Ken Baldry's Alpine Pages

Correspondence about the Monte Rosa Tour & the hill itself

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Monte Rosa (Margherita Hut)
Climbing Monte Rosa
Two teams on the Monte Rosa Tour
The Tour itself

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Monte Rosa Tour & the hill itself


From: Aeschi e-mail Subject: re Macugnaga
Hi. I was thinking of places to go hike in the Alps and was wondering what Macugnaga is like. I only know it from a map, and most of the Web pages that I have found tell only about the skiing. Then I found your pages with the nice pictures and wondered if you might have spent time in Macugnaga and what reactions you had of the place. Any information you can give would be a help. Thanks. Regards. Don Po McLean, Virginia USA

To: Aeschi Subject: re Macugnaga
Hello Don, Sorry to be so long replying - I have been tied up in my Mayor of London campaign. Macugnaga - it depends what you intend to do. I would not stay there for, say, a week, because it is trapped at the bottom of a deep valley & there is perhaps three days walking to be had. That is, up to the Neues Weisstor hut, to the Belvedere & up to the Monte Moro Pass. Macugnaga is better taken in on a tour, the way I did in 1975. Saas Fee over the border in Switzerland is more attractive but you could stay in Macugnaga for a few days, then hike over the Monte Moro to Saas Fee for a few days. Best wishes, Ken

From: Aeschi Subject: Re: Macugnanga
Ken - Thank you so much for replying to my questions about Macugnaga. It was very useful information. I would really like to do the hike over the pass and down into Saas Fee, in fact that sort of long distance alpine trek has always appealed to me. I'd like to climb over the Hohturli from Kandersteg in the Bernese Oberland too, for that matter. Alas, who knows? In any event, my wife and will plan a stay of several days in Macugnaga on your advice and do the hikes there.
And what's this about the Mayor of London race? When is the election? If it is past, did you win? I lived for a year in Canterbury, but that was back in 1984. London might well be our next European trip, so I look forward to being able to say that I got e-mail from the Mayor of London.
Regards. Dr. Don Poe McLean, Virginia, USA aeschi96&

To: Aeschi Subject: Re: Mayor
Hi Don, I was trying to get on the Labour ticket. This is a new post. Today, I learned that I did not get on the short list but at least, I got on the long list. Hope you enjoy your trip Best wishes, Ken


From: Ron Stavale, e-mail
Ken, I am doing family researc on my surname, Stavale. Is their a mountain with the name Staval? Can you give me some information on it's meaning or location.. Thank You Ron Stavale

To: Ron Stavale Subject: Re: Staval
Hello Ron, Staval is one of the many words describing a sort of mountain meadow in Walser, the dialect spoken in parts of the Valais in Switzerland and in North Italy. I would look in the area, say, fifteen miles east & west of Saas Fee in Switzerland, ten miles north & twenty south, perhaps a bit more. The 'e' on your name, suggesting a pronunciation of 'stavarlay' is indicative of Italy but you can't be certain. You are lucky you asked someone familiar with the language cabbage in that part of the world!
Best wishes, Ken

To: Ron Stavale, rxstav& Subject: Re: your name
Hello Ron, I should have mentioned in my previous e-mail, that 'staval' is usually 'stafel' on the Swiss side & that there is a village called 'Staval' in the Gressoney valley(off the Valle D'Aosta) in Italy, just below the frontier ridge. It's 25 years since I was there, so I had forgotten momentarily. There are a couple of photos on:-
Best wishes, Ken

Monte Rosa (Margherita Hut)

From: Lidingö, Gemensam brevlåda, e-mail Subject: Tour Monte Rosa.....
Hello Ken! My name is Petter Henriksson and i´m "calling" from Stockholm, Sweden.
I´m quite intrested of the area round Monte Rosa. I saw a program about a hut, a small hotel, high above the clouds. Mabye, at 4200 meters. I´d like to go there, but i don´t know how!
Thats why i´m turning to you, the "expert" of Monte Rosa......
I´ve got a flight to Milano (Italy), and somhowe i take the train....somwere..... Champoluc, is that a good place to start?
How long will it take to reatch the top? How well fit do i have to be?
Are there orginaised trips? Do you have any more good web-sites? Please, help me....

