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Climbing, peaks, trekking on Monte Rosa

The Mount Rose, also called the Alps of Mount Rose or the Mount Rose massif (in Walser dialect, Gletscher) is, in size and importance, the second group of mountains of the Alps and the highest in Switzerland. Located in the Pennine Alps, in part in the Italian territory (Alagna Valsesia, Ayas-Champoluc, Gressoney-La-Trinité, Gressoney-Saint-Jean, Macugnaga and Valtournenche) and in part in Switzerland (Zermatt and Saas-Almagell) .

His name, contrary to what people might think, doesn't come from the beautiful pink in the sunset , but the word "Rouja" in Patois (French dialect spoken in Aosta Valley) means glacier. The " huge glacier" in the past was also known as "Monboso", as Leonardo da Vinci evidenced in his writings.
Punta Dufour, with its 4,634 meters is the highest peak of the massif. On July 31, 2005 was celebrated the 150th anniversary of its first ascent which took place on August 1, 1855. the Italian Minister Alemanno and the Swiss Economics Minister Joseph Deiss met for the installation of commemorative plaque on the summit of Punta Dufour, both coming from the right side of the massif.
Already in the past, the high passes of the mountain were passed by Walser populations: in the thirteenth century through the Colle del Lys to migrate from the Valais (Switzerland) to the Lys Valley where they settled down creating a new community which in the following years would have affected all valleys located around Monte Rosa.
Most climbing of the various peaks of the massif occurred in the nineteenth century, starting usually from the Italian side that looked like easier than the Swiss side. Below we list some of them:
July 23rd , 1801 – Pietro Giordani reaches Punta Giordani;
August 5th , 1819 - Johann Niklaus Vincent reached with two other people Piramide Vincent;
August 1st , 1820 - Joseph and Johann Niklaus Vincent, Joseph Zumstein, Molinatti, Castel reached with five other people Zumsteinspitze;
August 9th , 1842 – Giovanni Gnifetti,priest of Alagna, Giuseppe Farinetti, Cristoforo Ferraris, Cristoforo Gröber, brothers Giovanni and Giacobbe Giordani reached with two other people Signalkuppe
August 1st , 1855 - John Birbeck, Charles Hudson, Ulrich Lauener, Christopher Smyth, James G. Smyth, Edward Stephenson, Johannes and Matthäus Zumtaugwald reached the Dufour Peak (the highest peak of the mountain).
Different glaciers slide down the massive of Mount Rose. Subject to various scientific studies, they are steadily monitored by universities engaged in the study of global warming. In particular the Swiss side facing north has the most impressive glaciers: Gorner, Grenz and Mount Rose. In the Italian side we find the great glacier Verra, Lys, Indren, Bors, Piode, Sesia and Belvedere. It is possible to identify seven valleys resulting from the Mount Rose. In Italy: Valtournenche, Val d'Ayas, Lys Valley (or Gressoney) in Valle d'Aosta; Valsesia, Anzasca Valley in Piedmont valleys. In Switzerland : Matter Valley (Zermatt) and Saastal Valleys (Saas Almagell).

The Mount Rose is famous for its numerous 4000

  • Dufour Peak - 4,634 m
  • Nordend - 4609 m
  • Zumsteinspitze - 4563 m
  • Signalkuppe - 4559 m
  • Lyskamm East - 4,527 m
  • Lyskamm West - 4,481 m
  • Parrotspitze - 4436 m
  • Ludwigshöhe - 4342 m
  • Schwarzhorn - 4322 m
  • Castor - 4221 m
  • Piramide Vincent - 4215 m
  • Breithorn West - 4,165 m
  • Breithorn Central - 4160 m
  • Breithorn East - 4,141 m
  • Breithornzwillinge - 4106 m
  • Pollux - 4091 m
  • Schwarztor - 4075 m
  • Giordani Peak - 4046 m

In addition to the previous, there are other secondary peaks always higher than 4,000 meters:

  • Ostspitze - 4632 m
  • Grenzgipfel - 4618 m
  • Lyskamm Nose 4,272 m
  • Rock of Discovery - 4178 m
  • Balmenhorn 4167 m
  • Pillar Vincent - 4050 m

Under 4,000m there are some other important peaks:

  • Cima di Jazzi - 3803 m
  • Testa Grigia - 3480 m
  • Grand Tournalin - 3379 m
  • Corno Bianco - 3320 m
  • Gornergrat - 3310 m


Height:  4.634 m s.l.m.

