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Bestseller
Bestseller
Holidays

Italian High Level Route

Italy, Italian Alps
6 reviews
Available Departures: Jun, Jul, Aug

8 days from

US$2,775

without flights
Mountaineer
Guided Group
CHALLENGING CHALLENGING

The ultimate Alpine introductory week completing a cross-border circuit through Switzerland and Italy

Trip Code: IHL
Holiday Grades

Our Holiday Grades Explained

To show the relative difficulty of our holidays, each trip is graded on a scale of 1 to 12, with 12 being the most challenging. Although we have tried to make our grading system as clear as possible, it cannot take into account your personal interests, abilities or experience. If you have any questions about the nature of a particular trip or its suitability for you, please read the 'Is this holiday for you?' section or contact us.

 1 - 3 LEISURELY
1 - 3 LEISURELY

Suitable for most people in good health, holidays at this grade include only limited amounts of activity.

View leisurely holidays
4 - 6 MODERATE
4 - 6 MODERATE

Suitable for reasonably fit individuals, such as weekend walkers and cyclists. There can be the occasional more difficult day.

View moderate holidays
7 - 9 CHALLENGING
7 - 9 CHALLENGING

Physically challenging holidays, where you need to be prepared before you go.

View challenging holidays
10 - 12 TOUGH
10 - 12 TOUGH

Our toughest holidays, involving many long days, often in isolated areas. A high level of fitness and previous wilderness and mountain experience is essential.

View Tough holidays

Italian High Level Route

Highlights
  • Hut-to-hut from Italy to Switzerland across the stunning Lisjoch pass (4151m)
  • Stay in the iconic Gnifetti Refuge (3647m) high on Monte Rosa
  • Climb several 4000 metre Alpine summits, including Breithorn (4164m)
  • Expert Alpine Mountaineering skills tuition (1:5 guide to client ratio) with an IFMGA guide
  • Perfect for hikers with a good level of fitness looking to get more from the mountains
  • FREE Equipment hire worth £100 is available for this holiday

At a Glance
  • Group Size 4 to 5
  • 6 days trekking and climbing
  • Max altitude - 4256m
  • Join In St Niklaus

Accommodation & Meals
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • 6 Dinners
  • 2 nights Hotel
  • 5 nights Mountain Hut / Refuge
Overview

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 Ludwigshohe (4342m) 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!

This is real high mountain travel. The peaks on this trip are technically straightforward snow climbs. However, most of the trip is spent at a high altitude (above 3000m.) and is a physically demanding trip offering Alpine trekking both on and off glaciers. On route, we will stay in mountain huts, all of which are inaccessible by regular vehicles so this means that group members will need to carry all of their personal equipment throughout the trip. With careful planning, and given the fact that sleeping bags and camping mats are not carried, the total weight of your rucksack can be pared down to around 10 kilograms.

Led by professional IFMGA guides, it is aimed at beginner mountaineers and experienced trekkers. Instruction in roped glacier travel and guided climbing, using crampons and a single ice axe is part of the package.  The ascent of the Breithorn and the crossing of the Lisjoch will be strenuous on account of the altitude but is technically easy, involving glacial travel, snow-slope climbing and some slightly exposed ridges. Ropes, crampons and an ice axe will be used.  Given the guide to client ratio of 1:5 and the non-technical nature of the climbing, this trip should be feasible for novice alpinists, but a high level of fitness is a prerequisite.

 

Please be aware that routes in the high glaciated mountain regions are subject to changing conditions and difficulties. The Alpine Guides may need to make changes to your planned route at very short notice.

Why KE?

With expert mountaineering skills tuition with and an IFMGA guide, a fantastic guiding ratio of 1:5 and several 4000m peaks, this is the perfect way to move from hiking to mountaineering.

This trip is also perfect for Private Groups - if your preferred departure date is sold out or not shown, do just let us know.  We will do our best to get your preferred date sorted for you. 


 FREE equipment hire worth £100 available for this holiday.

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Itinerary

We meet at the group hotel in Zermatt. Our guide will meet us in the evening for 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. We have our evening meal in the Hotel.

Accommodation

Hotel

Meals

D

Walk to the Klein Matterhorn cable car - and 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

B D

Ascent

100 M

Time

30 min walking

Distance

1 KM

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

Meals

B D

Ascent

680 M

Descent

1100 M

Time

5 - 6 hours walking/climbing

Distance

8 KM

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. Finally, we take the cable car 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

Meals

B D

Ascent

930 M

Descent

1600 M

Time

6 - 7 hours walking

Distance

10 KM

We start our ascent on a good path leading into the Endre valley and up to the Orestes Hut - time for a coffee stop at this welcoming refuge. (1hr 30). Then we ascend on a good path towards the Rifugio Mantova (3500m), often seeing Ibex on the way, plus on a fine day, we can take in the summit of Alta Luce (3185m) by a short detour - a fine viewpoint. As we approach the Rifugio Mantova, the trail takes on a mountain feel, as we cross huge granite slabs. Passing by this refuge, we make our final steep ascent on a glacier up to the spectacularly situated Rifugio

Accommodation

Mountain Hut / Refuge

Meals

B D

Ascent

1000 M

Time

6 - 7 hours walking

Distance

9 KM

Aiming for Pyramid Vincent (4215m) and the Balmenhorn (4167m) on the way! An amazing day. Nowhere in the Alps can you walk on such high glaciers with so many 4000 m peaks so close! The Monte Rosa Group is the largest mountain mass above 4000 m in the European Alps. Our aim today is to climb Pyramid Vincent- a straight-forward glacial peak. 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 rock wall, facilitated by a rope and staples. The summit is adorned with a religious monument and a small emergency hut. Next, we cross above the Lisjoch/Colle del Lys (4256m). This is the only 'easy' crossing point back into Switzerland. We finish off with a long and heavily crevassed descent of the Grenz glacier and eventually the Monte Rosa Hut. This day is completely weather and conditions dependent and even in perfect weather this is a tough day. We overnight in the new Monte Rosa Hut (2883m). The Swiss claim this recently built refuge to be the 'showpiece' of modern mountain huts. Showers are available (for an additional cost).

