Breithorn

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Breithorn

Photo of the Breithorn
Breithorn seen from Klein Matterhorn

General
Elevation 4,164 m13,661.417 ft
2.587 miles
Prominence 433 m0.269 miles
1,420.604 ft
Location Valais, Switzerland
Valle d'Aosta, Italy
Range Pennine Alps
Massif Breithorn-Liskamm Group
Sponsored Links

Coordinates
DMS Coor. 45°56´28"N, 7°44´50"E
Swiss Coor. 623994 / 87742
Links Topographic Detail

Coordinates Information

Nearby Features
Breithorn Central, Breithorn East, Breithorn Gendarme, Breithorn-Liskamm Group, Gandegg Hut, Gobba di Rollin, Klein Matterhorn, Pollux, Roccia Nera, Rossi and Volante Bivouac, Theodule Hut, Valle d'Ayas Guides' Hut
Alpinist's Info
Base(s) Breuil-Cervinia, Zermatt
Hut(s) Cervinia Guides' Hut, Gandegg Hut, Klein Matterhorn Station, Theodule Hut
Topo. Map SLK 1348: Zermatt
Easiest Route Rating F F
Map
Breithorn (Switzerland )
Breithorn
Breithorn
GoodGood

This page is about the Breithorn main summit. For other uses see Breithorn (disambiguation).

Contents

[edit] General information

The Breithorn is a mountain in the Pennine Alps, located close to the Matterhorn. It's on the border between Switzerland and Italy. It is considered the most easily climbed 4,000 m Alpine peak. This is due to the Klein Matterhorn cable car which takes climbers to over 3,820 m for a starting point.

The lift has turned the SSW Flank route on the Breithorn into one of the most climbed 4,000 meter peaks of the Alps. This is a snow and glacier route. The primary challenges are those normally associated with high altitude climbing: that is fitness, pace, and basic crampon technique. In poor weather, or when avalanche hazard exists on this side of the peak, the climb takes on another character, and lives have been lost in these conditions. Most of the time, however, this peak offers an enjoyable outing with incredible views and a rewarding summit

[edit] Geology

This is a big mountain with a long crest runnig roughly E-W and which is continually above 4,000 m. At the E end of the ridge is the Roccia Nera (4,075 m) and between this and the main summit are three other identifiable tops. These are Breithorn Gendarme (4,106 m), Breithorn East (4,139 m) and Breithorn Central (4,159 m).

There is a great contrast between the N and the S flanks of the mountain. The S flank is predominantly snowy and not very high, rising only 250-350 m above a glacier terrace. Climbing on this flank should be avoided after about mid-day when it can become quite soft and dangerous. The N flank in contrast is high, steep and a complex of snow, ice and rock.

[edit] Climbing history

The Breithorn was first climbed, by the south-south-west flank on 13 Aug. 1813 by Henry Maynard with Joseph-Marie Couttet, Jean Gras, Jean-Baptiste Erin and Jean-Jacques Erin. The first winter ascent on this route was by A. Bürcher, J. Seiler and M. Stockalper on 21 Jan. 1888.

The Triftjigrat route was estabished by R. Fowler with P. Knubel and G. Ruppen on 15 Sept. 1869. The first winter ascent was by G. Airoldi, G. Brignolo, A. Mellano and R. Perego on 18 March 1962.

The north-west and south-west flanks route was completed by G. Prothero and G. Taugwalder on 27 July 1888.

The Bethmann-Hollweg route was completed on 3 Sept. 1919 by D. von Bethmann-Hollweg with O. and O. Supersaxo. A route with a variation on the start was done by Fr. Bachschmidt, F. Rigele and W. Welzenbach on 1 Aug. 1926. The first winter ascent was by C. Mauri and E. Peyronel on 20 March 1955.

The Bethermin-Gabarrou route was established by M. Bethermin and P. Gabarrou on 29 Sept. 1979.

