Switzerland, Europe

Monterosa Climber

Straddling the Swiss and Italian borders the Monte Rosa massif has the highest concentration of 4000 m peaks in the Alps. The highest summit: The Dufourspitz (4634m) is the second highest in the Alps and the highest mountain in Switzerland. This is a long climb with an exciting mixed ridge to finish, a little harder technically than Mont Blanc and far less crowded. The summit of Monte Rosa is an achievable for fit and adventurous hill-walkers looking for a new challenge. We have over 20 years of experience guiding in this area and our itinerary provides the essential preparation and acclimatisation to succeed on this classic trip in magnifient surroundings. All of our monte Rosa trips are expertly lead by our own team of IFMGA Mountain Guides.

We start and finish in the splendid town of Zermatt, the area has rich associations with the history of climbing and has excellent road and lift access. During the week we climb a total of four 4000m peaks, beginning on the Italian side with Pollux 4092m, Breithorn 4164m (traverse) and Castor 4223m. Once fully acclimatised we cross to the Swiss side for our three day ascent of the Doufourspitz 4634m.

The ascent of the Doufourspitz is a long and strenuous climb approached via the Monte Rosa hut and the West Ridge. The summit day is a 6 -hour climb up a steeply rising glacier followed by 40 degree snow ice slopes and cumulating in a splendid rock ridge which looks down on both Italy and Switzerland. The elevation gain on the day is 1,850m. We run this course at a 1:2 guiding ratio, and as always maintain flexibility in the program to maximise the 6 guided days.

How difficult is Monte Rosa?

To climb Monte Rosa requires a high level of fitness together with surefootedness and plenty of determination. The technical climbing standard is graded PD with a short section of AD at the summit of the Dufourspitz. Previous Alpine experience is desirable but not mandatory and during the week you’ll receive training in all the essential climbing skills so you are fully equipped and acclimatised for the ascent. For more information please click on our Monte Rosa preparation page.

What is the standard of accommodation in the huts?

The huts are run by full time staff who look after us on a half-board basis, the cooking is good and plentiful homemade food. Water, beer, wine and a picnic lunch is available at extra cost. The sleeping quarters are communal.

Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrival
    Travel to Zermatt. The course will start with a welcome meeting, briefing and kit check at 7pm. Stay overnight in our comfortable partner hotel
  • Day 2 : Ascent of Pollux (4092m)
    Located precicely on the border of Switzerland and Italy, Pollux is an attractive and popular 4000m peak. We will start by taking the cable car to the Klein Matterhorn and make a long glaciated traverse of the the Verra glacier to climb the peak via its south-west ridge. Pollux is a fun climb, first on rock, then finishing with a fine snow arête. After reaching the summit and returning back to the glacier we continue to the Guide d'Ayas Hut for the night (3420m). Total walking and climbing time is about 4-6 hours
  • Day 3 : Ascent of Castor (4223m)

    Castor is the close neighbor to Pollux forming "the twins" and is an excellent high peak to hone one's alpine skills and to further improve fitness and acclimatisation. We climb Castor via its glaciated west side, the summit section being a narrow and airy snow ridge where great care is needed. After the ascent we return for a second night in the Guide d'Ayas Hut. Total walking time about 7-8 hours

  • Day 4 : Traverse of the Breithorn (4164m)

    This is a marvellous airy traverse on sound rock, and a classic of the region. After a relatively long approach from the refuge, steeper snow takes us to the col at 4022 meters and the start of the rock ridge. From here, exposed climbing takes us over three towers to the summit. The route finishes with an easier passage on snow to the east summit and a further traverse to the slightly higher west summit. From here we descend and return to Zermatt via the Klein Matterhorn lift. Overnight back in our Hotel. Total walking and climbing time about 6 hours

  • Day 5 : Approach to the Monte Rosa Hut
    An easier but spectacular day. After a later breakfast we take the Gornergrat mountain railway to Riffelberg and 3-hour walk to the Monte Rosa hut crossing the huge and heavily crevassed Grenz glacier. Total walking time is about 3 hours
  • Day 6 : Dufourspitz summit day

    After an early alpine start (about 2am) from the hut we begin the 5-7 hour ascent to the summit of the Dufourspitz. Intially we climb gently ascending glacial slopes, before the route steepens and cumulates in a fine and exposed rocks ridge. The reward is a spectacular panoramic view of the Italian and Swiss Alps and Mont Blanc in the distance. Return to the Monte Rosa hut for a 2nd night. The total walking and climbing time is 7-10 hours.