Accommodation

Mountain Hut / Refuge

Meals

B D

Ascent

800 M

Descent

1400 M

Time

7 - 8 hours walking

Distance

11 KM

Access to/from the Monte Rosa Hut is always in a constantly changing state due to the glaciers retreating. After a good breakfast, we make our way back to Zermatt taking a 'newly created' path that traverses the mountain and morrains to give us access the Gornergrat glacier and once off the glacier, a good path, gently ascending 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.

Accommodation

Hotel

Meals

B

Ascent

400 M

Descent

450 M

Time

4 - 5 hours walking

Distance

9 KM

KE group package services end after breakfast.

Meals

B
Download Trip Notes
The Route
Point Point
Peaks Peaks
Direction Direction
Transfer
Trek

Essential Information

We've compiled some of our Frequently Asked Questions to help you learn more about this amazing trip.

  • Professional IFMGA Guide(s)
  • All accommodation as described
  • Meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • All transfers required by the itinerary (except airport transfers)

  • Travel insurance
  • Airport transfers
  • Some meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • Cable cars and mountain railway fees
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc.


TRAVEL TO YOUR DESTINATION

In some cases you may choose to take a ferry and/or train to your holiday start and end destination. Please see further information on Travelling by Train.

If flying from the UK there are low cost airlines available to the start and from the end of your holiday.

To benefit from full financial protection, ease your holiday planning, and avoid dealing with airlines, we can book scheduled flights from the UK as part of a flight inclusive package. Scheduled flights are usually more expensive that low cost alternatives, however potentially less stressful if your flight is cancelled or delayed. If you book flights through KE Adventure Travel we will offset the carbon of your flight.

Please join the group at the hotel in Zermatt in the evening of day 1 of the trip itinerary. The guide will hold a trek briefing at the hotel before the evening meal, this is in the bar area at 18.30.

The most convenient international airport is Geneva and the easiest way to get to Zermatt from Geneva Airport is by train. Train tickets can be booked online with Swiss Federal Railways on https://www.sbb.ch/en/timetable.html or by telephone on 00 41 900 300 300. The SWISS TRANSFER TICKET or the SUPERSAVER TICKET may provide the cheapest way of getting from the airport to your holiday destination - https://www.sbb.ch/en
Train tickets can be booked in advance through the above website however it is also very easy to purchase your tickets on arrival at the train station - you can either purchase a return ticket at Geneva train station or a single at both Geneva and Zermatt (to give you more flexibility).

The railway station is actually in the airport at Geneva and there is an hourly service (throughout most of the day) to Zermatt connecting in Visp.

From the train station - The hotel is about a 7 minute walk (cars are not permitted in Zermatt).
Walk down Bahnhofstrasse for about 3 minutes and then turn left onto Hofmattstrasse until you reach the river, cross the river and turn left onto Vispastrasse. The hotel is on the right hand side after about 1 minute.

By car - You can park at Tasch as no cars are permitted into Zermatt. The parking here is not free.

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.

When in the towns and villages all tap water is drinkable. In mountain huts there is usually not a sustainable drinking water supply. Water in plastic bottles is brought in to the hut. All huts have a recycling point. If you have to purchase water in plastic bottles please buy the largest bottle you can so as to use less plastic. Please take purification tablets or a filter bottle (such as a Water-To-Go bottle) to treat your water if you can fill from a local stream. Bottled water is not provided. We do not encourage the purchasing of single use plastic bottles. Local authorities are working to find solutions to using plastic water bottles in huts. We monitor the situation carefully for updates.

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.

Whilst we can cater for vegetarians, albeit sometimes with a more limited choice, we cannot always provide special diets.  Due to the nature of some of the trips that we operate and the countries in which we operate them, it can be very hard (and sometimes impossible) to cater for a wide range of dietary choices and you may have to supplement your diet with food/snacks from home.  If you have specific dietary requirements please do speak to our sales team and they will be able to advise you whether or not we will be able to offer your specific choice.  Please note that we are unable to provide separate menus and cannot accept liability for any problems arising from special dietary requirements or intolerances.

During this trip the group will spend 2 nights in hotel accommodation, where the rooms will be either twin or triple sharing. 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.

The group will be led by English-speaking IFMGA guides and guiding is at a ratio of 1:5.

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.

www.keadventure.com/page/altitude.html

 

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. 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).

Approximately CHF 120 and €65 should be budgeted for cable cars and mountain railways - this is in addition to the above amount.

For this holiday you should take one piece of luggage and a daypack (of around 30 - 40 litres). For international flights please check your baggage allowance with your airline. Since group members will carry all personal equipment during the trek, it is important to keep the overall weight of this equipment to a minimum. Neither a sleeping bag nor a camping mattress is needed and it should be possible to keep the weight of your pack to under 10kg.

Whilst in the mountains you will leave your main bag and travel clothes in the group’s hotel in St Niklaus and these will be transported to your final hotel in Zermatt. Luggage with wheels can be useful for this holiday.

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.

Europe

Your passport must meet 2 requirements. It must be:

  • less than 10 years old on the day you enter (check the ‘date of issue’)

  • valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave (check the ‘expiry date’)

For the latest details on visiting countries within the EU or the European Economic Area (EEA), please check the UK Government website

The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required, and you should have at least 2 blank pages for each country that you visit.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Please ensure that you check for the latest advice before travel. For the most up to date information on entry requirements, please visit the UK Government website.

If you have a severe allergy please inform the KE office before you travel. We will do all we can to help, but we cannot guarantee an allergy free environment on KE trips. You will need to carry your own treatment for the allergy with you, as 'adrenaline auto-injectors' are not carried as standard by KE leaders and staff. You should inform your leader on arrival of your allergy, and let them know where you keep your adrenaline pen.

Vaccinations

You should contact your doctor or travel clinic to check whether you require any specific vaccinations.

GHIC / Medical cover

UK residents should carry a free Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This entitles you to state provided medical treatment when you're visiting an EU country or Switzerland. This is not a substitute for medical travel insurance which is vital when travelling overseas.

The currency for part or all of this holiday is the Euro.

The unit of currency in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc.

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.

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!