[edit] Routes

red: SSW flank; orange: variation
blue: NW and SW flank; green: Bethmann-Hollweg (+variation); yellow: Bethermin-Gabarrou; cyan: Triftjigrat; pink, brown, purple: 'exotic' routes

[edit] South-South-West Flank (F)

approaching the summit via the SSW flank

One of if not the most frequented route in the Alps, made easy by the availability of mechanical aids on both Italian and Swiss side of the mountain. Most people make use of the lift systems and climb the mountain in a day from the valley but the purist will start from either the Theodule Hut, the Cervinia Guides' Hut or the Gandegg Hut. In summer there is usually a well worn piste from the Breithornplateau which is easy to follow. However, care must be taken in misty conditions in these parts since the terrain is fairly featureless and, if the trail is lost or becomes obscured in any way, relocation is not easy. The summit slopes are quite steep, sometimes icy and there may be an occasional crevasse.

[edit] From the Gandegg Hut

Breithorn: South-South-West Flank from the Gandegg Hut (edit infobox)
Summit Approach
Summit Breithorn (4,164 m2.587 miles
13,661.417 ft
)
Valley base(s) Zermatt (1,608 m0.999 miles
5,275.591 ft
)
Route Type Snow (4 - 4.5 h) Hut Gandegg Hut (3,029 m1.882 miles
9,937.664 ft
)
Difficulty Rating F F Difficulty W1
Height Gains Hut - Summit: 1135 m0.705 miles
3,723.753 ft
    -    Valley - Hut: 1421 m0.883 miles
4,662.073 ft
    -    Valley - Summit: 2556 m1.588 miles
8,385.827 ft
Useful Maps SLK 1348: Zermatt (Maps)


Head SSW as far as the Oberer Theodul Glacier and cross the possibly crevassed glacier heading SW before following the line of a ski-tow or the adjacent piste. Finally reach the Theodulpass after skirting round the E side of the Theodulhorn. Continue S on the glacier to Testa Grigia and then turn SE alongside a ski-tow. Eventually climb up the slope (NE) to a broad snow saddle (Pt. 3,796 m). (2.5h)

From the broad saddle walk E towards the Breithornpass but before reaching it turn NE up the steepening S flank of the mountain. As the angle increases turn NW and head for the SW ridge which is followed to the summit. To avoid crowds, instead of turning towards the SW ridge it is just as easy to slant up NE to reach the ESE ridge close to Pt. 4,076 m from where the summit is easily obtained. (1.5-2h from the snow saddle)

Total climbing time is 4-4.5h.


[edit] From the Theodule Hut

Breithorn: South-South-West Flank from the Theodule Hut (edit infobox)
Summit Approach
Summit Breithorn (4,164 m2.587 miles
13,661.417 ft
)
Valley base(s) Breuil-Cervinia, Zermatt
Route Type Snow (3 - 3.5 h) Hut Theodule Hut (3,317 m2.061 miles
10,882.546 ft
)
Difficulty Rating F F Difficulty Rating F F
Height Gains Hut - Summit: 847 m0.526 miles
2,778.871 ft
Useful Maps SLK 1348: Zermatt (Maps)


Continue S on the glacier to Testa Grigia and then turn SE alongside a ski-tow. Eventually climb up the slope (NE) to a broad snow saddle (Pt. 3,796 m). (1.5h)

From the broad saddle walk E towards the Breithornpass but before reaching it turn NE up the steepening S flank of the mountain. As the angle increases turn NW and head for the SW ridge which is followed to the summit. To avoid crowds, instead of turning towards the SW ridge it is just as easy to slant up NE to reach the ESE ridge close to Pt. 4,076 m from where the summit is easily obtained. (1.5-2h from the snow saddle)

Total climbing time is 3-3.5h.