Coordinates:  45°55′00″N 7°52′00″E / 45.933333, 7.866667

First ascent date:  1 agosto 1855

First climber:  John Birbeck - Charles Hudson - Ulrich Lauener - Christopher Smyth - James G. Smyth - Edward Stephenson - Matthäus Zumtaugwald - Johannes Zumtaugwald

It is considered the highest peak in the Swiss Alps and the second of the Alps. Its east wall above the town of Macugnaga is the highest and steepest of the Alps. Is name comes from Guillaume-Henri Dufour, General and cartographer of the Swiss Army, under whose direction were completed a series of military maps, including one on the Monte Rosa massif. The summit looks like a ridge which consists of three main peaks (from West to East): Dufour Peak - 4,634 m, Ostspitze - 4632 m, Grenzgipfel - 4618 m.
Normal Route: From Regina Margherita Refuge: descend to Gnifetti Col 4452 m and climb the steep ridge to Zumstein Peak 4563 m. From the top of Zumsteinspitze descend the pass that separates the two peaks, Grenxsattel 4453 m. Hence it is possible to reach Dufourspitze through its south-east ridge, a mix of rocks and snow. Difficulty AD. Ascension demanding about 3 hours and 1 / 2, requesting some previous climbing experience and a good mastery in the use of crampons.
Cresta Rey From Regina Margherita Hut go down in the Grenz glacier and cross the spurs of Zumstein Peak between long crevasses then climb right up the ridge. 3/4 hours from the beginning of the climb. Steps up to the 4°. The descent is along the Italian normal route.


Height:  4.609 m s.l.m.

Coordinates45°56′26″N 7°52′10″E / 45.940625, 7.869294

First ascent date:  1861

First climberT.F. e Edward - N. Buxton - J.J. Cowell - Michel Payot

Access to Nordend may be starting from the Capanna Regina Margherita through Zumstein and Dufour peaks. This is a very challenging route along very sharp ridges of high altitude. Coming from the Swiss Valais (Zermatt) the ascent starts from the Monte Rosa Hut (2795 m). Hence climb up the Monte Rosa glacier to the pass called the Silver Saddle 4517 m that separates Dufourspitze from Nordendspitze. From Silver Saddle follow the ridge, staying on the western side because of the snow frames. The top is reached by climbing some rocks. We should also mention the possible Santa Caterina Ridge (Northeast) leaving from Bivouac Città di Gallarate.



Height:  4.563 m s.l.m.

Coordinates45°55′55″N 7°52′17″E / 45.931944, 7.871389

First ascent date:  1 agosto 1820

First climberJoseph e Johann Niklaus Vincent - Joseph Zumstein - Molinatti - Castel ed altre guide.

From Capanna Regina Margherita descend to the Gnifetti Col 4452 m and climb on the left along the wide iced ridge of Zumsteinspitze. Tending towards north - west, the ridge narrows considerably and close to a small crevasse it becomes very steep. After this stretch, there are some last rocks, easy to be climbed. Finally, an icy groove touches the top. From the Gnifetti Col h 0.30.



Height:  4.554 m s.l.m.

Coordinates8″N 7°52′37″E / 45.927222, 7.876944

First ascent date:  9 agosto 1842

First climberGiovanni Gnifetti - Cristoforo Ferraris - Cristoforo Grober - Giacomo e Giovanni Giordani - Giuseppe Farinetti e due portatori. 

The Italian normal route passing through Lys Col and starting from Alagna or Gressoney-La-Trinité. From Gnifetti Refuge climb the Garstelet Glacier to NE, towards the Pyramid Vincent then northwards on little steep Lys Glacier along the west base of the Pyramid Vincent. After the rocky islet of Balmerhorn you reach a plateau at 4150m and then Lys Col 4248m; keep going along the seracs at the north-facing base of Parrot Spitze. After the inlet of Sesia Col, climb northwards along the head of Grenz Glacier. Shortly before reaching Gnifetti Col 4454m, turn right and climb the last steep stretch leading to the summit. Difficulty F. Scheduled time from Gnifetti refuge: about 4 / 5 hours.

Signal Ridge: from Resegotti Bivouac walk along the ridge that presents alternations of snow and rock up to Signal Col. From there the ridge sits up and goes to stop a few meters before Margherita Refuge. Required climbing level 4°. About 6 hours from the Resegotti Bivouac. The descent is along the normal route.


Height:  4.527 m s.l.m.

