7 - 8
FATMAP difficulty grade
Imagine, as you leave in the morning and look at the enormity of the N Face of the Matterhorn, how much of an epic it must have been for the Schmid brothers to make the first ascent in 1931.
Oh, and they cycled there and back from Munich! There are numerous other 4000m peaks in all directions and you should brush up on their history; this area has the highest density of 4000m peaks in the Alps and they are all iconic. The scenery is off the scale today, but it shouldn't be too physically demanding, other than the acclimatisation.
Start early as you are skinning up sunny slopes, but initially you descend onto the shelf behind the large moraine wall (the ablation valley, as a geologist would call it), down to about 2340m, reversing your ascent of yesterday.
Now climb more steeply to the N.
You are aiming to do a near-complete semi-circle to the N, NW, W and SW as you climb up the slope.
You imperceptibly pass onto the Arben Glacier, arriving at an unnamed col at 3409m, under the Abihorn to the S.
Skins off now and ski gently down to the SW to about 3250m, before climbing again to Col Durand at 3435m.
An additional option is to carry on up to the summit of Mt Durand at 3712m, usually requiring a bit of bootpacking.
The descent the far side is steep initially, then easy and wide as you drop onto and then down the Durand Glacier.
Take the easiest line from about 2800m up to the Mountet Hut at 2886m, which is impressively situated in an amazing and remote cirque of 4000 metre peaks.
You've earned a drink in the sunshine to relax and take in the magnificent surroundings.