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Tour of Monte Rosa – a trek among the Giants between Italy and Switzerland

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Tour of Monte Rosa – a trek among the Giants between Italy and Switzerland

Hiking Collection by Marika Abbà

10

Tours

71:37 h

102 mi

32,400 ft

The Tour del Monte Rosa (TMR) is a 160-kilometre (99 mi) 10–stage trek that takes you among the highest peaks in Europe where the air is thinner, rocks tower above ice and silence is precious.

This route is a mix of high mountains and moments of civilisation: some stages end at alpine refuges and others in characteristic villages on the valley floor. The experience is all encompassing: you experience every facet of the life of those who live at the foot of the Giants of Europe and the Walser culture.

The landscapes are unbelievably beautiful, with 40 peaks over 4,000 metres (13,120 ft). Monte Rosa is your host on this adventure, but you also enjoy breathtaking views of the Matterhorn.

The TMR is an old route. In fact, Horace Bénédict de Saussure, a wealthy Swiss scientist and a great mountaineer was the first to hike it in 1789. On 15th July, he set off from Geneva, crossed the Simplon Pass and entered this unknown land.

The 19th century was a great period of discovery for 4,000-metre peaks, but I’ll tell your more about that on the way. Back then, the glacier conditions were very different to today. Equipment was basic and the pioneers of mountaineering often had no idea what they were getting themselves into. They made their approach in carts, on mules or with a bicycle – as far as they could go before their own legs were the only means of transport. Imagine a wild mountain, where the only noise was made by the breaking of ice and the crunching of snow under studded boots.

Horace Bénédict de Saussure didn’t go into the mountains to enjoy a relaxed holiday as we do today. He went accompanied by his son to study the orography, indigenous populations and all the unique phenomena that characterise the mountains. Until his trips, the areas and peaks were unnamed or named by the communities that lived on them. Many areas were considered to be inaccessible or even demonic.

As mentioned earlier, many followed in his footsteps and explored further in the 19th century. In the next century, however, this Tour was mostly forgotten, in part due to the outbreak of two world wars. In 1994, the Tour Monte Rosa Association was founded, continuing and improving upon the region’s long mountaineering history.

This itinerary is cross–border between Italy and Switzerland, so remember that you’ll need two currencies. The best time to walk it is from June to September, i.e. when the alpine refuges are open. It’s very important to book your overnight stays well in advance, especially those in high-altitude refuges, as they’re often used by mountaineers conquering the high peaks.

The Monte Rosa Tour is very demanding and requires plenty of physical preparation and alpine experience. You can simplify and shorten the route by using ski lifts. To take on this route, you also need to be comfortable with heights as some sections are exposed, although there are fixed ropes. There is also a long Tibetan bridge suspended across a drop on the Europaweg.

You should always carry appropriate clothing for different altitudes, sun cream, sturdy boots, a first aid kit, plenty of water and energy bars. In case of an accident or emergency, call 112 in Italy or Switzerland.

You can reach Staffa, the main town of Macugnaga, by car or bus from Domodossola station. The latter is connected to Milan by direct trains.

Happy hiking among the Giants!

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Tour del Monte Rosa (TMR)

100 mi

32,550 ft

32,575 ft

Last updated: August 30, 2022

Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Macugnaga to the Rifugio Oberto – Tour of Monte Rosa

    Difficult
    04:09
    4.07 mi
    1.0 mph
    4,800 ft
    0 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The Monte Rosa Tour starts from Staffa, the capital of Macugnaga. This municipality, like many others scattered in the Italian Alpine valleys, can be said to be a widespread municipality, since there is no real center that bears the name of Macugnaga, but a set of small villages.

    

    Macugnaga is the cradle

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  • Difficult
    06:00
    10.7 mi
    1.8 mph
    750 ft
    4,050 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    The east face of Monte Rosa gives you a good morning. Just think, that with its 2,600 meters in altitude it is the highest in the Alps. As I mentioned in the introduction, the peaks you see were explored and conquered in the nineteenth century. Already at the end of the eighteenth century some scientist

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  • Difficult
    08:18
    12.3 mi
    1.5 mph
    3,050 ft
    3,600 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Leave the enchanting Saas-Fee behind and enter the Ussere Wald forest. The path leads you to a mountain pasture and from here it climbs up among larch and stone pines. Stop for a second and close your eyes. Breathe in. Let the scent released by the conifers inebriate your nostrils and let the symphony

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  • Difficult
    07:55
    9.72 mi
    1.2 mph
    4,075 ft
    1,900 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    An easy path takes you across the Grächen plateau, allowing you to enjoy the typical alpine architecture of these places down to the last meter.

    

    The path now enters the coniferous forest and the climb becomes more and more sustained until it comes out below the summit of the Grathorn.

    

    From here on, the

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  • Difficult
    08:18
    13.4 mi
    1.6 mph
    2,425 ft
    4,575 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Say goodbye to the Europahütte and go down to the "Charles Kuonen" suspension bridge. This structure was inaugurated in 2017, is 490 meters long and is the longest Tibetan bridge in Switzerland. It was placed in this area because the old path was often battered by landslides and subsidence.

    

    The route

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  • Difficult
    06:56
    7.96 mi
    1.1 mph
    5,600 ft
    50 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Today's stage will be emblematic, you will get to the heart of the Monte Rosa Tour and you will feel like you are touching the imposing peaks of the massif with your finger. Backpack on and off you go!

    

    Take the mule track that leads to the small Walser hamlets of Zermatt. Here the architecture perfectly

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    by Marika Abbà

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  • Difficult
    06:19
    10.5 mi
    1.7 mph
    900 ft
    4,950 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Leave the wonderful Teodulo refuge and descend towards the Cime Bianche lakes. The mule track you are traveling on was for centuries plowed by the Walser populations intent on colonizing the areas of the Gressoney and Ayas valleys. These places exude history and you will notice it more and more as you

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  • Difficult
    06:44
    8.93 mi
    1.3 mph
    3,975 ft
    2,975 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    You leave from the Guide di Frachey Refuge and cross the numerous pastures that follow one another up to Alpe la Mandria.

    

    Shortly after the Alpe, at the foot of Mont Cavallo, there is a lovely basin, Lake Ciarcierio. On clear days the surrounding glaciers are reflected in its waters. Here you can take

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  • Difficult
    07:44
    10.7 mi
    1.4 mph
    2,900 ft
    5,550 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    After leaving the Gabiet refuge, proceed towards Col d’Olen. The path takes you through numerous pastures used in the past by the inhabitants of the Walser villages.

    

    Just below the hill there are still traces of old gold mines owned by the wealthy family of Nicola Vincent, the first to touch the tip of

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  • Difficult
    09:15
    13.1 mi
    1.4 mph
    3,950 ft
    4,825 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Here you are at the last stage of this demanding Monte Rosa Tour. Today you will return to Macugnaga, but do not be saddened because beautiful surprises await you along the way.

    

    Legs on your shoulders and take the ancient mule track on which the Walser population of Macugnaga traveled to colonize the

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    10
  • Distance
    102 mi
  • Duration
    71:37 h
  • Elevation
    32,400 ft

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