Monte Rosa is the second highest peak in the Alps at 15,292 feet. No other traverse in the Alps will let you summit as many 4,000 meter peaks in such a short time -Breithorn, Pollux, Castor, Lyskamm, Balmenhorn, Signalkuppe, Zumsteinspitze, Dufourspitze. This spectacular week is not extremely technical, but strenuous and very exposed in parts. The general character of the traverse can be considered a mixture of the snowy Mont Blanc standard route and the seemingly endless fourth class terrain of the Matterhorn. We will be traveling on big glaciers, snow and rock ridges at altitudes between 12,000 and 15,500 feet, crossing the Swiss/Italian border a half dozen times. We'll sleep in the highest mountain hut in the Alps - Cabana Margarita, at 15,000 feet. We'll then traverse the spectacular summit ridges of the Dufourspitze before we return back down to Zermatt.
Overall difficulty: very difficult
Prior mountaineering experience required; One should have glacier travel experience, solid cramponing and rock climbing skills up to 5.6 YDS. Continuous movement in exposed terrain should not be a problem. Elementary rope handling skills such as tying in, rappelling and belaying are required.
Excellent physical fitness; you should be able to hike or climb for more than six hours with a pack varying from 20 to 40 pounds and ascend 4,000 to 5,000 feet of vertical gain per day for up to a week.
Day 1: We will start in Zermatt and conduct an equipment check prior to our ride on the gondola up to the Klein Matterhorn. From here we will climb the easy summit of the Breithorn (13,740 feet) and descend down to the Rifugio Guide Ayas (Italy, 11,220 feet).
Day 2: An early start gets us to the Schwarztor and then up the simple but steep West Flank of Castor (13,952 feet). The descent into the Felikjoch lets us see the massive ridge of the Liskamm for the first time. We descend down the Quintino Sella Hut (Italy, 11,830 feet).
Day 3: This is one of the biggest days of the trip. From the hut we climb back up to the Felikjoch and continue on the West Summit of the Liskamm (14,576 feet). From here we continue along the exposed “maneater ridge” to the Main Summit (14,939 feet). At this point we will have spent several hours at over 14,000 feet before we tackle the descent to the Gnifetti hut (Italy, 11,916 feet).
Day 4: With more peaks to bag, we climb up to the Lisjoch and on to the Parrotspitze (14,625 feet). We will have to make a quick descent to about 14,200 feet before we can tackle the endless cirque up to the spectacular Cabana Margarita (Italy, highest hut in the Alps, 15,028 feet).
Day 5: After a good night of sleep up high we head out to traverse the great Dufour Summit Ridge of the Monte Rosa (15,291 feet). The actual climbing on the ridge takes only a few hours, but is extremely spectacular and quite exposed. A simple descent down the Monte Rosa glacier brings us to the Monte Rosa hut (Switzerland, 9,223 feet).
Day 6: An early departure from the hut across the Gornergletscher will bring us to Zermatt by late morning.
Although tipping is not a requirement, it is considered standard practice in the guiding industry and is appreciated by our guides. We generally recommend roughly 10%-15% of your course or trip cost or a flat amount that you are comfortable with.