[edit] From the Cervinia Guides' Hut

Breithorn: South-South-West Flank from the Cervinia Guides' Hut (edit infobox)
Summit Approach
Summit Breithorn (4,164 m2.587 miles
13,661.417 ft
)
Valley base(s) Breuil-Cervinia, Zermatt
Route Type Snow (2.5 - 3 h) Hut Cervinia Guides' Hut (3,480 m2.162 miles
11,417.323 ft
)
Difficulty Rating F F Difficulty Rating F F
Height Gains Hut - Summit: 684 m0.425 miles
2,244.094 ft
Useful Maps SLK 1348: Zermatt (Maps)


Descend to the glacier on the E (Plateau Rosa) and then turn SE alongside a ski-tow. Eventually climb up the slope (NE) to a broad snow saddle (Pt. 3,796 m). (1h)

From the broad saddle walk E towards the Breithornpass but before reaching it turn NE up the steepening S flank of the mountain. As the angle increases turn NW and head for the SW ridge which is followed to the summit. To avoid crowds, instead of turning towards the SW ridge it is just as easy to slant up NE to reach the ESE ridge close to Pt. 4,076 m from where the summit is easily obtained. (1.5-2h from the snow saddle)

Total climbing time is 2.5-3h.


[edit] From Klein Matterhorn lift station

Breithorn: South-South-West Flank from Klein Matterhorn Station (edit infobox)
Summit Approach
Summit Breithorn (4,164 m2.587 miles
13,661.417 ft
)
Valley base(s) Zermatt (1,608 m0.999 miles
5,275.591 ft
)
Route Type Snow (2 h) Hut Klein Matterhorn Station (3,820 m2.374 miles
12,532.808 ft
)
Difficulty Rating F F Difficulty lift
Height Gains Hut - Summit: 344 m0.214 miles
1,128.609 ft
    -    Valley - Hut: 2212 m1.374 miles
7,257.218 ft
    -    Valley - Summit: 2556 m1.588 miles
8,385.827 ft
Useful Maps SLK 1348: Zermatt (Maps)


Walk out of the tunnel and along the ridge to the snow saddle (Pt.3,796 m). (10min)

From the broad saddle walk E towards the Breithornpass but before reaching it turn NE up the steepening S flank of the mountain. As the angle increases turn NW and head for the SW ridge which is followed to the summit. To avoid crowds, instead of turning towards the SW ridge it is just as easy to slant up NE to reach the ESE ridge close to Pt. 4,076 m from where the summit is easily obtained. (1.5-2h from the snow saddle)

Total climbing time is 2h.

[edit] Other routes

It's also possible to approach this climb from the Italian side (E): from the Mezzalama Hut, the Rossi and Volante Bivouac, the Valle d'Ayas Guides' Hut or the Monte Rosa Hut.

[edit] North-West and South-West Flanks (AD)

Breithorn from the N with the NW and SW flank route visible on the right

A much more sporting approach from the Gandegg Hut is to climb bu way of the buttress that forms the R bank of the upper part of the Unterer Theodule Glacier. This route avoids the seracs of the upper part of the Triftji Glacier but it would be prudent to have an inspection of the route beforehand to ensure that the passage above the last rocks is itself free from serac danger. The line of ascent can be clearly seen from the Gandegg Hut.


Breithorn: North-West and South-West Flanks (edit infobox)
Summit Approach
Summit Breithorn (4,164 m2.587 miles
13,661.417 ft
)
Valley base(s) Zermatt (1,608 m0.999 miles
5,275.591 ft
)
Route Type Snow and Rock (5 - 6 h) Hut Gandegg Hut (3,029 m1.882 miles
9,937.664 ft
)
Difficulty Rating AD AD Difficulty W1
Height Gains Hut - Summit: 1135 m0.705 miles
3,723.753 ft
    -    Valley - Hut: 1421 m0.883 miles
4,662.073 ft
    -    Valley - Summit: 2556 m1.588 miles
8,385.827 ft
Useful Maps SLK 1348: Zermatt (Maps)