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's ‘Travel Aware campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas. The 'Travel Aware' website provides a single, authoritative source of advice for all kinds of travellers and we recommend that prior to travel, all KE clients visit the official UK Government website at travelaware.campaign.gov.uk and read the FCDO Travel Advice for their chosen destination. North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: www.travel.state.gov 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 FCDO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCDO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

KE do not encourage the use of single use plastic items. We are ensuring that our agents all over the world are working together to reduce the problem and educate those around them. We are leading by example in our KE office by reducing our plastic use.

  • 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

It is an essential condition of joining a holiday with KE Adventure Travel that you have a valid travel insurance policy to cover the cost of medical treatment and to protect the value of your holiday in the event of cancellation.  When taking out insurance please ensure the policy you choose covers you for the activities and altitude included in your itinerary.

For appropriate insurance cover we recommend Campbell Irvine Direct.  Please go to our Travel Insurance page for further information and to get a quote.

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* (when hiring crampons a bag is automatically included / can not be hired separately)

  • Ice Axe*

  • Mountaineering harness*

  • Screw gate karabiner x 1*

  • Helmet*

  • Trekking poles x 2 (with baskets)

  • Gaiters

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

  • Trekking Trousers (i.e. not cotton)

  • Waterproof overtrousers - with long leg zip designed to put on whilst wearing boots

  • 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

  • Very warm winter type gloves

  • 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 - 1 litre x2 (we encourage re-filling water bottles rather than single use plastic)

  • Water purification tablets

  • Small, lightweight wash kit and pack towel

  • Dry bags(s) for daypack/kitbag contents (to ensure they keep 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)

  • Reusable cloth bag for shopping (to avoid plastic bags)

Notes

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.  Aluminium crampons are not suitable for this trip (they are not strong enough over mixed terrain).

Equipment hire: Equipment marked with a *can be hired from KE. This can be reserved when you book your trip or closer to your departure but we advise booking hire equipment as soon as possible to ensure availability - equipment hire must be booked through the KE office prior to your departure. Any hired equipment will be collected on arrival from your guide, 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 >>http://www.needlesports.com/

 

 

Cotswold Outdoor Red PantonMany of the Equipment items listed above are available from Cotswold Outdoor - our 'Official Recommended Outdoor Retailer'. When you book a holiday with KE you will receive 12.5% discount voucher from Cotswold Outdoor and other retailers.
>> Find out more

Reviews

4.8 out of 5 from 6 reviews

BRILLIANT EXPERIENCE IN HIGH MOUNTAINS SURROUNDED BY BREATHTAKING VIEWS ★★★★★

A fantastic week, taking me high onto snow and ice, with crampons and ice axe, for the first time, and for much of the week. KE's "Is this holiday for you?" is perfectly pitched - it is sometimes strenuous (so yes, be fit), but it is so rewarding and a really great experience. I also found the packing list useful and yes, it can be done with 10kg. (But I couldn't get it all into my 33L rucksack - bought a 44L pack and this worked fine). We were blessed with amazing weather, making the glacier vi ews all the more stunning. So much depends on your fellow travellers - we were a great little team - and above all, your leader. Kathy Murphy was our guide - I agree with all that has been written about her, she is simply an outstanding mountain guide - and we were so fortunate to benefit from her friendship, knowledge and experience.
By Giles Staines-Upon-Thames | 18 July 2019

A great adventure ★★★★

As first time mountaineers with a lot of UK hill walking experience we didn't really know what to expect from this guided high level trek. Our guide was excellent and whilst very safety conscious he made every effort to ensure that we achieved our goals. Each day was very different and the scenery was spectacular. We were left with a great sense of achievement and a desire to book another similar trip soon

By Stephen Harpenden | 01 August 2017

A fantastic high Alpine week, with a great itinerary and lots of variety. ★★★★★

This was a great intro to the Zermatt - Monte Rosa area including some 4000m summits and giving excellent experience for walking roped up and using winter skills with axe and crampons. The mountain huts were of a very high standard with good food! We had an excellent guide in Kathy Murphy, who was very experienced and dealt with any safety of group issues very efficiently. The itinerary is great, and gives lots of variety, and this certainly makes one want to come back for more. KE could have be en a bit more upfront about the considerable extra costs involved in getting to Zermatt, as the list price for the trip of £1295 was very reasonable, but in reality, the actual cost was nearer £1700 by the time one had paid for the train travel on Swiss railways, cable cars and the meals not included.
By Gordon Cheltenham | 23 July 2017

KE Adventure reply

Thank you for your review. It's great to hear you had such an excellent experience. We are sorry that you felt we could have been more upfront about the costs of the trip, as it is our policy to be very clear about this. What's included and what's not in the price of the holiday is the first section in the 'Holiday Information' on our website and in the trip notes. For the Italian High Level Route, train fares from Geneva Airport are given in the section on 'Joining arrangements and transfers' and the approximate cost of cable cars and non-included meals can be found in the section on 'Spending Money'.


A superb Mountain Experience ★★★★★

This was a great mountain experience that if anything is undersold in the brochure. The trip had a superb variety of alpine trekking and serious mountain terrain. The highlight was undoubtably the descent on the Thursday to the new Monta Rosa hut. You do need to be fairly fit and you do need to be well used to your boots. I would also advise anyone to keep their weight down. We were lucky to have a great guide in Caroline Ogden who has well as knowing her stuff kept everyones spirits up and was empathetic with all of the group.
By Gareth Baldock | 03 September 2016

