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Dent d’Herens

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Dent d’Herens 45.970000, 7.605100

Figuratively and literally, the Dent d’Herens is overshadowed by the Matterhorn. With an altitude of 4171 meters, it’s only slightly lower than the iconic pyramid-shaped peak, but the challenge to climb it is just as great. Located in the Mattertal near Zermatt, it is the setting of a well-travelled part of the Swiss Alps.

About the Dent d’Herens

The Dent d’Herens is a mountain peak on the border of Italy and Switzerland, with an altitude of 4171meters. It is located in the west of the Matterhorn (4478m) and south of the Dent Blanche (4357m). Most people start their climb at the Italian mountain hut Rifugio Aosta (2781m). On the Swiss side, the Schönbielhutte (2694m) offers great views of the icy north face of the mountain. The summit of Dent d’Herens was first succesfully climbed in 1863 by Florence Crawford Grove, William Edward Hall, Reginald Somerled Macdonald, Montagu Woodmass, Melchior Anderegg, Jean-Pierre Cachat and Peter Perren. The summit offers a panoramic view of the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa massif.

It is possible that the Dent d’Herens was once mixed up with the nearby Dent Blanche. The latter is located at the end of the Val d’Herens and isn’t white, while the Dent d’Herens can’t even be seen from the Val d’Herens, but looks quite white because of the numerous glaciers on the north face.

Accommodations near the Dent d’Herens

Zermatt is the base for those who wish to see or climb the Matterhorn, the iconic neighbor of Dent d’Herens. It is a perfect holiday destination for travelers who wish to hike in the region of Dent d’Herens.  Zermatt is to Switzerland what Chamonix is to France. This mountaineering village breaths history as you will see traces of the past. Not the least is the Zermatt cemetery where several mountaineers lie buried, if you are looking for fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

Hotel Millefiori, is a small botique hotel located in the Italian Alps with a total of 15 rooms with a true Alpine feel. The hotel has a personal atmosphere and suits everything from families with children, friends to colleagues on a conference trip.

Hotel Europa, is just 150 meters from the Breuil-Plan Maison cable car. Most rooms offer views of the Matterhorn Mountain and the Grandes Murailles mountain range.

Hotel Plateau-Rosa, Enjoy a wonderful stay with authentic Valais hospitality. Look forward to renovated and comfortable rooms with a fantastic view. Just the thing for everyone who is looking for peace and relaxation in the midst of an imposing mountain landscape.

Hotels/ Campsites in Zermatt

Zermatt is flocked with day tourists taking the Glacier Express train to the village, since no cars are allowed in the center. Most of them spend the night in one of the many hotels in the village. However, for those on a budget, or spending a night in Zermatt before commencing their hike, there is a campsite available, the closest being camping Matterhorn at the entry of the village about two minutes from the train station. This is only for tents as there is no way to reach the campsite by car. Cost is 15 CHF/ day.

Aosta valley

Aosta valley

Aosta valley Photo by Guiliano Da Zanche

The best side for visiting the Dent d’Herens region is the Italian side, where the Aosta valley accommodates travelers. Valtournenche is one of the closest places to the mountain base. Camping Glair is a budget option for those who don’t want to spend their night in a hotel.

Schönbielhütte

The Schönbielhütte is surrounded by some of the most mighty peaks in the Alps such as the Matterhorn, the Dent BlancheMountain Hut - Schönbielhütte 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.

Gandegg Hutte

Mountain Hut - Gandegg HutteThe Gandegg Hutte is a cosy little mountain hut accommodating climbers and hikers. It is located about 30 minutes from the Trockener Steg cable car station. Not only is it a great base for climbing Breithorn, but it provides a comfortable night’s sleep for those who wish to hike the Tour de Monte Rosa or hike to Theodulpass. From the hut, you get splendid  views of Breithorn, Dent D’Herens and the Matterhorn.

Theodulhutte

Mountain hut - TheodulhutteAnother great trip is to Theodulhutte, close the Theodulpass, the highest mountain pass in the Alps. From Zermatt, this requires a lengthy ascent to Trockener Steg (or a short ride on the cable car) before crossing the Theodul glacier leading to the pass. Near the pass, you will find the Theodul hut often used by hikers of the Tour de Monte Rosa.

