Mountaineering & Expeditions

Highest Mountains In Switzerland | Top 10

Ever wondered what the highest mountain in Switzerland is? From Monte Rosa to the Alphubel, via the Matterhorn, here's a guide to the country's 10 tallest peaks

Don’t be fooled by the chocolate-box towns, rolling green pastures, and comforting jangle of cowbells – Switzerland is home to some of the most unforgiving alpine landscapes anywhere on Earth. Sure, it may be smaller than neighbouring France, Italy, Austria, and Germany, but what it lacks in area size, Switzerland more than compensates for in mountains.

Many of the highest mountains in the Alps can be found on Swiss territory, not to mention some of the most iconic, visually imposing and downright dangerous. It’s often touted as the birthplace of modern mountaineering, attracting hundreds of the world’s top athletes every year, all hoping to bag a summit, ski a new line or climb an epic ice wall on one of the highest mountains in Switzerland.

So, what are those mountains? And just how high are they? Below, you’ll find the answers to these questions and more as we explore Switzerland’s ten loftiest peaks.

1. Monte Rosa (Dufourspitze), 4634m

Pictured: Monte Rosa, the highest mountain in Switzerland. Credit: Florian Schönbrunner

Looming above the Swiss-Italian border, Monte Rosa is an impressive massif in the Pennine Alps made up of ten summits. The tallest summit is Dufoursprize, standing at a staggering 4,634m. It’s the highest point in Switzerland, and second-highest summit in the Alps after Mont Blanc, towering over neighbouring peaks like the Matterhorn and the Weisshorn.

The mountain was first summited in 1855 on an expedition led by Charles Hudson, and which had John Birbeck, Edward JW Stephenson, and brothers Johannes and James G Smyth on the team. Mountain guides Mattäus Zumtaugwald and Ulrich Lauener paved the way.

Back then, thin canvas tents were all that protected climbers from inclement alpine weather. Today, however, the Monte Rosa hut at the foot of the massif provides a modern refuge for mountaineers. Be warned though; getting there is a challenge in itself and requires traversing the ever-changing Gorner Glacier. Watch out for crevasses!

2. The Dom, 4545m

“The Dom”, the second highest mountain in Switzerland (Credit: Klemen Tušar)

The Dom (or Dom de Mischabel) is the highest point of the Strahlhorn-Mischabel Group and the third highest peak in the whole of the Alps. It’s located between Randa and the snowsports mecca of Saas-Fee, and is the highest mountain entirely on Swiss territory (the Monte Rosa extends into Italy!).

The mountain was first scaled in 1858 by a team consisting of J. Llewellyn Davies, Johann Zumtaugwald, Johann Kronig, Hieronymous Brantschen. The group summited via the Festigrat (north-west ridge), but today the Dom is most commonly climbed via the ‘normal route’, traversing two glaciers and incorporating 3,100m of vertical height gain, the greatest of all the alpine 4,000m peaks.

The Dom can also be climbed on skis, as proven by British skier Sir Arnold Lunn and mountain guide Joseph Knubel in 1917 – Knubel was also the first person to climb the north-east face of the Eiger.

3. Lyskamm, 4533m

Lyskamm, the third highest mountain in Switzerland (credit: Getty Images)

This huge massif lies on the border between the Swiss canton of Valais (north) and the Italian region of the Aosta Valley (south), and is composed of two summits: the Eastern Lyskamm, and the lower Western Lyskamm, separated by a 1 kilometre ridge. The northern side of the mountain is an imposing 1,100m ice wall, rising above the Grenzgletscher glacier.

The eastern and higher of the two peaks was first summited by a 14-man team in 1861. Nineteen years later, the Kalbermatten brothers attempted to climb the fearsome north-east face but disaster struck when they were caught in an avalanche which carried the men down the glacier. Miraculously, both survived to tell the tale.

In fact, the mountain has a reputation for accidents. Locals and experienced mountaineers have long referred to it fearfully as the “Menschenfresser” (Man-eater), as historically many climbers have fallen to their deaths from snow cornices.

4. Weisshorn, 4506m

Weisshorn, the fourth highest mountain in Switzerland (credit: Patrick Janser)

The Weisshorn is one of many 4000m peaks surrounding Zermatt. It’s part of the Pennine Alps, between the valleys of Anniviers and Zermatt in the canton of Valais. It was first climbed in 1861 and is considered by many mountaineers to be the most beautiful mountain in the Alps, thanks to its perfect pyramidal shape.