Wonderful and challenging mountaineering in the Swiss and Italian Alps ★★★★★

Italy’s 4,000 Metre Monsters A trek in the high peaks of the Italian and Swiss Alps It was 9.30am Monday morning and we were trudging up through the snow towards our target, the rounded summit of the Breithorn at 4,164m. We had seen this, the first of our 4000m+ peaks, on Sunday from the sun terrace of the Gaudegg Hut; it hadn’t looked too bad from there. But now, slogging up from the Trockenersleg cable car station on the Breithorn Plateau, not yet acclimatised at this high altitude, it was hard going. It hadn’t helped that none of us had slept well the night before. In six-bedded rooms (a single and two double bunks, where I had shared a mattress with Phil, an accountant from Hull), the chorus of snores, people’s intermittent visits to the cold, outside loo, and listening to your elevated heart rate (huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh), amplified through ear plugs, made sleep almost impossible. At breakfast Phil recalled guide Richard’s words, ‘Even if you’re not sleeping, you’re resting’. Vicky, a dancer from London, told us she was terrified when her dad, Jeremy, stopped breathing, only to restart abruptly as if defibrillated with a huge and noisy intake of breath – apparently this is quite common at high altitude – which is okay if your body remembers to breathe again. Guide Kathy led us on another zag up the snow slope with her small, steady steps, followed on the rope by Vicky, Jeremy, John (an experienced hike leader from the Forest of Dean) and me. We were sharing the mountain with lots of groups in front and behind, all making for the summit, while skiers and snowboarders headed the other way to slide off the plateau. Richard’s group (Ashley, Phil, Simon and his son, Jasper) were somewhere up ahead, a problem with Vicky’s crampon having slowed us at the start. Talking of crampons, it was lucky Ashley had any – arriving at the Gandegg Hut above Zermatt on Sunday and about to practise on the glacier, Richard asked what he no doubt assumed was a rhetorical question; ‘So, everyone’s got their harness and crampons?’ We all nodded, except Ashley, who said, ‘No’. Richard was incredulous. Ash said, ‘I told you I didn’t have any at the hotel.’ Vicky corroborated, ‘Yes, I remember, but we thought you were joking.’ Richard quickly recovered and a new plan was hatched – Kathy would bring them up when she met us on Monday, and for the practice Ashley would make do. In fact, he did so well without them, duck-walking up and down the snow slope, that we suggested he didn’t need crampons at all. Finally we reached the narrow summit ridge and in a few minutes were on the top. It was very cold as an icy wind swept across the exposed summit, and crowded as groups were arriving, milling around or leaving. But with the characteristically pointed shape of the Matterhorn dominating the view to the northwest, and many other 4000m+ peaks in Switzerland and Italy visible, the 3600 panorama was spectacular. After initially retracing our steps, we descended steeply to the Breithorn Pass. I tripped and fell headfirst at one point, but the rope system came quickly into play, so much so that when Kathy shouted, ‘Get on your feet!’ I could hardly move I was held so tight. We made a long traverse, passing the toe of the Pullux peak, and then all the way down to Rifugio d’Ayas at 3,440m. The sleeping accommodation had deteriorated; we were now, all eight of us, fitted on a single shelf, with another group joining us on the other side of the attic room. Ash’s alarm went off at 5.30am on Tuesday morning but it was irrelevant because none of us was asleep – it had been a noisy night and the smelly heat of sixteen bodies had turned our dormitory, even with two windows wide open, into a sweaty solarium. To make matters worse, the clouds that had been moving across the previous afternoon were now an engulfing grey soup-scape penetrated only by the cold drizzle. So before setting off we donned waterproofs top and bottom, minus our harnesses but crampons at the ready. The descent from the hut was precarious, on wet rock hanging on to fixed ropes as we navigated irregular steps in the rock some of the way down. It got worse when we reached a steeply dipping expanse of ice, which proved so tricky without crampons that Richard cut steps with his ice axe, while Kathy crudely roped around the waist those of us she no doubt deemed most likely to take a dive (myself, Ash, Jeremy and Vicky). We were rewarded with cups of hot chocolate at the Mezzalama Hut, while Richard duct-taped some padding around Jeremy’s ankle to protect it from an ill-fitting boot. It was a straightforward hike down the Vallee d’Ayas, the rain soaking us through despite the hundreds of pounds worth of high-tech Gore-tex that we all wore. But the two and a half hour hike 700m up to the Passo di Bettolina at 2,905m was a different matter – the boulder field was like an obstacle course set by the gods, the only respite being small patches of snow where we cut steps with the sides of our boots (and were I slipped and nearly had to begin again as if on a giant ‘snakes and ladders’ board). Near the top it steepened and was slippery with gravel. We didn’t linger long because we couldn’t see anything of the view. All our gloves soaked, Vicky’s hands were freezing, but John pulled from his deep rucksack a huge pair of fluffy red ones, for which Vicky was eternally grateful, even though they did make her look like Omo. Following the broad ridge, it was a relief to reach the chairlift station at the Col Bettaforca, where the heater made our soggy clothes steam as we sipped hot coffee. Despite the constant drizzle, the day got better. Descending to Stafal, Kathy led us straight to a bar that cooked great pizzas. There was a wood burner but despite the offer of vast amounts of money by Jeremy (who ran a wealth management business), the proprietor declined to light it so we remained wet and cold. The cable car took us up to Plan Galbiet. In Rifugio Galbiet we were four to a room with proper bunk beds, there was a drying room, loos you can sit down on, showers with hot water, and coffee at €1.50; we thought we’d died and gone to heaven. The idyll was completed by a splendid Italian meal: delicately crafted, delicious tasting lasagne, thick and hearty pea soup, yummy veal and carrots, and a sweet desert. Up at 6am Wednesday morning, it took two cable cars to reach the Glacier di Indren at 3,275m. Sadly, Jeremy’s ankle problem had worsened and he and Vicky decided to leave the trek. As they made their way down and, by various modes of transport, back to a comfortable hotel in Zermatt, we made our way up and across the glacier, then negotiated some fixed ropes to arrive at the Rifugio Mantova at 3,500m. The weather had cleared so, after dropping off some surplus gear, we were all ready to ascend the Pyramid Vincent, our second 4,000m+ peak, which dominated the skyline above the hut. We set off at 10.10am, Richard leading John, myself and Phil, while Kathy followed with Ash and Simon. Richard set for us a blistering pace and like all these mountain summits, it was further than it looked, especially as the route took us around behind it. At the Col Vincent we made a stop to drink and catch our breath. A man in snow shoes passed us descending, leading a small black dog in a red coat. The dog was high-stepping and definitely not wagging its tail – the poor thing probably thought it had set out for walkies around town and was now freezing its paws off at 4,000m. A last push up the steep snow slope to the summit, zig-zagging as we went, and we were on top of Pyramid Vincent at 4,215m. It was perfectly clear and we could see all the way to Mont Blanc and beyond. Kathy’s team arrived soon after and together we celebrated our conquest. Richard said, ‘Do you want to do that little one over there?’ At first I thought he meant the jagged peak to the north and higher than us (the Ludwigshorn) and wondered if I had the legs. But our new target was the Balmenhorn at 4,167m, a rocky outcrop adjacent to our current position. We retraced our steps down to the col and climbed 90m up the other side. The ascent was made more exciting by the need to cross a narrow ice ridge one at a time, then scramble up fixed ropes with the aid of some metal steps (noisy and slippy wearing crampons) to the summit. A bronze statue of Christ (made from Second World War scrap as a symbol of peace) stands looking down the valley as if to say, ‘Look at all this I’ve made,’ or perhaps, ‘Venture up here if you dare.’ Our descent was fast and exhausting and a good nap in the hut that afternoon was welcome. On the way down we passed a group practising rescue techniques by the mouth of a large crevasse. Others were walking on the glacier un-roped (even though they were carrying them) as if on a Sunday stroll at the park rather than a serious expedition at altitude on crevasse-riven ice. Lots of tut-tutting from our guides, whose tales of the fatal dangers of complacency on the glacier kept us focused and alert. Rifugio Mantova, with its broad sun terrace and vast dining room, provided us with a good meal as we braced ourselves for an early start and the big day that was to follow. Thursday saw us up at 4.45am for a 5am breakfast, ready to leave by ten minutes to six. The route took us back up towards Pyramid Vincent for our ascent and crossing of the Lisjoch, a broad plateau that would lead back into Switzerland. Ash had worried about packing in time but I said, ‘There won’t be much to pack, you’ll be wearing it all.’ It was dark and very cold when we set off. The glacier was dotted with headtorch beams like fairy lights from the multiple groups ascending, tied together and having learnt like us to move at a synchronised speed. The rope suddenly went tight and there was a yell from the back. John and I turned. Phil was down – we thought he’d tripped but he was thigh-deep in a crevasse. ‘Keep the rope tight,’ Kathy yelled at us, then to Phil, ‘Keep moving, on your hands and knees.’ Phil stumbled along and was soon out of the hole and on his feet again. We continued at Kathy’s steady but manageable pace. The sun began its rise which made the mountain-scape below us glow. But then everything whited out and we were in a hazy nether-world where the dark shapes of trekkers appeared and disappeared like ghosts. ‘Is this going to be worth it? Are we going to be able to see anything?’ I wondered. Eventually at 8.30am we arrived at the Lisjoch col at 4,151m, and stopped to sip water, eat snacks and recover. Then, like at the theatre, the curtain was raised. The mist and cloud eased away to leave us gawping at the huge peaks of the Monte Rosa Massif surrounding us and, in the distance, the tooth like point of the Matterhorn beckoning us home. It was a long way to the Monte Rosa hut, down the glacier that was to eat my camera. We weaved our way downwards wary of the huge serrates (large teeth-like stands of snow) and deep crevasses, having to jump across one where the snow bridge was unstable. The view of the flow of ice was awesome, its backdrop the Matterhorn and other huge Swiss peaks. Stopping to let the group ahead negotiate a tricky patch, I got my camera out but neglected to put the wrist strap on. It slid from my grip, dropped onto the ice and slid, slowly at first, down the ice slope to the gaping mouth of a huge crevasse, then disappeared. Learning point: when travelling on the glacier, attach fast everything you want to keep. Some millennia from now it may reappear at the foot of the valley, providing a pixalled historical record of a group of Neanderthal-like explorers who left their mark on this insatiable landscape. Thinking of the future, the Monte Rosa hut was the future – a bright, solar-panelled, square-shaped spaceship of a building standing resolute at 2,883m on the shoulder of this magnificently glaciated valley. On its sun terrace, we gulped our drinks and devoured our rostis (sausage and fried potato), enjoying the Matterhorn-dominated view. And the antics of the resident cat who, as number one high altitude predator, dashed and caught a squeaking rat as we watched and, after its meal beneath the decking, reappeared liking its lips and looking for desert (a careless bird or a sleepy marmot perhaps). On Friday we were looking forward to our leisurely breakfast (as per the brochure) – well it was relatively leisurely, if a little early at 7am, before we walked out of the mountains. We had assumed this would be down; it did start with a steep descent to the glacier using fixed ropes in places, but after that it was mostly up. We donned crampons twice to cover stretches of the gleaming glacier, cut by small streams rushing down the valley. We crossed bridges and climbed ladders up vertical faces until we were on the contour path that took us round to the Rotenboden station of the Gornergrat mountain railway, where the train goes down to Zermatt. The trekking done, all that was left was to hug and thank our intrepid guides, Richard and Kathy, and to eat ginormous burgers at the Brown Cow in sleepy but picturesque Zermatt. Peter Curran August, 2014
By Peter GUILDFORD | 15 March 2016

