Monte Rosa, Normal Route


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2-3 days

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2 climbers per guide

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Alps Advice

The summit ridge

Monte Rosa, at 4634 meters (15,199 feet) is the highest mountain in Switzerland, and is a long and demanding climb that rewards the climber with unequaled views into Italy to the south, as far as Mont Blanc in the west, with all the great peaks scattered along the Italian border between the Matterhorn and the Mont Blanc Massif. In the foreground is the massive north face of the Liskamm Gruppe.

The highest summit of the Monte Rosa complex is the Dufourspitze. The normal route from the Swiss side is via the West Ridge. From Zermatt the climb requires 2 to 3 days; the first to approach the Monte Rosa Hut, the second to make the ascent and return to the hut, and the third reserved for returning to Zermatt. While it is possible to return to town on the ascent day, it is a very long climb, with an elevation gain of 1880 meters (about 6200 feet). Staying a second night in the hut after the summit can make the trip more enjoyable.

The climbing is largely on easy glacier to a saddle at the base of the West Ridge. The ridge itself is then followed up 3rd and 4th class rock, with occasional steeper steps and knife-edged sections, as well as sections of snow or ice up to 40 degrees.

Because of the very large amount of vertical elevation gain and loss when climbing the normal route on Monte Rosa, we recommend spending an extra couple days and reaching the summit via the Frontier Ridge Traverse. See our 5-day Monte Rosa Traverse page form more information. This offers much more climbing, several more significant summits, and a shorter summit day.

Climbers descending the summit ridge
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Monte Rosa hut


Climbed from the Monte Rosa hut, the normal route is one of the longest moderate routes in the Alps, with over 6200 vertical feet of elevation gain on summit day, and at high altitude. As a result, the main challenge of this climb is one of fitness, endurance and aerobic conditioning. There is some 4th class rock on the summit ridge and occasionally some 40 degree ice at the base of the West Ridge.


Excellent fitness is required, as is determination.


The Monte Rosa hut is placed with an eye towards this peak only. There are few other climbs regularly done from this hut. For combinations giving a longer outing, consider the 5-day Monte Rosa Traverse, over the frontier ridge between Switzerland and Italy. We affectionately call this the "Spaghetti Tour" and recommend it highly.

Sunrise on Monte Rosa
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Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
UIAGM Internationally Licensed Mountain Guides

AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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