Zermatt, Switzerland

Monterosa Summits Ski Tour

The Monte Rosa massif straddles the Swiss, Italian border above Zermatt and constitutes the end of the Western Alps. There are more than 38 peaks above 4000m, so an impressive sight from any direction. The vertical descent on skis from some of the peaks is huge which makes this area popular with ski tourers. It also has some of the wildest glaciers in the Alps. It is no surprise why the Monte Rosa area is a ski-mountaineering favorite. The resorts nestled below the peaks, Zermatt, Cervinia, Gressoney and Alagna are also a big draw for off piste skiers.

Our ski tour weaves its way along the Swiss/Italian border taking in many 4000m peaks. Most of the terrain covered is above 3500m so good touring conditions can be found in May. High altitude, steep terrain and long ascents make this a demanding advanced level tour where good ski mountaineering skills are essential.

At the end of the trip there is the opportunity to return to Chamonix for a 2-day ski ascent of Mont Blanc.

 

Day Itinerary

  • Arrive in Zermatt. Meet up with your guides for kit-check and briefing. Stay overnight in a hotel in the village.

  • From Zermatt we catch the cable car up to the Klein Matterhorn (3883m). We soon leave the busy pistes and head up the first 4000m peak of the trip. The Breithorn is a 2.5 hour skin from the lift to the summit. This is perfect acclimatisation and affords views across  the whole Monterosa range. A ski descent is made between the east and west Breithorn summits. A short skin deposits us below Pollux and another glaciated descent to the Refugio Ayas (3400m). This hut is run by the local guides bureau, has great food and is well known for its relaxed atmosphere.

  • An early 'alpine start' is needed for good conditions to skin to the summit of Castor (4228m). Toward the summit ridge we will have to rope up, use crampons and carry our skis. We traverse the very narrow summit ridge of Castor (4223m) and try and take in the views on the summit whilst concentrating on our feet!. The steep descent from the Felikjoch (4087m) to the Refugio Quintino Sella (3585m) is memorable with spectacular remote glaciated scenery.

  • From the Quintino Sella Refugio, we ascend by ski to Passo del Naso (4100m) on the toe of Liskamm. A steep sideslip or abseil descends to the heavily crevassed Lys Glacier. We then ski down past the Gnifetti Hut (3625m) and on to the recently renovated Refugio Mantova Hut (3498m) for the night. This is a very comfortable hut with a spectacular dining room over looking the Lys Glacier. 

  • Today reaches the highest point of the ski tour with an ascent of Signalkuppe (4554m). On the way we can bag Ludvigshohe (4341m) and Piramid Vicent (4215m) if conditions allow. It is worth stopping at the Magherita Hut(4554m) on the summit of Sinalkuppe. Named after the queen of Italy it is the highest hut in the alps and serves the highest pizza in the alps. From here we descend the spectacularly crevassed Grentz glacier to the new Monte Rosa Hut. This is one of the most spectacular ski descents in the Alps passing under the imposing North face of Liskamm. The new space age Monterosa Hut (2795m) is covered in solar panels making it completely energy efficient. It provides modern comfortable rooms.

  • An early start is needed to ascend to the Dufoursattel (Silbersattel) (4515m). this spectacular col lies between the gigantic summits of Nordend (4609m) and the Dufourspitz (4634m). Looking west there are incredible views of the Matterhorn and a long ski descent back for a second night in the Monte Rosa hut.

  • From the Monte Rosa hut we traverse east and scramble across a rocky ridge to the Gorner Glacier. We cross Gorner Glacier and ascend the Stockhorn (3532m) or Cima di Jazzi (3803m) which affords spectacular views of the Zermatt and Macugnaga valley. We descend back to the Gornergrat railway and our final night back in Zermatt.

  • Departure after breakfast.

    We offer an add-on to this trip for a 2-day ski ascent/descent of Mont Blanc.

    Transport after breakfast to Chamonix and enjoy a relaxing day. We stay overnight in the town.

  • From the cable-car station at Plan d'Aiguille we climb up to the Grand Mulet hut (3051m).

  • A big day. We leave the hut early for the climb to the summit of Mont Blanc (4807m). The descent is on the Bossons Glacier to Plan d'Aiguille. Catch the cable car down to Chamonix and celebrate a successful climb.