Traveller Reviews
4.8 out of 5 from 6 reviews

BRILLIANT EXPERIENCE IN HIGH MOUNTAINS SURROUNDED BY BREATHTAKING VIEWS
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A fantastic week, taking me high onto snow and ice, with crampons and ice axe, for the first time, and for much of the week. KE's "Is this holiday for you?" is perfectly pitched - it is sometimes strenuous (so yes, be fit), but it is so rewarding and a really great experience. I also found the packing list useful and yes, it can be done with 10kg. (But I couldn't get it all into my 33L rucksack - bought a 44L pack and this worked fine). We were blessed with amazing weather, making the glacier vi ews all the more stunning. So much depends on your fellow travellers - we were a great little team - and above all, your leader. Kathy Murphy was our guide - I agree with all that has been written about her, she is simply an outstanding mountain guide - and we were so fortunate to benefit from her friendship, knowledge and experience.
By Giles Staines-Upon-Thames | 18 July 2019

A great adventure
★ ★ ★ ★

As first time mountaineers with a lot of UK hill walking experience we didn't really know what to expect from this guided high level trek. Our guide was excellent and whilst very safety conscious he made every effort to ensure that we achieved our goals. Each day was very different and the scenery was spectacular. We were left with a great sense of achievement and a desire to book another similar trip soon

