Trek with MTS Senior Guides in a glaciated paradise around the Alps' second-highest peak!
Monte Rosa, or “the Pink Mountain,” is the second-highest peak in both Western Europe and the Alps! This MTS alpine adventure draws on the talent of Senior Hiking Guides Laurent Langoisseur, Stéphane Berger, and Beatrice Mugnier--the best of the best! Starting in Saas-Fee, and finishing in Zermatt, at the foot of the Matterhorn, you’ll hike a nearly complete circuit of the massif. We’ll take in views of Monte Rosa and countless iconic peaks, and hike beneath cascading glaciers, through ancient hamlets and wildflower studded alpine meadows. You’ll travel through the Swiss canton of Valais and Italy’s Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta regions, while enjoying the warm alpine hospitality of family run inns and hotels. This is the stuff of fairytales!
8 Days of strenuous hiking on uneven, sometimes steep terrain; and 1/2 day of guided glacier walking.
- Circumnavigate majestic Monte Rosa, Europe’s second-highest peak, with MTS’ senior alpine guides
- This is one of our most challenging treks, rewarding hikers with some of the most spectacular scenery in the Alps
- Along the way relax in charming, family-run hotels, and cap your journey With Zermatt, renowned for its gemutlichtkeit
Duration: 9 days Start Location: Geneva, Switzerland End Location: Geneva, SwitzerlandDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Geneva – Transfer to Saas-Fee
Plan to arrive in Geneva International Airport (GVA). Your guide will meet you outside the customs and immigration area at the airport, then transfer to the resort town of Saas-Fee (6,004'), a charming alpine town surrounded by the magnificent amphitheater of the Dom, Allalinhorn, Alpubel, and their glaciers. In the late afternoon, we’ll gather in the hotel lobby for an orientation briefing followed by dinner together. Tonight, we'll overnight in Saas-Fee.
Day 2 : Saas Fee – Acclimitization Hike
A day in Saas-Fee to acclimatize to the altitude. There are infinite hiking possibilities in the Saas Valley and we will choose our activity based on the weather conditions. Whether we take trams to higher elevations to enjoy views of Passo del Moro (where we hike the next day) or hike on a lower trail around Saas-Fee or in the Saas Valley, the views will be very rewarding. The Saas Valley is rich in alpine flora and fauna, and we may be able to spot deer, chamois, and even ibexes on our way and enjoy views of the Weissmies, another beautiful mountain across the valley from the Dom and Alpubel. If you don’t feel like hiking you can remain in town and relax or explore the Walser culture and architecture on your own.
Day 3 : Saas Fee – Staffa/Macugnaga
We'll have an early start and transfer to Stausee Mattmark where we'll begin our hike along the lake. After about one hour, at the end of the lake, the original “Walser Trail” takes us on an ascent over rocky outcrops to the highest point of the day, Monte Moro Pass (9,500'). Crossing the border into the Piemonte region of Italy, we admire the 16-foot-tall golden statue of “Maria zum Schnee” (Mary of the Snow) and take in the breathtaking view of the majestic east wall of Monte Rosa, a sheer 6,000-foot rock wall at the head of Valle Anzasca. We'll continue for a short while to the Rifugio Oberto-Maroli, where we'll enjoy a light lunch before we take the tram down into Staffa/Macugnaga. We’ll have time to meander through this characteristic town, and visit the Walser Museum, a wealth of information about the fascinating Walser people, their culture and traditions. Our hike up to the pass today will take about 4½ hours with a maximum elevation gain of 2,294'.