To: Petter Henriksson, e-mail Subject: Re: Tour Monte Rosa.....
Hello Petter, The first thing I need to establish is, how experienced a mountaineer are you? This is serious country &, unless you have done much solo Alpine work or have a competent companion, I would not try it. There is much glacier crossing to do.
Ok, let's assume you are qualified for the trip. The Capanna Margherita is on top of the Signalkuppe at over 4500 metres. It is scarcely a small 'hotel' but is certainly small! You need to take your own food up & some aspirins, as it can be hard to get to sleep that high. I don't know the booking telephone number but a good place to start looking for it is the Zermatt web site on this link. Also, it is a good idea to look at the web-cam from the Gornergrat (the camera is at 3300m) at Zermatt on this link which will give you an idea of conditions.
To get to the Margherita hut, there are two options from Italy. It is on the Swiss 'Gressoney' map no 294 which you will need:
1. Easy (!) way: take the train to Novara & bus to Alagna-Valsesia. Take the cable cars to Punta Indren & walk up the glacier to the Gnifetti Hut (you need your crampons & ice axe). A couple of hours. Stay overnight to acclimatise. Next day, go up the Lys Glacier to the Lysjoch. Keep well right of the lowest point over the snow shoulder & contour into Switzerland. This goes into a cwm between the Zumsteinspitze & Signalkuppe. Go up to the col between them & then right up to the hut. 3-4 hours.
2. More walking way: take the train that goes into the Aosta Valley from Turin to Pont St Martin & the bus to Gressoney. Then, past the village is a gondelbahn at Orsia up to the Alp Gabiet. A path goes due north to the Gnifetti Hut (about 4-6 hours), where you join the other route. You can't get from Milan to the hut in one day, so stay in Gressoney - it is a nice place.
As for organised tours, you can hire a guide, whch would be a good idea if you are alone. This is not cheap! You need to be quite fit. Good luck & best wishes, Ken

Two teams on the Monte Rosa Tour

Team One:-
From: janice bloom,
e-mail Subject: Monte Rosa
Hello -- We are two hopeless Americans who read an article in the New York Times about Mt. Rosa, and went on the Web searching for information. Happily, we stumbled across your site, which is brilliant.
We're not quite as serious mountaineers as yourselves, but we still want to attempt at least sections of the tour; sadly, all other Web info that we found is in German or Italian. While our French might be good enough (and our Spanish would be), nothing we could find was in those two languages. We were hoping you could recommend books, publications, or other sites that might be in English.
If you get a chance and can respond to this e-mail, we would be grateful.
Thanks much. Adam Grumbach and Janice Bloom

To: janice bloom Subject: Re: Monte Rosa
You lucky people! There is a guide, 'The Grand Tour of Monte Rosa' by C J Wright, published by Cicerone Press of Milnthorpe, Cumbria, GB in 1995 in two volumes of Real British English. Very comprehensive. However, there is sufficient info on my web site, if you want to print it off & I will answer any detailed questions you have. Unless you are competent in glacier crossing & know how to prussik, keep off Monte Rosa itself. It is quite easy technically but has the usual glacier perils. Have a good trip.

From: janice bloom Subject: Monte Rosa
Dear Ken- It's taken us a while to get our act together and get back to you - but yes, we do have some more detailed questions. We really appreciate your willingness to answer them.
So, here goes (in no particular logical order...)
1. You started at St. Nicklaus - and said you took the Mattertal BVZ train. What major city in Switzerland
can you get that train? An article we saw in the New York Times (from a few years ago) started in Zermatt - any particular reason to start one place or the other?
2. How long do you think the whole route would take - if you weren't wanting to hurry too much? We are
thinking that maybe we won't do the whole route (at least on this trip) . We have about 8 days or so... if you had to pick a portion, what was your favorite part?
3. We have done some hiking in high mountains here in the States, but aren't planning on bringing any real
equipment with us. Are there parts of the route that we can't do, given this? Also, if we are going in August - any idea what kind of weather we can expect? What kind of clothing we'll need, that is, how cold will it get?
4. Do you think we need to make reservations in hotels ahead of time?
5. How clearly marked is the tour/trail? Once we're on it, will it be pretty clear throughout?
Thanks so much for you help.... we promise to report with updates on whatever places we see.....
yours, Janice and Adam

