Monte Rosa 4000ers

At the head of the Zermatt valley a huge wall of 4000m peaks, the Monte Rosa Chain, extends from the Breithorn all the way across to the multiple summits of Monte Rosa.

Level 2 Guiding & Coaching

5 days, 6 nights

Ratio: 3:1

Prerequisites: Summits & Skills 4000m (Instructional Course) Or equivalent

Price: £1545*

* Fully inclusive price

 Course Dates

The high-level traverse of these peaks is one of the great expeditions of the Alps at the ‘classic’ grade of PD. On this course, we make the traverse over 5 days, taking in up to ten 4000m summits and descending to a different hut each night along the way.

The number of 4000m summits that can be attempted makes this an ideal week for serious 4000m peak baggers!

We spend the whole week at altitude, often with one foot in Switzerland and the other in Italy, with a new, breath-taking view every day. Some previous experience of alpine climbing (preferably to 4000m) is necessary, and a degree of acclimatisation prior to the course is desirable.

All of the huts we use are high-up on the Italian side of the range and include a stop at the Margherita hut, the highest manned hut in the Alps.

Please note that we do not attempt the Dufourspitze on this traverse.

Is This Course For Me?

Competence with ice axe and crampons is required and participants should normally have completed an ISM Summits and Skills course or equivalent. You will need to have some previous experience of altitude and a good level of general fitness. This is a strenuous and demanding expedition so it is essential to prepare yourself well with regular aerobic exercise before the course.

As we go quickly up to 4000m, some prior acclimatisation is definitely an advantage for this course. If you can climb with us the previous week that would be ideal, but we are happy to advise on ways for you to acclimatise on your own in safety over the previous few days. The routes climbed on the traverse are mostly snow and ice ascents, with some rocky crests, at around PD standard. Although the terrain is not too difficult technically, there are some exposed ridges at altitude and participants need to enjoy mountaineering of this nature!

[Note on costs. Both the mechanical uplift and huts on this trip are expensive, hence the relatively high price of this course.]

Course Description

(Please note that this program will be changed if necessary due to weather, conditions on the mountains or other factors. Your safety is always our first priority!).

Day 1
Meeting with the guides and course briefing at the Grand Chalet hotel, Leysin, 7.00pm.

Day 2
Equipment check and travel to Zermatt. Cable car to the Klein Matterhorn (3883m). We traverse through impressive glacier terrain and descend to the Ayas hut, checking all important alpine skills on the way. (If time and weather allow we can sometimes snatch an ascent of the Breithorn (4164m) with a stronger team).

Day 3
Climb Pollux (4092m) then traverse Castor (4228m) and descend to the Quintino Sella hut.

Day 4
Traverse the ‘Passo del Nasso’ below Liskam, climb the Balmenhorn (4194m), the Schwarzhorn (4321m) and Pyramide Vincent (4215m). Descend to the Gnifetti hut.

Day 5
Traverse Ludwigshöhe (4321m) and the Parrot Spitz (4432m) to the Signalkuppe (4554m). Visit the Margherita hut on the summit for a snack and the highest cup of coffee in the Alps! Climb the Zumsteinspitz (4563m), then descend the Grenz and Monte Rosa glaciers to the Monte Rosa hut.

Day 6
Descend the Gornergletscher to Rotenboden. Train down to Zermatt and return to the Grand Chalet Hotel in Leysin. Dinner then drinks in the Top Pub.

Day 7
Breakfast and departure.

Sample Programme

Sunday evening
The course starts with participants and guides meeting at 7.00pm at Le Grand Chalet hotel in Leysin. This is the chance for the guides to give a thorough briefing and discuss the detailed plan for the week with you - and for you to ask any questions that you may have!

After sorting out any particular equipment requirements, we travel up the Rhône valley to Visp and then up the Mattertal to Zermatt. We will take the cable car up to the Klein Matterhorn, from which it takes 2-3 hours to traverse the big glacial plateau and descend a fairly steep and crevassed glacier to the Ayas hut. We have to check out/refresh alpine skills en route. Sometimes, with a more experienced and fit team, it is possible to take in an ascent of the Breithorn on the way. The Ayas is a modern and friendly hut – and sometimes gets quite busy.

A good alpine start is needed if we are to climb both Castor and Pollux. Both have fairly steep snow and ice slopes to negotiate and here your guide will be watching to see that you have a good crampon technique, giving any advice or training as necessary. We descend the glacier again down to the more rustic Quintino Sella hut.

We go back up onto the Ghiacciaio del Lis and make a fairly long traverse underneath Lyskamm to a steep and exposed section of the traverse, known as the ‘Passo del Naso’. Once across this we can take in the summit of Naso then the going is easier until we ascend again on straightforward snow slopes to climb the Balmenhorn (4194m – a small peak topped by a bivvi hut which makes an ideal picnic spot!). Now we can make the short but steep snow/ice ascent to the summit of the Schwarzhorn (4321m) and also bag the Pyramide Vincent (4215m) before descending the glacier to the Gnifetti hut.

We retrace our steps up the Glacier del Lis, this time keeping below the Pyramide Vincent, and then we traverse over the snow summit of Ludwigshöhe (4341m). A short descent leads to a col and a pronounced snowy ridge that continues to the Parrot Spitz (4432m). We traverse over the top of this and make a short descent again to another col. A steeper snow/ice ridge leads up to the Signalkuppe and a rest stop at the Margherita hut on its summit - at 4554m the highest hut in the Alps. Our final 4000m peak, the Zumstein Spitz (4452m), is only a short ascent from the hut, then we make a long descent down the vast Grenzgletscher to the Monte Rosa hut.

The descent of the dry Gorner glacier is now complex and interesting, involving chains to cover the steep ground near to the hut then spectacular glacier travel through a jumble of seracs and ice formations. After about 4 hours we reach the cog railway at Rotenboden, we can finally rest our knees and ride the train back down into Zermatt. We take a late lunch here then travel back to our hotel in Leysin where, after a much-needed shower and good supper, we’ll hopefully have the energy for a well-deserved night out!

Saturday morning
Breakfast at the hotel is included before departure.

Course Dates

Week Start Finish Price  
26 23 Jun 2019 29 Jun 2019 £1545
29 14 Jul 2019 20 Jul 2019 £1545
34 18 Aug 2019 24 Aug 2019 £1545