By Stephen Harpenden | 01 August 2017

A fantastic high Alpine week, with a great itinerary and lots of variety.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This was a great intro to the Zermatt - Monte Rosa area including some 4000m summits and giving excellent experience for walking roped up and using winter skills with axe and crampons. The mountain huts were of a very high standard with good food! We had an excellent guide in Kathy Murphy, who was very experienced and dealt with any safety of group issues very efficiently. The itinerary is great, and gives lots of variety, and this certainly makes one want to come back for more. KE could have be en a bit more upfront about the considerable extra costs involved in getting to Zermatt, as the list price for the trip of £1295 was very reasonable, but in reality, the actual cost was nearer £1700 by the time one had paid for the train travel on Swiss railways, cable cars and the meals not included.
By Gordon Cheltenham | 23 July 2017

KE Adventure reply

Thank you for your review. It's great to hear you had such an excellent experience. We are sorry that you felt we could have been more upfront about the costs of the trip, as it is our policy to be very clear about this. What's included and what's not in the price of the holiday is the first section in the 'Holiday Information' on our website and in the trip notes. For the Italian High Level Route, train fares from Geneva Airport are given in the section on 'Joining arrangements and transfers' and the approximate cost of cable cars and non-included meals can be found in the section on 'Spending Money'.


A superb Mountain Experience
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This was a great mountain experience that if anything is undersold in the brochure. The trip had a superb variety of alpine trekking and serious mountain terrain. The highlight was undoubtably the descent on the Thursday to the new Monta Rosa hut. You do need to be fairly fit and you do need to be well used to your boots. I would also advise anyone to keep their weight down. We were lucky to have a great guide in Caroline Ogden who has well as knowing her stuff kept everyones spirits up and was empathetic with all of the group.
By Gareth Baldock | 03 September 2016

