The Monte Rosa massif is the second highest mountain massif in the Alps after the Mont Blanc. When Monte Rosa is mentioned, more often than not people are referring to the Dufourspitze, the highest of 10 4,000-meter peaks, such as Signalkuppe, Nordend and Zumsteinspitze. Being located on the Swiss and Italian border, as you explore the surroundings of Monte Rosa, you get to experience the Italian as well as the Swiss alpine life.
With an altitude of 4,634 meters, Dufourspitze is the second highest peak in the Alps and the highest mountain in Switzerland. Still, the mountain is often referred to as the Monte Rosa, the name of the massif. It is located in the Pennine Alps on the border between the Valais region (Switzerland) and the Aosta Valley (Italy). It was first climbed in 1855 by a party of eight climbers, led by three guides.
Every summer season, a large number of mountaineers set out from the
Monte Rosa Hut on the Swiss side to traverse the range to its many summits and the Margherita Hut on the Signalkuppe, the highest mountain cabin in the Alps. Hikers and tourists limit themselves to the Gornergrat, a ridge on the northwest side of the mountain massif. This offers epic views over Alpine giants such as the Monte Rosa, Breithorn and the Matterhorn.
One of the most recognizable features of the Monte Rosa is the Macugnaga wall, located at the eastern side of the mountain. It’s the tallest wall in the Alps and has Himalayan properties as it reaches nearly 2,500 meters in altitude straight up.
Accommodations near the Monte Rosa
The Monte Rosa massif is one of the largest in the Alps. This means that several villages are located at the base surrounding it. Zermatt is without doubt the most famous Swiss base for climbing and hiking around the massif, while Macugnaga, Alagna, Gressoney-La-Trinité and Staffal are bases on the Italian side. If you are looking for fine hotel, these are worth checking out:
Hotel Monterosa is located in the picturesque ski resort of Alagna Valsesia in Northern Italy. Alagna is renowned for its fantastic skiing but also for its wonderful trekking and rafting and canyoning in the Sesia river.
Hotel Lo Scoiattolo is ready to welcome its guests in a comfortable, familiar and cared for in every single detail . The scent of wood, the flavors of traditional local cuisine , the Wellness Center and all the services offered make the stay unforgettable.
Hotel Helvetia, the cheap and centrally located two-star hotel in Zermatt! At Helvetia, cleanliness and friendliness are very important. The excellent location within walking distance of the train station and mountain railway station right in the heart of Zermatt and our staff guarantee an unforgettable stay.
Zermatt is located on the Swiss side of the Monte Rosa massif and is the starting point for mountaineers to climb the mountain via the normal route. It is a well-known wintersport destination and a highyly-visited town in the summer by day tourists. The center of the village is traffic-free except for the electric taxis that gives the place a special atmosphere. Enjoying a delicious raclette or cheese fondue is one of the best things to do after a hike in the region. There are both campsites and hotels available in the village.
Macugnaga is a small village in the Valle Anzasca, Italy famous for the name given to the Macugnaga wall, the east face of the Monte Rosa with Himalayan proportions since it is about 2,500 meters tall. There is a camping/sporting center where you can park your mobilhome and several hotels.
Alagna is the smallest village around the Monte Rosa, but it has a big reputation when it comes to wintersports as there are several pistes to ski in winter. Thus, there are accommodations to be found in the area. Also, Gressoney-La-Trinité is nearby.
Gressoney-La-Trinité is the highest village in the Val de Gressoney, which is part of the Aosta valley. You may find some Swiss influence here as the village was founded by people from Wallis, Switzerland. Some characteristics can be seem is the Walser houses.
Monte Rosa Hut
The modern-looking Monte Rosa hut is probably the most famous mountain cabin in the massif. It is the base for mountaineers setting out to climb Dufourspitze, the highest peak of the Monte Rosa massif, via the normal route. The cabin is constructed in an innovative way since it integrates solar panels and thermal solar collectors which make it 90% self-sufficient. This sustainable mountain hut is often visited by hikers and tourists looking to experience a night in this environment. However, to reach the cabin, a guide is advisory since you will be crossing glaciated terrain.
The Margherita Hut is the highest mountain hut in the Alps; and to reach it, you have to have mountaineering skills. The cabin is located on top of the Signalkuppe / Punta Gnifetti at an altitude of 4,554 meters. It is owned by the central committee of the Italian Alpine Club and stands entirely on Italian ground. Margherita Hut can only be reached on foot and is often done in a two-day climb.