From the hut descend the cliff path on to the glacier and cross it SE to the snow slop below Pt. 3,167 m. Climb the narrowing snow slope to gain the crest of the buttress. Follow it on both rock and snow, the final steep snow/ice slope leads up to the glacier below Pt. 3,696 m. Cross the glacier Swards and then climb to a snow shoulder at the foot of the SW ridge. Follow this ridge to the summit. (5-6h)

[edit] North and North-North-West Face of the Main Summit

NNW face of the Breithorn

A large and complex face with both rock and ice features with a mean angle of 51°. Much of it is threatened by seracs. The lower part of the face, on the R (W), is formed by the much crevassed upper arm of the Triftji Glacier above which there is an irregularly shaped rock buttress. The buttress itself is separated from a higher rock band by a slanting snow/ice ramp, the rock band itself being overhung by seracs. On the L side the Triftji Glacier is bounded by a steep rock wall which is separated from the rock buttress by a steep snow/ice couloir. The bounding rock wall is topped by a glacier slope with a multitude of seracs below half-height. The upper part of this slope is more even snow/ice interspersed with rocks. The E boundary of the face is the Triftjigrat, the line of a justifiably classic route. Most of the routes on the face have probably had more winter ascents than summer ones.

[edit] Bethmann-Hollweg Route (TD)

Probably the route on the face least exposed to falling ice but nevertheless the danger still exists. Good ice climbing with some difficulties on sound rock.


Breithorn: Bethmann-Hollweg Route (edit infobox)
Summit Approach
Summit Breithorn (4,164 m2.587 miles
13,661.417 ft
)
Valley base(s) Zermatt (1,608 m0.999 miles
5,275.591 ft
)
Route Type Snow and Rock (8 - 10 h) Hut Gandegg Hut (3,029 m1.882 miles
9,937.664 ft
)
Difficulty Rating TD TD Difficulty W1
Height Gains Hut - Summit: 1135 m0.705 miles
3,723.753 ft
    -    Valley - Hut: 1421 m0.883 miles
4,662.073 ft
    -    Valley - Summit: 2556 m1.588 miles
8,385.827 ft
Useful Maps SLK 1348: Zermatt (Maps)


From the Gandegg Hut descend the cliff path on to the glacier and cross it SE to the snow slope below Pt. 3,167 m. Climb the narrowing snow slope to gain the crest of the buttress. Now find a way to cross the upper part of the Triftji Glacier to the bounding wall on its E side. Depending on the state of the Triftji Glacier it may be safer to follow the Welzenbach variation which climbs the R bank of the glacier below the E bounding wall to reach the couloir by which it is climbed. Surmount this wall by means of a couloir to the L of the steep snow/ice couloir itself. The latter alternative may be subjected to some stonefall. The route continues up fairly steep snow/ice slopes to a bergschrund. Cross this and reach the final obstacle which is the rock band guarding the summit. Climb this or, more easily, the mixed ground further L before snow slopes leand to the top. (8-10h)

[edit] Bethermin-Gabarrou Route (TD-/TD)

A very direct line up the face but seriously exposed to the dangers of seracs. The first ascent party experienced 'quasi' winter conditions.


Breithorn: Bethermin-Gabarrou Route (edit infobox)
Summit Approach
Summit Breithorn (4,164 m2.587 miles
13,661.417 ft
)
Valley base(s) Zermatt (1,608 m0.999 miles
5,275.591 ft
)
Route Type Snow and Rock (8 - 9 h) Hut Gandegg Hut (3,029 m1.882 miles
9,937.664 ft
)
Difficulty Rating TD TD Difficulty W1
Height Gains Hut - Summit: 1135 m0.705 miles
3,723.753 ft
    -    Valley - Hut: 1421 m0.883 miles
4,662.073 ft
    -    Valley - Summit: 2556 m1.588 miles
8,385.827 ft
Useful Maps SLK 1348: Zermatt (Maps)


