Climb Monte Rosa – 4634m
The Monte Rosa lies on the border between Switzerland and Italy and is a thoroughly beautiful mountain range that should be on every mountaineers bucket list. Nestled within the Monte Rosa massif are 17 recognised peaks with 12 that are over 4000m and the highest being the Dufourspitze (4634m).
This course is aimed at climbing the Dufourspitze. Over the course of 6 days you will climb some other peaks such as the Breithorn, Riffelhorn and Castor to help with acclimatising and training for the Dufourspitze.
Learn new alpine skills or refresh old techniques and climb some epic peaks in a stunningly beautiful location. What’s not to like?
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- 3 nights mountain huts at half-board (Breakfast and 3 course evening meal)
- 4 nights hotel accommodation on bed and breakfast basis
- IFMGA mountain guide on 1:2 ratio
- All of your guide’s expenses
- All guiding fees
What's not Included
- Transport to/from Zermatt
- Equipment rental
- Travel insurance
- Lunch and drinks when in the mountain huts
- Evening meals when in Zermatt
- Uplifts according to itinerary
Who is this for?
Anyone with a good level of endurance fitness and a sense of adventure. Previous mountaineering experience is essential and you need to have previous experience with crampons, ice axe and glacier travel. This is a great progression course following our Alpine Skills or Mont Blanc courses.
Dufourspitze is the second highest peak in Western Europe and therefore the altitude makes it hard work. It is only 176 metres lower than Mont Blanc. Determination is needed to keep going to the top. We acclimatise and train properly during the first 3 days of this course to enable you with a good chance of reaching the summit and not suffering from altitude sickness.
Accommodation and huts
This course is based out of Zermatt, Switzerland. We stay in a lovely family run hotel close to all the amenities that Zermatt town has to offer.
What to expect from mountain huts
They are basic but comfortable. They can cater for vegetarians but please let us know in advance if you have any dietary requirements. Food is served on a set menu basis (3 course in the evening, hot drink and bread/jam/cereal for breakfast). There is sometimes no running water in the huts so you have to buy water to drink and wash with (no showers). You can buy tea, coffee, wine, beer, soft drinks, chocolate bars and snacks as well as warm lunches in the huts.
Sleeping arrangements are normally dormitory style bunkbeds with blankets or duvets always provided. No sleeping bags are needed but we do recommend bringing a thin sleeping liner. The huts provide slippers for wearing around the hut.
You can always expect a good atmosphere and a stunning view.
We meet in the evening to go through the plan for the week as well as the current weather and mountain conditions. You will meet your guides and you can ask any questions and go through your kit.
Please note: This itinerary is a guide only.
After breakfast we set off for our first training and acclimatisation day. We take the Gornegrat railway from Zermatt and head towards the Riffelhorn. We climb the east ridge whilst practicing rope skills, climbing and scrambling techniques. This is a great preparation for some of the technical sections on the Dufourspitze later in the week. We return to our hotel in Zermatt for the night.
Today we make our way to the Breithorn (4164m) our first 4000m peak of the week. This is great for further acclimatisation and we continue to progress our mountaineering skills. After reaching the summit we descend to the Ayas Hut and spend our first night in the mountains at an altitude of 3400m.
Waking up early we set off from the Ayas Hut and aim to climb Castor (4228m) and if we have time we will also climb Pollux (4092m) before descending down to Zermatt for a welcome night back in the hotel and a nice warm shower.
Time to set off for the big one; the main objective of this course. The Dufourspitze (4634m). We leave our hotel and set off to the Monte Rosa Hut by taking Gornergrat railway and then hiking for approximately 4 hours. We settle in to the hut and try and get a good night sleep at an altitude of 2795m.
We set off very early from the Monte Rosa Hut and aim to climb the Dufourspitze before returning back to the same hut for the night. It is a long and demanding summit day that will take us up to 10 hours in total from leaving the hut to returning for the night. We spend this night in the hut and reflect on the achievements of the day over a delicious meal.
After a more leisurely breakfast than yesterday, we make our way back down to the Gornergrat railway and descend to our hotel in Zermatt. A well deserved afternoon rest before a final meal and celebration together in the evening. Overnight in the hotel.
Depart. Check out is at 10:00, and after one last breakfast at the hotel we sadly bid farewell.
Please note: This itinerary is based on good weather and mountain conditions as well as hut availability.
To maximise your chance of success on this trip it is important to get as fit as you possibly can. So we have partnered with Uphill Athlete, specialists in strength and conditioning for peak mountain performance to offer you a variety of different training plans via their website.
