Italian High Level Route

The ultimate Alpine introductory week





From $1,940 Land only

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Holiday Overview


  • From Italy to Switzerland across the Lisjoch pass
  • Climb several 4000 metre Alpine summits
  • Alpine Mountaineering skills tuition
  • Ideal for beginners with a good level of fitness

A simply unbeatable walking holiday, adventure trekking high in the Swiss-Italian Alps with easy climbing to Alpine summits. This fantastic walking and climbing holiday begins with an afternoon of Alpine glacier skills training at the Gandegg Hut above Zermatt, in the shadow of the iconic Matterhorn. The Breithorn (4164m) is our first climbing objective, before trekking the long descent into Italy's picturesque Valle di Gressoney. Walking back up to the lively Gnifetti Refuge, high on the south side of Monte Rosa, sets us up for one of the finest of all trekking days in the Italian Alps,  traversing the Lisjoch/Colle del Lys into Switzerland. Depending on conditions, we will also make the straightforward ascent of the Parrot Spitz or Ludwigs Spitz before bringing this fantastic high level route to a conclusion with a descent into Zermatt. With an overnight at the Monte Rosa Alpine Hut, a little oasis of green amongst the towering giants of the Swiss-Italian frontier ridge. Alpine walking and straightforward climbing doesn't get any better than this!

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in St. Niklaus. Evening briefing
  • Transfer to Zermatt (1608m). Cable way to Trockenersteg (2939m). Walk to the Gandegg Hut (3029m).
  • Cable car to Klein Matterhorn (3883m). Climb the Breithorn (4164m). Trek to Rifugio d' Ayas (3440m).
  • Trek Passo di Bettolina (2905m), Descend to Stafal. Cable car and walk to Refugio Galbiet (2537m).
  • Cable car to 3275m. Climb Pyramid Vincent (4215m) & Balmenhorn (4167m).
  • Trek across the Lisjoch (4151m) into Switzerland and descend to the Monte Rosa Hut (2883m).
  • Trek to Gornergrat. Train to Zermatt (1608m)
  • Departure day
Sat 25 Jun - Sat 02 Jul Code IHL /01/16/
Italian High Level Trek
Adult$1,940 Status Guaranteed Book now
More information
  • Italian High Level Route - Italian High Level Trek
  • The departure reference for this tour is IHL /01/16/
  • This tour begins on Sat 25 Jun and departs on Sat 02 Jul
  • This departure is guaranteed. Secure your place today with a deposit of $400
Sat 09 Jul - Sat 16 Jul Code IHL /02/16/
Italian High Level Trek
Adult$1,940 Status Limited Availability Book now
More information
  • Italian High Level Route - Italian High Level Trek
  • The departure reference for this tour is IHL /02/16/
  • This tour begins on Sat 09 Jul and departs on Sat 16 Jul
  • This departure has limited availability. Don't delay - secure your place today with a deposit of $400
Sat 30 Jul - Sat 06 Aug Code IHL /03/16/
Italian High Level Trek
Adult$1,940 Status Available Book now
More information
  • Italian High Level Route - Italian High Level Trek
  • The departure reference for this tour is IHL /03/16/
  • This tour begins on Sat 30 Jul and departs on Sat 06 Aug
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of $400
Sat 13 Aug - Sat 20 Aug Code IHL /04/16/
Italian High Level Trek
Adult$1,940 Status 2 more to guarantee Book now
More information
  • Italian High Level Route - Italian High Level Trek
  • The departure reference for this tour is IHL /04/16/
  • This tour begins on Sat 13 Aug and departs on Sat 20 Aug
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of $400
Sat 27 Aug - Sat 03 Sep Code IHL /05/16/
Italian High Level Trek
Adult$1,940 Status Available Book now
More information
  • Italian High Level Route - Italian High Level Trek
  • The departure reference for this tour is IHL /05/16/
  • This tour begins on Sat 27 Aug and departs on Sat 03 Sep
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of $400
We sell this holiday on a Land Only basis and recommend that you book your flights to Geneva Airport which is approximately three and half hour's from St Niklaus by train. Please refer to the 'Joining arrangements & transfers' section in the trip dossier for further details.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and the trip is showing 'Guaranteed to Run' or 'Limited'.

