Set in the heart of the Alps, between the Italian Piedmont region and Aosta Valley, and the Swiss Canton of Vallais, the Monte Rosa massif is one of the main attractions of the famous European mountain range. Although from its name one might imagine it to be pink, or full or roses, the “rosa” is actually a false cognate from rouése, a patoise word that means glacier. Therefore, save for its rocky ridge summit, what Monte Rosa does have a lot of is snow and ice.
Climbing Monte Rosa is consequently an experience that any mountaineering enthusiast should aspire to. Furthermore, not only is this a sight for awe inspiring views, it is also less crowded than the nearby and more popular Mont Blanc, and a thrilling challenge for any and all feet. Such a feat as touring this massif of course requires proper guidance. With around ten peaks of over 4000m, a certified guide will be able to help with acclimatization, logistics, and most importantly showing you the right way to make the best of your mountaineering experience.
Monte Rosa massif has many over 4000m peaks. The most famous are Dufourspitze (Punta Dufour), Dunantspitze (Ostspitze), Grenzgipfel, Ludwigshöhe, Nordend, Parrotspitze (Punta Parrot), Signalkuppe (Punta Gniffeti), Vincent Pyramid, Zumsteinspitze (Punta Zumstein), and Breithorn.
Because there are many peaks, there are also many possible climbing routes. To explore a wide range of this massif’s mountains you can join this 5-day climbing excursion to different 4000 meter peaks starting from Zermatt, or, what is also known as the “Spaghetti tour” which covers eight different peaks and kicks off from Cervinia. This 2-day Breithorn and Pollux ascent is also a great option.
Otherwise, the most emblematic mountains of the massif are:
At 4,634 m , Dufourspitze is the highest point on the Monte Rosa massif. There are two routes to its summit. The Normal Route kicks off from the Monte Rosa hut at an altitude of 2,883 m, between the Gorner and Grenz glaciers. On this route, you will go up the west face of the mountain until you get to the rocky ridge to the top. The other route to the Dufourspitze summit is via de Marinelli Couloir that tackles the east side of the mountain on a much more challenging climb. This 2-day ascent will take you to the Dufourspitze summit in the company of seasoned guides!
Also known as the Signalkuppe, this peak lies at an altitude of 4,554 m. The Margherita hut, on its summit, is the highest in Europe and dates back to 1893!
To get there, the ascent to the top of Punta Gniffeti via the normal route, which kicks off from the Italian side, usually from the Gnifetti hut or Mantova hut, is the easiest. It takes the west side of the mountain to its summit. Alternatively, it is also possible to follow a route from the Swiss side that kicks off at Monte Rosa hut. Then, there are other routes that are progressively more challenging. The Cresta Signal takes the east side and is more difficult than the previous two. Otherwise, climbing up the Southwest ridge, the Southeast wall and the Northeast wall are also possible, however a lot more demanding!
Whichever route you wish to explore, climbing with a pro will ensure that you make the best of the experience. This 2-day ascent starts off from Mantova Hut and is a great option to tackle this stunning peak. Another option is this 3-day excursion to the Margherita hut that also tackles some of the other surrounding peaks before the Gnifetti summit overnight.
The time it takes to climb Monte Rosa will depend largely on what kind of trip you decide to take. The “Spaghetti Tour” usually takes around six days as it covers many peaks on the glaciated massif. However, climbing to the summit of any of the individual mountains takes somewhere around two days. Of course, this will also depend on your experience and physical preparation. Keep in mind that climbing mountains of this altitude always requires some acclimatization. Going with an experienced guide is a great way to pace your ascent safely.
The Monte Rosa massif has several mountain huts on its different faces. As previously mentioned, the Margherita hut on the summit of Punta Gnifetti is the most famous because it is the highest in Europe. However, the Monte Rosa hut, on the west side of the massif at an altitude of 2,883 metres, is a popular starting point for many excursions and boasts an amazing hi-tech and environmentally friendly new construction. The Gnifetti hut is another landmark refuge in the area at an altitude of 3647m, and has beds, hot showers, electricity and heart-warming food in a Michelin-star restaurant! The Mantova Hut lies at an altitude of 3498m near the Garstelet Glacier and is another well equipped and popular refuge in the region.
In all, you will enjoy great views and the rest that they provide after an intense day up the mountain. Furthermore, you will also participate in the unique and lively mountaineering environment of the Alps and meet a lot of interesting people!
Although these are the most well known huts, there are others in the surrounding region such as the Grande Halte, Carestia, Ospizio Sottile, Valle Vogna, Pastore, Barba Ferrero, Ferioli, Campo, Zar Senni and Crespi Calderini, among others.
Check out this 6-day Monte Rosa hut-to-hut traverse!
One of the great things about Monte Rosa is that it offers options for climbers of all levels. The normal routes to the summits of Dufourspitze and especially Punta Gniffeti are moderate in difficulty. Therefore, under proper guidance and with a good fitness level, they can be tackled by almost anyone.
Some of the more challenging aspects of climbing Monte Rosa include altitude and glaciated terrain. Of course, alternative or longer routes present a greater dare for more experienced climbers. In all cases, it is best to go with a seasoned guide that can show you the way and help with acclimatization and mountaineering techniques. You can also take a mountaineering course, such as this one in Chamonix before setting off on your adventure!
Save for its rocky ridge, the Monte Rosa massif is mostly covered in snow and glaciers, specially in winter. Therefore, climbing this stunning Alp gem is usually done in the summer months of June, July and August. Nevertheless, at higher altitudes you will encounter sub-zero temperatures and snow year round. Therefore, when planning your trip it is important that you consider adequate clothing for a wide range of temperatures, a good sub-zero sleeping bag, top quality hiking shoes, crampons, an ice age, as well as protection from the sun.
The estimated price for an individual 2-day tour is approximately 700-800 EUR. The amount will vary depending on which peak you decide to explore and the route difficulty. Of course, longer tours will cost more, and keep in mind that prices may or may not include the overnight hut price.
One of the best things about the Alps is that there is always so much to explore and to do! Climbing to the summit of at least one of the Monte Rosa massif peaks should definitely be on any adventurer’s wish list. However, don’t stop at that! While in the area you can also find some fantastic hiking programs such as this 2-day excursion around Monte Rosa hut where you will get to discover the Gorner Glacier.
Via Ferrata is another must to try while in the Alps. A suggested alternative is this Bethaz-Bovard option which is the longest Via Ferrata in the Aosta Valley! Or, you check out any of these other great options in the area!
If you like jumping into waterfalls and swimming as well as hiking and exploring the mountains, then you might want to try canyoning in the Aosta Valley.
Monte Rosa is one of the jewels of the Alps, start planning you ascent and get ready for an unforgettable experience up high in the mountains!
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