  • Depart after breakfast.

The price includes 6 full days guiding fees & expenses, 2 nights B&B hotel accommodation (twin rooms), 5 nights HB accommodation in high alpine huts.
The price does not include equipment hire, personal insurance, travel to/from Zermatt, uplift costs, local transfers, 2 evening meals, lunches and beverages.

Optional Mont Blanc Ascent

The price for the Mont Blanc Ski Ascent is £745 per person and includes all guide fees and expenses and 3 nights accommodation - 2 nights B&B in Chamonix and 1 night HB in the Grands Mulets hut. Uplift cost and travel to and from Chamonix is not included. Minimum of 2 people required for the MB ascent.

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This is an extensive list of the recommended clothing and equipment you will need if you are coming on one of our Alpine Ski Tours.

During the tour you will be staying most nights in catered high mountain huts and will need to carry all the equipment and clothing you require for the duration of the tour. The huts are comfortable but basic with limited facilities – running cold water, European-style toilets, dormitory-style accommodation. All the huts provide ‘hut slippers’ – these days they are usually crocs - and so you will not need to carry additional footwear.

Any clothing or other items not required on the tour can be left in a travel bag at your first hotel ready for your return on the final night.

We recommend keeping the weight of your pack as light as possible. If you are new to alpine multi-day ski touring, try taking your pack out on the slopes before the tour to see how it feels. You quickly realise the benefit of ‘skiing light’.

If you are uncertain or need further information, don't hesitate to contact us.

  • When choosing clothing for ski touring you want to think light, warm and versatile. During the trip weather conditions will change and you’re likely to go from warm afternoons where you’ll be carrying most of your gear in your rucksack, to icy-cold mornings when you’re wearing everything to keep warm! Getting hold of the best and lightest kit available is always worth it and most of the major brands will be able to supply suitable kit.
    • Roll neck rather than a scarf. We use and recommend the ‘Buff¹ ¬ a light, stretchable tube. Excellent despite the name! They do both a fleece/cotton version for warmth or just a cotton one (to keep the sun off).
    • Headwear to include warm hat and sun-cap or wide-brim hat for extra protection from the sun. Mountain Tracks fully supports the wearing of helmets for skiing, although not mandatory for any of our trips we do recommend them.
    • An outer shell jacket made of waterproof and breathable material like Gore-Tex or similar with a built-in hood. The lighter the better and so a shell is recommended rather than a insulated jacket.
    • 1-2 thin fleeces - rather than a thick layer between your skin and the outer shell - an approach which gives better heat retention and good flexibility. These tops are known as ‘mid layers’. The principle of ‘layering’ e.g. allowing you to easily add/remove layers depending on the temperature and the activity is recommended to ensure comfort on the mountain.
    • Insulation layer like 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.
    • For the lower half it’s essential that you have a pair of thermal base layer pants (long johns).
    • These can then be combined with either:
    • (a) a good pair of ‘technical shell’ pants in a waterproof and breathable fabric like Gore-Tex (b) a pair of mountain or alpine pants in a softshell material together with a pair of lightweight, breathable over trousers with long side zips.
    • Top and bottom underwear made of a synthetic, wicking material. Very popular at the moment are the wool based layers from companies such as Icebreaker and Smartwool. They are comfy, breathable and warm when needed and can be worn for days without your friends catching a whiff!
    • Good quality Gore-Tex gloves or mitts and a thin pair of softshell or fleece gloves for when it is hot and for ski touring in. Silk inner gloves can be useful if the weather is cold and you suffer with cold hands.
    • Technical Socks - Investing in good quality ski socks will improve fit, warmth and feel when skiing for long periods. Bring along a few pairs.
  • For all touring trips it is essential you ski with an all-mountain/freeride type skis, ski touring boots and ski touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings then you will need to rent skis. The same applies if you have downhill ski boots, you will need to rent ski touring boots.

