Located at the end of the Mattertal in the west of Zermatt, the Dent Blanche marks the border between French-speaking Switzerland and the German part of the country. Surrounded by several 4000-meter peaks, including Obergabelhorn and Zinalrothorn, it one of the most popular regions in the Swiss Alps for mountaineers and travelers looking for hikes.
About the Dent Blanche
The Dent Blanche is a 4357-meter high mountain peak, located in the Swiss Alps between the Zinaltal and Mattertal. The Dent Blanche marks the linguistic border of the French and German-speaking parts of Switzerland. It used to have a German name as well, Steinbockhorn, because of the large number of ibex found near the mountain. It was first ascended on July 18th, 1862 by Jean Baptiste Croz, Johann Kronig, William Wigram and Thomas Stuart Kennedy.
The normal route, the southern Wandfluhgrat, starts at Cabane de la Dent Blance (3507m) owned by the Swiss Alpine Club. Other well-known routes are the Westgrat and the Ostnortostgrat. The latter one has the Schönbielhütte as a starting point. The Dent Blanche is regarded as one of the most difficult 4000-meter peaks in the Alps.
Accommodations around the Dent Blanche
The Mattertal is a popular holiday region in the Swiss Alps as it is home to several iconic mountains such as the Weisshorn, the Breithorn and, ofcourse, the Matterhorn. It provides several charming villages as a base for hiking holidays. If you are looking for fine hotel, these are worth checking out:
Hotel Helvetia, the cheap and centrally located two-star hotel in Zermatt! At Helvetia, cleanliness and friendliness are very important. The excellent location within walking distance of the train station and mountain railway station in the very heart of Zermatt and our staff guarantee an unforgettable stay.
Hotel Veisivi is pleased to welcome you in a village setting, quiet, typical of central Valais. You can easily reach it by road, by post bus or by car, 25 minutes from the motorway N9 exit Sion-est Val d’Hérens.
Hôtel des Haudères is located in the center of the village of Haudères. Built in 1869, Renovated in 1968, it consists of 25 rooms with breathtaking views of the Alps, located on the central square near all necessary services.
Zermatt is a not-to-be-missed destination when it comes to visiting the Swiss Alps. One of the main reasons is the Matterhorn’s shadow hanging above the village center. Zermatt is to the Matterhorn what Chamonix is to Mont Blanc. The traffic-free center gives the village a charming atmosphere not often surpassed in the Alps. The center of Zermatt can be reached on foot or by taking the Glacier Express from the neighbouring village of Täsh. There are plenty of options for accommodations, eventhough most hotels are quite pricy due to the location. Budget travelers may find alternative options at the nearby campsite, just outside the village center.
Zinal is a small Swiss alpine village situated in Val d’Anniviers, close to the Mattertal. It is surrounded by the highest mountains in the Alps, making it a favorite place to stay for active travelers seeking some splendid hikes in the region. Despite the fact that Zinal is quite small, it has several hotels in its center. Prices tend to be a bit more affordable than Zermatt and it has rooms for all types of budget. However, do keep in mind that this is still according to Swiss standards.
Cabane de la Dent Blanche
The Cabane de la Dent Blanche is situated near the Ferbècle glacier at an altitude of 3507 meters. It is often used by mountaineers as a stayover for a summit bid of the Dent Blanche. Reaching the cabane glacier crossings is involved and experienceis required. From Ferpècle, about 1700 meters of altitude,to reach the hut necessitates an early start. The hut is owned by Marlyse Vuadens and has 45 beds. When planning to spend the night here, reservations might be a good idea. Half-board accommodations costs about 42CHF.
The Schönbielhütte is surrounded by some of the most mighty peaks in the Alps such as the Matterhorn, the Dent Blanche and the Obergabelhorn. It is a popular starting point for classic routes like the Tour du Ciel. From Schwarzsee, it takes about 2.5 hours to reach the hut, making for a splendid walk. The hut has 6 dormitories hosting 80 people maximum. Hikers often spend the night here to enjoy the beautiful sunset scenery and the delicious meals. They serve a mountaineer’s menu as well as Swiss cheese toast, rösti, etc. The rösti, prepared by the hostwith fresh potatoes, is a well- appreciated dish here.