Day 4 : Staffa/Macugnaga – Alagna Valsesia
Today we have another early start (7:30 a.m.) and catch a ride to our trailhead in Borca (3,980'). The trail starts with a 20- to 30-minute uphill mule path to the entrance of Valle Quarazza. We continue for about 1½ hours on a level path past “Lago delle Fate” (Fairies Lake) and among marvelous woods, brooks, and waterfalls (“La Pissa”) and merge onto the trail that will take us gently up to La Piana (5,371'). At this point we start our 3½-hour uphill to Passo del Turlo (8,981') on a well-maintained military mule path. Along the way we will be on the lookout for ibexes, chamois, and marmots. If the weather permits, we will enjoy a picnic lunch at the pass before we start our 3-hour descent into Alagna Valsesia (3,903'). Along the way we will notice pastures with German names, testimony to the Walser settlements, and enjoy views of the spectacular summits of Corno Nero (14,392'), Punta Parrot (14,772'), and Punta Gnifetti (15,165'). On Punta Gnifetti we will be able to spot Capanna Margherita, the highest mountain hut in Europe. Alagna Valsesia is the starting point for the many climbers who attempt the summits of the Monte Rosa massif. Our hike today will take about 8½ – 9 hours with a maximum elevation gain of 5,001', and an elevation loss of 5,078'.
Day 5 : Alagna Valsesia – Gressoney-La-Trinité
A comfortable gondola ride takes us to Alpe di Pianalunga (6,743'). We then start hiking on an uphill trail through fields of wildflowers. We skirt Sasso del Diavolo (the “devil’s stone”) where our trail becomes steeper and rockier and eventually leads us to the Colle d’Olen (9,594'), the highest pass of the tour. Sometimes groups of ibexes can be spotted grazing right below the pass. We will stop for a light lunch at either Rifugio Guglielmina or Rifugio Vigevano, the two mountain huts located on the Colle. After lunch we follow the dirt road/ski run down into Alpe Gabiet (7,682') next to the lake carrying the same name, where we take a gentle trail to Pizzo Jolanda (7,459'), and down into Gressoney-La-Trinité (5,327'), where, if time permits, we encourage you to visit the Walser Cultural Center. Today we'll leave the region of Piemonte and entered Valle D’Aosta, another Italian region extremely rich in culture, history, and cuisine. Our hike today will take about 6 hours, with an elevation gain of 2,851' and an elevation loss of 4,265'.
Day 6 : Gressoney-La-Trinité – Champoluc
We'll start hiking on a steep uphill mule path that takes us from the Gressoney Valley to the Walser Hamlet of Alpenzu Grande. After a short break, we'll continue on a trail steadily climbing uphill through green pastures, wildflowers and farmhouses to Alpe Loage Superiore. From this point, the trail becomes steeper and our last efforts over scree take us to Colle del Pinter (9,247'), our highest point for the day. We enjoy our picnic lunch as we take in the glorious views of Mont Blanc, the Grand Combin, and the Dent d’Hèren. More spectacular mountainous landscapes open up as we descend into the Walser hamlet of Cuneaz. 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, come into full view. And down into Champoluc in Val d’Ayas, the Canton des Allemands (Canton of the Germans). This is the best example of a place where the Walser have harmoniously blended with the pre-existing local culture. We'll overnight in the quaint town of Champoluc. Our hiking time today is about 8 hours, with 4,585' of elevation gain, and 3680' of elevation loss.
Day 7 : Champoluc – Valtournenche
A short transfer takes us to Alpe di Nana Alta (7,306'). We then hike along a dirt road for about one hour to the Rifugio Grand Tournalin, where we continue on an alpine trail and start our ascent to Col de Nana (9,241'), our highest pass for the day. On our way up and at the Col we may have a chance to observe groups of chamois or ibexes. We descend slightly from the pass and skirt the mountains to Colle di Croux where we begin our descent toward Valtournenche. Our trail takes us through idyllic alpine settings and offers us an open view on the Italian side of the Matterhorn (Cervino for the Italians) and the series of peaks to its side. We pass summer pastures and the hamlet of Cheneil, where we can stop for a refreshing drink before we embark on the final steep descent through the woods into Valtournenche (4,998'), one of the most popular winter and summer resorts in the Val d’Aosta region. Overnight in Valtournenche. Hiking time is about 6½ hours, elevation gain 1,935', elevation loss 4,243'.