From the Gandegg Hut descend the cliff path on to the Unterer Theodule Glacier. Head SE across the glacier towards the rocks of Pt. 2,982 m. Pass the rocks on the R and then descend the Triftji Glacier to a height of 2,880 m before crossing it to reach the E branch of the glacier which descends in a NWerly direction from the Triftjisattel. (Note that both seracs and the state of the glacier make it easier and safer to descend after Pt. 2,982 m rahter than taking a higher traverse line). Climb up this branch onits R (N) bank until below the Triftjisattel, which is situated to the S of Pt. 3,250.6 m (2-2.5h)

On the R of this glacier bowl is a rock buttress below Pt. 3,335 m. Climb the buttress by the rib on its L (E) side, thus avoiding the seracs, to gain the glacier slopes above. Higher up is a band of overhanging seracs. Climb up this serac band via snow and mixed terrain before moving L to find a way past or through the seracs. Higher up the slope is a rock barrier. Climb it on its R side (mixed) and then trend Lwards to reach easier mixed ground and the summit snow slopes. (8-9h)

[edit] Other Routes

Other routes on this face include two which climb the irregularly shaped rock buttress below the slanting snow/ice ramp. The rock is quite sound and provides some good mixed climbing but is seriously threatened by the serac band below the summit.

R. Arnold and M. Ineichen, 29 July 1974, climbed a wandering line R of centre on the buttress before following the slanting ramp L to breach the uppermost rock barrier (TD/TD+).

On 5 Aug. 1994 the Slovenians Z. Petric and B. Pockar took a more direct line. They had dry rock and were able to climb the buttress in rock boots. They called the route Black Panther (ED2; VII-; 85°; 12h).

A few weeks earlier (on 25 June) Pockar, this time with P. Meznar, climbed a route, entitled Karatanska (ED1; VI-), which climbs above the E bounding wall of the Triftji Glacier, reached low down, and with an 80° ice pitch at the top of the initial seracs. It then skirts the L edge of the main buttress, this section giving some sustained climbing to join the finish of the Arnold/Ineichen Route.

[edit] Triftjigrat (D)

Although the name suggests a ridge, a lot of the climbing is on quite open slopes. It is a classic route with varied climbing and some very fine situations, but not entirely free from objective dangers. Although longer, it has been compared with the N buttress of the Aiguille du Chardonnet.


Breithorn: Triftjigrat (edit infobox)
Summit Approach
Summit Breithorn (4,164 m2.587 miles
13,661.417 ft
)
Valley base(s) Zermatt (1,608 m0.999 miles
5,275.591 ft
)
Route Type Snow and Rock, 55° (7 - 9 h) Hut Gandegg Hut (3,029 m1.882 miles
9,937.664 ft
)
Difficulty Rating D D Difficulty W1
Height Gains Hut - Summit: 1135 m0.705 miles
3,723.753 ft
    -    Valley - Hut: 1421 m0.883 miles
4,662.073 ft
    -    Valley - Summit: 2556 m1.588 miles
8,385.827 ft
Useful Maps SLK 1348: Zermatt (Maps)


From the Gandegg Hut descend the cliff path on to the Unterer Theodule Glacier. Head SE across the glacier towards the rocks of Pt. 2,982 m. Pass the rocks on the R and then descend the Triftji Glacier to a height of 2,880 m before crossing it to reach the E branch of the glacier which descends in a NWerly direction from the Triftjisattel. (Note that both seracs and the state of the glacier make it easier and safer to descend after Pt. 2,982 m rahter than taking a higher traverse line). Climb up this branch onits R (N) bank until below the Triftjisattel, which is situated to the S of Pt. 3,250.6 m. (2-2.5h)

Keep on snow on the W side of the rocky ridge before getting on to the ridge at the first break in the rocks. Follow it to the first snow shoulder. Climb this on the L or R on steep snow or ice. Continue to a steepening snow slope and climb this on the L to rocks which allow further easy progress. Continue easily to a snow crest which in turn leads to a glacier terrace (Triftjiplateau). Above are the summit slopes. (2-2.5h)

Move R on the terrace, cross the bergschrund and climb the steep snow/ice slope (55°) to the most prominent rock rib. Climb this, on excellent holds, then more snow to a higher rock band. This can be climbed direct but it is usually simpler to pass it on the L and reach the easier summit snow slopes. (2-3h)

Total climbing time is 7-9h.

