HIKING TOUR OF MONTE ROSA
Monte Rosa, the only mountain of “Himalayan proportions” in all of the Alps, the largest in volume in Western Europe, the second highest! Superb day hikes around this stunning giant, comprising many of the highest peaks in the Alps and a multitude of swooping glaciers. Unique culture and traditions, pristine valleys, glacier crossing. Welcoming comfort at night.
Monte Rosa, a giant massif comprising and surrounded by most of the 4,000-meter peaks of the Alps, shares the border with Italy and Switzerland. Seven spectacular valleys radiate from its flanks, each one dominated by magnificent scenery. Among them, the Mattertal (the Zermatt Valley), a glaciated paradise in Swiss territory, and Valle Anzasca, in Italy, where Monte Rosa’s 6,000-foot east face, the highest rock face of the Alps, confers upon this elegant giant the title of “Mountain of Himalayan Proportions.” With one of its several peaks, Dufourspitze, standing at 15,431′, Monte Rosa is the second highest mountain in Western Europe after Mont Blanc, but its dramatic beauty and overwhelming proportions stand second to none.
Some of the most magnificent hikes in the world are found in this region, and The Tour of Monte Rosa is one of the greatest opportunities to appreciate fully a truly humbling, mountainous environment. Alpine trails and historic paths lead us deep into the canton of Valais in Switzerland, and the Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta regions in Italy, introducing us to fascinating cultures, cuisines, and architecture. Hiking from Saas-Fee, surrounded by the Dom, Allalinhorn and Alpubel, to Zermatt, at the foot of the Matterhorn, our six-day trek takes us on an almost complete circuit of this spectacular massif, which has challenged climbers since the early 1800s. Although on some days long and demanding, our trek is always spectacular and offers some of the most majestic views in the Alps.
DAY BY DAY
Day 1 Saas-Fee
Transfer on your own by rail and public bus to Saas-Fee, Switzerland, a charming alpine town surrounded by the magnificent amphitheatre of the Dom, Allalinhorn, Alpubel, and their glaciers. Short acclimatization hike in the afternoon.
Day 2 Saas-Fee – Macugnaga
Short transfer to our trailhead. A beautiful alpine trail and a stone staircase negotiate rocky outcrops as we make our way to Monte Moro Pass. We cross the Swiss-Italian border into the Piemonte (a.k.a. Piedmont) region of Italy, and we take in the splendid view of Monte Rosa’s dramatic east face and its glaciated crown of peaks. We can spot Rifugio Margherita, the highest mountain hut in the Alps, originally built in honour of the first queen of Italy, Regina Margherita di Savoia. Today it also houses a research station for high altitude sickness. We have lunch at a mountain hut with an open panorama, and descend into Macugnaga. A visit to this characteristic village is mandatory. Rich in culture and traditions, it is one of the most important settlements of the [Walsers]. A people of Germanic origin, they migrated from Switzerland into Italy in the early 13th century.
Day 3 Macugnaga – Alagna
Short transfer to the trailhead. An uphill mule path takes us into a magnificent valley, where we continue on an easy and level unpaved service road past an idyllic lake, brooks and waterfalls, and through forests. A long uphill on a comfortable military mule path takes us finally to Passo del Turlo, our highest point for the day. We will be on the lookout for ibexes, chamois, and marmots, who make this environment their home. If the weather permits, we will enjoy a picnic lunch at the pass before we start our long descent into Alagna Valsesia. Along the way, we will notice pastures with German names, testimony to early Walser settlements, and we will enjoy spectacular views of some of the 4000-meter peaks of the massif: Corno Nero, Punta Parrot, and Cima Gnifetti.
Day 4 Alagna – Gressoney
We leave the region of Piemonte (a.k.a. Piedmont) and enter Valle d’Aosta, the autonomous and only bilingual region in Italy, extremely rich in culture, history and traditions. Short gondola ride. We make our way up the mountain on through fields of wildflowers and summer pastures. With a careful look, we may be able to spot ibexes amongst the rocks. These animals are protected in the Alps, making it easier to admire them even up close. At a mountain hut, perfectly located in a panoramic spot, we enjoy a typical meal and admire the outstanding views towards the east, Milan, the plains, as well as Punta Giordani and Cima Gnifetti on the Monte Rosa Massif. It is said that, on a clear night, from the rifugio one can see the golden Madonna glittering on top of the Milan’s cathedral. Descend into the Gressoney Valley. Option to descend part of the way by gondola.
Day 5 Gressoney – Champoluc
A steep, uphill mule path from the Gressoney Valley takes us to a beautiful Walser hamlet, perched on the side of the mountain in a very panoramic spot. Here, we take a short break to admire the traditional architecture before continuing on a steady uphill through green pastures, wildflowers alpine farmhouse. One last effort and we reach Colle del Pinter, the highest point for the day. The views here are glorious, with Mont Blanc, Grand Combin, and Dent d’Hèren in the distance. We descend into Val d’Ayas, a unique valley framed by a spectacular mountain landscapes. We take in the views of the Italian side of the Matterhorn, the Breithorn, and the high peaks of the Monte Rosa massif, Pollux, Zwillinge and Castor, blanketed in perennial snows and glaciers. We pass enchanting hamlets with traditional wooden architecture that seem to emerge from a fairy tale book and throw us back to a different time. We reach Crest, our base for the night, perched just above Champoluc. We overnight in a very special and traditional place: a “rascard”, a typical Walser building cleverly renovated into a beautiful mountain lodge. Tonight, we will not have access to our luggage. We will carry with us the minimum necessary to spend the night in the mountains.