  • Day 7 : Return to Zermatt
    From the hut we descend onto the Grenz Glacier before ascending back up to the mountain railway at Riffelberg. We board the train to Zermatt for our final night and celebration.

  • Depart after breakfast.

On request it is possible to extend the trip for the 2-day ascent of the Matterhorn. This will cost £1250 per person for 2 nights accommodation (1 mountain hut, and 1 hotel night) and 2 days' guide fees. Please contact us for further details.

All prices for 2020 are Early Bird prices. Book early to keep the low price for your trip!

The price includes all guiding fees and expenses, B&B hotel accommodation (twin room); half-board accommodation in mountain huts based on a 1:2 guide to client ratio.

The price does not include travel to/from Zermatt, lunches, drinks, local transfers and uplift costs.

Single room occupancy in Zermatt may incur an additional charge. Please contact us for details.


We proudly offer our returning customers and the Ski Club of Great Britain members a discount.

The promotion is valid for qualifying bookings made before the end of October 2024 using the discount codes provided at the checkout.



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This list contains our recommended clothing and equipment for our Monterosa climbing week.

In the summer months, the days generally start very cold and warm up during the morning to become hot in the afternoon. It is therefore essential that you have 2-3 thin layers that you are able to put on/take off as the conditions change. Thin layers also allow better movement as opposed to one layer of bulky clothing.

If you are uncertain or need further information, please contact us.

  • Base Layer Top and Bottoms – a few base layer tops, usually long-sleeved is best, wool base layers form Ortovox are good as they offer good wicking properties and dry quickly. For your legs, a couple of pairs of long or ¾ length bottoms are best.

    Mid-layer fleece tops – a couple of fleece type jacket or tops that can be worn between your base layer and outer layers. The “Layering” approach offers the best heat retention and flexibility in warm and cold weather.

    Insulation Layer - a down or Primaloft jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.

    Lightweight softshell type trousers - you want to wear a lightweight softshell or similar material on your legs, these types of trouser offer good protection from snow/ice as well as abrasion on rock and are comfortable to move in.

    Walking shorts or a pair of trousers with zip-off legs. Useful for walk-ins to huts on hot days.

    Gore-Tex Jacket - Gore-Tex or other waterproof breathable jackets. Best to have a lightweight jacket that can be worn in the event of wet or windy weather but is packable enough to fit in your rucksack. Your insulated ski jacket will be overkill and too hot and bulky.

    Gore-Tex Pants - Gore-Tex or other waterproof breathable trousers. Lightweight is important plus side zips for putting on over your boots and crampons. Used in cold, wet and windy weather.

    Sun hat and warm hat – bring a wide-brimmed sun hat or baseball cap plus a warm beanie style hat.

    Light, thin gloves – a thin pair of fleece or softshell gloves for warm weather are a must.

    Insulated gloves - You need to have a pair of waterproof warm gloves to wear on cold days.

    Gaiters – these are useful to wear to keep snow out of your boots.

    Socks - 3-4 pairs of medium weight socks usually mid-calf length is good.

  • There are 2 grades of boots for alpine trekking and mountaineering: B1 and B2

    • B1 boots are usually lightweight boots offering more flexibility when walking and are usually suitable only for trekking, easy glacier walking and Via Ferrata trips.

    • B2 boots are semi-rigid boots that are the best option for summer alpine mountaineering trips. There are leather and plastic/composite options. Leather boots tend to be more comfortable and breathable whereas plastic/composite boots are warmer and more waterproof.