Coordinates45°55′33″N 7°49′51″E / 45.925833, 7.830833

First ascent date:  19 agosto 1861

First climberWilliam Edward Hall - Jean-Pierre Cachat - Peter Perren - Josef-Marie Perren - J.F. Hardy, J.A. Hudson - C.H. Pilkington - A.C. Ramsay - T. Rennison, F. Sibson - R.M. Stephenson - Franz Lochmatter - Karl Herr e Stefan Zumtaugwald.

It consists of two main peaks: the Eastern Lyskamm 4,527 m and the Western Lyskamm 4,481 m. Moreover, on the Italian side, there is a third lower peak: the Lyskamm Nose 4272 m.
It is possible to climb the peak from the Eastern Italian side starting from Gnifetti hut, reaching Lys Col. From there leave the Discovery Rock 4178 m to your right and follow the regular route that leads to the shoulder. Go past the first flat part, then a steeper part of the ridge, staying a few meters on the N-side because of snow frames. Difficulty PD + / AD-. 4 / 5 hours from Gnifetti Refuge.
A quite challenging and very attractive route is the crossing of Lyskamm which can be done from west to east or vice versa.
Sella Ridge to the Eastern Lyskamm From Gnifetti Refuge reach the Lyskamm Nose and after descending the Col della Fronte start climbing. After having reached the summit, descend to the Lys Col along the normal route. Provides steps of 2 ° +. Difficulty: AD-. About 5 hours from the refuge.


Height:  4.432 m s.l.m.

Coordinates45°55′10″N 7°52′10″E / 45.919444, 7.869444

First ascent date:  16 agosto 1863

First climberReginald S. MacDonald - Florence Crauford Grove - Montagu Woodmass e William Edward Hall - con le guide Melchior Anderegg e Peter Perren

As the mountain looks like a long, sharp ridge in the west-east direction, you can ascend from west starting from Lys Col or from East from the Sesia Col 4299 m hill which separates it from Signalkuppe. From Lys Col, turn right in direction to Piode Col. Climb the steep slope to the left until you reach the crest. Follow the narrow ridge to the summit. About 1 hour. Difficulty PD +. From Sesia Col: 100 m before reaching it, go right, climb a steep section passing to the left of a rock to reach the thin ridge that leads to the summit. 1 ½ hours. PD-Difficulty.
Route of Italians Departure from Bivouac Gugliermina (former Valsesia Bivouac). Follow the ridge until you reach the Piode Glacier. After that you find a steeper and steeper slope up to the summit.This is a long ascent of mix terrain with passages of II and III grade and 45 °tracks. Difficulty AD +. 5 hours from the Gugliermina Bivouac.


Height:  4.342 m s.l.m.

Coordinates45°55′N 7°50′E / 45.92, 7.83

First ascent date:  1822

First climberLuwig van Welden

From Gnifetti Refuge follow the route in direction to Lys Col, there are 3 possibilities to reach Ludwingshohe:
1) from Zurbriggen Col 4272mt following the SW ridge (20 min)
2) close to the Lys Col going left of the large crevasse that cuts this side and reaching the summit from the NE, 40 min
3) from Piode Col 4285 m through the NW ridge, 15 min.


Height:  4.322 m s.l.m.

Coordinates45°54′54″N 7°51′43″E / 45.9149, 7.862

Altri nomi e significati :  Schwarzhorn (tedesco)

First ascent date:  18 agosto 1873

First climberMarco Maglionini - Albert de Rothschild - Eduard Cupelin, Peter Knubel - Nikolaus Knube

From Zurbriggen Col you can climb the nearby Schwarzhorn in about 40 minutes, short steep slope (max 45 °) which leads to a saddle between two summits and to the top on the left where the Madonna statue is located. Indicative time Indren 3.30 / 4h


Height:  4.215 m s.l.m.

Coordinates45°54′29″N 7°51′43″E / 45.907958, 7.861876

First ascent date:  5 agosto 1819

First climberNicola Vincent con altre guide

From Gnifetti Refuge follow the track under the rocks that leads to the glacier until you reach a flat area. Go up the slope which becomes steeper and stepper, firstly in the NE direction and then northwards through the various crevasses. Follow the direction towards the Lys Col and close to 4000 meters of altitude, almost under the Balmenhorn rock, turn right towards the Vincent Col . Before its summit climb up the West-North-West side of Vincent. The last track to the peak is a gentle snowy slope. Difficulty F. 2 / 3 hours from Gnifetti Refuge.


Height:  4.046 m s.l.m.