If flying from the UK there are a number of low cost airlines offering flights to Geneva. These include Easyjet who have flights from London, Manchester, Liverpool & Glasgow and Jet 2 who have flights from Manchester, Leeds Bradford & Belfast. Other airports may be available. Click on the 'Flight information' link below for further information on booking low cost airlines. Alternatively if you would prefer to book a 'flight inclusive package' using scheduled airlines from the UK please contact our flights department for a quote. Whilst flight prices are likely to be more expensive you will benefit from full financial protection.

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee

We have undertaken to guarantee that all of our Land Only prices will not change once you have booked your holiday. Unlike some of our competitors we have decided never to surcharge, whether you are booking for this year or the next.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • point
  • peaks
  • trip direction
  • transfer
  • trek

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in St. Niklaus. Evening briefing

    We meet at the group hotel in St.Niklaus. Here, you will meet your guides and be made to feel at home. In the evening, we will have an informal chat about the week ahead. There will also be a chance for our guide to check out your clothing and equipment and to decide if you will need to pick up any further items of equipment in Zermatt. We have our evening meal in the Hotel. The Guides will meet everyone on the terrace of the hotel’’s bar at 7pm

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals d

  • Transfer to Zermatt (1608m). Cable way to Trockenersteg (2939m). Walk to the Gandegg Hut (3029m).

    From the Hotel, we take a taxi into Zermatt and walk for 15 minutes to the Klein Matterhorn cable car. (A chance for last minute shopping). It’s a scenic ride up to the mid-station at Trockenersteg at 2939m. From here, it is just a short walk up to the spectacularly situated Gandegg Hut (3029m). This family run refuge provides a warm welcome and has an excellent lunch time menu. The afternoon is spent on the Theodul Glacier, covering basic crampon and glacial travel techniques and some rocky scrambling. We stay overnight in the hut.

    • Accommodation Mountain Hut / Refuge

    • Meals bd

  • Cable car to Klein Matterhorn (3883m). Climb the Breithorn (4164m). Trek to Rifugio d' Ayas (3440m).

    We make the short descent to the Trockenersteg cable car and use this system to take us to the top of the Klein Matterhorn at 3883m. Walking straight out of the lift onto the glacial Breithorn Plateau, we put on our crampons and rope up for the ascent of the Breithorn (4164m). A straightforward snow climb leads to a short, narrow ridge up to the summit, where we have great views in all directions. We descend to the Breithorn Pass (3824m), from where we traverse glacial terrain below the south face of the Breithorn, to near a col known as the Schwarztor (3731m). We now pass by the toe of Pollux’s (4092m) south-west ridge and descend, on glacier, all the way to the Rifugio d’Ayas (3440m), where a warm ‘Italian’ welcome is always guaranteed.

    • Accommodation Mountain Hut / Refuge

    • Ascent 680m

    • Distance 8km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bd

    • Descent 1100m

    • Time 5 - 6 hours walking/climbing

  • Trek Passo di Bettolina (2905m), Descend to Stafal. Cable car and walk to Refugio Galbiet (2537m).

    Leaving the Rifugio d' Ayas early in the morning, we make a short steep descent of a path (safeguarded with ropes), to cross a short section of easy glacier and then scramble down rocks to the Mezzalama hut (3004m). We pick up a good trail down to Pian di Verra Sup (2382m) in the Vallonne di Verra and then ascend to the Passo Superiore di Bettolina (3100m). At first a little trail leads upwards for the passage through to the Valle di Gressoney. The latter part of the ascent is a challenging boulder field which finally gives us access to a broad ridge and easier terrain. Often herds of ibex can be seen grazing in this area. We descend to the colle Bettaforca (2672m), from where we take the cable way down to Stafal (1823m). Once in the valley we have time to relax, with the opportunity to buy a late 'hot' lunch and re-supply with snacks from the village shop. There is also a cash machine and a gear shop in the village but we can’t afford to miss the last cable car! The ride takes us to the mid station at the Plan Gabiet where we will stay at the Rifugio del Gabiet (2357m.), a 15 minute walk from the cable car station. This rifugio offers a traditional ‘Walser’ atmosphere, a bar, dining room and showers plus a great terrace for enjoying a beer whilst watching the sun set.

    • Accommodation Mountain Hut / Refuge

    • Ascent 930m

    • Distance 10km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bd

    • Descent 1600m

    • Time 6 - 7 hours walking

  • Cable car to 3275m. Climb Pyramid Vincent (4215m) & Balmenhorn (4167m).

