Climbing the Matterhorn on a mountaineering week is one of the classic programs for a mountain guide working in the Alps. I have never guided an Italian client on a week like this, because “he / she” wants to give it a go last minute, waiting for the best weather window so to book you just for the 2 summit days. All the clients from UK or US, just to give you an example, live this experience differently, I say as if they were taking a “holiday in the Alps”. They generally book their guided trip and the flights months before, in order to pursue their big dream, being aware that the weather might not be on your side.
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re planning to climb the Matterhorn you can’t pretend one week of alpinism is what everybody needs: the aspirants must be already well prepared technically, in 6 days you can’t build up all the necessaire skills and stamina, surely there’s enough time to go through some little details and know each other while getting acclimated, as the Matterhorn is almost 4500 meters high. There is still another advantage in having a guide for yourself all week. The program is very flexible, depending on personal needs, and above all you can anticipate or postpone the two summit days depending on the weather.
The classic week program for climbing the Matterhorn features some acclimation days on the Mont Blanc massif, where you climb the Cosmiques Arete and the traverse of the Aiguille d’Entreves, so to get ready to tackle Dent du Geant. This 4000 peak is a good test to check if you are up to the Matterhorn, however it’s a shorter and less tiring day than the Matterhorn, but the climb is technically more difficult and the fixed ropes of the normal route are pretty steep and tiring (people find them harder than the ones on the Matterhorn also because they are slightly thicker). If you send all these climbs without any issues, then your chances of success for the Matterhorn are pretty good!
So it was for Graham, a strong and friendly Brit I met in Chamonix the third week of July.The weather and the excellent conditions high in the mountain made our week already easier, and we managed to send the Matterhorn via the Honrli ridge in just 3 hours and 7 minutes. Well done lad!