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Mountaineering in Switzerland with Alyson Adventures

Climb the famous Alpine peak

An active, outdoors vacation with Alyson Adventures.

It's easy to get to know the other travelers in our small, friendly, gay and lesbian groups.

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Sharpen your climbing skills in fresh Alpine air, then climb the Matterhorn


The Matterhorn: Mountaineering in Switzerland

Mountaineering in Switzerland: Frequently-Asked Questions about The Matterhorn

Sharpen your climbing skills with two days of alpine practice, take four days to relax, or hike or climb independently... then begin a two-day ascent of the famous Matterhorn, accompanied by an experienced guide.

This FAQ page is intended to accompany other pages about this trip and about our company (see links at left). Some of the answers below may include links to other other sites; please use the BACK key of your browser to return to this page.


Where is Zermatt? How do I get there?
Zermatt is a small mountain town in the Swiss Alps, tucked under the Matterhorn just a few kilometers from the Italian border. It is reached by a spectacular 1-hour ride on cog railway from the towns of Brig and Visp valley below.

If you’re flying to Switzerland, Geneva is the closest major city to Zermatt. Milan, Italy is equally close, but is convenient only if you're flying into the Linate airport, which offers fairly easy access to the city and train station; Milan's Malpensa is much further out. Zurich and Basel are only slightly farther, and Swiss rail transportation is excellent, so you can pick an entry point based on what city you’d like to visit, or where you get the best fares.

Some people fly into Paris, Munich, or another cities they’ve always wanted to see. You’ll need to change trains in Brig or Visp, at the bottom of the valley and about an hour from Zermatt, no matter where you come from.Back to Top

Should I get a Swiss rail pass?
Swiss transportation is among the world’s best -- but not the simplest. The simple Eurail pass of a generation ago has given way to dozens of pass types. Some cover one country; some several. Some cover travel on a certain number of days, i.e., any 5 days in a 30-day period. It's particularly complicated in Switzerland, which has many privately-owned rail lines. Some give a discount for some passes; some do not, and it's virtually impossible to get accurate information about what's covered, until you're actually there.

If you are not doing additional travel within Switzerland, we recommend the Swiss Card (not to be confused with the Swiss Pass), which will (as of this writing -- subject, but not likely, to change), get you from your entry point (the Swiss border, or any airport in Switzerland) to most destinations (including Zermatt and Grindelwald), and back; it also gives you a 50% discount on additional travel (including some of the lifts and railroads from Zermatt.) You can find out more about various passes from RailEurope. But please remember: We never promised that this was simple.Back to Top

How many days are there in a 9-day trip?
Our trip officially begins at 6:00 p.m., with a reception and orientation, followed by dinner. We officially end after breakfast on the last day, although you can leave as early as you like. Or stick around all day, for sightseeing with your new friends.

Our "9-day" trip thus consists of 8 full days and two partial days. Some companies call this a 10-day trip; we feel it's more accurate to refer to it as 9 days.Back to Top

When does the trip start and end?
As for most of our trips, the official starting time is 6:00 pm on our official "start date". At that time we'll have a reception and orientation, followed by dinner. It ends after breakfast on the last day. You can arrive earlier or depart later, but please note that (as of this writing) check-in time is 4:00 pm, and check-out time is 9:00 am. Our pre-trip newsletter will keep you posted on any changes in these times, as well as tips on what to do with luggage if your travel schedule allows you to fit some activities on your arrival or departure dates.Back to Top

What level of difficulty is the Matterhorn?
It's a challenging and demanding climb. Although in rock-climbing terms, it's not particularly difficult, the route is long, the altitude tires you out, the weather is unpredictable, and the popularity of the mountain can create delays or other problems.

You should have both rock-climbing and mountain climbing experience, including experience using climbing ropes and crampons. You need to be in excellent physical shape.

If you can be in Zermatt (or anywhere else at altitude) for a few more days before the trip begins, that will also help you acclimatize.

Finally, you must be comfortable with heights. The Matterhorn includes many very exposed pitches.Back to Top

When is the best time to climb the Matterhorn??
Mid-July until the middle or end of September are the best times to climb here. However, there are no guarantees of suitable weather, even during this period. You should be mentally prepared for the possibility that conditions will not be right for a safe ascent of the Matterhorn, in which case we will set our sights on another mountain.Back to Top

What's the weather like in this part of the Alps?
From mid-July to mid-September, daytime temperatures in Zermatt will generally range from the high 60s to the high 70s, and will drop 5 or 10 degrees as you get to higher elevations. On some days, you'll probably be comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt all day, but you should be prepared with a sweater and long pants in your pack. (Convertible pants, which you can turn into shorts by zipping off the legs, are a comfortable, weight-saving device here.)

During these months, we've rarely had more than half a day of rain during the course of a week. However, like mountain weather anywhere, conditions here can change quickly, and we recommend that you always carry a light waterproof top.

On the Matterhorn itself, of course, you'll encounter far different conditions, including snow and ice. Please use our checklist, sent in advance of the trip, to be sure you're prepared for the climb.Back to Top

What is the Glacier Express?
The Glacier Express connects the mountain towns of Zermatt, Chur, St. Moritz and Davos, along one of Europe's most spectacular mountain railways. The journey takes about 8 hours, and passes through 91 tunnels and over 291 bridges, showing off spectacular Swiss engineering skills as well as panoramic scenery: glacier landscapes, alpine meadows and forests, and rushing mountain streams.

If your schedule allows, we encourage you to travel to or from Zermatt via the the Glacier Express. You can take it all the way to or from St. Moritz, or you can go to Chur and transfer to a direct train to Zurich. If you've got a choice, taking the train at the end of the week gives you a chance to share the journey with new friends. You can use the web to check Glacier Express Schedules.Back to Top

Can I talk with someone who's previously traveled with you?
We encourage you to do so.

Our website includes a full page of comments from past travelers. Most of them have volunteered to talk about their experiences with future potential travelers. Please call for the names and phone numbers of references in your area.Back to Top



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