For skiers and snowboarders, the highly regarded resort of Breuil Cervinia needs no introduction. It is well loved for its atmosphere, its facilities, its snowfall and not least its stunning surroundings.
Chief among these glorious surroundings is the imposing peak of the Matterhorn. Its dramatic, almost physics-defying silhouette makes it one of the most iconic mountains in the world.
The Matterhorn has four main ridges, and each one represents a separate path to the top of the mountain. In clockwise order, starting at the northeast, they are the Hornligrat, the Furggengrat, the Liongrat and the Zmuttgrat.
The Hornligrat was the route taken during the very first successful ascent. It has the easiest terrain of the four ridges. Those approaching this way will come to the peak from the northeast.
The Furggengrat brings climbers in from the southeast. It’s usually avoided and only occasionally tackled by veteran climbers, as it’s a very challenging and dangerous route – a successful ascent is a feather in any climber’s cap.
The Liongrat (also known as the Italian Ridge) is the one that you will climb if you approach from Breuil Cervinia. The second successful attempt at climbing the mountain used this southwestern ridge. Like the Hornligrat, it’s a reasonably accessible climb, although it’s slightly trickier than the Hornligrat.
The final ridge is the Zmuttgrat. It’s longer than the others, and makes for a truly magnificent climb, but weather conditions often render it impassable.
Here we’re focusing on the Liongrat (the Italian ridge), which is accessible from Breuil Cervinia. The route is relatively uncomplicated until the final six or seven hundred metres. Just before embarking upon this final ascent, a good many Matterhorn climbers choose to stay at the Carrel Hut, a mountaineering lodge at 3,835 metres. Taking the opportunity to catch some sleep here is advisable to prepare yourself for the last part of the climb.
While parts of the Matterhorn are described above as “easy” or “accessible”, please note that this is all relatively speaking. The Matterhorn, while not one of the greatest challenges of the Alps, is certainly an undertaking not befitting a newbie climber. As well as the appropriate level of cardiovascular conditioning, a climb of any of the Matterhorn’s ridges will necessitate some degree of skill in route finding (unless you’re going with a guide) and all kinds of climbing: you’ll be ascending and descending with crampons, and parts of the climb are unbelayed. Additionally, the descent involves rappelling, so while it’s certainly true that the Matterhorn is easier than some of the area’s trickiest climbs, it requires a solid, well-rounded climber’s skillset to complete the climb safely, even on the easier ridges.
Despite the challenges mentioned above, the reward of having conquered that most picturesque of peaks speaks for itself.
How to Get to Breuil Cervinia
British Airways and Ryanair both fly from London to Breuil Cervinia. Flight time is around 2 hours, and flights depart from London Gatwick and London Stansted respectively.
Once you’ve landed you could take a car or, if you want to keep things as effort-free as possible, book an airport transfer. By taxi, Turin Airport is a little over an hour and half away from Breuil Cervinia, and you’ll be driving over the A5. Note that there’s a toll along the way.
While it is technically possible to get from Turin Airport to Breuil Cervinia using only public transport, only the most stalwart traveller would attempt it as the route is ludicrously complicated and would take over eighteen hours…
Where to Stay
Hotel Meuble Joli – the Meuble Joli offers some of the region’s best low-cost accommodation. On top of the comfortable, well-priced rooms, there’s a shared living room: perfect for socialising with other holidaymakers.
Mollino Rooms – the Mollino feels so airy and fresh you’d swear it breathes the crisp mountain air that surrounds it. You can be sure of an idyllic, relaxing stay in these rooms.
La Cresta Chalet – with the service of a hotel and the cosiness of a chalet, La Cresta offers the best of both worlds. Highly recommended for travellers who love that Alpine feel, but who also enjoy being pampered a little while they’re on holiday.