    We retrace our steps to the cable car and use this to ascend to the Passo dei Salati (2963m) and then, via the new Indren cable car, arrive at 3275m, all without any effort! However, now we start walking! We are aiming for one of two large, lively Italian huts –the Rifugio Mantova (3500m) or the Rifugio Gnifetti (3611m). Leaving the lift station, we first cross the Glacier di Indren and then a rock band with the aid of a few fixed ropes to reach these refuges in approximately 1 hour. After a very short stop to leave any extra gear, weather, conditions and time permitting, we make an ascent of Pyramid Vincent( 4215m) – a straight-forward glacial trek. This snow summit is an excellent viewpoint. We now descend to Col Vincent (4088m) and make the short climb to the Balmenhorn (4167m). To get to this little summit we have to negotiate a short (4 metre) rock wall facilitated by cables and staples. The summit is adorned with a religious monument and a small emergency hut. We return to our refuge via the same route.

    In the event of poor weather/lift closure we have the original route available to us, which is not without interest! – we walk, on a good trail to the Passo dei Salati, from where we follow the ridge due north, skirting around the Stolemberg, occasionally the path has hand cables and the exposure is high, passing the old cableway station of Punta Indren. From here we leave the ridge and cross the Glacier di Indren. We cross a rocky band with the aid of a few chains to reach the refuges. 1150m of ascent,5-6 hrs.

    • Accommodation Mountain Hut / Refuge

    • Ascent 1330m

    • Distance 9km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bd

    • Descent 1160m

    • Time 6 - 7 hours walking

  • Trek across the Lisjoch (4151m) into Switzerland and descend to the Monte Rosa Hut (2883m).

    An amazing day – Nowhere in the Alps can you walk on such high glaciers with so many 4000 metre peaks so close! The Monte Rosa Group is the largest mountain mass above 4000 metres in the European Alps. A few of these summits are relatively easy glaciated snow peaks. Our aim today is to ascend and cross above the Lisjoch/Colle del Lys (4151m). Our passage through is slightly higher at 4256m east of the col which is the only ‘easy’ crossing point back into Switzerland. This day is completely weather and conditions dependent and even in perfect weather this is a tough day. All being well, we may also have the chance to 'bag' another 4000 metre summit such as the Parrot Spitz or Ludwigs Spitz. We overnight in the new Monte Rosa Hut (2883m). The Swiss claim this recently built refuge to be the ‘showpiece’ of modern mountain huts.

    • Accommodation Mountain Hut / Refuge

    • Ascent 960m

    • Distance 11km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bd

    • Descent 1530m

    • Time 8 - 10 hours walking

  • Trek to Gornergrat. Train to Zermatt (1608m)

    After a good breakfast, we make our way back to Zermatt via the Gornergrat Glacier. We first leave the hut by a steep path on the morrain giving access to the glacier – usually dry ice – so we’ll need crampons. After crossing a second glacier – a set of ladders leads to a contouring path to the Rotenboden station of Gornergrat mountain railway (3 - 4 hours). This final day is not without its challenges, and a fine finish to a real alpine adventure. The views are amazing:- Matterhorn, Breithorn, Castor, Pollux, Liskamm, Signalkuppe, Dufoursptitze and Nordend – all towering above 4000m! We board the train and arrive in Zermatt with time to have lunch, look around, or do some souvenir shopping. This evening is free for a restaurant of your choice.. Overnight in group hotel in Zermatt. Dinner is not included in the holiday price for this night.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 600m

