Who made hills and mountains?

The 4000er in Switzerland

The alpine panorama from the federal capital is impressive, the mountains seem close enough to touch. This is also due to the fact that four mighty 4000-meter peaks in Switzerland can be seen here.

Switzerland's 4000 meter peaks

Switzerland has a total of 48 peaks that are higher than 4000 meters. They tower impressively high into the sky and can be seen from afar, a highlight of the Swiss Alps. Which mountains are officially considered four-thousanders and which are not was defined in 1994 by the UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme). In the alpine panorama shown, four of the five visible mountain peaks are official 4000m peaks: Finsteraarhorn, Fiescherhorn, Mönch and Jungfrau. The Eiger, which forms a striking triumvirate with Mönch and Jungfrau, is barely a 4,000-meter peak: its summit is 3970 m above sea level. M. The highest point in the canton of Bern is the lesser known Finsteraarhorn at 4274 meters, on the far left in the picture. The striking, pointed summit of the Finsteraarhorn was the destination of Arnold Abbühl, Joseph Bortis and Alois Volken as early as 1812. However, it is unclear whether they actually reached the main summit. In 1829 Jakob Leuthold and Johann Warus made the first ascent using today's normal route. Both were on the road as mountain guides for glacier researcher Franz Joseph Hugi, who had to stay behind due to a foot injury.

Legendary virgin
The first four-thousand-meter peak to be climbed, however, was the Jungfrau. Already in 1811 Johann Rudolf Meyer, his brother Hieronymus and the Valais chamois hunters Alois Volken and Joseph Bortis reached the summit. There are numerous legends and myths about the Jungfrau, such as that of the "war hole": Supposedly, big wars threaten if the hole in the glacier closes. Legends and the versatile figure of the Virgin inspired numerous mountaineers and travelers to write and paint from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century. Incidentally, the name of the Jungfrau can be traced back to the Interlaken convent, which owned land in what is now the Jungfrau region. The monk has nothing to do with monastery brothers, his name comes from horse breeding that used to be at home in the Oberland. Münch, i.e. geldings, grazed on the alpine pastures at the foot of the mountain, which made it the Münchberg, later Münch or Mönch.

A real paradise for alpinists
Many mountain lovers dream of climbing a four-thousand-meter peak once in a lifetime. Fulfilling this dream is no longer as risky as it used to be, but high-speed tours are generally a strenuous undertaking and require a good level of fitness. In Switzerland there are not only very demanding tours, but also easier tours - ideal for newcomers to mountaineering or hikers who would like to stand on a 4000-meter peak. There are a few four-thousand-meter peaks for beginners in Valais. The Allalinhorn is one of the easiest and most climbed 4000m peaks in Switzerland. If you want to make it as easy as possible, you can take the Metro Alpin from Saas-Fee up to 3500 meters. After about two hours of ascent, you reach the summit. From here you can see almost the entire western Alps. Another, rather easy, ascent nearby is the Alphubel. The route is hardly technically demanding, but requires a certain level of fitness and is classified as a medium-difficult mountain tour. "Hubel" means hill, so the alpha hill. The Alphubel owes its name to its shape; from Zermatt it looks more like a flat hill than a high mountain. But even more difficult routes are not far away. The cathedral and the Täschhorn are right next to the Alphubel. The south face of the Täschhorn is one of the most dangerous challenges in the Alps and is therefore very rarely climbed. The cathedral is the highest mountain that lies entirely on Swiss territory.

The highest point in Switzerland
The highest point in Switzerland is the Dufourspitze at 4634 m above sea level. M. As part of the Monte Rosa massif, it is located on Italian-Swiss national territory. The summit is around 160 meters from the border and was first climbed in 1855. The Dufourspitze is one of a total of ten 4000m peaks in the Monte Rosa massif. The four highest peaks on the list of 4000m peaks are all here: the Dufourspitze, the Nordend, the Zumsteinspitze and the Signalkuppe. But not only the height is decisive, the shape can also make a mountain famous. This is the case with the Matterhorn, probably the most famous mountain in Switzerland. With its pyramid-like shape, the Matterhorn is the epitome of a mountain. The striking shape of the Matterhorn is particularly visible from Zermatt thanks to its free-standing position.

The most photographed mountain in the world
The Matterhorn has been a popular photo motif for decades, making it the most photographed mountain in the world. But not only photographers and tourists, mountaineers too, the famous mountain has always attracted droves. From 1857 onwards, several unsuccessful attempts were made to climb the top of the Matterhorn. It was not until 1865 that the rope team of the Englishman Edward Whymper succeeded in ascending from Zermatt - but triumph and tragedy were close together. Four of the seven climbers fell on the descent and were killed in the process. One of the four dead was never recovered. The eventful history of the first ascent also gave the Matterhorn its reputation as an inviolable wonder of nature. More and more mountaineers - many without much alpine experience - want to face the challenge of climbing the Matterhorn. And so the mountain continues to claim its victims: Between 1981 and 2011, 223 alpinists were killed on the Swiss side, 21 people have not been rescued to this day. Even the normal route over the Hörnligrat in the company of a mountain guide is demanding, you should be in good physical condition and have experience in rock climbing. Nonetheless, around 3,500 people climb the ascent without a mountain guide each year, and around 65 percent do not reach the summit. And the “peace and quiet” cannot always be enjoyed as desired, because up to 300 alpinists want to stand on the summit of the Matterhorn on a day with ideal conditions.

All 4000m peaks in Switzerland with altitude in m above sea level. M .:

Dufourspitze4634mVS / I
Northrend4609mVS / I
Zumsteinspitze4563mVS / I
Signal dome4554mVS / I
Liskamm east summit4527mVS / I
Liskamm west summit4479mVS / I
Matterhorn4477mVS / I
Parrot tip4432mVS / I
Dent Blanche4356mVS
Ludwigshöhe4341mVS / I
Needle horn4327mVS
Grand Combin de Grafeneire4314mVS
Finsteraarhorn4273mBE / VS
Pin horn4241mVS
Castor4228mVS / I
Ray horn4190mVS
Grand Combin de Valsorey4184mVS
Dent d ‘Herens4174mVS
Breithorn main summit4164mVS / I
Breithorn middle summit4159mVS / I
Virgin4158mBE / VS
Grand Combin de la Tsessette4141mVS
Breithorn twins4139mVS / I
Breithornzwillinge East4106mVS / I
monk4099mBE / VS
Pollux4092mVS / I
Roccia Nera4075mVS / I
Upper fork horn4062mVS
Great Fiescherhorn4048mVS / BE
Piz Bernina4048mGR / (I)
Gross Grünhorn4044mVS
Dirruhorn (Dürrenhorn)4034mVS
Rear Fiescherhorn4025mVS


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Text: Lukas Utiger, Bestswiss