The Zamboni-Zappa mountain hut is a wooden refuge located in the Pedriola valley. It offers a 180 degree panoramic view of the east face of the Monte Rosa. Located at an altitude of 2,070 meter, it is easily accessible, making it very popular among hikers who wish to see the Macugnaga wall up close.
Pastore Mountain Hut
Pastore Hut is one of the mountain huts that has been restored in the heart of the Alta Valsesia Natural park. It is located at an altitude of 1,575m, offering views of the spectaculair southern wall of the Monte Rosa. It can accommodate up to 65 people and even has a few tent sites. It takes about 45 minutes from Alagna to reach the hut.
The Gnifetti Hut can be found on the Italian side of the Monte Rosa at an elevation of 3,647m. It is a popular accommodation for climbers starting in Staffal who are attempting to climb several peaks in the Monte Rosa massif, including the Dufourspitze via the Italian route. However, since there are no glaciers to be crossed, the rifugio can be reached by hikers as long as they have steady feet. The walk-up may involve some scrambling; however, no ice axe or crampons are needed during the summer.
The Mantova Hut is an alternative starting point for most important climbs of Monte Rosa from the Italian side. It is located at an altitude of 3,498m on the Garselet glacier. It is owned by the Alpine Guides of Gressoney and has recently been renovated. Nowadays it has a spacious dining room with great views of the glacier.
Hiking around the Monte Rosa
The Monte Rosa is one of the most famous and beautiful mountain massifs in the Alps. Located on the Swiss-Italian border, hiking around it offers different experiences.
Tour de Monte Rosa
The Tour de Monte Rosa is a 10-day trek around the Monte Rosa massif. Along the way, you will pass villages like Zermatt, Gressoney-La-Trinité and Staffal. This circular tour is harder than the Tour de Mont Blanc as it crosses high passes like the Theodulpass and glaciated terrain at some points. It is often started in Zermatt and proceeds via the Europaweg. The hike offers views from the Swiss and Italian sides, which gives different perspectives of these high peaks.
Hike to the Zamboni-Zappa hut
The Zamboni-Zappa hut offers panoramic views of the Macugnaga wall, making it a popular destination for hikers. The hike itself is quite straightforward and can be done starting from the village Macugnaga. From the village, two cable cars can be taken to Alpe Burki (1500m) and Belvedere (1914m). From here a short 45-minute walk leads you to the mountain hut.
The Spaghetti tour is the name of an intense 5-day crossing over the Monte Rosa massif. The tour starts in Cervinia and ends in the Gressoney Valley. Along the way, you will be staying in mountain huts such as the Margherita Hut and climb several 4,000-meter peaks. It is strongly advised to hire a guide as you will be crossing glaciated terrain. However, the Spaghetti tour is not very technical and only requires basic ice axe and crampon techniques. With ten peaks over 4,000 meters, the Monte Rosa offers several great ascents all within easy reach. You will be able to cross Pollux, Castor and Zumsteinspitze off your list. The more technical Dufourspitze, however, is avoided during the Spaghetti Tour. This mountaineering route is within the abilities of strong hikers.
Hiking with kids
The option of taking a cable car makes the region in the Aosta valley a perfect choice for families with children. If you’re looking the reward of great views after a short hike, the hike to the Zamboni-Zappa hut is an interesting option. Two cable cars starting from Macugnaga take you up to nearly 2000m. A short hike from this point, leads you to a great lookout point on the Macugnaga wall.
Things to do in the Monte Rosa Region
Besides hiking in the area of the Monte Rosa, there are a lot of cultural things to do as well. The Monte Rosa has a total of 27 ski-lifts, a great way to reach viewpoints in the summer period. Most of them are found in the Alagna and Gressoney-La Trinité area.
The Swiss side of the Monte Rosa has Zermatt as the best base for exploring. This Swiss village has several day tourists all year long looking to catch a glimpse of the Matterhorn. Even though the Monte Rosa cannot be seen from down in the Mattertal, it is a great starting point for hiking in this region.
On the Italian side you get views of the Monte Rosa from down the valley. The Aosta Valley is a popular destination for travelers hoping to see some of the most majestic peaks in the Alps, including the Monte Rosa, Breithorn and the Matterhorn.