Oberrothorn

Distance: 3.8 - 8.3 miles (round trip)

near Zermatt in Valais

The Matterhorn and Dent Blanche bookend the cirque at the head of the Zmutt Valley

The Matterhorn and Dent Blanche bookend the cirque at the head of the Zmutt Valley

 

The second highest hiking trail in Europe leads to the top of the Oberrothorn (11,200-ft/3,414-meters) with splendid 360-degree views of 38 peaks over 13,000-ft/4,000-meters. (full description)

  • Distance: 1.9 miles (one way) to Oberrothorn
    8.3 miles (round trip) to Sunnegga from Oberrothorn (Complete Hike)
  • Elevation: 10,162-ft. at Trailhead
    11,190-ft. at Oberrothorn
    7,217-ft. at Sunnegga from Oberrothorn (Complete Hike)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,400-ft. to Oberrothorn
    -3,973-ft. to Sunnegga from Oberrothorn (Complete Hike)
  • Difficulty: strenuous
  • Basecamp: Zermatt
  • Region: Valais

Why Hike Oberrothorn

Hikers climbing the strenuous trail to the top of the Oberrothorn (11,200-ft/3,414-meters) are rewarded with stunning panoramic views of 38 peaks over 13,000-ft/4,000-meters. From the summit enjoy glorious views of the Ober Gabelhorn-Weisshorn Group towering above the Zermatt valley. The Mischabel Range dominates the view to the north while to the south an incredible spectacle of peaks and glaciers, stretching from the Monte Rosa to the Breithorn massifs fill the skyline. The star of the show, the majestic Matterhorn, stands alone at the head of the valley.

Ski lifts facilitate the climb to the top while a good network of hiking trails allows parties to create interesting loop hikes incorporating a trip to the summit with visits to other scenic areas around the Oberrothorn massif. This hike features a quick climb to the summit and then a long descent that visits the Stellisee, the pretty meadows along the western base of the Unterrothorn and the small village of Tufteren.

The trail to the summit climbs through a barren landscape of rock and scree, with some exposure. It should not be attempted if the trail is covered with ice or slick snow, unless parties are properly equipped. The hike is not recommended for families with small children or anyone with a fear of heights.

For the best views I strongly recommend getting an early start. Clouds can obscure views of the high peaks in the afternoon. The summit can also get quite crowded on a beautiful day given the easy access offered by the ski lifts.

The presence of the ski lifts and related equipment along some trail segments certainly detract from the hike. While not optimal, it is easy to quickly pass through these eyesores and avoid trail segments traveling directly beneath the lift lines. I believe the fabulous views are adequate compensation for these blights upon an otherwise scenic landscape.

Read the full trail description

Elevation Profile

Elevation profile for the Oberrothorn hike from the Rothorn to Sunnegga

Trail Resources