Coordinates45°54′21″N 7°52′05″E / 45.905808, 7.868142

First ascent date:  23 luglio 1801

First climberPietro Giordani e un piccolo gruppo di compaesani

The normal route to the summit from the Italian side starts from Punta Indren where you cross the Indren Glacier towards Gnifetti Hut. Go up the glacier which descends from the right. Firstly stay on the right and then in the middle of the glacier in order to reach the flat and snowy ridge; the summit is on the right. Estimated time 2 hours. From the top of Giordani you can reach the Pyramid Vincent.
Cresta del Soldato (Soldier ridge) The particular name has been assigned by William Martin Conway, who climbed it in 1884 with an Italian soldier, a border guardian in the year of cholera. The climb can be made starting from Vigevano Refuge (Col d'Olen). In this case, through Stolemberg and after crossing the Bors Glacier you find the start of the ridge. Follow the ridge and walh on SW side to avoid rocks. Easy route with 3° level climbing.


Height:  4.167 m s.l.m.

Coordinates45°54′51″N 7°51′54″E / 45.914038, 7.864979

From Gnifetti Refuge follow the track on the glacier until you reach a flat area after that the inclination becomes steeper and there are various crevasses. Close to 4000 m of altitude, almost under the Balmenhorn rock, turns right towards Vincent Col 4088m, which separates Balmenhorn peak from Pyramid Vincent and, shortly before reaching it, turn right to face the last slope. In a few minutes you reach the pass, here you go back to the other side of the col along the left diagonal until you reach the rocky base of Balmenhorn. A rope and artificial steps help you in reaching the Cristo delle Vette statue and the Jordan bivouac. Difficulty F. Estimated time from Gnifetti Refuge: 2 hours.

Balmerhorn is quite popular because of Felice Giordano Bivouac and the majestic Cristo delle Vette statue.
Il Cristo delle Vette (Christ of the Summits, in Walser language Der Christus vom Spétze) is a bronze statue of Jesus located on top of Balmenhorn. During World War II, the sculptor Alfredo Bai was a partisan fighter. Vowed to erect, if the war had ended victoriously,a statue dedicated to Christ the Redeemer in memory of the war victims. After finding the necessary funds, the sculptor created his masterpiece in Turin in 11 pieces and located in the top of the mountain. The four meters high statue was unveiled on Sept. 4, 1955.



Finished in 2002, Ferrata di Cimalegna (Bocchetta delle Pisse, 2396m) is a mountain route equipped with fixed cables, anchors, rungs and bridges for self-security. It has been dedicted to the famous guide Emilio De Tomasi and it consists of an equipped path with some smooth walls where it is necessary to climb. Take note of the rope (or Tibetan) bridge of 30 m in length. Climb (approx. 800m) along the crest of Bocchetta delle Pisse to the high plateau of Cimalegna with 300m difference in altitude.
From arrival of lift system in Pianalunga in one hour walking you reach the start of Ferrata. Two possible routes: the blue route is not difficult and is accessible to any younger and the red path, longer and more challenging with some exposed and vertical tracks. At the top you can continue to Passo Salati to take the cable car to Alagna or you can reach the Vigevano hut in Col d'Olen. Estimated time 3:30 hours. It is compulsory to wear helmet, harness and climbing sets. Best season from May to October.


ALAGNA -MARGHERITA without lift system

Leave the car at the Wold parking and reach by walking Acqua Bianca (15 km) then follow the trail n°6. The path is short and very easy therefore accessible to everyone. From Alagna: 45/50 min walking time, from Acqua Bianca 20 min. Alternative: in Sant'Antonio after the small church, about 50 meters before the bridge, follow the path n° 6 and reach the refuge. This way is simple but quite steep. From Alagna: 45 / 50 min. From San Antonio: 30 min

In front of the refuge starts trail n°6 that which reaches in about 45 minutes Alpe Bors. After the bridge, the path is steeper and it reaches the group of houses among which there is the refuge Crespi Calderini. After having crossed the plateau in front of the shelter, follow the path n°10 that goes zigzagging reaching about in 1 hour the Balma cable car station (from which you can admire Pisse waterfalls). Follow the direction of the old plant, which faces south towards a couloir that gently leads to the lakes of Pisse. From Pastore Refuge: 2 hours. Now you can descend to Pianalunga and walk up Olen Valley (about 2 hours) or along the Emilio Detomasi Ferrata of Cimalegna. Arrival to the historic Vigevano Hut (about 3 hours and 1 / 2).

