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Traverse of the Breithorn


Zermatt - Breuil-Cervinia

One of the best easier 4000m ridge traverses in the Alps

Alpine Climbing Difficult

5.5 km
678 m
601 m
Low Point
3.7 km
High Point
4.2 km
Traverse of the Breithorn Map

The Breithorn is a Mecca to alpinists, not least in part due to its ease of access. The Klein Matterhorn lift takes you to nearly 3900m, so the main summit is a very popular day trip and one of the easier 4000m peaks.


The traverse is a much longer route but has many appealing features. It is in condition over a large number of months, changing in style with the seasons, only coming out of condition later in the summer, when bare glacial ice appears. There are escape routes at several points, so unlike many 4000m peak traverses, you can do one section of the ridge if you want to. Most people stay up high the night before, to complete the route in time for the last lift down.

The Ayas Hut is the most comfortable place to stay nearby, but adds to the ascent and to the time for the route. The most convenient, where the route is marked from and right at the start of it, is the Rossi e Volante Bivouac Hut at 3787m.

From the hut it is steep snow to the small saddle, from where a very short out and back takes you to the Roccia Nera at 4075m. From here to go W, taking in all of the intervening summits to the highest one, the Breithorn W summit at 4164m. Descent is the main descent trail to the lift.

It is a great climb with interesting sections throughout its route, both on rock and mixed ground. There are several equipped abseils along the ridge, none more than 25m. Escape in dubious conditions is possible between the W twin and the Central summit and after the central summit.



The beginning of truly technical terrain which might involve pitched climbing on rock and/or ice, exposed terrain and complex route finding in ascent and descent. Equivalent to AD, AD+

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Much of the route is difficult to protect and a fall could be disastrous at certain points.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

between April and August

Equipment required

  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Quickdraws
  • Glacier kit
  • Wires and Friends

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area