The Matterhorn is perhaps the most familiar mountain in the European Alps. On the border between Switzerland and Italy, it towers over the Swiss village of Zermatt and the Italian village Breuil-Cervinia in the Val Tournanche. The mountain derives its name from the German words Matte, meaning valley or meadow, and Horn, which means peak.
The Matterhorn has four faces, facing the four compass points, the north face overlooking the Zmutt Valley, the south face Breuil-Cervinia, the east and west faces looking towards the Gornergrat and the Dent d'Hérens, respectively, with the north and south faces meeting to form a short east-west summit ridge. The faces are steep, and only small patches of snow and ice cling to them; regular avalanches send the snow down to accumulate on the glaciers at the base of each face. The Hörnli ridge of the northeast (in the center of the view from Zermatt) is the usual climbing route.