Mountaineering is all about being able to exercise at a moderate intensity for many hours (typically 5 to 12 hours) and your training should reflect this. Balance is important too as you will spend many hours walking in crampons. For this a good chore strength is important.
Remember to build up your workouts over time. If you are not used to exercising much, your muscles and joints need time to build up to avoid injury.
We highly recommend this 8 week training plan to get you in shape for the trip. Even though the plan is for Mont Blanc it can easily be applied to this course.
The Effects of Altitude
As you climb higher the air gets thinner and so there is less oxygen in each breath you take. This makes exercising much more strenuous than at sea level and so you have to slow down to help compensate. Because you have slowed down, you may also feel colder.
Because there is less oxygen in the air as you get higher, this can lead to ‘altitude sickness’ or Acute Mountain Sickness which will feel like the worst hangover you have ever had (headache, nausea, weakness, fatigue, dizziness) and can develop into a very serious and even fatal (in extreme cases) problem.
To avoid these problems and enjoy the climbing and increase our chances of reaching the summit, we need to acclimatise by spending several days and nights at progressively higher altitudes, so our bodies can adapt. This is a very important part of our preparation and is factored in to our itinerary.
Pre-Book with Adventure Base:
Black Diamond Saber-tooth crampon rental 6 days €45.00
Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe rental 6 days €35.00
Black Diamond climbing harness rental 6 days €30.00
Black Diamond Half Dome helmet rental 6 days €25.00
Select which extras you would like to pre-book at check-out. Please note we have limited stock so pre-booking is advised.
1. Ice axe – for general mountaineering (between 50 and 70cm depending on your height)
2. Standard steel mountaineering Crampons
3. Helmet – standard hard plastic climbing helmet.
4. Trekking Poles – Foldable
5. Mountaineering B2 or B3 Boots and Gaiters
6. Rucksack – Mountaineering specific 30-40L
7. Water bottles up to 2L
8. Harness (adjustable so that it is comfortable over all your layers), with 2 screw gate carabiners.
9. Sun protection including: sunglasses (category 4), goggles, sun hat, Factor 30-50 High Mountain sunscreen, lip salve/block.
10. 3 sets of socks and thermal tops.
11. Lightweight (GORE-TEX® or similar) hardshell hooded top and bottoms
12. Warm hat and 2 pairs of gloves. One pair should be warm, thick mountaineering gloves. The second pair should be a thinner pair suitable for mid mountain conditions.
13. Insulating layers. We suggest a thin lightweight fleece and a synthetic or down jacket.
14. Mountaineering trousers
15. Personal first aid – blister kit, aspirin, or Paracetamol.
16. Head torch and spare batteries.
18. Sleeping bag silk liner (you don’t need a sleeping bag itself as blankets/duvets are provided in the huts)
19. Cash for extra drinks / snacks in huts as well as any costs not included in the course price
21. Shorts, hiking shoes or trainers Nice to have to wear around town and on approaches to climbing days.
Please note this is a guide and you may be required to rent or purchase last minute equipment on arrival dependent on the weather and changes in itinerary.
A word on the weather:
The climbing season runs from mid June to September and between those dates there is no better or worse time to attempt the course. The beginning and end of the season can be snowy/ cold, and the middle months can be busier and the hotter temperatures can cause afternoon storms.
Summit success varies from season to season but remains consistent throughout the different months. If the weather shuts us down, we will endeavour to find the closest mountain in the area with better weather, and thanks to our location we are generally able to find an equally beautiful alternative within driving distance in France, Italy or Switzerland.
To find out more about our course, availability, or to ask any questions, please get in touch through the website or by phone on +44 (0)845 527 58 12.
A 20% deposit is required to secure your place on this course, with the balance to be paid latest 10 weeks before the course start date. This can be paid in instalments or in one lump sum.
We strongly recommend getting specialist travel insurance that covers cancellation, medical and mountain rescue.
Please note your insurance must cover you in both Switzerland and Italy.
Getting to Zermatt
British Airways, Swiss Air and Easyjet offer many flights to Geneva and Zurich from all over the UK and the rest of Europe.
Getting to Zermatt is easy by rail and bus as well as by car. There is a direct rail service from Geneva airport to Visp (the nearest mainline railway station), and buses from Visp to Zermatt run every 50 minutes. From Zurich, you can take the train to Brig, then a connecting bus to Zermatt. See www.sbb.ch for train and bus timetables and booking.