Wonderful and challenging mountaineering in the Swiss and Italian Alps
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Italy’s 4,000 Metre Monsters A trek in the high peaks of the Italian and Swiss Alps It was 9.30am Monday morning and we were trudging up through the snow towards our target, the rounded summit of the Breithorn at 4,164m. We had seen this, the first of our 4000m+ peaks, on Sunday from the sun terrace of the Gaudegg Hut; it hadn’t looked too bad from there. But now, slogging up from the Trockenersleg cable car station on the Breithorn Plateau, not yet acclimatised at this high altitude, it was hard going. It hadn’t helped that none of us had slept well the night before. In six-bedded rooms (a single and two double bunks, where I had shared a mattress with Phil, an accountant from Hull), the chorus of snores, people’s intermittent visits to the cold, outside loo, and listening to your elevated heart rate (huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh), amplified through ear plugs, made sleep almost impossible. At breakfast Phil recalled guide Richard’s words, ‘Even if you’re not sleeping, you’re resting’. Vicky, a dancer from London, told us she was terrified when her dad, Jeremy, stopped breathing, only to restart abruptly as if defibrillated with a huge and noisy intake of breath – apparently this is quite common at high altitude – which is okay if your body remembers to breathe again. Guide Kathy led us on another zag up the snow slope with her small, steady steps, followed on the rope by Vicky, Jeremy, John (an experienced hike leader from the Forest of Dean) and me. We were sharing the mountain with lots of groups in front and behind, all making for the summit, while skiers and snowboarders headed the other way to slide off the plateau. Richard’s group (Ashley, Phil, Simon and his son, Jasper) were somewhere up ahead, a problem with Vicky’s crampon having slowed us at the start. Talking of crampons, it was lucky Ashley had any – arriving at the Gandegg Hut above Zermatt on Sunday and about to practise on the glacier, Richard asked what he no doubt assumed was a rhetorical question; ‘So, everyone’s got their harness and crampons?’ We all nodded, except Ashley, who said, ‘No’. Richard was incredulous. Ash said, ‘I told you I didn’t have any at the hotel.’ Vicky corroborated, ‘Yes, I remember, but we thought you were joking.’ Richard quickly recovered and a new plan was hatched – Kathy would bring them up when she met us on Monday, and for the practice Ashley would make do. In fact, he did so well without them, duck-walking up and down the snow slope, that we suggested he didn’t need crampons at all. Finally we reached the narrow summit ridge and in a few minutes were on the top. It was very cold as an icy wind swept across the exposed summit, and crowded as groups were arriving, milling around or leaving. But with the characteristically pointed shape of the Matterhorn dominating the view to the northwest, and many other 4000m+ peaks in Switzerland and Italy visible, the 3600 panorama was spectacular. After initially retracing our steps, we descended steeply to the Breithorn Pass. I tripped and fell headfirst at one point, but the rope system came quickly into play, so much so that when Kathy shouted, ‘Get on your feet!’ I could hardly move I was held so tight. We made a long traverse, passing the toe of the Pullux peak, and then all the way down to Rifugio d’Ayas at 3,440m. The sleeping accommodation had deteriorated; we were now, all eight of us, fitted on a single shelf, with another group joining us on the other side of the attic room. Ash’s alarm went off at 5.30am on Tuesday morning but it was irrelevant because none of us was asleep – it had been a noisy night and the smelly heat of sixteen bodies had turned our dormitory, even with two windows wide open, into a sweaty solarium. To make matters worse, the clouds that had been moving across the previous afternoon were now an engulfing grey soup-scape penetrated only by the cold drizzle. So before setting off we donned waterproofs top and bottom, minus our harnesses but crampons at the ready. The descent from the hut was precarious, on wet rock hanging on to fixed ropes as we navigated irregular steps in the rock some of the way down. It got worse when we reached a steeply dipping expanse of ice, which proved so tricky without crampons that Richard cut steps with his ice axe, while Kathy crudely roped around the waist those of us she no doubt deemed most likely to take a dive (myself, Ash, Jeremy and Vicky). We were rewarded with cups of hot chocolate at the Mezzalama Hut, while Richard duct-taped some padding around Jeremy’s ankle to protect it from an ill-fitting boot. It was a straightforward hike down the Vallee d’Ayas, the rain soaking us through despite the hundreds of pounds worth of high-tech Gore-tex that we all wore. But the two and a half hour hike 700m up to the Passo di Bettolina at 2,905m was a different matter – the boulder field was like an obstacle course set by the gods, the only respite being small patches of snow where we cut steps with the sides of our boots (and were I slipped and nearly had to begin again as if on a giant ‘snakes and ladders’ board). Near the top it steepened and was slippery with gravel. We didn’t linger long because we couldn’t see anything of the view. All our gloves soaked, Vicky’s hands were freezing, but John pulled from his deep rucksack a huge pair of fluffy red ones, for which Vicky was eternally grateful, even though they did make her look like Omo. Following the broad ridge, it was a relief to reach the chairlift station at the Col Bettaforca, where the heater made our soggy clothes steam as we sipped hot coffee. Despite the constant drizzle, the day got better. Descending to Stafal, Kathy led us straight to a bar that cooked great pizzas. There was a wood burner but despite the offer of vast amounts of money by Jeremy (who ran a wealth management business), the proprietor declined to light it so we remained wet and cold. The cable car took us up to Plan Galbiet. In Rifugio Galbiet we were four to a room with proper bunk beds, there was a drying room, loos you can sit down on, showers with hot water, and coffee at €1.50; we thought we’d died and gone to heaven. The idyll was completed by a splendid Italian meal: delicately crafted, delicious tasting lasagne, thick and hearty pea soup, yummy veal and carrots, and a sweet desert. Up at 6am Wednesday morning, it took two cable cars to reach the Glacier di Indren at 3,275m. Sadly, Jeremy’s ankle problem had worsened and he and Vicky decided to leave the trek. As they made their way down and, by various modes of transport, back to a comfortable hotel in Zermatt, we made our way up and across the glacier, then negotiated some fixed ropes to arrive at the Rifugio Mantova at 3,500m. The weather had cleared so, after dropping off some surplus gear, we were all ready to ascend the Pyramid Vincent, our second 4,000m+ peak, which dominated the skyline above the hut. We set off at 10.10am, Richard leading John, myself and Phil, while Kathy followed with Ash and Simon. Richard set for us a blistering pace and like all these mountain summits, it was further than it looked, especially as the route took us around behind it. At the Col Vincent we made a stop to drink and catch our breath. A man in snow shoes passed us descending, leading a small black dog in a red coat. The dog was high-stepping and definitely not wagging its tail – the poor thing probably thought it had set out for walkies around town and was now freezing its paws off at 4,000m. A last push up the steep snow slope to the summit, zig-zagging as we went, and we were on top of Pyramid Vincent at 4,215m. It was perfectly clear and we could see all the way to Mont Blanc and beyond. Kathy’s team arrived soon after and together we celebrated our conquest. Richard said, ‘Do you want to do that little one over there?’ At first I thought he meant the jagged peak to the north and higher than us (the Ludwigshorn) and wondered if I had the legs. But our new target was the Balmenhorn at 4,167m, a rocky outcrop adjacent to our current position. We retraced our steps down to the col and climbed 90m up the other side. The ascent was made more exciting by the need to cross a narrow ice ridge one at a time, then scramble up fixed ropes with the aid of some metal steps (noisy and slippy wearing crampons) to the summit. A bronze statue of Christ (made from Second World War scrap as a symbol of peace) stands looking down the valley as if to say, ‘Look at all this I’ve made,’ or perhaps, ‘Venture up here if you dare.’ Our descent was fast and exhausting and a good nap in the hut that afternoon was welcome. On the way down we passed a group practising rescue techniques by the mouth of a large crevasse. Others were walking on the glacier un-roped (even though they were carrying them) as if on a Sunday stroll at the park rather than a serious expedition at altitude on crevasse-riven ice. Lots of tut-tutting from our guides, whose tales of the fatal dangers of complacency on the glacier kept us focused and alert. Rifugio Mantova, with its broad sun terrace and vast dining room, provided us with a good meal as we braced ourselves for an early start and the big day that was to follow. Thursday saw us up at 4.45am for a 5am breakfast, ready to leave by ten minutes to six. The route took us back up towards Pyramid Vincent for our ascent and crossing of the Lisjoch, a broad plateau that would lead back into Switzerland. Ash had worried about packing in time but I said, ‘There won’t be much to pack, you’ll be wearing it all.’ It was dark and very cold when we set off. The glacier was dotted with headtorch beams like fairy lights from the multiple groups ascending, tied together and having learnt like us to move at a synchronised speed. The rope suddenly went tight and there was a yell from the back. John and I turned. Phil was down – we thought he’d tripped but he was thigh-deep in a crevasse. ‘Keep the rope tight,’ Kathy yelled at us, then to Phil, ‘Keep moving, on your hands and knees.’ Phil stumbled along and was soon out of the hole and on his feet again. We continued at Kathy’s steady but manageable pace. The sun began its rise which made the mountain-scape below us glow. But then everything whited out and we were in a hazy nether-world where the dark shapes of trekkers appeared and disappeared like ghosts. ‘Is this going to be worth it? Are we going to be able to see anything?’ I wondered. Eventually at 8.30am we arrived at the Lisjoch col at 4,151m, and stopped to sip water, eat snacks and recover. Then, like at the theatre, the curtain was raised. The mist and cloud eased away to leave us gawping at the huge peaks of the Monte Rosa Massif surrounding us and, in the distance, the tooth like point of the Matterhorn beckoning us home. It was a long way to the Monte Rosa hut, down the glacier that was to eat my camera. We weaved our way downwards wary of the huge serrates (large teeth-like stands of snow) and deep crevasses, having to jump across one where the snow bridge was unstable. The view of the flow of ice was awesome, its backdrop the Matterhorn and other huge Swiss peaks. Stopping to let the group ahead negotiate a tricky patch, I got my camera out but neglected to put the wrist strap on. It slid from my grip, dropped onto the ice and slid, slowly at first, down the ice slope to the gaping mouth of a huge crevasse, then disappeared. Learning point: when travelling on the glacier, attach fast everything you want to keep. Some millennia from now it may reappear at the foot of the valley, providing a pixalled historical record of a group of Neanderthal-like explorers who left their mark on this insatiable landscape. Thinking of the future, the Monte Rosa hut was the future – a bright, solar-panelled, square-shaped spaceship of a building standing resolute at 2,883m on the shoulder of this magnificently glaciated valley. On its sun terrace, we gulped our drinks and devoured our rostis (sausage and fried potato), enjoying the Matterhorn-dominated view. And the antics of the resident cat who, as number one high altitude predator, dashed and caught a squeaking rat as we watched and, after its meal beneath the decking, reappeared liking its lips and looking for desert (a careless bird or a sleepy marmot perhaps). On Friday we were looking forward to our leisurely breakfast (as per the brochure) – well it was relatively leisurely, if a little early at 7am, before we walked out of the mountains. We had assumed this would be down; it did start with a steep descent to the glacier using fixed ropes in places, but after that it was mostly up. We donned crampons twice to cover stretches of the gleaming glacier, cut by small streams rushing down the valley. We crossed bridges and climbed ladders up vertical faces until we were on the contour path that took us round to the Rotenboden station of the Gornergrat mountain railway, where the train goes down to Zermatt. The trekking done, all that was left was to hug and thank our intrepid guides, Richard and Kathy, and to eat ginormous burgers at the Brown Cow in sleepy but picturesque Zermatt. Peter Curran August, 2014
By Peter GUILDFORD | 15 March 2016