The mountain hit headlines worldwide in 1991 when two consecutive rockslides occurred. A cumulative volume of 30 million cubic metres of debris was released, burying key transportation lines, damming the Mattervispa river and causing 35 deaths in the region.

5. Matterhorn, 4478m

Matterhorn, the fifth tallest mountain in Switzerland (credit: Andrews Art)

Mountains don’t come much more iconic than the Matterhorn. Famed for its striking shape, this Swiss landmark has been a magnet for alpinists since it was first climbed by Edward Whymper and his team in 1865. Its four sides align perfectly with the four cardinal directions.

Unfortunately, not all of Whymper’s 1865 team made it back alive. As the group descended using the Hörnligrat route (the mountain’s shoulder), one of the men slipped and fell, pulling several others with him. The rope snapped, and four men fell to their deaths. One of the bodies has never been found.

6. Dent Blanche, 4357m

Dent Blanche, the sixth tallest mountain in Switzerland (credit: Sylvain Mauroux)

This pyramidal peak sits on the dividing line between the French and German speaking parts of the Wallis region. The summit marks the converging point of three valleys: the Val d’Hérens, Val d’Anniviers and Mattertal. It was first summited in 1862.

Dent Blanche is one of the most demanding 4,000m peaks for mountaineers. Most of the trickiest sections are located above 4,000m, but even the trek to the mountain’s refuge hut represents a significant challenge. Only experienced mountaineers need apply.

7. Grand Combin, 4314m

Grand Combin, a mountain massif in Switzerland (credit: Kilian Amendola)

The Grand Combin is a massif containing several 4,000m peaks. The tallest of which, Combin de Grafeneire, is the second most prominent of the Pennine Alps and presents a challenge even to seasoned alpinists. The original route to the summit, “the Corridor”, is now too dangerous to use, so mountaineers tend to ascend via the north-west face, which, while more technical, is less exposed to icefall.

The mountain is home to Glacier de Corbassiere, one of the largest glaciers in Europe. Above it is Great St. Bernard’s Pass, home to the Great St. Bernard’s Hospice which was founded in 1049 and became famous for its use of St. Bernard dogs in mountain rescue operations.

8. Finsteraarhorn, 4272m

Finsteraarhorn, one of the tallest mountains in Switzerland (credit: Getty Images)

With its prominent peak and angular silhouette, Finsteraarhorn looks a lot like what you might get if you asked a small child to draw a mountain. It’s situated on the border between the cantons of Bern and Valais and is the highest mountain in the Bernese Alps. Due to its prominence, it can easily be spotted from most other mountains from as far as 100 miles away.

The first ascent of the mountain has been the subject of debate for centuries. Some allege that the Finsteraarhorn was first summited in 1812, based on records from mountaineers Arnold Abbühl, Joseph Bortis and Alois Volker. If true, it would have been a remarkable feat for the time and one of the first ascents in the golden age of mountaineering.

9. Zinalrothorn, 4221m

Zinalrothorn, one of the tallest peaks in Switzerland (Credit: Getty Images)

Thanks to the incredible rock conditions on offer, the Zinalrothorn has a reputation for offering some of the best climbing in the Wallis region. It sits between the Matterhorn and the Weisshorn, and was first summited in 1864.

The mountain is often touted as a great alternative to the more famous neighbouring peaks. It still offers some highly technical climbing and similar views, but without the crowds. For anyone who fancies scaling the Matterhorn but doesn’t want to share the mountain with hordes of other alpinists, Zinalrothorn is an excellent compromise.

10. Alphubel, 4206m

Alphubel, one of Switzerland’s highest mountains (credit: Getty Images)

Alphubel is a 4,000m peak located between the valleys of Zermatt and Saas in the canton of Valais. The entirety of the eastern flank is taken up by the Fee glacier, one of the biggest glaciers in the region. The first ascent was in 1860, via the south-east ridge.

Because of its shape and proximity to the Saas-Fee funicular, Alphubel is one of the easiest 4,000m peaks to climb. That said, it still has high mountain conditions and all the dangers and risks of such environments, including plenty of cravasses on the glacier which open up in the late summer.

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