The Alps are characterized by breathtaking landscapes and imposing mountains. Of the 82 four-thousanders of the Alps, 48 are located in Switzerland or on the borders with its neighboring countries. We will introduce you to the seven tallest mountains of the country.
7. GRAND COMBIN (4,314 Meter)
The Grand Combin massif is located in the western Valais Alps close to the Italian border. At 4,314 meters, it is the seventh highest mountain in the Swiss Alps. The heavily glaciated massif consists of three main peaks, each being over 4,000 meters high. The Combin de Valsorey, the Combin de la Tsessette and the highest of the three, the Combin de Grafeneire.
The impressive east face of Combin de la Tsessette drops steeply over 1,200 meters. In a valley east of Grand Combin, the Lac de Mauvoisin reservoir is situated which is fed by tributaries originating from the mountain glaciers. The haute route, a multi-day high alpine route from Chamonix to Zermatt, which can be done either on foot or on skis, crosses the Grand Combin massif.
6. DENT BLANCHE (4.356 Meter)
The Dent Blanche is an isolated, striking, pyramid-shaped mountain peak that is located in the Valais Alps about 10 kilometers west of Zermatt. With a height of 4,356 meters, it is the sixteenth tallest peak in the Alps and the sixth tallest in Switzerland.
The four mountain ridges run evenly along all four cardinal directions. The northeast flank is the most glaciated. The south flank slopes more gently than the others, making it particularly suitable for ascents. From the summit, mountaineers can enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of Mont Blanc, Grand Combin, Monte Rosa, Matterhorn and Weisshorn as well as the Mischabel group. The name of the mountain, meaning “white tooth” in German, most likely goes back to a mistake made in the translation of a map. Originally, the name probably referred to the nearby, significantly more snow-covered Dent d’Hérens.
5. MATTERHORN (4.478 Meter)
The distinctive pyramidal peak of the Matterhorn gives it a high recognition value, making it not only the logo of Toblerone chocolate, but also one of the most iconic mountains in Europe and one of the most famous landmarks in the Alps and Switzerland. At 4,478 meters, the Matterhorn rises in the Valais Alps near Zermatt and is part of the Dent-Blanche nappe.
Geologically speaking, the mountain mainly consists of two different layers of rock diagonally stacked on top of each other. Its south face is partially located on Italian soil. Matterhorn most likely owes its name to the surrounding grassy valley, the so-called “matte”. The ascent to the summit can be made along the four ridges, with the route over the northeast ridge, also known as Hörnligrat, being the most frequently chosen. A climb of the Matterhorn is never without risk. Since the first ascent in 1865, there have been over 500 fatal accidents. Many climbers underestimate the dangers during the descent in particular.
4. WEISSHORN (4.505 Meter)
Also in the canton of Valais, north of Zermatt, the Weisshorn stands 4,505 meters high in the shape of an isosceles triangle and is the fourth highest mountain in Switzerland. The evenly shaped, three-ridge pyramid forms the relatively isolated main summit of the Weisshorn Group. The Weisshorn is sometimes called the most beautiful mountain in the Alps due to its shape and pristine landscape.
While ascending the summit, one has to overcome 3,000 meters of altitude. This is a great challenge for alpinists. The east ridge is considered today’s normal route, whereas the south-west ridge is the most difficult to negotiate.
3. LYSKAMM (4.527 Meter)
The Lyskamm is a mountain in the Valais Alps between the Matterhorn to the west and the Monte Rosa group to the east. The mountain’s 5-km-long ridge runs along the Italian border.
With an elevation of 4,527 meters, the eastern summit forms the highest point of the mountain range. The western summit lies about one kilometer away at an altitude of 4,479 meters. On the north-east side of the ridge an over 1,000 meters steep, icy rock face drops off. To the south the landscape is dominated by the severely rugged Lys Glacier.
There are several routes to climb the Lyskamm. The eastern summit can be conquered via the east ridge or the south ridge. However, if you want to summit both peaks in one tour, it is advisable to ascent over the southwest ridge to the west summit first and then go further to the east summit. Especially the crossing from peak to peak is very heavily corniced posing a high risk to mountaineers. Because of the high accident rate due to the braking off of cornices, the Lyskamm is also known as “man eater”.
2. DOM (4.545 Meter)
At 4,545 meters, theDom is the highest mountain that is located entirely on Swiss soil. The summit in the Valais Alps is part of the Mischabel group that forms the second largest mountain range in Switzerland after Monte Rosa.
The Dom is named in honor of canon Joseph Anton Bechthold who first surveyed the mountain in 1833. The climb is only recommended for experienced alpinists as the route to the summit runs parallel to crevasses and along heavily corniced terrain. The first successful ascent to Dom took place in 1858; and in 1917 the mountain was conquered on skis for the first time.
1. DUFOURSPITZE (4.634 Meter)
It is debatable whether the Dufourspitze, at a height of 4,634 meters, is indeed the tallest mountain in Switzerland. The summit of Dufourspitze, located in Valais, lies only about 160 meters from the Italian border, which means parts of the mountain are on Italian territory. Thus it is questioned if the Dom should rather be considered as the tallest Swiss peak.
It is, however, undisputed that the Dufourspitze is the second highest alpine mountain after Mont Blanc. It is part of the Monte Rosa massif which comprises a total of 10 four-thousanders. The mountain was originally named Gornerhorn. In 1863, it was renamed after the general and cartographer, Guillaume-Henri Dufour. For alpinists, the route to the summit generally starts at a relatively low altitude at Monte Rosa hut, which means that ascent and descent take a lot of time. Crevasses and icy ridges are the biggest difficulties on the way to the summit.