Exellent adventure
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I went on this trip to with my son and his mate to selebrate his 40th birthday. I didn't know what to expect. The guides were great friendly and helpful but very professional, safety being very high on the agenda. Glazier walking is a unique experience. The weather was exeptionally warm which meant the top surfaces were soft making it very difficult to walk on and increased the possibility of cerac collapse it certainly concerned the guides who were cautious resulting in us only summiting twice. We had two drop into crevasses up to their waist, roped up and not a proplem as they were immediately extracted. Apparently it's only an issue if you go in over your head. The views were spectacular. I coped well enough with the altitude which before the trip I was concerned about, only one person struggled the first couple of days but seemed to get better as the trip went on. The huts were good, sleeping accommodation was basic and the food was put on the table and you eat it but on the whole tasty and filling. I found staff at the huts friendly and helpful . All in all a great adventure.
By Stuart Kenilworth | 15 February 2016

DATES & PRICES

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  • Italian High Level Route
    Without Flights
  • Departure Reference: IHL /01/24/
  • This trip begins on Sat 22 Jun and ends on Sat 29 Jun
  • This departure is guaranteed. Secure your place today with a deposit of US$425
  • Contact us for single room pricing
  • Download Trip Notes

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  • Italian High Level Route
    Without Flights
  • Departure Reference: IHL /02/24/
  • This trip begins on Sat 6 Jul and ends on Sat 13 Jul
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of US$425
  • Contact us for single room pricing
  • Download Trip Notes

More Information

  • Italian High Level Route
    Without Flights
  • Departure Reference: IHL /03/24/
  • This trip begins on Sat 20 Jul and ends on Sat 27 Jul
  • This departure is guaranteed. Secure your place today with a deposit of US$425
  • Contact us for single room pricing
  • Download Trip Notes

More Information

  • Italian High Level Route
    Without Flights
  • Departure Reference: IHL /04/24/
  • This trip begins on Sat 3 Aug and ends on Sat 10 Aug
  • This departure is guaranteed. Secure your place today with a deposit of US$425
  • Contact us for single room pricing
  • Download Trip Notes

More Information

  • Italian High Level Route
    Without Flights
  • Departure Reference: IHL /05/24/
  • This trip begins on Sat 10 Aug and ends on Sat 17 Aug
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of US$425
  • Contact us for single room pricing
  • Download Trip Notes

More Information

  • Italian High Level Route
    Without Flights
  • Departure Reference: IHL /06/24/
  • This trip begins on Sat 17 Aug and ends on Sat 24 Aug
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of US$425
  • Contact us for single room pricing
  • Download Trip Notes

2025

Dates

Adults from

Deposit

Status

More Information

  • Italian High Level Route
    Without Flights
  • Departure Reference: IHL /01/25/
  • This trip begins on Sat 21 Jun and ends on Sat 28 Jun
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of US$425
  • Contact us for single room pricing
  • Download Trip Notes

More Information

  • Italian High Level Route
    Without Flights
  • Departure Reference: IHL /02/25/
  • This trip begins on Sat 5 Jul and ends on Sat 12 Jul
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of US$425
  • Contact us for single room pricing
  • Download Trip Notes

More Information

  • Italian High Level Route
    Without Flights
  • Departure Reference: IHL /03/25/
  • This trip begins on Sat 19 Jul and ends on Sat 26 Jul
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of US$425
  • Contact us for single room pricing
  • Download Trip Notes

More Information

  • Italian High Level Route
    Without Flights
  • Departure Reference: IHL /04/25/
  • This trip begins on Sat 2 Aug and ends on Sat 9 Aug
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of US$425
  • Contact us for single room pricing
  • Download Trip Notes

More Information

  • Italian High Level Route
    Without Flights
  • Departure Reference: IHL /05/25/
  • This trip begins on Sat 9 Aug and ends on Sat 16 Aug
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of US$425
  • Contact us for single room pricing
  • Download Trip Notes

More Information

  • Italian High Level Route
    Without Flights
  • Departure Reference: IHL /06/25/
  • This trip begins on Sat 16 Aug and ends on Sat 23 Aug
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of US$425
  • Contact us for single room pricing
  • Download Trip Notes

Land Only Information

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' for further details.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and the departure 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, Bristol, Edinburgh & Glasgow. Other airports may be available.

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.

ZEN_HOLIDAY_DATES_PRICES_LAND_ONLY_USD_NOTICE


Changes to flights

Please be aware that the flight industry is experiencing a high level of service fluctuation and changes to your flights may occur. This may also require amends to the transfers and joining arrangements. Thank you all for continuing your patience and understanding.

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee

The price of our holidays can change depending on a variety of factors but unlike some other tour operators, KE have undertaken to guarantee the Land Only price of your holiday will not change after you have booked. The price when you book is the price you will pay, whether you are booking for this year or the next. Book early to avoid any tour price increases, get the best flight prices and take advantage of our 'No Surcharge Guarantee'.

KE Adventure is a fully bonded tour operator. We hold an ATOL license (No: 2808) and are bonded with ABTA (Membership No: W4341)


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