Day 8 : Valtournenche – Zermatt
A short transfer (15 minutes) brings us to Breuil-Cervinia, a popular winter and summer ski resort on the Italian side of the Matterhorn. A 45-minute gondola and tram ride takes us to Plateau Rosa (11,588'), a spectacular panoramic point in the midst of the glaciated peaks of the Monte Rosa massif. Here we meet the local licensed glacier guide who will take us on our final journey down the Theodul Glacier to Trockner Stegg. Italian and Swiss laws require that commercial groups hire a local, certified mountaineering guide for any glacier crossings. As we descend toward Zermatt, we will be able to admire the grand finale of our Tour of Monte Rosa. The giant massif, with its regal summits and cascading glaciers, graces us with one last spectacular view before we bid it farewell. Once we arrive at Trockener Steg (9,787'), we will part from the glacier guide and descend on trails to Füri (6,207’) where we catch a tram into Zermatt. The rest of the day is yours to relax and explore Zermatt. Overnight in Zermatt. Total time on the Theodul Glacier descent is about 1½ hours. From Trockner Stegg to Füri, our hike will take about 1½ hours, with an elevation loss of 5,381'.
Day 9 : Departure
We'll transfer to the Geneva International Airport where we say our goodbyes to each other and continue homeward. Please do not schedule your flight any earlier than 1:00 p.m. on this day.
DATES: Best time to go: July - August Departures: Jul 26, 2015 - Aug 3, 2015 Aug 23 - 31, 2015
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Laurent Langoisseur hails from Normandy, France, having grown up in Argentan (a small village that became famous in August 1944, “tournai sur dives”). At the age of 12, Laurent read La Grande Crevasse by Roger Frison-Roche, and became fascinated by the guiding and climbing descriptions of the Chamonix-Mont Blanc area. At 16, Laurent visited the area and was hooked. At 19, Laurent joined the French alpine troops, and after a year of service, moved to Chamonix. In 1991, he obtained his European Mountain Leader certification, and in 1995 he was awarded the coveted patch of the Compagnie des Guides. An avid sports enthusiast and inexhaustible hiker, Laurent has hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc close to 100 times. He is also an accomplished mountaineer, having summited Mont Blanc three times, as well as several other mountains over 13,000-feet. When he is not hiking and climbing, Laurent can be found running long distances for fun. Laurent recently completed a 48-mile race in 6 hours; and has also finished 48 miles in 9 hours with 10,000’ of ascent/descent. Laurent has been guiding for MTS since 1995, and is a senior guide on our Tour du Mont Blanc, Mont Blanc Express, Mont Blanc to Matterhorn (Haute Route), GR5, Gran Paradiso, and French Riviera trips, as well as any other trip we can get him on! His knowledge of the culture, history, plants, birds, and the name of every single peak and glacier along the trail is a wonderful complement to his guiding skills. When he isn’t guiding for us, he teaches First Aid and Mountain Rescue to mountain and hiking guides; and during the winter, he’s a ski patrol monitor in the mountains above Chamonix.
Stéphane is a true man of the mountains, with a Savoyard father and Swiss mother. He grew up in Chamonix, then left the valley to follow his first love, architecture. But the call of the wild proved too strong: numerous travels in North Africa, Siberia, and the Himalaya opened a new door to him—the profession of hiking guide. Nowadays Stéphane lives in a chalet in Chamonix from where he escapes frequently to travel the mountain areas of the world. “Steph” has now been a member of the Compagnie des Guides for many years, with over 100 trips to the Alps under his belt.
Beatrice is a native of Chamonix, France, and has been guiding professionally in the Alps since 1989. She comes from a family of mountain climbers. Her grandfather was also a professional mountain guide. Aside from being an expert hiking guide, Beatrice is also an avid climber and accomplished skier, and is a ski instructor during the winter months. She loves the mountains, and will share her enthusiasm and her great experience with you during your trip.