From Passo Salati follow the path through Stolemberg and reach Indren; then cross the Indren glacier following the trail on the left which reaches the rocks. At the end of the glacier there are generally two tracks: the one below and the one above which leads to the "roccette path”, apparently more difficult but well equipped in order to make the climb safer (many fixed ropes and a wooden staircase).
Follow then the track on the snowy slope leading to some rock where you find a metal staircase. From Vigevano Refuge: about 3 hours.

From Gnifetti Refuge climb the Garstelet Glacier to NE, towards the Pyramid Vincent then northwards on little steep Lys Glacier along the west base of the Pyramid Vincent. Past the rocky islet of Balmerhorn you reach a plateau at 4150m and then Lys Col 4248m. Keep hoing on along the seracs at the north-facing base of Parrot Spitze. After the inlet of Sesia Col, climb northwards along the head of Grenz Glacier. Shortly before reaching the saddle of Gnifetti Col 4454m, turn right and climb the last steep stretch leading to the summit. Difficulty F. Scheduled time from Gnifetti refuge: about 4 / 5 hours.



The Tour of Monte Rosa concerns both Monte Rosa and Mischabel massifs, in Italian and Swiss territory. Walser people walked along some tracks of it during their migrations from a valley to another.
It consists of nine stages, usually starting and finishing in Zermatt (Valais) but it can be planned as you prefer, depending on your wishes and your skills.

First stage: departure: Zermatt - 1616 m - arrival: Theodulpass - 3317 m
It is the hardest stage of the tour because of its height and because it takes place partly on the glacier. Midpoint Gandegghütte mountain hut.
Second stage: departure: Theodulpass - 3317 m – arrival: Saint Jacques - 1689 m
From Theodulpass, first in the high Valtournenche and the in Val d'Ayas through the Cime Bianche Col (2980 m) and then down to Saint Jacques, Ayas ' hamlet.
Third stage: departure: Saint Jacques - 1689-m arrival: Gressoney-La-Trinité - 1637 m -via Bettaforca Colle (2676 m).
Fourth stage: departure: Gressoney-La-Trinité - 1637 m - Arrival: Alagna - 1191 m -via the Col d'Olen (2881 m).
Fifth stage: departure: Alagna - 1191 m - arrival: Macugnaga - 1327 m - via Turlo Pass (2738 m).
Sixth stage: departure: Macugnaga - 1327 m - arrival: Saas Fee - 1,772 m -via Monte Moro Pass (2868 m).
Seventh stage: departure: Saas Fee - 1,772 m - arrival: Grächen - 1619 m
on the left bank of the Saas Valley and along the Mischabelhörner.
Eighth stage: departure: Grächen - 1,619 m - arrival: Europahütte - 2,220 m
on the right side of the valley and along the Mischabelhörner.
Ninth stage: departure: Europahütte - 2220 m - arrival: Zermatt - 1616 m
on the right side of the valley and along the still Mischabelhörner.

Contacts: www.tmr-matterhorn.ch


Ski Touring the Haute Route of Monte Rosa

Day 1. Take lift from Alagna to Punta Indren (3260 m) and skin up to Capanna Gnifetti 3647 m, dinner and stay overnight (2 hours). Total Ascent 400 metres.
Day 2. Leave from Capanna Gnifetti and go through to the Lys glacier. First reach the Lys col and than the Sesia col where you start the ascent to Capanna Margherita on the Punta Gnifetti 4554 mt Long descent through the Grenz Glacier to the Monte Rosa Hut (6/7 hours)
Total Ascent 1100 metres. Total Descent 1950 metres.
Day 3. Climb to Silbersattel and Nordend to 4609 metres. Then back through the same route as the ascent to reach the Monte Rosa Hut or Zermatt (7/8 hours).
Total Ascent 1800 metres. Total Descent 1800 or 2900 metres.
Day 4. Descend to Zermatt, where you take the Klein Matterhorn lift. Climb to west Breithorn at 4184 metres and descend to the Guide Val d'Ayas hut (5/8 hours)
Total Ascent 400 metres. Total Descent 1700 metres.
Day 5. Cimb to Castore at 4228 metres on the west side, descend to Colle Felik and West Lys glacier to reach the Lyskamm Nose at 4100 metres, Punta Indren and Alagna (8/9 hours)
Total Ascent 1300 metres. Total Descent 1500 metres. (3500 metres to Alagna)

Contacts: www.lyskammviaggi.it

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