    Skis
    For alpine ski touring we recommend an all-mountain/freeride touring ski that isn’t too heavy, a really lightweight ski comes at a cost to performance on the descents so are only recommended for really good off-piste skiers with a strong interest in ski touring.
    There are plenty of great skis to choose from and we highly recommend skis from the following manufactures:
    Dynastar Skis: www.dynastar.com 
    Movement Skis: www.movementskis.com  
    Black Crows Skis: www.blackcrows-skis.com  
    Trab Skis: www.skitrab.com/en-us 
    Scott Skis: http://www.scott-sports.com
    Volkl Skis: http://www.voelkl.com

    If you are planning on buying skis for ski touring and general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us to discuss the options available to you.

    Boots
    It is essential that you have ski touring boots for all touring trips as walking up hill is much more comfortable in these types of boots with a walk mode and great flex. A dedicated touring boot or a hybrid freeride boot is best. 

    Scarpa have lead the way in touring boots for many years but they have been joined by other manufactures like Dynafit, Salomon, Scott, Black Diamond, Dalbello and K2; all producing their own versions of a ski touring boot.
    • Scarpa’s Freedom boots are their Hybrid offerings, great ski performance, a walk mode and vibram sole. Their Maestrale (men’s) and Gea (women’s) boots are also highly recommended.
    • The Scott Celeste and Cosmo boots have stood the test of time and are good all round choices.
    • Salomon’s Quest Max series offer boots with a walk mode in various flex’s with good downhill performance.
    • Dynafit offer the Mercury or Vulcan boots plus a range of lightweight options like the TLT6.

    The best of the rest are:
    Fischer - Transalp
    Black Diamond – Quadrant and Factor
    K2 – Pinnacle boot
    Dalbello – Lupo or Sherpa
    Langue – XT series offer a ski boot with a walk mode in various flex options

    Boot Liners
    These days many manufacturers offer ‘thermo-fit¹ liners as standard equipment. You may also want to consider a custom liner as these are heated and molded to your foot and boot for a perfect fit. They can make all the difference especially if you have trouble finding really comfortable ‘off-the-shelf’ boots. Zipfit liners are a great option for anyone seeking total customisation in fit and comfort. They will replace the original liner.

    Custom Footbeds
    Essential kit – to provide additional comfort and ski control. If you want to get footbeds made or a pair of new boots fitted then we suggest you visit somewhere like Profeet for a professional fitting. Don’t forget if you have footbeds in your downhill boots but need to rent touring boots then you can bring the footbeds with you and put them in the hire boots.

    Bindings
    For all ski touring trips ski touring bindings are essential. Fritschi and Marker both make excellent ski touring bindings and you have a few different options to choose from. Many more people are seeing the advantage of the “pin” binding system now offered by a number of manufacturers as these are light and offer ever improving security despite their minimalist looks!

    Ski Poles
    We recommend telescopic poles. They must have wide powder baskets (4-5 inches/100-120mm diameter) otherwise you’ll be up to your armpits on the ascents. Go for an alloy rather than carbon poles which are lighter but have a nasty habit of snapping near the basket due to ski edge nicks.

    Rucksack
    For most ski tours especially multi-day hut-to-hut tours you will need a 35 - 40 litre rucksack. You might get away with a big 30 liter pack if you are an experienced ski tourer and know what to pack. Most people will find a 35-40 liter pack is a good size for touring.

    Key features of a good ski touring pack:
    • a method of attaching your skis in either a A-frame (one either side) or both together on a diagonal ski carriage
    • easy access into the main compartment without having to empty the sack to get something at the bottom
    • separate pocket for avalanche shovel, handle and probe
    • small top pocket for items like wallet, sunglassed/goggles etc; an ice axe loop
    • a built-in rain cover an a secure method of attaching/stowing a ski helmet 
    • good hip/waist belt and adjustable shoulder straps

    Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used for touring but they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack plus canister. So unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one. 

    Over a long multiday tour every gram of weight is important as you have to carry and move it yourself. Carrying a heavy pack will hinder and tire all but the most experienced and fit ski tourer.

     

    • Ski Skins – these are skins which, now made of artificial fabric, stick to the bottom of your skis and allow you to walk up hill. They must be cut to fit your skis exactly, so if you are bringing your own skis you must provide your own skins.
    • Ski Crampons (aka couteaux) - most ski touring bindings have ski crampons specifically designed for the binding. We always carry these just in case. Again if you are bringing your skis and touring bindings you must provide your own ski crampons. 
    • Ice Axe - general lightweight mountaineering / alpine pick. Ideally this needs to be short enough to fit in your pack.
    • Boot Crampons - ideally lightweight aluminum ones although steel crampons are required for more demanding tours
    • Climbing Harness - a simple lightweight harness. The key feature is that it should have fully adjustable leg loops for putting on over ski boots, crampons, etc.

