The Cervino, with its 4478 meters of altitude, is the third Italian peak. It is located in the Western Alps, the Pennine Alps, on the border between Italy and Switzerland. To the west is Monte Rosa, to the south-oves the Mischabel and to the east the Grand Combin. The Cervino it is known for its pyramidal shape, mainly due to ersion phenomena. On the Cervino there is the Matterhorn Ski Paradise ski area and the Plateau Rosà Glacier.

Mount matterhorn has 4 main walls that follow the cardinal points, the south face towards Breuil-Cervinia, the north face towards Zermatt, the east face towards the Gorner glacier and the west face towards Dent d’Hérens.

The top of the cervini is made up of two peaks, connected by a thin crest, the Italian peak is slightly lower than the other, the Swiss peak, the names of the two peaks are mainly due to the connecting routes, the normal Italian route reached the the lowest peak, the Swiss route instead, to the highest one.

Geologically speaking, the Cervino in its lower part is composed of gabbro, an intrusive magmatic rock made up of various minerals, with a high concentration of pyroxene and plagioclase, the central part instead of ortogneiss, a metamorphic rock created by the collision between the plates from Africa and Europe (the same collision that generated the Alps).

Ski area

The Breuil-Cervinia ski area is located at 2000 meters above sea level and includes the Plateau Rosà Glacier, at 3480 meters. Over 150 km of slopes with connection to Zermatt (for a total of 350km), the Ventina slope, 12 km, ski schools, summer skiing and much more!

Conquering the summit of the Cervino

Given its particular shape, the summit of the Cervino was considered unreachable for many centuries, since the early 1800s many mountaineers attempted to climb to the top, without ever succeeding. The first real attempts to reach the summit were those of the abbot Amé Gorrett and the guides of Valtournenche Jean-Antoine Carrel, Vitctor Carrel, Jean-Jacques Carrel and Gabriel Maquignaz, between 1858 and 1859, they attempted the climb from the Italian side, reaching the maximum height of 3850 meters.

In 1860 there were two other attempts to climb, that of three English climbers Alfred, Charles and Sandbach Parker, who attempted the climb, without the help of guides, from the Zermatt side, reaching an altitude of 3500 meters and that of Hakwins and Tyndall , with guides Jean-Jacques Carrel and J.J. Bennen, from the Italian side, reaching 3900 meters.

Three more attempts were documented the following year:

  • July 1861 again the alpinists Alfred, Charles and Sandbach Parker, who reached an altitude of 3570 meters
  • on 29 August, the mountaineers Jean-Antoine and Jean-Jacques Carrell who reached over 4000 meters trying to climb from the Cresta del Gallo, on the Italian side
  • on 29 and 30 August the first attempt of the mountaineer Edward Whymper, accompanied by a guide through the Italian side, following what would later become the normal Italian route, arriving at 3850 meters.

In 1862, in January, the mountaineer T.S. Kennedy, proceeding along the Swiss side, reached an altitude of 3300 meters.

Also in 1862, in the summer, Edward Whymper returned to the Matterhorn with another 5 climbing attempts, all in the month of July, in the first two he was accompanied by some guides and another climber R.J.S. Macdonald, two others only with the help of guides and the last one alone. In all five attempts the route of the Italian side was followed and the maximum altitude reached was 4100 meters during the fifth attempt of climbing.

Whymper returned to the Cervino also the following year, in 1863, for a single attempt, flanked by Luc Meynet and Jean-Ant Carrell, reaching 4050 meters. In 1864 Whymper, after some geomorphological studies of the mountain, came to the conclusion that the Swiss side was the best for climbing, together with the guides Christian Almer, Franz Biener and Michel Croz and the bearer Luc Meynet he set out for a new climb on 21 June 1864 , but they stopped only at 3300 meters due to some landslides.

In 1895 two expeditions left, one on 11 July, organized by the Italian Alpine Club, with César and Jea Carrel, Jean-Joseph Maquignaz and a fourth guide, following the Italian way, the other on 13 July, with Whymper, Lord Francis Douglas, D. Hadow, Reverend Charles Hudson and three guides, Taugwalder father and son and Michel Croz, the 7 explorers formed a single consortium following the normal Swiss route and after a night in the open, at 1.40 pm the following day, on the 14th July, they conquered the summit of the Matterhorn. The Italian team a few hundred meters below, decided to abandon the expedition. Along the descent, the group led by Whymper had a terrible accident, the 7 climbers descended in a single rope when Hadow slipped causing Croz to fall, the two continued the fall also dragging Hudson and Douglas, the rope that tied Douglas and Taugwalder with them. father broke and the four plunged over 1000 meters towards the Matterhorn glacier. The bodies of Hudson, Croz and Hadow were recovered on July 19, while that of Lord Duglas was never found.

The first Italian ascent to the summit took place in the same year, Jean-Antoine Carrell – who was part of the other Italian expedition of 11 July – still unaware of the accident during which the four climbers lost their lives, on 16 July he decided to leave towards the summit, flanked by Jean-Baptiste Bich, Abbot Gorret and Jean-Augustin Meynet, they reached the summit on July 17 along the normal Italian route.

Mountaineering routes

Even today, the summit of the Matterhorn represents an incredible achievement but is reserved exclusively for expert mountaineers. It is possible to reach it by following the two normal routes, the Italian and the Swiss, the first part from Cervinia and continues along the Cresta del Leone, the second part from Zermatt and continues through the Cresta dell’Hörnli.


On the way to the top of the Cervino, to favor climbing or more simply high mountain hiking, there are some shelters:

RIFUGIO DUCA DEGLI ABRUZZI ALL’ORIONDE, at 2802 meters along the normal Italian road

SCHÖNBEIELHÜTTE, at 2694 meters above sea level, emergency bivouac along the Swiss normal route

HÖRNLIHÜTTE, at 3260 meters, along the Swiss normal route

BIVACCO ORESTE BOSSI, at 3345 meters above sea level, at the foot of the Furggen ridge

JEAN-ANTOINE CARREL REFUGE, 3830 meters, along the Italian normal route

SOILVAYHÜTTE, at 4003 meters above sea level, emergency bivouac along the normal Swiss route.