Monch Climb: Facts & Information. Routes, Climate, Difficulty, Equipment, Preparation, Cost

Daniel DawsonFebruary 11, 2019

Mönch is the middle peak of an iconic trio of mountains that dominates the Bernese Oberland.

Situated in south-central Switzerland, Mönch rises 4.107 meters above sea level and offers an excellent mountaineering challenge for novice climbers looking for big peak experience as well as a great warm-up for more advanced climbers with their eye on summiting Eiger or ascending Jungfrau.

The peak was first successfully climbed back in 1857 by a group alpinists led by the pioneering Christian Almer, who also made the first ascent of Eiger as well as 17 other peaks in the Alps. Mönch has since been a popular location for climbers from all around the world.

The exposed nature of the mountain, which offers very little protection for climbers as they walk the final ridge to the summit or scramble up several arêtes, allows for spectacular views out over the rest of the Bernese Oberland.

Expect stunning views of Great Aletsch Glacier and out over the scenic Lauterbrunnen Valley.

However, before you book your next mountaineering adventure to the slopes of Mönch, you should take a few minutes to check out some of the useful information and tips posted below.

Starting Point & How to Get There

 

Get fantastic views out over the Great Aletsch Glacier both from the summit as well as during the approach to Mönch. Photo courtesy of Yann Decaillet.

Any expedition to the summit of Mönch begins from the village of Grindelwald, Switzerland.

Getting to Grindelwald generally involves a flight into the Geneva International Airport (GVA), which offers direct flights from most major airports around the world.

Once in Geneva, you can rent a car and make the stunningly scenic 2.5 hour drive via the A9, A1 and A6.

It is also possible to go by train or bus, but both will involve making transfers. The fastest you should expect to make the trip from GVA to Grindelwald is just under four hours.

On summit day, you will take the first train on the Jungfraubahn (R line) to Jungfraujoch station and begin the climb from there.

Climbing Routes

 

The Southeast Ridge is the most popular one taken when climbing Mönch. It is easily reached from the Jungfraujoch station on the R-line.

Once you have disembarked at the station, you make the easy walk to the start of the ridge and begin climbing. The climbing starts out pretty easily along some looser rocks. As you continue to climb up, the rock quality improves.

At about the halfway point of the climb, you reach the first snow ridge. For the rest of the way, you will need to climb alternatively over the rock and snow.

Finally, you will reach the top of the ridge and walk along the exposed summit ridge, which takes you up to the top.

Overall, the climb is not very technically difficult and is only rated as PD (peu difficile), or easy. However, the climb is quite exposed, which can take unprepared climbers by surprise if the weather changes quickly.

Duration of the Ascent

 

Mönch is easily climbed in just a single day. Adding a second day for Jungfrau to three more days for Jungfrau and Eiger is a popular practice. Photo courtesy of Roger Schäli.

The whole climb takes less than one day. However, for a more leisurely pace, some guides also offer it in two days.

Once you have arrived at the Jungfrau station, reaching the summit takes about two or three hours and returning back to the station takes another two hours. Climbers who plan on taking two days will generally stay in the nearby Mönch hut.

Heading down to other mountain huts in order to climb either Eiger or Jungfrau also only takes a few hours.

Many guides combine either one or both of the other iconic mountains in the range for two to four day packages.

Combining the Jungfrau and Mönch on a two-day climbing trip is quite popular.

Several guides also offer four-day packages that include climbing all three peaks. Here are a few of our most popular options for these trips:

Physical Requirements and Technical Difficulties

 

The last ridge connection the climbing route to the summit is long and exposed, yielding great views and requiring steady feet. Photo courtesy of Peter Frick.

Climbing Mönch is ideally suited for skilled beginners who want to undertake a big mountain route. While some previous experience with crampons and ice axes is necessary none of the climbing is very technical.

Steady feet and a steady head are necessary because the route is quite exposed and you will be walking along and climbing up unsheltered routes for the majority of the way.

In terms, of physical fitness, you should be pretty fit and prepared to climb non-stop for three hours. This means you might want to undertake some physical training for your upper body, lower body and core as well as some endurance training and climbing conditioning.

While you may not need the same level of physical fitness as is required to climb Eiger, it doesn’t hurt to accomplish some of the prerequisites required for that climb (see Physical Requirements and Technical Difficulties section).

Weather Conditions

 

From April to November is the best time to attempt to climb Mönch. During the summer months, it is when it will be the warmest at its summit and is also when the peak gets the least rainfall, with an average of about eight days per month.

At the summit, expect daily average temperatures of about -5ºC during the summer. However, with windchill it may feel much colder. During the autumn and spring, expect slightly colder temperatures, with a daily average of around -8ºC to -10ºC at the summit, again feeling colder if there is windchill.

At the base of the mountains, average temperatures are about 10ºC to 12ºC during the summer and around 5ºC during the autumn and spring, so be sure to dress accordingly.

Equipment

 

Taking the Jungfraubahn to the start of Mönch yields scenic views of what is to come. Photo courtesy of Yann Decaillet.

In order to successfully climb Mönch, it is important to bring all of the proper equipment. Most guides will provide some of the group climbing equipment, but not all of them do, so it is important to check with your guide what he or she will bring and what you need to provide for yourself prior to booking.

Regardless of what is or is not included, here is a list of all the necessary climbing equipment:

  • Carabiners, both standard and locking.
  • Climbing harness.
  • Crampons.
  • Helmet.
  • Ice axe.
  • Personal anchoring system.
  • Trekking poles.

Along with this climbing equipment, it is important to pack other necessary clothing and miscellaneous items for your trip. Here is what guides recommend you bring:

  • Baselayer tops and bottoms that fit snugly, but do not constrict. No cotton.
  • Camera and extra batteries.
  • Cash in Swiss francs (CHF) and credit card.
  • Climbing pack, at least 30 litres.
  • First aid kit
  • Fleece or windbreaker.
  • Gaiters, waterproof and comfortable.
  • Gloves, three pairs: liner, softshell and leather climbing pairs.
  • Hardshell pants and jacket, both of which should be waterproof and fit comfortably over the base layer and softshell layers.
  • Hiking boots for the approach and mountaineering boots for the ascent.
  • Hiking socks
  • Insulated jacket, preferably lightweight.
  • Insurance
  • Shorts, for the approach.
  • Softshell pants and jacket, both of which should fit comfortably over the base layers or without the base layers. No cotton.
  • Sun cream, lip balm and sun glasses
  • Sun hat and knit cap, preferably synthetic or wool.
  • Water bottle, at least one-litre. Some guides also recommend a hydration system, such as MSR Hydrometry (a more durable version of Camelbak).

Estimated price

 

Prices for mountaineering expeditions to the summit of Mönch vary considerably, based on several factors. How long your trip is, what is included and how many people you are climbing with will all influence the price.

However, you can expect to pay as little as €300 if you are only climbing Mönch in one day. This price includes only the guiding fee and with a total of two people.

Longer trips to the summits of other peaks, such as the Jungfrau or Eiger, will drive you the price as will the inclusion of rental gear.

Including, food, transport and accommodations, you should budget an additional €2.000 as Switzerland is a fairly expensive country, especially in resort towns.

 

Of the iconic trio, Mönch is the middle both in terms of height and location within the range. Photo courtesy of Marija Stremfelj.

 

So what are you waiting for? Book your next Swiss mountaineering adventure to the iconic Mönch and get ready for some fun and intense climbing paired with unparalleled scenic vistas!

 

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