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Hike – Zermatt to the Platthorn/Mettelhorn

    Hike Zermatt Platthorn August

    Photo: Looking back at the Matterhorn from the path leading up to the ridge below the Platthorn.

    A tough hike up up up (and then down down down) to a fantastic and unique viewpoint high above Zermatt.

    This is one of the most impressive viewpoints I have hiked to in Switzerland (along with the nearby Cabane du Mountet) but I rarely see it mentioned unlike the standard locations around Zermatt. It is quite a tough hike up, so maybe it isn’t that surprising…

    Key Information

    Route: Zermatt – Trift – Platthorn/Mettelhorn – Trift – Zermatt.

    Length: 15.6km, +/- 1770m. Highest point: 3340m.

    Date: 2015-August-30.

    Hike Zermatt Platthorn August

    For more hikes in Switzerland see my list of hikes.


    Practical Information

    Season: Summer to early Autumn.

    Arrival/Departure: Train to/from Zermatt.

    Supplies: Shops and restaurants in Zermatt, food and drink at the Hotel Trift.

    Alternate routes/shortcuts: Other than just stopping and turning back early there isn’t any option to shorten this.

    Exposure/Hazards: The very last section up to the peaks is somewhat loose/steep and going to the Mettelhorn will mean a (very safe) glacier crossing. Both options climb well above 3000m, so the air will be thin.

    There aren’t any cable cars or mountain trains going up this side of the valley, so it will be much quieter than other areas around Zermatt.


    Notes along the route

    From Zermatt there is a short but steep climb out of the village and into the Trift gorge.

    Hike Zermatt Platthorn August
    Starting out in Zermatt.
    Hike Zermatt Platthorn August
    Quickly climbing up and out of sight of the village.

    The first half of the climb is up the beautiful Trift gorge. The views are limited by the gorge is worth it by itself. During the morning the gorge will mostly be in the shade, so expect it to be a cool start (which can be welcome on a warm summers day).

    Hike Zermatt Platthorn August
    Up the Trift gorge.
    Hike Zermatt Platthorn August
    Looking across to Monte Rosa from the Tift gorge.

    At the top there is the Trift Hotel which offers the chance for a scenic coffee and the option to also detour onto the Edelweissweg (Höhbalmen) route instead.

    After the Trift hotel there is one more climb and the view opens up and from here on the Matterhorn is always watching you. This is marked as a blue Alpine footpath but up until the ridge where the path splits it is easy going – the main danger would be exposure to any weather that rolls in.

    Hike Zermatt Platthorn August
    Above the Trift Hotel.
    Hike Zermatt Platthorn August
    The Matterhorn making its appearance.

    At the ridge line there is the choice of going straight up to the Platthorn (0.4km, +150m), or making a small crossing across the top of the glacier (no special equipment needed, one trail runner was doing it in trainers) and up to the Mettelhorn (0.9km + 224m). The Mettelhorn is slightly higher. I choose the Platthorn because it was empty and I could have it to myself, whilst a small crowd were on the Mettelhorn (only a narrow peak any number of people is a crowd).

    This also has one of the coolest looking Wanderweg signs in Switzerland sat on the edge of a glacier.

    Wanderweg sign Zermatt Platthorn
    The final sign on the ridge by the glacier.
    Hike Zermatt Platthorn August
    The path leading up to the Platthorn.

    The last section up is steep and on slightly loose ground. Combined with the altitude well over 3000m the going is a bit tough. 

    The view at the end is well worth the effort. Both options put you on a small and very prominent peak with unrestricted views over the end of the valley and all the peaks around Zermatt. It looks like the Mettelhorn has a slightly more impressive view, but I was happy to sacrifice some view to have the Platthorn to myself.

    Back down the same way. A long way back, but very scenic walking towards the Matterhorn.

    Hike Zermatt Platthorn August
    View from the Platthorn over Zermatta and to Monte Rosa.
    Hike Zermatt Platthorn August
    View from Platthorn towards the Matterhorn.
    Hike Zermatt Platthorn August
    Mettelhorn and the view down the Mattertal valley with the Aletsch Glacier in the background.
    Hike Zermatt Platthorn August
    Another hiker heading across the glacier to the Mettelhorn.

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