Cabane de Moiry
One of my favorite mountain cabins is the Cabane de Moiry, located above the Moiry glacier. Renovated to reach high standards, this is one of the finest huts to visit. From Zinal, the trail leads along the Haute Route, a 200-kilometer trek from Chamonix to Zermatt. The hut has a large dining area with panoramic windows offering views of the Moiry Glacier. On some occasions, you can see experienced mountaineers crossing it. Spending the night here costs 38 CHF (meals excluded). It is reached in 1h30 from the end of the road of the dam of Moiry. The trail is alpine, steep in places and we recommend the use of good walking equipment and a rope for children and people who are not used to alpine trails at the most delicate passages. Snow may cover parts of the trail until late in the season, sometimes even in late July or early August
Hiking in the region around Dent Blanche
Hiking is one of the top activities in the Swiss Alps. With thousands of kilometers of marked trails, there are endless options to explore the beauty of the mountains–whether your goal is a mountain hut, a scenic viewpoint, or just a circular hike.
If regular hiking is too routine for you, the hike to Zinal Glacier might offer a new dimension. However, this hike is available in winter season only as it requires snow shoes. Guides can take you up to the glacier located above the village of Zinal, and even best of all, take you inside the icy world of a crevassed glacier. Duration: 2 hours.
Historic Trail of Zinal
For those who wish to combine hiking with learning about the local culture, the historic trail of Zinal is a good option. This educational trail will take you along 17 information boards that will give you good insight into the history of the small town and region. Be sure to visit the tourist information center first as you will be given a book that provides additional information.
Hike to Cabane Petit Mountet
The hike to Cabane Petit Mountet is a panoramic day hike starting in Zinal by taking the cable car to col de Sorebois (2438 meter). From this location, it takes about 13 kilometers and up to 5 hours to reach Zinal. Along the way, Cabane de Petit Mountet is a great rest stop to get some refreshments or have a nice meal. Bear in mind that this is a challenging hike, not to be undertaken by families with children.
Europaweg to Zermatt
One of the most scenic multi-day hikes in the Alps is the Walkers Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. This trail passes Zinal in the Val d’Anniviers and ends in Zermatt at the end of the Mattertal. From the Val d’Anniviers, the Mattertal is easily reached via Turtmanntal and Augustbordpass. From St Niklaus, the Europaweg marks the final two stages of your journey. It is an epic multi-day hike with the reward of a splendid view of the Matterhorn. Duration: 4-5 days.
The Edelweiss trail via Höhbalmen is a strenuous day hike that can take up to 8 hours, but it is well worth it. Not only will you catch unique glimpses of the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa massif, but you will have the opportunity to see edelweiss flowers in the alpine pastures–any hiker’s dream. During this hike, you can even see them at eye level. Take the route via the Höhbalmen as this is one of the finest vantage points in the region.
Rotenboden – Riffelberg
This trail provides winter options. The wow factor is huge on this hike as a view of the Matterhorn against a blue winter sky is an unique experience. Besides the Matterhorn, other 4000-meter peaks can be enjoyed as well, including the Dent Blanche. The trail is even suitable for families with children as there are options to pull your kids on a sled.
Other activities in the region around Dent Blanche
Hiking every day can be physically challenging. Fortunately the region around Dent Blanche offers plenty of other options for a rest day. The Glacier Express is one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world as it passes some of the finest alpine vistas. Starting in Zermatt, it heads towards Brig in the north traversing several viaducts and amazing panoramas. This is the best way to enjoy the Swiss Alps without much effort.
The copper mine, La Lee, in Zinal offers a whole different experience in the Alps. Exploring the 500 meter trails inside the mountain is unique as it is the only mine accessible to the public. Looking for some Swiss history? The old farm in Zinal dates back from 1768 and has a historic cheese cellar with the traditional “fromage des mortes” (cheese of the death). Tours are possible.
Hiking with kids
The Animal Trail leading from Grimentz to St-Jean is one of the top picks when it comes to family hiking. During this short trek, you get to know the alpine animals in a fun and educational way. The trail leads through the regional forests and affords several fun activities including: recognizing animal footprints, recognizing silhouettes of animals and answering riddles.