The Ober Gabelhorn is a 4000-meter peak in the Pennine Alps in the west of the well-known mountaineering village of Zermatt. From its summit, climbers have views of some of the most famous mountains in the Alps including the Dom (4545m), the Matterhorn (4478m), Monte Rosa (4634m) and the Breithorn (4185m). The same views make the region around Ober Gabelhorn a true hiker’s paradise.
About the Ober Gabelhorn
The Ober Gabelhorn reaches an altitude of 4063meters and is located in the Swiss canton of Valais at the southern end of the Zinal valley, a part of the Val d’Anniviers. The peak has a pyramidal shape, similar to the nearby Matterhorn, but smaller. The north face of the Ober Gabelhorn is completely glaciated while the other faces are mostly rocky. It is part of the glaciated mountain massif that includes the Dent Blanche. Together with the Dent Blanche and the Zinalrothorn, it rises above the Zinal glacier.
The mountain was first ascended on July 6, 1865 by A.W. Moore, Horace Walker and Jakob Anderegg. The second ascent of the peak, and the first on the north-north-west ridge, was made one day later by Lord Francis Douglas, Peter Taugwalder and Joseph Vianin on July 7, 1865. At the time of their ascent, the hikers were not aware of Moore and his party’s success the previous day. It is considered as one of the nicest Valais mountains due the fact that it provides great viewsfon some of the most famous peaks in the Alps. There is no easy way to the summit: the easiest route from Rothornhütte is AD. The south-west ridge is called the Arbengrat while the north-north-west ridge is Arête du Coeur. The south-east ridge looking over the Ober Gabeljoch (3,597 m) is the Gabelhorngrat. The Wellenkuppe on the side is a lower prominence on the north-east ridge; it is usually climbed as part of the normal route. Huts serving the peak are the Rothorn Hut (3,198 m), the Grand Mountet Hut (2,886 m) and the Arben Bivouac (3,224 m).
Accommodations around the Ober Gabelhorn
The Ober Gabelhorn has some famous and notorious neighbouring peaks, which makes ita popular region amongst travelers and climbers. With Zinal and Zermatt serving as great bases for an active holiday, you could not wish for a better setting, if you are looking for fine hotel these are worth checking out:
Hotel Firefly, It is a family owned hotel located in zermatt. This is the kind of hotel where you’d be pleased to spend the day thanks to the unusual concept of this four-star superior hotel. Your choice to relax and enjoy extraordinary service through out the day is paramount here.
Hotel Alex, This unique hotel in Zermatt combines modernity and tradition to create an attractive world of experiences with many surprises.
Christiania Hotels & Spa, The Franzen Family welcome you with a cosy informal atmosphere and boost your natural resources in their modern spa or in the wonderful natural setting with views of the Matterhorn.
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, even though most hotels are quite pricey 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 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 budgets. However, keep in mind that this is according to Swiss standards.
Rothorn Hut (3,198 m)
The hut can be reached in 4.5 hours from Zermatt. The easiest way is to follow the signs from the village center. The alpine hut is located above Zermatt, at the base of the Zinalrothorn. It attracts a colorful variety of mountaineers and hikers seeking high-altitude challenges.
Grand Mountet Hut (2,886 m)
This mountain hut is located near Zinal and is often used as a starting point for climbs of Zinalrothorn, Ober Gabelhorn, Pointe de Zinal and Dent Blanche. It was originally built in 1887, but has been modified multiple times, the last in 1996. At the moment, about 115 people can spend the night here. Situated in the middle of glaciers, it has an impressive setting, although accessibility by trail makesthe cabin frequented by hikerslooking to get good views of the Zinal Glacier and surrounding peaks.
Arben Bivouac (3,224 m)
This bivouac hut is an unguarded place that can accommodate about 15 people. It is often used for climbers who are after the summit of Ober Gabelhorn. The hut is provided with gas and utensils, but there is no food or drink. Light is provided from solar panels. The best way to reach it is from Zermatt via Schwarzsee to Staffelalp restaurant, Arben waterfalls and finally towards the Arben glacier. The last 150meters to the hut are very steep and equipped with ladders and cables.
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 at the maximum. Hikers often spend the night here to enjoy the beautiful sunset and the delicious meals. They serve a mountaineer’s menu as well as Swiss cheese toast, rösti, etc. The rösti, prepared by the host with fresh potatoes, is a well-appreciated dish here.
Hiking in the region of the Ober Gabelhorn
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 and it requires snow shoes. Guides can take you up to the glacier located above the village of Zinal, and 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 give good insight into the history of the small town and region. Be sure to visit the tourist information center first where you will be given a book that provides additional information.
Located above Zinal in the canton of Valais, this hut lies at an elevation of 3,256 meters above sea level at the Tracuit Pass, between Les Diablons and the Tête de Milon in the Pennine Alps. The trail leads to one of the highest cabanes of the Alps at an amazing height of 3256meters. From Cabane de Tracuit, you’ll get an amazing view over the 4000+ meter mountains and the Turtmann glacier.
Hike to Schonbielhutte
This hike combines two great trails, the Matterhorn and Schonbielhutte, for a fantastic point-to-point hike with stunning views of the Matterhorn, Dent Blanche, the Ober Gabelhorn massif and the Zmutt Glacier. It starts in Zermatt with a gondola ride to Schwarzsee and descends to the beautiful meadows of Obere Stafelalp with impressive views of the Matterhorn’s sheer north face along with the Ober Gabelhorn massif and Dent Blanche. The trail to Schonbielhutte is about 10km (one way) and 600meters of elevation gain.
Hikers climbing the strenuous trail to the top of the Oberrothorn (3,414 meters) are rewarded with stunning panoramic views of 38 peaks over 4,000 meters. From the summit, you will enjoy glorious views of the Ober Gabelhorn-Weisshorn Group towering above the Zermatt valley. Ski lifts facilitate the climb to the top while a good network of hiking trails allows parties to create interesting loop hikes, incorporated into a trip to the summit. Distance: 14 km round trip.
Things to do in the Ober Gabelhorn region
Hiking every day can be physically challenging. Fortunately, the region around the Ober Gabelhorn offers plenty of options for a rest day. The Glacier Express is one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world, passing 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 an entirely different experience of the Alps. Exploring the 500-meter trails inside the mountain is unique, and it is the only mine accessible to the public. Looking for some Swiss history? The old farm in Zinal dates back to 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 and silhouettes of animals and answering riddles.