To: janice bloom Subject: Re: Monte Rosa
Taking your questions in order:-
1. The BVZ train starts at Brig, a little city in the Rhone Valley & goes up (this is a rack railway) to Zermatt, which is very much, the end of the line, BVZ-wise. You get to Brig by flying to Geneva & taking the train direct from the airport. I will discuss getting back below.
2. Allow a fortnight for the whole tour, because you may propose but the weather can dispose. If you have eight days & assuming your first just gets you to the Grachen Hannigalp (but check in the village that you can stay there) & your last gets you back to Geneva, that leaves you six full days walk.
Day One to Saas Fee via the Hohenweg. Tough first day, so spend a day doing a Saas Fee walk (see my web site). Only book one night at Saas Fee but leave your big rucksacks at the hotel & pick them up in the evening. Walk down the lovely path to Saas Almagell & stay the night there.
Day Three - bus to Mattmark & over the Monte Moro Pass to Macugnaga.
Day Four, a long one. Over the Colle del Turlo to Alagna.
Day Five, over to Gressonney. You can save effort by cable car (advised).
Day Six, cross over to St Jacques. I used the Bettaforce but that has ski uplift now (which you could use). There is another pass further South, the Passo del Rothorn, which I believe is nice but I have no personal knowledge.
To go home, take a bus down to the Aosta Valley, bus or train to Aosta & bus (or hitch) over the Great St Bernard Pass to Martigny. From there, train to Geneva.
4. Good boots! No alpine equipment needed but bring layers of clothes, as it will be hot in the valleys in August but the weather can do anything. Bring good waterproofs, which, hopefully, you will not need. You can still be snowed on in August on the higher passes.
5. I never reserve hotels, huts or bunkhouses, as you cannot plan round the weather.
6. Even the Italian trails are quite clear. Best wishes, Ken

P.S. Just one thing - check the bus times when you get to St Jacques. It may pay you timewise, not to stay in the village (there is a cheap Italian Alpine Club hut there) but to get as far on your way back as possible before grabbing a room, as it might take a long time to get to Geneva via Aosta & you will have a 'plane to catch. I hitch-hiked from Breuil to Tasch in 1999 but it took all day.

Team Two:-
From: MStrieb e-mail Subject: Monte Rosa
My wife and I saw an article in the Sunday New York Times of June 20, 1999 by Marcia Lieberman describing a route around Monte Rosa. We've been interested in trying it. We are 56 and 55 and in good health. We are fairly active (alpine and nordic skiing, cycling, hiking, etc.) but are not "extreme hikers." We were interested in getting your opinion on the feasibility of the hike for us and any suggestions you might have for variations on the route.
We are planning on going this July.
The hike as it was described in the article is a variant on the official Zermatt mountain guide route, using cable cars to minimize some of the more difficult sections. The tour goes as follows:
1. From the Kleine Matterhorn cable car station across the Plateau Rosa (this is the only segment for which the article recommends a guide) to the Testa Grigia lift down to Cervinia
2. By bus to Valtournanche and a taxi to Cheneil
3. By foot through the Colle di Nana and St. Jacques to Champoluc
4. By cable car to Crest
5. By foot through the Colle di Pinter to Gressoney-St.-Jean
6. By bus to Stafel
7. By cable car to Paseo dei Salati
8. On foot to Colle d'Olen
9. From Oltu by cable car down to Alagna Valsesia
10. By foot to the Colle di Turlo to Macugnaga
11. Cable car to the top of the Monte Moro Pass
12. By foot to the Mattmark dam
13. By bus to Saas-Fee
14. The Hohenweg trail to Grachen
15. The middle trail from Grachen to Herbriggen
16. By train back to Zermatt (alternate bus from Grachen to St. Niklaus and train to Tasch, before returning to Zermatt).
We would appreciate hearing your opinions about the route.