In short, no. Whilst we will always strive to get you to the summit safely, sometimes the weather or the conditions of the mountain don’t play ball. When there is precipitation, high winds and low visibility for example, we cannot guarantee reaching the summit and will sometimes recommend an alternative. Each Monte Rosa course has a lead guide. The lead guide will always conduct a meeting with the clients and other guides each evening. During this meeting the latest weather forecast, conditions of the mountain, and the clients own ability to reach the summit will be discussed. Clients and guides alike will voice their opinions and/or concerns at the time and then decide how best to proceed. We fully trust and back our guides to make these final decisions based on their years of experience on the mountain. They are entrusted to make the final call and the client must accept any decision made. All decisions will have client safety as a top priority.
What type of boots do I need for Monte Rosa?
You will need a B2 or B3 mountaineering boot for Monte Rosa. All mountaineering boots are graded in a B1, B2, B3 system. B3 boots are the most rigid, and therefore most suitable for walking on snow with crampons, and B2 boots are a little more comfortable but less rigid and also less warm.
Are ski/snowboard trousers suitable?
Typical ski/snowboard trousers aren’t suitable for the conditions of high altitude mountaineering. You’ll need a pair of mountaineering trousers (soft shell) as well as a waterproof hard shell pair that are lightweight and not insulated. Conditions can be harsh especially on the summit days so it’s important to have these two layers. We also recommend to bring lightweight thermal leggings. Read through our kit list for a full description of what you’ll need to bring.
Can I store my belongings with Adventure Base when I’m in the huts?
Yes you can store your luggage in the hotel in Zermatt whilst you are in the mountains. They have lockers and will look after your luggage whilst you are away.
Is there wifi in the mountain huts?
No. All mountain huts are fairly basic and do not have access to WIFI. Some huts will have phone signal and some will even have 3g signal but we cannot guarantee this will work at all times.
What are the mountain huts like?
The mountain huts we use for our Monte Rosa course are fairly basic but comfortable. You will sleep in dormitories on a shared basis, usually 6-8 per room. The huts provide breakfast, lunch and a 3 course dinner.
What kind of fitness level do I need?
You need to be able to hike comfortably with a heavy pack for up to 10 hours at a moderate pace. Mountaineering is all about having good cardiovascular endurance to be able to continue being active for long periods. As well as this you will need to have a good head for heights and good overall body balance and awareness.
What size backpack should I bring?
Your backpack should be no bigger than 50l and no smaller than 30l. It is important that your backpack has an ice axe strap to stash your ice axe when you are not using it. Your backpack must also have a rain-proof cover. Think light-weight, remember you have to carry it!
What are the guides like?
All of our guides are highly experienced and friendly people. They have all been hand picked by us over the many years we’ve been in the guiding industry. Our guides are of various nationalities but all speak a high level of English and are very attentive. Their primary role is to get you to the summit and back safely, but they also provide a high level of customer service along the way and are very interesting people to spend time with. They like to share their knowledge of the mountains and their experiences, so don’t hesitate to ask questions and pick their brains. Lastly, they know the routes on this course like the back of their hands and this is the most important thing when it comes down to making key decisions in the mountains and providing the safest experience for our clients.
What will we do if the weather is bad?
This depends on a few factors and how bad the weather actually is. Should Monte Rosa be unsafe, we will study the conditions on other peaks in the Alps. Should conditions be a lot better elsewhere, we will propose this to you as an option.
Strong winds of 50km+ – this means reaching the summit is very unlikely. High winds on the final ridge to the summit is dangerous and therefore summit success is very unlikely. In the case of high winds we will look for suitable alternatives in the mid-mountain range or elsewhere in the Alps.
Precipitation – When it snows on Monte Rosa it usually means a summit attempt will be difficult. Route finding in a snow storm is generally unsafe. An attempt will depend on the thickness of the snowfall and it will also greatly depend on the wind.
Whiteout – A cloudy whiteout will make a summit attempt difficult. Route finding in a whiteout is generally unsafe and therefore we will encourage you to consider an alternative. It depends on the thickness of the cloud and we will most likely attempt a summit but turn back if necessary.
How many clients per guide?
The client : guide ratio for this course is 1:2.
Why choose Adventure Base?
3 reasons to choose Adventure Base for all your mountain adventures.
1. Safety means success – We have been guiding clients on Monte Rosa for over 9 years with a very high safety and success rate. To date we have had no major incidents or injuries. This is due to us taking great care in training our clients and then monitoring the weather and mountain conditions closely.
2. Fun times – We believe in fun times. Climbing mountains is a serious challenge. But who says it can’t be fun too? Our guides are full of energy, fun facts and big smiles. They help create lasting memories.
3. Word of Mouth – Over 40% of new clients have been recommended to us by a friend or colleague. We don’t spend big on marketing campaigns, we stay true to our product, we pay attention to every detail and then let you do the talking.