A ski touring appetizer

foretaste up the Breithorn

Text Laurent Grabet / Photo DR
Date of publication Winter 2020-2021

The Breithorn is 4,000 m of ideal terrain for tackling high-altitude ski touring. This superb range is surprisingly approachable, as it only takes 1h30-2h30 of moderate effort to reach the summit from the station at the Matterhorn glacier paradise.

Have you ever dreamt of reaching 4,000 m in your touring skis? Are you lacking the physical training and technical skills of a true alpinist? Do you have no prior experience in the high mountains? Are you trying to keep an eye on your budget? Not a problem! The Breithorn (4,164 m) has you covered. All you need to know is how to ski correctly in the mountains.

Moderate effort, incredible landscapes
The Breithorn may be one of the most accessible 4,000 m peaks in the Alps, but that doesn’t make it any less stunning. On the border of the Italian Aosta Valley, this welcoming " broad horn" offers 2 km of gentle ridges, draped in snow and ice. Accompanied by a mountain guide, the ascent can be completed in half a day, starting at the Matterhorn glacier paradise cable car station (3,883 m) and back. The upwards itinerary requires 1h30-2h30 of moderate effort across a snow-covered expanse, followed by a gradual ascent until you reach the highest snow-capped ridge, where the uninitiated may experience some light vertigo. There, an exceptional panoramic view awaits: when the clouds part, you can see over three dozen 4,000 m peaks, including the intimidating Dufourspitze (4,634 m) nearby, the highest summit in Switzerland. It’s enough to make you catch the mountaineering bug and want to join the Swiss Alpine Club! "We simply cannot comprehend the power of the mountains," claimed Hawaiian surfing legend Kai Lenny, when he spoke with helvet after visiting the Breithorn with one of his sponsors in 2017. "It’s so much bigger than us that it makes us insignificant…"

A descent worth savouring
The itinerary can be done in a loop or by going from point A to point B and back. Either way, a delightful powder descent awaits, rewarding the effort it took to get to the top. Make sure to enforce a few stops to draw out the experience and allow yourself to savour the view. Stops you’ll likely need to take anyway, as the snow’s conditions and the high altitude take a toll on your muscles and your oxygen levels, all while filling your heart with glee. The best part? The experience only costs 115 CHF per person for a 6-person group with one guide, in addition to the 59 CHF lift fee. Money well spent for such an exceptional experience.

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