To: MStrieb Subject: Re: Monte Rosa
Hello, Your route takes all the easy options available but...
1. The glacier from the Klein Matterhorn can be pretty rotten. It was 2 years ago & I did not cross it as a result. A Guide (expensive) would get you to Testa Grigia ok but why not then walk down to Breuil?
3. Colle de Nana is quite a stiff walk.
10. The Colle di Turlo is a very stiff walk from this direction & you have no alternative, apart from very long bus rides to Macugnaga.
14. Check at Saas Fee Tourist Office if this has been avalanched off in the Winter. It can happen. Easy bus alternative to Grachen, though.
I would be grateful if you could let me know how you get on, so I can update my web site. Your contribution would be acknowledged. Best wishes, Ken Baldry

Climbing Monte Rosa

From: Gordon Simpson, e-mail Subject: Request for Alpine advice
Ken I am hoping to climb Monte Rosa with two partners at the beginning of July and searching for some useful material on the web I came across your site. I hope you don't mind me making contact but I found your site to be of interest and not having been to the Saas Fee area before I thought I would drop you a note to see if you could offer any advice on the following areas.
1) Most straightforward/easiest/hazard free route.
2) What is the most convenient hut to use.
3) What other peaks in the surrounding area could be easily tackled to make the most of our trip although we only have 5 days.
4) What would you suggest on day one by way of altitude acclimatisation.
Look forward to hearing from you if/when you have some time and many thanks in anticipation.

To: Gordon Simpson Subject: Request for Alpine advice
Hello Gordon, I assume you have glacier experience & equipment. Your questions:-
1) Most straightforward/easiest/hazard free route.
From the Monte Rosa Hut. See:-
for details how to get there. It's 1800m from the hut to the top (I have not done it) but only has the usual glacier hazards.

2) What is the most convenient hut to use.
Ahh, that's different. The Gnifetti Hut in Italy &@ 3600m, see:- & the next page. You have to traverse the Signalkuppe (which has the squalid Margharita Hut on top of it) & Zumsteinspitze to get to the Dufourspitze, then it might be best to go down to the Monte Rosa hut to get back to Zermatt.

3) What other peaks in the surrounding area could be easily tackled to make the most of our trip although we only have 5 days.
Hmm. Assuming you start from Zermatt:-
Day 1 Acclimatisation walk (see below)
Day 2 to the Monte Rosa hut
Day 3 do Monte Rosa
Day 4 either to the Rothorn Hut & do (day 5) the Zinalrothorn or to the Hornli Hut & do the Matterhorn.
Assuming you start from Alagna-Valsesia:-
Day 1 Long walk up to the Gnifetti Hut unless you use the cable cars
Day 2 do the Lyskamm
Day 3 do Monte Rosa & go down to Zermatt
Day 4 either to the Rothorn Hut & do (day 5) the Zinalrothorn or to the Hornli Hut & do the Matterhorn.

4) What would you suggest on day one by way of altitude acclimatisation.
In Zermatt, the Mettelhorn, see:-
From the Gnifetti Hut, the Lyskamm, which is a shorter plod than Monte Rosa but watch out for the double cornice!

The Tour itself

From: Greg Guerrazzi, Subject:Tour Monte Rosa
Hi Ken: I would like to do the inn to inn tour of Monte Rosa. Can you suggest how best to locate the inns and a map of the easiest trail? I am not a mountaineer but can hike 10 - 12 miles a day and we hope to do the trip in 7-8 days. I am familiar with the tour book written in 1995 and was hoping to locate more up to date info. I would prefer to go on a self guided trip and not be part of a group. I understand there are several ways around the mountain and all involve using lifts and trains.
Are there companies that will make all of the arrangements for me and provide an itinerary? Thank you for your help. Best Regards, Abide International, Inc. Greg Guerrazzi (707) 732-6396

Reply: Hi Greg, If you are not going in August (too hot anyway) or during any Italian public holiday, you don’t need to book ahead. It’s a bad idea anyway, as the weather can throw your timetable out. Because of last year’s heatwave, the glacier between Zermatt & Breuil (Theodulegletscher) was then unsafe, so start in Breuil if going anti-clockwise & vice-versa. Then, the last thing you would do is cross that glacier & you can ask locally if it is safe.
Although I went clockwise, the last stage into Zermatt, along the Europaweg, suggests going anti-clockwise these days. I need to know more of where you intend to start from to advise further. Tour companies tend not to do this sort of thing, as the market is too small as well as the weather uncertainties. Best wishes, Ken

If any of this info is of use to you, please print it off & take it with you

If you need any more info, please e-mail me.

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Contact: Ken Baldry, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)20 7359 6294 or e-mail him URL:
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