera, Breithorn)ascent from Ayas valley direction. There is Rifugio Guide della Val d`Ayas (or Rifugio Lambronecca) about 1,5 hours above Mezzalama hut at 3425 m altitude (in some maps: 3394 m) which can host about 80 mountaineers. The hut was opened in 1989.
Posted Jul 24, 2011 12:43 pm
gimpilatorWrong Coordinates


Hasn't voted

As as stated in 2008, these coordinates are incorrect so the point on the map is not represented correctly.

try these:

45.920793, 7.793337
Posted Mar 22, 2012 4:56 pm

Viewing: 1-7 of 7    


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