    B2 boots are compatible with C1 and C2 crampons.

    Key features of a good alpine boot include Vibram soles, a reversed leather upper (which protect the best side of the leather from scuffing and abrasion and improves durability and water resistance) and ankle flex and a higher cut which give control, mobility and support.

    Boots can be hired in resort but to avoid discomfort we do strongly recommend that you have your own pair which needs to be well worn-in prior to your trip.

    Alpine huts supply hut slippers so that you don't need to take any other footwear apart from your boots. Boots are not allowed in the dining room or dormitories and must be left in the foyer.

  • These items are essential for all alpine mountaineering courses

    All items can be hired from Mountain Tracks or from sport shops in the Alps.

    • Climbing helmet
    • Ice Axe - General mountaineering / alpine pick 55-70cms long depending on your height.
    • Boot crampons - with anti-balling plates.
    • Climbing Harness – adjustable leg loops are useful for easy of putting on over your boots.
    • Adjustable trekking pole(s)

  • Rucksack - A simple and lightweight pack with a capacity of between 35-45 liters is recommended. You need to have one loop for carrying an ice axe on your rucksack.

    Lightweight sleeping bag liner – a silk or cotton sleeping bag liner is now compulsory in all mountain huts.

    Water bottle or Thermos – a water bottle or hydration system is needed.

    Head torch with spare batteries


    Personal first Aid Kit - Should contain:

    Plasters – of various sizes and possibly some adhesive wound dressings.

    Pain Killers – aspirin or Paracetamol/Nurofen

    Antiseptic cream or wipes

    Blister kit – compeed and elastic tape to hold it in place (essential)!

    (Note: Guides will have comprehensive first aid kits and are qualified in mountain first aid)


    Sun Glasses - minimum category 3.

    Ski Goggles – these can be very useful if you encounter strong winds and poor weather.

    Sunscreen and Lip Protection

    Ear Plugs - For noisy huts!!


    Hold-all bag - for gear not required on trek. Will be left at first hotel and collected on return.


    Money - You will need some cash for food and drinks. There are some ATMs and most hotels, shops and restaurants will accept credit cards, but most huts still accept cash only. You should allow about 30-40 Swiss Francs or 25-35 Euros per day for lunch and drinks (amount approximate and depends on consumption).

    Toiletries – Should contain:

    Toothbrush and paste - a mini one is ideal


    Anti-bacterial hand cleaner

    Wet wipes – essential to try to maintain hygiene

    Tissues and toilet roll

    Small light quick dry towel e.g. a Lifeventure Soft fiber towel

    (Any other essentials you need but remember there are no shower facilities and generally no running water in the huts and you have to carry everything with you!)

    Alpine club card - If you're a member.

    Book, pack of cards and or Ipod/MP3 player – It’s nice to have something to read or listen to when you are in the huts or to challenge your fellow travelers to a game of card. These items are not essential but if you have space you might appreciate them.

  • It is possible to hire boots and the technical items needed for the Mont Blanc Climber week in Chamonix and guideline prices for 6 days hire are:

    Mountaineering boots €55
    Ice Axe €30
    Boot crampons €35
    Harness €15
    Helmet €15

    If you wish to hire any technical kit please contact us in advance with your requirements.



View map

Zermatt is a charming alpine village. It is car-free and reached only by a 15 minute train journey from the valley station of Tasch. As you would expect given its location it is one of Europe's main centres of alpinism and is a bustling town in both winter and summer.

Surely there is no more dramatic sight in the Alps than the distinctive shape of the Matterhorn!  At 4,478m it may not be the highest mountain in the Alps, but it is easily the most recognised.

All three of Zermatt's main ski areas soar to at least 3,100m. Good snow conditions are almost guaranteed and there are some superb long runs back down to the village. At 3,883m the Klein Matterhorn lift is one of the highest cable car in the world. The ski down from here is almost 13 kilometres - with 2,200 vertical metres of varied descent.  Zermatt has extensive off-piste terrain and thanks to the extremely high altitude and abundance of north facing slopes, powder snow can still be found many days after it falls. In spring especially, huge areas of both powder and spring snow can be found off piste.

