|Weisshorn, East Ridge|
The Weisshorn deserves a fame and popularity equal to the Matterhorn, but we're just as glad if the shadow of its more famous neighbor keeps the crowds relatively small on this beautiful peak. Towering to 4506 meters, 14,780 feet, the Weisshorn is a massive 3 ridged pyramid, rising above the Zermatt valley downstream and to the north of the town.
Its normal route via the East Ridge is physically and technically demanding, with long sections of 4th and easy 5th class, a tricky and exposed rock ridge requiring care and the occasional belay, and a summit snow or ice slope up to 45 degrees. The altitude is also a part of its challenge, and the vertical gain on summit day is significant at 1600 meters (5248 feet). Overall, the ascent is slightly harder than the Matterhorn, but, most climbers agree, of much higher quality.
The route is best done allowing 2-3 days from Zermatt; the first for the 5000 foot approach hike to the Weisshorn Hut from the town of Randa; the second to ascend the peak and return to the hut or the road, and the third in case staying at the hut seems more appealing than descending yet another vertical mile after this strenuous and long day of climbing.
|Weisshorn from the Zinal Rothorn|
We have decided to give this route our "4-mountain" rating, even though in many guidebooks it receives only a AD (fairly difficult) rating. Overall, it seems like a longer and more demanding outing than, say, the Hörnli route on the Matterhorn. The rock climbing is only about mid-5th class (except for one or two hard moves on the Lochmatter tower) but the route is very long, typically taking about 7 hours in ascent, and 4 to 5 down, and the climbing includes significatn challenges on both rock and snow.
This is a big mountain route suitable for very fit cliimbers who can move very well over moderate, exposwed terrain, on both rock and snow. There are several very airy snow ridge crests, so proven ability on this kind of terrain is necessary.
The Weisshorn hut is situated essential for this route only so there are few good combination climbs from it.
However, for the very ambitious the Schaligrat (south ridge) of the Weisshorn is one of the best climbs in the Valais alps, and normally includes a descdnt of the East Ridge, described here.
The Schaligrat is a 3 to 4-day outing; day 1 to the Rothorn hut, day 2 up and over the Schalihorn and down to the Schalijoch bivouac hut, day 3 up the Schaligrat on the Weisshorn and down to the Weisshorn hut (and possibly down to the valley), and day 4 to get to the valley if it did not happen on day 3.
Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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