When Sir Leslie Stephen, professor of theology in Cambridge, climbed the Zinalrothorn for the first time on 22nd August 1864 with an age of 32 together with Florence Craufurd Grove and the guides Jakob and Melchior Anderegg via the N-ridge, the Zinalrothorn had the name Moming. People forgot this name. Later, this old name was replaced by the "Zinalrothorn": the red horn of Zinal. In the SE, there lies Zermatt. Both valleys are importen as starting points for the normal routes.
The Zinalrothorn has a very good rock quality and offers nice climbing possibilities on all routes. Therefore it has the reputation to be the most beautiful climbing 4000-meters-peak in the Wallis. It is situated between the Matterhorn
and the Weisshorn
. It looks different from each perspective. It is also attractive for the reason that the ascent from the high situated Rothornhütte is quite short. The easiest route is the SE-ridge which is as well best descent. It does not go directly to the summit but to the SW-ridge. The SW-ridge (Rothorn-ridge) offers more climbing pleasure anyway. It is also the most beautiful ridge. The N-ridge is recommandable as well although people do not climb it very often. A special tip is the connection Arête de Blanc, the white ridge of the Blanc de Moming (3657m) which goes 2 km to the Zinalrothorn.
The routes in the flanks have a lot of rockfall. Therefore, the E-face has a very bad reputation. The swiss steep ice specialists André Roch, Robert Grélou and Ruedi Schmidt found the first route through this face on 6th of August 1945. It is a dangerous way. Today there are two other routes besides this one. The first winter ascent was undertaken by the swiss mountaineers Paul Etter, Ueli Gantenbein, Ernst Scherrer and his brother Andi on the 27./28. December 1971. The W-face (above the Mountetglacier) was climbed for the first time by Martin Conway, William Penhall and G. S. Scriven with Ferdinand Imseng, Peter and M. Truffer in only 2,5 hours in August 1878. Their routes is objectively dangerous as well. The northface with its 800m is a beautiful challenge for iceclimbers as well. It was climbed for the first time on the 2nd August 1941 in 5 hours by the 29 old secretary Loulou Boulaz from Geneva. She has been the most successful female mountaineer in the world till the beginning of the 60ies. She climbed it together with Pierre Bonnant. Before this climb, she had also made the second climb of the northface of the Grandes Jorasses
only a few hours after the first climbers Peters/Meier. She had also climbed the northface of the Aiguille du Dru
, the Furggenridge of the Matterhorn
, the northface of the Jungfrau
and the Walker-pillar. 1959 she was member of a women's expedition to the Cho Oyu
Often the Zinalrothorn is traversed, for example, in a combination of the SW-ridge and SE-ridge.
For the Routes
compare the section Routes-Overview
Routes-Overview1. SE-ridge (normal route):
- ZS, III, 4 h (Biner)
2. SW-ridge (Rothorn-ridge):
- 1030 hm, G 4-5, III-, 4h (Waeber)
- AD-, III (sometimes), mostly II and I, 3 1/2 to 4 h, 1050 hm ascent to the summit, mixed (Dumler)
- ZS+, IV, 5 h (Biner)
3. N-ridge (normal route from Mountethütte):
- G 8, IV (short passage), III+ and easier, 3 1/2 - 4 h (ridge), 400 hm, 7 h (totally) (Waeber)
- D, IV and III+ (passages), 3-4 h, 370 hm (Dumler)
- ZS+, 3-4 h for the ridge, 2-3 h from the hut to the ridge, total high difference from the hut: 1335 hm (Vaucher)
- IV, 400 hm, 3-4 h from Rothornjoch (Pause)
- ZS, III, 4 1/2 h (Biner)
4. Complete SE-ridge (Kanzelgrat):
- G 7, III+ or IV (some passages), the rest II-III, 5-6 h, 1350 hm (Waeber)
- G 10, till V, 4-5 h (Waeber)
- TD-, V (key passage), the rest III and IV, 285 hm, 4-5 h, variante of the SE-ridge (normal route) (Dumler)
- SS, 6-7 h (Vaucher)
- Extreme routes in rock and ice (Dumler)
Getting There1. To the Zinalrothorn:
2. To the Rothornhütte (3198 m):
- a. You can come from the Rothornhütte (3198 m).
- b. You can come from the Cabane du Mountet (2886m).
3. To the Cabane du Mountet (2886m):
- You reach the hut in 4,5 hours from Zermatt (1580 hm). You reach the Berghaus Trift (2337m) in 2 hours from Zermatt. The best way is if you follow the sign in the center of the village. You go over grass to Bodmen and on the northern side of the Triftbach to the Triftschlucht. The way goes through is and to a bridge to the S-side. In zigzag you go up to the hotel Edelweiss and the way along the Triftbach, pass it then and climb up to the Trifthaus along the northern side of the stream. Then you go further up along the stream and reach Vieliboden. You go up to the moraines of the Triftglacier and along the left/northern moraine in zigzag to the Rothornhut. 2,5 h from Trift.