Rifugio Aosta

Rifugio Aosta

Rifugio Aosta Photo by Massimo

Rifugio Aosta is best reached from Prarayer or Zermatt. It takes about 5.5 hours to reach from Zermatt via a trail leading to Schönbielhutte and Col de Valpelline. It is situated at an elevation of 2781 meters, making it a popular starting base for Dent d’Herens ascents. There are about 30 beds available, so reservationsare recommended.

Hiking in the region of Dent d’Herens

While visiting the Dent d’Herens region, hiking is one of the top activities here. With several 4,000-meter peaks, the views are just awesome. Alhough the Matterhorn is one mountain that will always stand out,  there are plenty of trails that will lead you to splendid viewpoints of the Dent d’Herens as well.

Tour the Matterhorn

The Tour de Matterhorn probably is the best known multi-day hike in the region. It is the ultimate hike around the world’s most beautiful mountain. In 8 days, this route circumnavigates the Matterhorn along some great cable-secured passages, boulder fields and even glaciers. Along the way, you can spend the night in mountain cabins such as Rifugio del Teodulo, Rifugia Prarayer and Europaweghütte. Suffering from vertigo is no option as there are a lot of altitude meters to be conquered. One of the hardest sections is a 2,100-meter descent, so stamina is required.

Abenteurweg

The Abenteurweg or Adventure trail is a steep trail (900 meters in little over 4 kilometers) leading from the Rothorn to Tufteren. You will be descending all the way and be rewarded with magnificent views of the surrounding 4,000-meter peaks, including the Breithorn. The trail takes about 1h40 minutes to complete–without the many stops  for taking pictures, that is.

Aussichtsweg

Hiking in Aussichtsweg

Aussichtsweg Photo by Zermatt tourism

This short hike is suitable for a levels. Along the way, you will be enchanted by panoramic views of 29 mountains above 4,000 meters. You could say that the trail lives up to its reputation. Few trails this short provide such scenic panoramas of the Alps–a real must if you are short on time.

Zermatt to Chalbermatten and return via Zmutt and Zumsee

This hike brings you under the north face of the Matterhorn, meaning you will catch great views of the Monte Rosa massif and the Breithorn. It is one of the classic hikes that takes you through the beautiful hamlet of Zmutt. The ideal walk would be to make a loop starting via Eldelweiss and take the high contour via Hubel. A detour via Zumsee is recommended if you are getting hungry after the walk. Max und Greti’s offers the best cinnamon ice cream you will eat during your visit to Switzerland. They also have a full menu available.

Hike to Trockener Steg / Gandagg Hutte

A popular option for a hike is towards Trockener Steg and Gandagg Hutte. The route passes Schwarzsee, which offers great views of the Matterhorn and surrounding 4,000-meter peaks. The ascent to Trockener Steg from Zermatt ratchets up the altitude meters. If you’re not sure about your physical capabilities, there is the option of using the cable car before descending back to the village. Gandagg hutte, located about 30 minutes from the Trockener Steg cable car station, offers great accommodations for an overnight stay. In the area are great walks towards the Theodulglacier or even Klein Matterhorn.

Things to do in the Dent d’Herens region

There is no doubt that hiking is one of the best things to do while spending your time in the Mattertal as this will provide you the best views of some iconic 4,000-meter peaks. The cable car up to Klein Matterhorn makes it easier for those with less time. Also, with over 100 kilometers of biking trails reaching 1,400 to 3,100 meters of altitude, the region around Zermat offers a unique mountainbiking experience suitable for all levels.

Day tourists will have no problem filling their day in Zermattvisiting the Matterhorn Museum, wandering the streets, and enjoying some delicious Valais specialties in one of the many restaurants. Chances are high that you will need to take the train to leave the Mattertal (or at least Zermatt). However, the Glacier Express from Zermatt to Brig is known for its scenic mountain views and is considered as one of the best train journeys in the world.

Hiking with kids

Spending your holiday in Zermatt with small children? Even if your kids can’t yet walk, there are some great options for hiking. The Aussichtsweg is a great round-trip hike suitable for those who wish to get some great views. The little altitude difference makes it ideal for families with children.

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