    • Distance 8km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals b

    • Descent 640m

    • Time 3 hours walking

  • Departure day

    KE group package services end after breakfast.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • Professional IFMGA Guide(s)
  • All accommodation as described
  • Meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • All cable cars and uplift required by the itinerary
  • All transfers required by the itinerary (except airport transfers)
  • Travel insurance
  • Airport transfers
  • Some meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc.
The food provided in most huts is of a high standard considering the difficulties of supply inherent in their locations. Evening meals tend to be simple but wholesome and there will usually be a limited menu choice including a vegetarian option. Beer and wine as well as soft drinks and bottled water is available to purchase at most huts. Hut breakfasts in Italy consist of bread and jam, In Switzerland they are usually 'continental' style based on bread and jam, cheese or meat and sometimes boiled eggs. This is sometimes supplemented with cereals, yoghurt and fruit.
All breakfasts and 6 dinners are included in the trip price. Packed lunches and snacks can be bought in the huts. On some days there may be the possibility of having a hot lunch either at a hut encountered on route or a late lunch taken at our overnight halt. You should allow around CHF15 / 10 Euros for a packed lunch from the hut or CHF 20 -30 / 15 - 20 Euros for a hot lunch. Most groups prefer to choose a restaurant for the final evening meal in Zermatt and we have therefore not included this meal in the price of your holiday. We suggest 30 - 40 Swiss Francs should be sufficient to cover this meal. During the trek there are 2 huts where you will use Swiss Francs and 3 where you will use Euros.
You must join group at the hotel in St Niklaus in the evening of Day 1 of the trip itinerary. The guide will hold a trek briefing at approximately 7 pm, at the hotel before the evening meal. There are two convenient international airports which allow easy access by train to Zermatt. Zurich - transfer time approx. 3hrs 40 mins - cost one way £83.00 and Geneva - transfer time 4 hrs - cost one way £70.00. Train tickets can be booked on-line with Swiss Federal Railways on or by telephone on 00 41 900 300 300. The railway station is actually in the airport at Geneva and there is an hourly service (throughout most of the day) to Saint Niklaus VS, Bahnhof, connecting in Visp. Hotel contact details and an emergency number will be provided with your booking confirmation. If you are intending to drive to St Niklaus, we will provide route details and directions to the group hotel.
During this trip the group will spend 2 nights in hotel accommodation. Whilst in the mountains, there are 5 nights spent in mountain huts, where the accommodation provided is on a non-segregated, dormitory-style basis. In some high mountain huts, washing facilities are limited. Single rooms are not available.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

After breakfast at our overnight accommodation, we try to get an early start. For food during the day, we carry a packed lunch which you may wish to supplement with snacks. Lunches tend to be eaten on the move, as we are normally under pressure to complete the day’s walk or climb whilst the snow conditions are good. On some days it might be possible to purchase a snack on arrival at our next overnight stop - rosti and eggs in Switzerland and pasta in Italy are popular options. Ideally, we should arrive at our overnight accommodation by early afternoon. The afternoon is spent relaxing, sleeping, playing, and enjoying the view. The evening meal in the huts is a set menu of 3-courses at about 7 p.m. Most people are tucked up in bed by 9.30 p.m.
The group will be led by English-speaking IFMGA guides and guiding is at a ratio of 1:6.
On this holiday we spend 2 hotel nights and two hut nights in Switzerland and 3 hut nights in Italy. Ideally you should take a mix of Euros and Swiss francs. All meals in the meal plan and all planned uplift (cable cars/trains), are included in the price. Approximately 50 - 80 Euros and 100 - 120 Swiss Francs should adequately cover typical personal spending requirements including lunches and the final dinner plus drinks etc. There are cashpoint facilities at the airports and in Zermatt (you will get Swiss francs only in Zermatt) and in Stafal in Italy (for Euros). If you are intending to hire or purchase items of equipment, or if you intend to drink wine or beer in the huts, you should budget accordingly (credit cards can be useful in this respect).
Group members will carry all of their personal equipment during the trek and it is vitally important to keep the overall weight of your equipment to a minimum. Since you will not be required to carry either a sleeping bag or a camping mattress it should be possible to keep the weight of your pack to under 10 kg. Whilst in the mountains you will leave your main trek bag and travel clothes in the group hotel.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

This holiday involves going to high altitude. During the course of your trip you will reach altitudes in excess of 3500 metres. This is not something that you should worry about; the human body is quite capable of adapting to a very wide range of altitudes, but it is important that we follow some simple rules in order to acclimatise successfully. Before coming on this holiday you should read the advice on trekking at high altitude on our website which can be viewed via the link below. You can also talk to one of our trekking experts if you have any concerns about altitude.

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your pack to a minimum.

You must bring the following items:

  • Mountain Boots (see notes below)

  • Crampons – MUST be fitted with anti-balling plates*

  • Crampon bag

  • Ice Axe*

  • Mountaineering harness*

  • Screw gate karabiner x 1*

  • Trekking poles x 2 (with baskets)

  • Gaiters

  • Socks – walking socks are best (2/3 pairs)

  • Trekking Trousers (i.e. not cotton)

  • Waterproof trousers

  • Underwear

  • Thermal Base Layer x 2 (one long sleeved for glacier travel)

  • Fleece jacket or pullover

  • Waterproof jacket (with hood)

  • Extra warm layer – (primaloft or lightweight down)

  • Sunhat

  • Warm hat

  • Sunglasses – category 3 or 4.