- 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:
b. Furka-Oberalppass (Andermatt/Disentis, Glacierexpress)
d. Lake of Geneva-Milano
- In Brig, many busses arrive as well:
- 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 autobahn to Zurich-Bern-Fribourg-Vevey-Visp. From Visp, continue as described in a.
d. from the South: either from Como on the A2 via Bellinzona to Airollo, then over the Nufenenpass to Brig/Visp or from Milan over the Simplon pass to Brig.
- You reach the hut from Zinal on the E-route (4 1/2 h, 1250 hm, 9 km): From the parking place at the southend of Zinal, you cross a bridge and follow the road on the western side of the Navisence to the S till it goes up. You keep on the road which goes up to the alphut Le Vichiesso (1862m). Shortly afterwards, you turn right to the new Mountet-hut-way. You go the road down to the left, traverse the stream of the glacier end (Zinalglacier) on a bridge. You reach the turn off to the Tracuit-hut and Ar-Pitetta-hut (1,5 h). You take the right way and go up zigzag in SE-direction, traverse the western hangs of the Besso above the breaks of the Zinalglacier. You turn around the Besso-SW-ridge via a rock zone below P. 3052m. In SE-direction, you reach the hut via lumps of rocks.
- You reach the hut from Zinal on the W-route (4 1/2 h, 1350 hm, 9 km). From the parking place at the southend of Zinal, you cross a bridge and follow the road on the western side of the Navisence to the S till it goes up. You keep on the road which goes up to the alphut Le Vichiesso (1862m). Here, you leave the way and go up to the Petit-Mountet-hut (2 h). The new way goes up over the hangs of the Pgne de la Le, around a rock zone at about 2550 m. Then you go down and reach the falling line of the Bouquetins-O-rib which leads to the Zinalglacier via the break. You traverse the glacier with SE-direction and go up on the orographically right side. You leave it at P. 2652m and go up to the hut over the W-hang. The skiascent goes over the whole Zinalglacier. Pay attention to avalanches from the flanks if there is much sunshine!
- You reach Zinal from Sierre (28 km) by bus or car via Vissoie and Ayer (Val d'Anniviers).
- To Sierre from Sion (491m) in the West of Visp/Brig in the East.
When To ClimbSummer: rock climb
Winter: with ski to the Zinalrothorn-N-shoulder
Accommodation1. Rothornhütte (3198 m):
The hut is situated at the foot of Eseltschuggen, at the end of the SE-ridge of the Zinalrothorn, and on the left side of the Triftglacier.
2. Cabane du Mountet (2886m):
- 90 beds
- winter room with 10 beds
- serviced: middle July to middle September
- phone: ++41(0)27/9672043
The hut is situated right above the glacier de Zinal, the lowest end of the Blanc-de-Moming-SW-ridge.
3. Camping and hotels in Zermatt or other villages in the valley
- 127 beds
- serviced from July until the end of September
- winter:: 50 beds
- phone: ++41(0)27/4751431
- internet: Cabane du Mountet or vs.wallis.ch
For books, maps, webcams, trains, buses, weather, avalanches, rescue
see my list Swiss Links
in a new window.
Books and Maps
Clubführer Walliser Alpen, Vol. II, Verlag Swiss Alpine Club
1:25000 no. 1327 Evolène
1:25000 no. 1328 Randa
1:25000 no. 1308 St. Niklaus
1:50000 no. 5006 Matterhorn-Mischabel
See the Swisstopo Map
with many interesting features. Upload is in a seperate window.
Further LiteratureHermann Biner, Hochtouren im Wallis. Vom Trient zum Nufenenpass. 2nd ed. 1996.
Helmut Dumler/Willi P. Burkhardt, Viertausender der Alpen. 11th ed. Munich 1998.
Michel Vaucher, Walliser Alpen. Die 100 schönsten Touren. 2nd ed. Munich 1990.
Michael Waeber, Walliser Alpen. DAV-Gebietsführer. 12th ed. Munich 1999.
Walter Pause, Im schweren Fels: Klassische Genußklettereien. New ed.: Michael Pause. Munich et al. 1985. (=Klettern/W.Pause; Vol. 2)
External LinksZinalrothorn at www.4000er.de
Images, routes, coordinates and more information about the highest peaks of the Alps
Frightened and freezing near the summit.
Climbing Zinalrothorn in 2003