Mountaineering foreign peaks

Classic foreign peaks

Gran Paradiso 4061m

Located within what was the first European National Park created in 1922, Gran Paradiso (4061m), is the only 4000m peak which stands entirely in Italy. Well known as one of the easiest 4000m ascents in the Alps, this pleasant summit is one of the main targets for mountaineers aiming to achieve their first 4000m summit.

Gran Paradiso offers a variety of terrain throughout the ascent. The route starts with easy walking on grassy slopes where you will be able to spot some of the national park’s wild animals. You will then travel across a steep glacier avoiding the crevasses, which will take you to the final rock scramble to reach the summit and the famous Madonna statue at the top. At Chamonix Vertical, we like this mountain as we love the Italian lifestyle !

Day 1 – Approach to the Vittorio Emanuele hut 2775m
After an initial drive through the Mont-Blanc Tunnel, we will head to Valsavarenche valley, one of the many entry points to the Gran Paradiso National Park. We will park at the Pont carpark (1930m) from where our ascent to the Vittoria Emanuele hut will begin.

  • Starting point : Pont carpark
  • Technical difficulty : None
  • Physical difficulty : Normal
  • Hours : 2-3 hours
  • Elevation : 700m

Day 2 – Gran Paradiso 4061m
Leaving the refuge after an early breakfast, we will begin the day’s ascent. Before travelling across the glacier, we will put on our crampons and rope up as the slopes become steeper and the crevasses emerge along the way.

  • Starting point : Ref. Vittorio Emanuele
  • Technical difficulty : F + (icy slopes of up to 40º and top ridge in mixed terrain III)
  • Physical difficulty : Good
  • Hours : long day between 10 and 12 hours to the valley.
  • Elevation : 1350m

Note: this route can be done as suggested in two days or with the option of an extra day with an additional peak : Tresenta (3609m).

Jungfrau 4158m and Mönch 4107m

For this route, we suggest climbing two jewels of the Swiss Bernese Oberland, the Mönch and the Jungfrau, two of the area’s most accessible 4000ers. These alpine summits are nothing short of spectacular and give you the chance to climb some wonderful, exposed ridges. They require solid foot placements and crampon technique. This route can be done in two or three days, depending on your preference.

Mönch (4107m), which means ‘monk’ in German, has four angular ridges, each of which can be climbed from the Mönchsjoch Hut. For this option, we have chosen the standard route via the SE Ridge. Located directly above the hut, this a fine climb up an exposed snowy ridge with several easy rock steps. We will descend back to the valley via the Jungfraujoch Railway.

The Jungfrau (4158m) is the third highest peak in the mountain range and one to tick off your bucket list. Jungfrau translates to ‘virgin’ in German and is supposedly named as such as it was left untouched and unclimbed until the 19th century. This beautiful route, once considered inaccessible, also goes from the Mönchsjoch Hut and leads you onto steep mixed snow ice terrain. The climb up to the summit is sometimes easier than the descent, so good technique is required for this route !

Programme :

  • Day 1 : Meet in Chamonix (or arranged meeting point) and take a transfer to Grindelwald. Take the train to Jungfraujoch (3454m). Climb the Mönch (4107m) along the South East ridge (AD-, +600m) and descend to the Mönchsjoch hut (3657m) to spend the night.
  • Day 2 : From the Mönchsjoch hut, ascend the Jungfrau (4158m) along the South East ridge via Rottalsattel (PD + 800m). Descend to Jungfraujoch via the same itinerary. Take the train to Grindelwald to then return to arranged drop off point (Chamonix, or other).

Monte Rosa – Dufourspitze 4634m

The Monte Rosa Massif is an ice-covered mountain massif that sits between Switzerland and Italy. Straddling the Swiss Valais and Italian Piedmont regions, its highest peak, Dufourspitze, (4634m), is the second highest summit in the Alps and the highest mountain in Switzerland.

The first ascent, from Zermatt, dates back to 1855, when a team of eight climbers, (including three local guides) finally summited the peak after a long series of attempts. Since that historic 1st August, many climbers have succeeded in their dream of reaching the summit of this great peak.

Much has happened since then in the world of mountaineering, but Monte Rosa continues to charm mountaineers with its extensive glacial terrain. The impressive glaciers through which our route passes will leave you in awe, and you will discover the true meaning of ‘glacial progression’. The final ridge to the top makes all your efforts worthwhile and you will be rewarded with breathtaking views over the Alpine arch.

2-day programme (3-day option possible) :

  • Day 1 : Travel from Chamonix to Zermatt, approximately 2.5 hour journey. Next, we will take a train from Zermatt to Gronergrat. Getting off the train in Rotenboden (2815m), we will begin our climb to the Monte Rosa Hut (2880m), which will take about 3 hours. We will spend the night in the new modern hut.
  • Day 2 : Monte Rosa Hut (2880m) – Dufourspitze (4634m) – Monte Rosa Hut (2880m), be prepared for a long day! After an early start from the hut at around 2am, we will begin our journey between rocky slabs and scree slopes before reaching the enormous Monte Rosa glacier. We will initially head up the west side of the glacier, before a final mixed snow and rock ridge which will take us to the summit of Dufourspitze (4634m). With a total elevation of 1750m, this journey is unforgettable. Remember that you also have to come back down 1750m, making this a big day out. Once back at the hut, it is important to have a rest and eat before the final push back to Rotenboden train station. Return from Zermatt to Chamonix.
  • Option for the 3rd day : If you are looking for a more relaxed trip, we can add an extra day after climbing Dufourspitze, spending an additional night at the Monte Rosa hut. We highly recommend this option.