    On some tours in non-glaciated terrain an ice-axe, boot crampons and climbing harness may not always be required. However as conditions and itineraries can change we do generally recommend that you bring these items with you. If you do not own these items they can be rented to you by our guides or via one of the local sports shops.
  • The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.

    • Avalanche Transceiver/Beacon
    • Snow shovel
    • Avalanche probe
    Remember it is not enough just to carry this equipment; you have to know how to use it.
    How about joining one of our specialist avalanche courses – check out www.mountaintracks.co.uk/activity/avalanche-training
    • Good pair of ski goggles with a lens for low light is essential in the event of snow and poor visibility
    • Good quality sunglasses with 100% UV protection
    • 35 – 40 liter rucksack
    • 1 – 1.5 Liter water bottle – we don’t recommend hydration systems (e.g. camelbak) in winter as they can freeze.
    • Food – bring some of your favorite hill nibbles (chocolate, energy bars)*
    • Suncream and lip salve
    • Camera with a large capacity memory card!
    • Money – most hotels, shops and restaurants accept credit cards, but not all the alpine huts do. You should allow about 30-40 Swiss Francs or 20-30 Euros per day for lunch and drinks (amount approximate and depends on consumption)
    Please note that your guide will have a few “spares” and other safety items that he or she will ask the group to carry between them; so leave a small space in your sack for an item e.g. spare skin, spare ski pole, emergency shelter.

    For a hut night:
    • Lightweight sleeping bag liner – now compulsory in most huts.
    • Wash kit with small personal first aid items – should include:
    • Toothbrush and paste - a mini one is ideal
    • Soap
    • Anti-bacterial hand cleaner
    • Wet wipes – essential to try to maintain hygiene
    • Tissues and toilet roll
    • 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)
    • Small light quick dry towel e.g. a Lifeventure Soft fiber towel
    • Most huts have limited washing facilities
    • Earplugs – it can get quite noisy!
    • Headtorch - lightweight and carry spare batteries.
    • 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.
    What to wear in the hut
    We are often asked by people what they should wear in the hut. It's a good question as you don't want to carry many or any extra clothes with you if they are not required. In the winter you will probably end up wearing your base layer thermals (top & bottom) or you can carry a lightweight pair of loose trousers to wear around the hut in the afternoons/evenings. Your base layer top is what you will probably wear on your top half or you can carry a t-shirt to wear in the hut that can double to sleep in. 

    Food and Water
    We suggest you bring with you or buy in resort snack food that you can take out on the hill with you each day. Things like cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, sugary sweets or your favorite hill snacks. When you’re staying overnight in huts its best to take supplies for the days you are away. Huts do sell food but it’s expensive and sometimes stocks run low.
    If you have any food allergies or dietary requirements especially if you are a Coeliac (Gluten free) or have a dairy allergy we strongly recommend you bring some food with you that you can supplement your dinners with. The huts are fairly good at providing for vegetarians but less so for other dietary needs.
    You have to buy bottled water in the huts as usually any running water is non-potable. Bottled water is expensive in French and Swiss huts; you can be paying upto 12-16CHF per 1.5L bottle of water. So please ensure you budget for this cost.

  • Most resorts have ski shops that hire ski equipment and we try to provide relevant contact details for all our courses and tours.

    Prices do change by resort/country, but here’s an approximate guide to hire costs for 6-days hire:

    Touring Skis plus skins and ski crampons €150-180
    Touring boots €80-90 
    Boot Crampons €45-50
    Ice Axe €30-40
    Harness €20-30
    Helmet €20-30
    Transceiver/shovel/probe €75-80

    Our guides also generally have additional sets of safety equipment (transceiver/shovel/probe) which they hire out to clients for €65 for 6 days hire. Must be booked in advance.
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Zermatt

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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
  • 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 ski tours are led by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks. 

  • The maximum ratio is 1:3 and the maximum group size is 6 with 2 guides.
    For Mont Blanc the guide ratio is 1:2 only.
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