Switzerland is known for its cheese, chocolate, watches and, of course, mountains. The stunning peaks of The Alps make up around 60 percent of the country’s landmass and it is home to no fewer than 48 mountains categorised as 4000ers; that’s mountains over 4000 metres or around 13,100 feet.
As for the very highest mountains in Switzerland, the overwhelming majority are located near its border with Italy, mostly around the southern municipality of Zermatt. Want to know more? Read on.
1. Dufourspitze: The Biggest Mountain in Switzerland
Height: 15,203 feet | Range: Valais Alps
At roughly 15,203 feet, the Dufourspitze is the tallest mountain in Switzerland and the second highest in Western Europe, after Mont Blanc. Located in the Swiss canton of Valais, it’s part of the ice-covered Monte Rosa massif in the Valais Alps, also known as the Pennine Alps. While the Dufourspitze’s peak is located entirely in Switzerland, the mountain also crosses into Italy.
Switzerland’s highest peak was originally known simply as that: “Highest Peak” or “Höchste Spitze”. It would later be named after Guillame-Henri Dufour, a Swiss General and topographer. However, it was prior to its renaming that the first recorded ascent of the mountain took place on 1 August 1855.
Height: 15,121 feet | Range: Valais Alps
At the northernmost edge of the Monte Rosa massif is a mountain whose name fittingly translates to North End. This is Nordend, the second highest point in Switzerland. Rising 15,121 feet above sea level, it is considered a secondary peak of the Dufourspitze. Thus, like Switzerland’s highest peak, this too straddles the Swiss-Italian border.
Nordend is a popular climb, but a challenging one. The first recorded success was in 1861.
Height: 14,970 feet | Range: Valais Alps
In between the mountains of Dufourspitze and the Signalkuppe, is the third on the list of the highest mountains in Switzerland. The 14,970-foot Zumsteinspitze lies in the centre of the Monte Rosa massif in Valais. It is named after topographer Joseph Zumstein, one of the party to first summit the mountain in 1820.
Height: 14,941 feet | Range: Valais Alps
The fourth tallest mountain in Switzerland is also the site of the highest building – or hut – in Europe. The Monte Rosa Hut stands at around 9,460 feet above sea level, more than halfway up the full 14,941-foot height of the Signalkuppe. It was opened by its namesake, Queen Margherita in 1893, around 141 years after the first ever recorded ascent of its mountain home. This was achieved by Italian priest Giovanni Gnifetti in 1842 from the Italian side of the mountain.
Height: 14,911 feet | Range: Valais Alps
Of all the highest mountains in Switzerland, the Dom is the first to be located exclusively within the country’s borders. And, although still in the canton of Valais, it’s also the first outside the Monte Rosa massif. Instead, it is part of the Mischabel group. This was so named because “Mischabel” meant pitchfork in ancient German, a reference to the closeness of the mountain’s peaks.
There is some debate as to the origin of the Dom’s name. This derives from the fact that “dom” is a German homophone, meaning both “dome” and cathedral.
The Highest Mountains in Switzerland
This ends our tour of Switzerland’s highest peaks. As we’ve seen, they share many similarities. All are located together within the Valais Alps and were first reportedly climbed in the 19th century. But more than that, they are all spectacular natural wonders.