Day 6 Champoluc – Valtournenche
Valle d’Ayas is a spectacular natural environment and a valley rich in culture and history. In fact, it is home to several Walser villages. One of them, St. Jacques, in the past was called “Canton des Allemands”, to testify to the German origins of the Walser people. Today, some of the people still speak the ancient German idiom and hold on to their deep-rooted traditions. Before we head out, we have the lodge prepare a picnic lunch for us. We then take the gondola to the valley floor and the public bus to the trailhead. Hiking on beautiful alpine trails, we meander through summer pastures, beautiful conifer forests and a rugged mountain landscape. We reach Col di Nana and crossing two passes, we descend into Valtournenche, on the Italian side of the Matterhorn, “Cervino” for Italians.
Day 7 Valtournenche – Zermatt
We crown our week with an exhilarating crossing of the Theodul Glacier into Zermatt. We meet our local UIAGM, licensed glacier guide (required by law) at Plateau Rosa, a spectacular panoramic point in the midst of the glaciated world of the Monte Rosa massif. No particular experience is necessary, as the hike on the glacier is not difficult or steep. However, we rope up and, based on the conditions of the ice, we may wear crampons. Ice axes are not necessary. The descent is simply exhilarating, with superb views of the Matterhorn and Breithorn. We have a simple lunch at mountain hut, where the “grand finale” discloses to us the whole Monte Rosa range, an amphitheatre of rock and ice, with its regal summits and cascading glaciers. Free afternoon to enjoy the town of Zermatt on your own. The crossing of the glacier is contingent on the weather.
Day 8 Departure
The trip ends in Zermatt. Transfer on your own, by rail, from Zermatt to Geneva International Airport.
Euro 2890 per person (7-10 participants)
Euro 2990 per person (5-6 participants)
Euro 3490 per person (4 participants)
Euro 4090 per person (3 participants)
Euro 4390 per person (2 participants)
Euros 450 | Single supplement.
Prices are quoted in Euros and based on double occupancy. If you wish to have a single room, you need to pay the single supplement.
What Is Included:
English-speaking local guide for the duration of the trip.
Guide’s expenses (hotels and meals) while with the group.
Local UIAGM, licensed glacier guide(s). One guide to every five participants.
Equipment for glacier crossing (crampons, ropes, harnesses).
Five nights in three-star hotels, one night in four-star hotel, one night in mountain lodge.
All breakfasts, four lunches, six dinners.
All tourist taxes.
Water and coffee/tea with your group meals at hotels/restaurants.
Private and public transportation, as per itinerary.
Luggage transfers, except for Day 5.
Gratuities to porters, drivers, and at restaurants.
What Is Not Included:
Airport transfers on Day 1 and Day 8.
Three lunches, one dinner.
Gratuity to guide(s).
Insurance of any kind (cancellation, luggage loss, medical/evacuation, etc.).
Additional expenses due to unexpected changes to the itinerary or added activities.
Personal expenses (sodas/alcoholic beverages, telephone calls, etc.).
Anything else not mentioned in “What’s Included in the Price of the Trip”.
Unused transportation during the tour will not be reimbursed.
TRIP DATES & DETAILS
2016 Dates: Aug 22 – 29
Season: July and August
Trip Length: 8 days
Trip Activity [more details]:
Hiking | Trekking
History | Culture
Scenery | Flora | Fauna
Trip Rating [more details]: strenuous
The Guide [more details]:
UIAGM, licensed glacier guide(s). T.B.A.
The guide(s) will be confirmed about thirty days prior to the beginning of the trip.
ACCOMODATIONS & MEALS
With the exception of Day 5, when we overnight in a traditional Walser structure converted into an exquisite small hotel in the moutains, and on Day 7, when we stay at a nice four-star hotel, our accommodations are in very nice and comfortable three-star mountain hotels. Some of the hotels are chalet-style with an emphasis on wooden architectural details. Rooms are modest in size, due to the need for heat conservation in winter. However, they do not lack all the necessary comforts.
Participants booked on the trip will receive a complete list and detailed descripion of the hotels.
Breakfasts – At the majority of the hotels, they consist of a generous spread of meats, cheeses, fruit, yogurt, juice, cereal, fresh bread, and other baked goods. On some mornings breakfast will be simpler, with some cheese and meats, bread, butter and jam, yogurt and juice. Coffee and tea are served at all hotels.
Lunches – When included, they consist of simple meals at a “rifugio”, mountain hut, where we may have a set menu and a delicious traditional meal.
Dinners – When included, they will be at the hotels and will consist in three- or four-course set meals, reflecting the local cuisine.