Eiger – Mittellegi Ridge

The Eiger is one of the most spectacular mountains in the Swiss Bernese Oberland. Despite being just short of 4000m, (3970m) it is one of the most coveted peaks in the Alps. Famous for its distinct shape, the Eiger is the biggest north face in the Alps and holds an important place in the history of mountaineering.

The mountain was conquered for the first time in 1858 by Swiss guides via the west flank. The north face, which gained the name ‘The last great problem of the Alps’ had to wait another 80 years before a mixed Austrian-German team successfully climbed it in 1958. They climbed almost 2000m up the north face to open what is now known as the Heckmair route.

The route we suggest goes up the east flank and is known as the Mittellegi ridge. It was first climbed in 1921 by Fritz Amatter, Samuel Brawand, Fritz Steuri and Yuko Maki. The route is made up of a magnificent 2km-long ascent that will take us directly to the top of the Eiger. The adventure will then continue down the southern ridge to the Mönchjoch hut.

Example programme: 6 days (5 days of activity)

  • Day 1 – Meet in Chamonix and run through programme, equipment, etc. Rope handling workshop (climbing, abseiling, belaying, building anchors etc.) in Les Gaillands.
  • Day 2 – Go up the Aiguille du Midi followed by the Midi-Helbronner lift above the Vallee Blanche and climb the Entreves ridge. Night in the Torino Hut.
  • Day 3 – Helbronner-Midi return crossing before climbing the Arêtes des Cosmiques.
  • Day 4 – Travel to Grindenwald. Take the Jungfrau train and climb up to the Mittellegi Hut.
  • Day 5 – Climb the Mittellegi ridge and descend to Grindenwald.
  • Day 6 – Extra day in case of bad weather or extra rest if needed.

Huts : We will sleep in 2 huts: the Torino refuge on the Italian side of Mont-Blanc, and the Mittellegi refuge at the bottom of the Mittellegi ridge. (3 hours from Eissmer train station)

Climbing description :

  • Difficulty : D
  • Elevation : 880m (740m down), long rocky ridge (2 km) in mixed terrain. The hardest parts are equipped with fixed ropes.
  • Descent : Long and complicated on the south or west slopes. Should not be underestimated.
  • Required level : You must be in good physical condition and be technically experienced. Mountain experience on snow and rock is required, minimum PD/AD experience, as well as good climbing level.

Matterhorn 4478m – Cervino/Cervin

One of the most iconic summits of the Alps, the Matterhorn dominates the border between Switzerland and Italy. Its near-symmetric pyramidal peak is world famous and easily recognisable, with one of the biggest north faces in the Alps. It was first climbed in 1865 by a team of mountaineers, including Croz and Whymper, who went up the Northeast Ridge, which is also known as the Hörnli Ridge or Swiss Normal Route. Although a successful ascent, the descent was tragic with four of the seven climbers falling to their death on their way down.

Only a few days later, an Italian party led by Carrel summited from the Italian side on the Leone route, which is now the normal route chosen by Italian guides.
Climbing this spectacular route will not leave you indifferent, with beautiful views over Zermatt as well as Italy. Come and join us on this route to experience the magnificent alpine atmosphere.

Programme: 6 days (5 days of activity)

  • Day 1 – Meet in Chamonix and run through programme, equipment, etc. Rope handling workshop (climbing, abseiling, belaying, building anchors etc.) in Les Gaillands.
  • Day 2 – Climb the Entreves ridge (AD). Access via Aiguille du Midi lift or Skyway lift. Night at Torino Hut.
  • Day 3 – Climb the normal route of the Dent du Géant. 620m climbing IV. Night in Chamonix.
  • Day 4 – Travel to Zermatt and climb to Hörnli Refuge. Access via Schwarzsee cable car and 2 hour walk-in.
  • Day 5 – Climb Hörnli ridge and descend the same way. Journey back to Chamonix.
  • Day 6 – Extra day in case of bad weather or extra rest if needed. This can be used as an extra day to get back to Chamonix if an additional night in the Hörnli Hut is needed.

We will sleep in 2 huts :

  • The Torino refuge (3371m) on the Italian side of Mont-Blanc.
  • The Hörnli hut (3260m) which is at the foot of the Hörnli ridge.

Climbing description : The Hörnli ridge is rocky to begin with which becomes snowy and icy after the shoulder in the final section of the climb. It is graded as AD+. The route is very long, with 1200m of elevation which translates to about 5-6 hours of climbing. At the most difficult points of the climb, the route is equipped with fixed gear, however the high altitude adds to the difficulty of the climb.

Descent : The descent should not be underestimated as it will take the same amount of time, if not longer, than the ascent. Good footwork and excellent down-climbing technique will be needed to make sure you get down safely.

Required level : You must be in good physical condition and be technically experienced. Mountain experience on snow and rock is required, minimum PD/AD experience, as well as good climbing level.