If the final slopes are found to be too icy it may be possible to make an alternative finish further E. The Triftjiplateau is dominated by a zone of seracs and the route finds its way round these to their L (E). Instead of moving R along the terrace continue more or less S to reach their bounding L edge. Climb a sort of ramp which slants up Rwards until above the seracs (some steep steps) and continue to the summit up steep, E facing snow slopes. (2-3h)

[edit] Overview

Route Name Hei. Dif. Dur. (h) Type Rock ° Valley Hut S. Gain Maps
Breithorn: South-South-West Flank from the Gandegg Hut 4,164 m2.587 miles
13,661.417 ft
BF 4-4.5 Snow Zermatt Gandegg Hut 1,135 m0.705 miles
3,723.753 ft
1348
Breithorn: South-South-West Flank from the Theodule Hut 4,164 m2.587 miles
13,661.417 ft
BF 3-3.5 Snow Breuil-Cervinia, Zermatt Theodule Hut 847 m0.526 miles
2,778.871 ft
1348
Breithorn: South-South-West Flank from the Cervinia Guides' Hut 4,164 m2.587 miles
13,661.417 ft
BF 2.5-3 Snow Breuil-Cervinia, Zermatt Cervinia Guides' Hut 684 m0.425 miles
2,244.094 ft
1348
Breithorn: South-South-West Flank from Klein Matterhorn Station 4,164 m2.587 miles
13,661.417 ft
BF 2 Snow Zermatt Klein Matterhorn Station 344 m0.214 miles
1,128.609 ft
1348
Breithorn: North-West and South-West Flanks 4,164 m2.587 miles
13,661.417 ft
GAD 5-6 Snow and Rock Zermatt Gandegg Hut 1,135 m0.705 miles
3,723.753 ft
1348
Breithorn: Bethmann-Hollweg Route 4,164 m2.587 miles
13,661.417 ft
MTD 8-10 Snow and Rock Zermatt Gandegg Hut 1,135 m0.705 miles
3,723.753 ft
1348
Breithorn: Bethermin-Gabarrou Route 4,164 m2.587 miles
13,661.417 ft
MTD 8-9 Snow and Rock Zermatt Gandegg Hut 1,135 m0.705 miles
3,723.753 ft
1348
Breithorn: Triftjigrat 4,164 m2.587 miles
13,661.417 ft
JD 7-9 Snow and Rock 55 Zermatt Gandegg Hut 1,135 m0.705 miles
3,723.753 ft
1348

Hei.:Height, Dif.: Difficulty, Dur.: Duration, S. Gain: Meters from hut to summit
Summit map is always listed first. If a map is used for 2 km and another map for 1 km, the 2 km map will be listed before the 1 km map. Overview of the Swiss maps & Italian maps.

[edit] Additional photos

[edit] Recommended books

      The Alpine 4000m Peaks by the Classic Routes by Richard Goedeke

      Valais Alps East: Selected Climbs (Alpine Club Guides) by Les Swindin

      Valais Alps West: Selected Climbs (Alpine Club Guides) by Lindsay Griffin

      Alpine Climbing: Techniques to Take You Higher (Mountaineers Outdoor Expert) by Cathy Cosley

      Valais West: Zinal - Arolla - Verbier - Rhone Valley (Rother Walking Guide) by Michael Waeber & Hans Steinbichler

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