Schwarzsee Cablecar - Hornlihutte - Zmutt - Zermatt


Trail photos

Photo ofSchwarzsee Cablecar - Hornlihutte - Zmutt - Zermatt Photo ofSchwarzsee Cablecar - Hornlihutte - Zmutt - Zermatt Photo ofSchwarzsee Cablecar - Hornlihutte - Zmutt - Zermatt


Trail stats

7.69 mi
Elevation gain
1,821 ft
Technical difficulty
Elevation loss
5,059 ft
Max elevation
10,246 ft
Min elevation
5,324 ft
Trail type
One Way
4 hours 56 minutes
October 4, 2013
September 2013
10,246 ft
5,324 ft
7.69 mi

near Stafel, Canton du Valais (Swiss Confederation)

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Trail photos

Photo ofSchwarzsee Cablecar - Hornlihutte - Zmutt - Zermatt Photo ofSchwarzsee Cablecar - Hornlihutte - Zmutt - Zermatt Photo ofSchwarzsee Cablecar - Hornlihutte - Zmutt - Zermatt

Itinerary description

The ascent to Hornlihütte is one of the most visited trails of Zermatt, and it shares the trail with init of the normal way for the ascend to Matternhorn from Zermatt Valley (Hornli Ridge).

The difficulty is F+, and you have to pay attention in presence of snow or ice, (ropes are installed but not all over the ridge) even in summer time, since the final ridge is very aereal.

From Zermat we have to go to the Schwarzsee lake, either walking (around 4h) or taking the Schwarzsee cable car if we want to complete the activity in half a day. Once at the exit of Schwarzsee cablecar, we take the path on the left, heading to the hotels, where a signpost will indicate the directions for the Hornlihütte.

The trail ascend towards the summit of Hirli (2888m). Once at the base of Hirli, we start seeing the ablation zone of the glaciers going down from the Theodulhorn summit.We follow the trail, going through a metal stairs and footbridge and ascend close to the Hirli summit, which will be left to our left.

After 0h55m, we will arrive to the intersection of trails, the one coming at our right from the valley, leads to Stafelalp and Zmutt, and it is the one we will use to come back. Following the Matternhorn ridge, we will ascend directly to Hornlihutte, through the North face of the mountain, enjoying the beautiful views of the glaciers on its north face. Without ice or snow, the trail is narrow and areal but not very dangerous, fixed ropes have been set up in the most dangerous passes. However, with snow or ice (we are already over 3000m, so it could be perfectly even in summer time), it becomes risky.

The trail in this file ends at 100m below the Hörnlihütte (1h35min), the trail was covered by slippery recent snow from the past days and I was not well equipped to face the ascent within safety conditions. Furthermore, although I thought the trail was packed of people, I did not meet any other people going up Hörnlihütte that morning.

Once I turned around, we arrive at the intersection of trails marked with a waypoint on the trail. We take the trail heading North going down the slope of the mountain, shown in the signpost as Zmutt-Zermatt. The first part of the descent is again a narrow and slippery trail of gravel, but this time it is not so dangerous since a fall would be easily stopped. The trail itself invites to descend running on it. Once at the bottom of the valley, we follow the trail, many times shared with the ski run of the Zermatt ski ressort, passing through Stafelalp restaurant (3h20min).

After 3h40min we arrive at a small dam. The signpost indicates the way to Zmutt crossing the barrage, but in reality both trails (right and left) go to Zmutt. I crossed the tunnel and after some hundreds of meters I crossed the bridge which will lead to the small and picturesque village of Zmutt (4h00min). Signpost with directions to Zermatt are all over the place, ones indicating the direction to the Church (Zermatt Kirche) and others to the railway station. Both trails are possible, I took the one leading to the Church. After 4h50min, I was back at Zermatt after a beautiful morning.

At Zermatt church you can visit for 10CHF the Matternhorn museum (not very worth though, but interesting if you do not have anything better to do for the day). Also, on the trail down, there are interesting signs with story around the ascents to Matternhorn as well about the system of glacier water collection and its use for hydroelectric power stations.


- Beautiful ascent with awesome views of the Monte Rosa peaks and glaciars, as well as the Matternhorn ridge.
- Aerial although safe if there is no snow or ice, dangerous in presence of snow, even if fixed ropes are installed on the trail, there are many parts of the trail with no fixed ropes which are very exposed.
- The way back through Zmutt makes the trail much longer but it is worth it. If we want to make the hike shorter, just use the cable car again to return Zermatt village.
- In summer time, the trail is supposed to be packed of people, but at the end of September, when I did it, I was the only one going up that morning (during the week). Fresh snow had recently covered the trail over 3000m.



PictographLake Altitude 0 ft


PictographSummit Altitude 9,478 ft


PictographMountain hut Altitude 0 ft

Hörnlihütte 3260m Sac Alpine Hut

PictographIntersection Altitude 0 ft


PictographLake Altitude 0 ft
Photo ofSchwarzsee


Schwarzsee Cablecar - Matternhorn Express

PictographProvisioning Altitude 0 ft

Stafelalp Restaurant

Zermatt railway station



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