Zermatt is the Alps' biggest heliskiing center and its helicopter pad in the village is very busy during the winter months. Many of the runs do not require excellent skiing ability. The scenery, as you'd expect, is truly spectacular.

Our top reasons to visit Zermatt 

  • Switzerland’s premier destination for alpinism and skiing, a traditional Swiss village that has the additional benefit of being car-free
  • Idyllic location high in the mountains with beautiful scenery and surrounded by thirty 4,000m+ peaks
  • The Matterhorn – one of the world’s most iconic mountains
  • Justifiably rated as one of the world’s best ski and climbing resorts
  • Huge ski terrain with lots of variety including world class off-piste. The highest point of the Zermatt ski area is not far short of 4,000m. Good skiing can usually be had until end April and ski touring well into May
  • Excellent après-ski and nightlife
  • Possible to ski across to Italy for lunch in Cervinia!


Resort Information:

Resort Height: 1,650m
Highest Lift: 3,883m
Nearest Airport: Zurich or Geneva

Transfer Options: We recommend you take the train from Zurich or Geneva airport to Zermatt. Connections are regular and the its takes approximatly 4hrs from Geneva with 1 change and 3hrs 30 mins with 1 or 2 cahnged from Zurich airport. To look up train timetables use this link Swiss Railway Timetables

More about the Matterhorn

  • The Matterhorn is known as Monte Cervino in Italian and Mont Cervin in French.
  • It is located in the Pennine Alps (at 45°58′N, 7°39′E) on the border between Switzerland and Italy. 
  • It was first climbed in 1865 by a climbing party that included Edward Whymper. It was the last major mountain of the Alps to be climbed. 
  • The North Face of the Matterhorn is one of the six great north faces of the Alps. The others are: the Cima Grande di Lavaredo, the Piz Badile, the Petit Dru, the Eiger, and the Grandes Jorasses.
  • A miniature imitation of the Matterhorn featuring a bobsled ride is one of the attractions at Disneyland in Anaheim, California

The ascent of Monte Rosa is achievable by anyone with good fitness, a strong head for heights and lots of ambition. Previous mountain experience is an advantage but not essential. The week is a physically demanding one travelling on varied terrain carrying a rucksack of 10-15kg.

Fitness preparation is absolutely essential and will make your week considerably more enjoyable. Doing sports that increase your aerobic fitness and leg strength are key. So when preparing for this trip nothing beats activities that increase your heart rate and build your aerobic levels e.g. hill walking (with a rucksack), running, cycling and swimming.

Movement skills - agility, balance, flexibility - which allow you to adjust to uneven terrain - are also very relevant.

  • It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.

    For UK residents Ski Club Travel Insurance may be a suitable option.

    For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
    If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.

  • The most convenient airports for Zermatt are Sion (transfer time 2 hours), Bern (3 hours), Zurich (3.5 hours), Geneva (4 hours)

    For the rail journey from the airports to Zermatt check the train times by logging on to www.sbb.ch/en

  • All our mountaineering trips are run by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks.

  • We run this course at a 1:2 guiding ratio and with a maximum of 4 climbers and 2 guides.

  • Zermatt has accommodation to suit all budgets and preferences. Our recommended hotel is the Hotel Tannenhof, a small family-run B&B hotel in the centre of the village: www.rhone.ch/tannenhof .We also schedule for 3 nights to be spent on a half-board basis in traditional alpine mountain huts. In the huts evening meals are included and are generally nourishing and plentiful. Vegetarians can be catered for in most huts although there is usually only 1 menu option.
  • The Alps generally have a very pleasant climate throughout the spring, summer and autumn with warm days and cool nights, with daytime temperatures in the valley around 25 - 30°C. At high altitude the temperature often goes down below -10 and can feel even colder with wind chill.

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