  • Thin gloves – leather or thermal

  • Warm and waterproof gloves or mittens

  • Sleeping bag liner/sheet sleeping bag (silk is lightest)

  • Rucksack (30 - 40 litres should be sufficient)

  • Head torch and spare battery

  • Sun Protection (high factor for skin)

  • Lip salve – with sunscreen

  • Water bottle - minimum 1 litre

  • Small, lightweight wash kit and pack towel

  • Plastic Bag to keep essentials dry

  • Small hand sanitizer gel

  • Basic First Aid Kit including: Antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), painkillers, plasters, blister treatment (zinc oxide tape and ‘Compeed’), insect repellent, and re-hydration salts (Dioralite).

The following items are optional:

  • Change of shirt and trousers

  • Thermal baselayer - leggings

  • Shorts (for non-glacial travel)

  • Rain cover for Rucksack

  • Earplugs (particularly if you are not the one snoring!)

  • Repair kit – (eg. Pocket knife, needle, thread, duct tape etc.)

  • Camera

  • Travel Clothes (can be left at your hotel)

  • Travel Shoes (can be left at your hotel)

  • Small Padlock (for trek bag)


Mountaineering Boots: Recommended boots for this trip are comfortable, warm and sufficiently stiff to take a crampon securely (a sturdy B1 or a ‘worn in’ B2 boot is ideal). Rigid B3 boots are NOT suitable for this trek.


Crampons: Modern strap on crampons are perfectly acceptable for this trek and will fit any boot. All crampons MUST be fitted with anti-balling plates. Grivel Crampons - G10 or G12 with a strap system are excellent and they come fitted with anti-balling plates. We do not recommend semi-automatic crampons for use with softer boots since with this system, the pull on the heel can lead to blisters.


Equipment hire: Equipment marked *can be hired from KE. This can be reserved either when you book your trip or closer to your departure but we advise booking hire equipment as soon as possible to ensure availability. We do not hire mountaineering boots, but there are several shops in Chamonix renting boots that are suitable for this trip.

Sleeping bags are NOT required as bedding and hut shoes/slippers are provided at mountain refuges. However, you should bring a sheet sleeping bag.

Needle Sports (specialist mountaineering equipment shop)

Needle Sports is the English Lake District's foremost specialist climbing shop supplying mountaineering, rock, ice, alpine and expedition equipment worldwide. Internationally recognised as among the very best of the UK's top technical climbing gear retailers. They have a good range of equipment appropriate for this trip and offer knowledgeable advice both on their website and in store. View >>



For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

Visa Europe

UK and USA passport holders do not require a visa.

You should contact your doctor or travel clinic to check whether you require any specific vaccinations. UK residents should obtain a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This entitles you to state provided medical treatment, but is not a substitute for medical travel insurance which is still vital when travelling overseas.

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

It makes a lot of sense to spend some time before coming on a trekking or climbing trip getting some additional exercise. The fitter you are, after all, the more enjoyable you will find the experience. We would suggest that you adopt a weekly exercise regime leading up to your trip. Jogging, squash and swimming are good for developing better stamina. Before departure, we suggest that you try to fit in a number of long walks in hilly country. Whilst it would be useful to have some previous experience of using crampons and an ice-axe, no previous winter climbing experience is required.

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

The temperatures that we can expect to encounter during the day will be reasonably warm, ranging from 10°C / 50°F to 25°C/ 77°F. It can be cool in the evenings at our highest overnight stopping places, falling close to freezing point at night. The weather is usually stable during July and August, but mountainous areas do generate their own weather systems and occasional rain and even stormy weather cannot be ruled out. You should be prepared for all eventualities!
  • Walking In The Alps. Kev Reynolds.
  • The Mountains of Europe. Kev Reynolds.
  • The Alpine 4000m Peaks. Richard Goedeke
Swiss Topo 1:50,000 Special Edition Hiking Maps

Swiss survey maps are highly regarded for their superb use of graphic relief and hill shading, presenting an almost 3-D picture of the terrain. These are 'special edition' maps from the Switzerland Topographic Survey at 1:50,000 which have the same excellent cartography as the general network which covers the entire country in 78 sheets, but are specifically designed for hikers and are centered on particular tourist regions. They also cover a larger area than the normal sheets. For this holiday you will need the following sheet: 5028T - Monterosa-Matterhorn 1:50 000

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