HOHBALMEN SUNRISE HIKE IN ZERMATT – MATTERHORN VIEWPOINT

The Hohbalmen sunrise hike in Zermatt is an aggressive way to start your day with a 1,100m climb to a beautiful viewpoint with clear views of Matterhorn.

 

HOHBALMEN SUNRISE HIKE DETAILS

Hike Distance: The hike from Zermatt to Hohbalmen viewpoint and to return is 10km. However, there are lots of routes that continue from Hohbalmen that can make it a 20km loop. I just went up to the viewpoint and down and it was 10km.

Hike Duration: The hike took me 2 hours and 50 minutes although it would be more likely to take 3-5 hours round-trip for an average pace of hiking.

Hike Difficulty: The hike is not exposed and there are no dangers. The incline to the viewpoint is very aggressive with 1000m of incline within the first 4km, which is a lot to handle for many people…, especially before a coffee!

Hike Incline: Starting point at Zermatt Town: 1608m – Hohbalmen Viewpoint: 2,673m 

 

HOW TO GET TO HOHBALMEN HIKE TRAILHEAD

The starting point for the Hohbalmen Hike is in Zermatt Town. Start at Grampi’s on Bahnhofstrasse and take the small path up towards the church. Continue up the hill following the signs to Edelweiss and then when you arrive follow the signs at Edelweiss to the Hohbalmen.

I’ve attached my GPX map below, which you can download here for use on your Garmin, smartwatch or another app.

 

MY EXPERIENCE HIKING UP TO HOHBALMEN FOR SUNRISE

I woke up just 1.5 hours before sunrise thinking I would have enough time to make it to the viewpoint for first light. It turns out you should probably give two or two and a half hours of hiking time to make sure you can see the sunrise.

I made my way through the dark streets of Zermatt and found the narrow path just near Grampi’s that leads up to the Edelweiss Hut, which is the halfway point of the hike. It’s steep from the get-go and you are basically going to be breathing hard from this moment on as you tackle 1,100m of climbing to reach the Hohbalmen summit. I decided to make a workout out of it and after watching the Ultraks Skyruning event the day before, I knew they had a cut-off in a similar route where athletes had 1.5 hours to reach 1km of climbing. I managed to almost do the same with my backpack full of gear. Most of the entire field met that cut-off with ease but it was a fun and sweaty challenge to keep me motivated in the morning.

The trail winds up the forest on a series of switchbacks until you reach the Edelweiss Hut. It is the mountain hut, precariously balanced on the side of the mountain, you can see from Zermatt town no matter where you are. It only took about 45 minutes to reach even though it seems so high from Zermatt Town.

At the Edelweiss Hut, you can get drinks and food but there will be no-one there pre-sunrise to field your requests. Instead, check out the signs and follow the route to Hohbalmen along the side of the mountain. It suggests it will take you two hours, which wasn’t great as I only had 30-40 minutes until sunrise. I went at it as fast as I could hoping to reach the viewpoint to see the alpenglow on Matterhorn. 

Unfortunately, I had started the adventure too late. However, I did enjoy the sunrise and alpenglow on the other peaks as I hiked up and saw some beautiful colors. It’s often when we chase a specific moment we are given a surprise instead that can sometimes be more magical and this was the case for me. Rays poured through the peaks on the other side of Zermatt towards Gornergrat and I was happy to be up high in the mountains with no-one else around during sunrise.

 

I finally reached the summit after 1 hour and 50 minutes and I may have missed the alpenglow on Matterhorn but was just in time for the sun to burst over the mountains far away.

 
I wasn’t actually the only one at the summit. An old man hiked up just behind and me and started doing a sun salutation as the sun appeared over the mountains. Quite a morning routine for an old fella to wave to the sun after 1,100m of climbing.
 
 
 
While I may have missed the alpenglow pre-sunrise, the early light was still pretty spectacular on the mighty Matterhorn and this is really a great, wide-open field to sit down, enjoy breakfast and watch the Matterhorn Peak in all of its glory.  I spent the next 30-minutes sat on a rock, looking at the steep ridges of Matterhorn while thinking about the people who would be climbing the peak that day. It’s pretty impressive what humans have been able to achieve but the peak itself is more impressive than any feat.
 
 
I decided to hike down more or less the same route, although I skipped out on Edelweiss and took a quicker route down as you can see on the map above. However, you can continue on the Hornweg, which is a 20km hike and there are a lot of trails in the area. You could even venture further out to Trifthutte. Zermatt has tons of hiking trails and Hohbalmen is a great base if you want a full day of adventures. I had a flight to catch that afternoon so I shuffled down the mountain quickly after enjoying the sunrise expedition. 
 
I hope you enjoy this sweet sunrise spot with a great view of the Matterhorn and also enjoy the epic leg workout you will get on the way to the top. Don’t forget to salute the sun when you reach the summit!
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Discussion about this post

  1. Saurabh says:

    Mesmerizing images of sunrise.

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