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Zinalrothorn: Popular 38 Four Thousand Meter Peaks

The summit of the Zinalrothorn at the height of 4221 meters, appears to lean to one side and so is unmistakable. The ascent via the Rothorngrat ridge is regarded as one of the finest rock climbs in the Zermatt region. The Zinalrothorn lies between the Matter valley and the Val d’Anniviers to the west, just a few kilometers from the Weisshorn and Dent Blanche. Its distinctive summit seems to lean at an angle, where the rock is of very good quality. The Zinalrothorn is a classic alpine climbing peak. The Rothorngrat ridge or the south-west ridge is regardless as one of the best rock climbs in the Zermatt area.

When Sir Leslie Stephen, professor of theology in Cambridge, climbed the Zinalrothorn for the first time on August 22nd 1864 at an age of 32, together with Florence Craufurd Grove and the guides Jakob and Melchior Anderegg via the north ridge, the Zinalrothorn had the name Morning. People forgot this name. Later this old name was replaced by the “Zinalrothorn” meaning the red horn of Zinal. In the south-east, likes Zermatt and both valleys are important as the 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 of 4000 meter peaks 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 Rothorn hut is quite short. The easiest route is the south-east ridge which is as well best descent. It does not go directly to the summit but to the south-west ridge. The south-west ridge or the Rothorn ridge offers more climbing pleasure anyway. It is also the most beautiful ridge. The north ridge is recommendable as well, although people do not climb it very often. A special tip is the connection with Arte de Blanc, the white ridge of the Blanc de Moming which goes 2 kilometers to the Zinalrothorn.

The routes in the flanks have a lot of rockfall. Therefore, the east face has a very bad reputation. The Swiss steep ice specialists Andre Roch, Robert Grelou and Ruedi Schmidt found the first route through this face on August 6th 1945. It is a very dangerous way. Today there are two other routes besides this one. The first winter ascent was undertaken by the Swiss mountaineer Paul Etter, Ueli Gantenbein, Ernst Scherrer and his brother Andi on 27th and 28th of December 1971. The west-face above the Mountain glacier 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 800 meter is a beautiful challenge for ice climbers as well. It was climbed for the first time on August 2nd 1941 in only 5 hours by the 29 year old secretary Loulou Boulaz from Geneva. She has been the most successful female mountaineer in the world till the beginning of the 60’s. She climbed it together with Pierre Bonnet. 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 Peter Meier. She had also climbed the north face of the Aiguille du Dru, the Furggenridge of the Matterhorn, the northface of the Jungfrau and the Walker-pillar.