Rotenboden Station to Monte Rosa Hutte: 2 hours in either direction (300 m of descent, 300 m of ascent, easy glacier crossing)
The route begins from the Monte Rosa Hutte, which can be reached in approximately 2 hours from Rotenboden Station on Zermatt's Gornergrat railway. From the station, the trail to the hut is clearly signposted and begins by curving left as it passes through a saddle in the ridge. The trail then descends gradually as it traverses along the ridge above the Monte Rosa glacier. After 2-3 miles, the trail descends steeply for approximately 200 m to the glacier. The rocks on which the hut is situated can be seen directly ahead. Once on the glacier, the route is marked with wooden posts and is easily negotiated. There are many crevasses, but all are obvious and easily crossed, so there is no need to rope up. The trail then ascends about 200 m on rock with fixed hand ropes for protection on the steeper slabs. The trail soon eases as it winds up the last 50 meters to the hut. There is an outhouse which is separate from the hut, as well as several wooden patios with picnic tables. The rocks surrounding the hut are ideal for sunbathing and enjoying the views of the surrounding peaks and glaciers.
Monte Rosa Hutte to Summit: 5-7 hours up, 3 hours down (1,880 m)
The climbing route begins on the rocks to the east of the hut (2,875 m) and is marked intermitently with rock cairns. Those unfamiliar with the route may find difficulty locating the route in the dark, so I suggest travelling up the first 300 m to the glacier the day before. There are some steep slips of snow to be negotiated in this first section, so proceed with caution. I recommend foregoing crampons until reaching the glacier however.
Once on the glacier (3,200 m), the route is straightforward, and usually has a well worn path. The angle is not steep, probably in the neighborhood of 20 degrees. The route proceeds up the NW Flank of the mountain, first swinging right, then left, to reach a plateau (4,000 m), where it again turns right. The Dufourspitze can be clearly seen from here as the fin of rock above and to the left. A small saddle is also seen directly ahead, with a small rock pinacle to its right and the West Ridge of the Dufourspitze to its left. The route proceeds directly to this saddle (4,300 m), now somewhat steeper than before.
From this point, the route turns left onto the spine of the ridge, initially on very steep snow (40+ degrees). Very soon, a section of 3rd class rock is encountered which leads to a highpoint, which many climbers initially believe to be the summit. Be careful on the rocks, since they are often icy and there is typically snow filling in some of the spaces between rocks. The route descends from this highpoint, still on the ridge, where it once again moves onto snow. From here, the true summit is clearly visible and lies only about 100 m above. Soon, rock is again encountered, this time with a few steeper pitches of class 4. The last 20 m are probably the most difficult of the route.
Upon reaching the summit, all of the surrounding 4000 m peaks are visible, and Mont Blanc can be seen on a clear day. There is a rock with a shelf which forms an excellent bench for enjoying the views. There is another rock peak a short distance to the southeast, which some parties elect to summit as well.
The initial 300 m of descent back to the saddle go somewhat slowly, since some downclimbing is required directly below the summit. Once back to the saddle at 4,300 m however, excellent time can be made back to the Monte Rosa Hutte. Some parties elect to spend another night at the hut before heading back to Zermatt to avoid climbing back up the ridge to Rotenboden. The climb from the hut to the summit is roughly 1,800 m, and heading all the way back will add about another 300 m of uphill and an additional 2 hours. If you're not too tired though, getting back to Zermatt for a hearty dinner is an excellent prospect.
Crampons, ice axe, and rope. There are many crevasses, especially on the lower sections of the glacier, some of which may not always be clearly visible. No rock protection is needed for the summit ridge.
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