from Col du Grand Ferret to Simplon pass
this is the main collection of high summits in the whole Alps
the range is oriented W-E in its first part (till the M.Rosa) than changes toward N.
the eastern branch of Alpi Pennine from Lombardia plain in a winter sunrise
Some thoughts about the grouping structure of this big range ...
dissecting, using a detailed map (and trying to get out my memories) the structure of Pennine Alps, there could be some more well defined groups ...
the whole range could be divided, for better understanding, into 3 sections :
from col Ferret to the Tète Blanche : south of the watershed
in the big area between the Val Ferret, the G.S.Bernardo and the Val d'Aosta we have at least 2 groups, divided each other by the Comba di Vertosan.
between the Valpelline and the Valtournanche we have at least 2 distinct groups, Cian and Chateau des Dames, another one should be the Faroma, but we can join them all in one big group watershed
Velan and Testa di By can be considered as 1 group and, forgetting the Col du Sonadon we could also join them with the Grand Combin ... is very hard to join to them also the range Rayette-Blanchen-Collon that, geographically are well distinct each other north of the watershed
Arolla-Chelion-Ruinette : the glacier d'Otemma is a good border for them :)
from Tète Blanche to the Col del Lys
why the Tète Blanche ? ... easy ! That summit is the starting point of the big ridge going to Weisshorn and dividing the Val d'Herens and the Val de Zinal from the Mattertal (Zermatt), so, here we have, north of the main watershed, 1 big ridge going toward NE, the Weisshorn group (starting with the Dent Blanche), all those ones that have made the high route Chamonix-Zermatt well know this key point on the watershed
Dent d'Herens and Matterhon can be considered a single group ... no crossing here till the Theodul Pass.
no doubt about considering all in one the big Monte Rosa, from Theodul Pass till the Passo di Monte Moro as a unique group south of the watershed ... there should be at least 3 more subgroups :
the Gran Tournalin, along the ridge descending toward south from the Gobba di Rollin and dividing the Val Tournanche (Cervinia) from the Val d'Ayas
the Testa Grigia, descending from Castore toward south and dividing the Val d'Ayas from the Val di Gressoney
the Corno Bianco range, descending from Pyramide Vincent and dividing the Val di Gressoney from the Valsesia
of the range is quite easy to be defined, ranges are well distinct by deep valleys and go down to the bottom of the Wallis ... so we can identify, here, the 2 main groups
Mischabel, between the Mattertal (W and S) and the Saastal (N and E)
Weismiess, between the Saastal and Simplonpass valley
here we have the main groups :
Grande Rochere - Grand Golliaz group Fallere group Velan Grand Combin Gelè Rayette Ruinette-Chelion-Arolla Collon - Tète Blanche Weisshorn Dent d'Herens - Matterhorn Chateau des Dames group Monte Rosa group Grand Tournalin Testa Grigia Corno Bianco Mischabel group Monte Moro range Weissmies group
from Italy - south side - Val d'Aosta and Piemonte NE
from Switzerland - Wallis
south of this first group, entirely belonging to Val d'Aosta, the Fallere group
delimited by the Comba di Pianavalle (W), the main Val d'Aosta (S) and the valle del Gran San Bernardo (NE) with its main summits :
East of Gran San Bernardo pass the ridge rises with the the huge massif of Velan
delimited by the Val del Gran San Bernardo (SW), the Val d'Entremont (NW), the Valpelline (S) and the Col du Sonadon (3504m) (N)
Tète de By (3588m)
with a lot of minor summits rising upon its 4 ridges
after (N) of the Grande Téte de By, entirely in Switzerland, the first very important group : Grand Combin (4314m)
between the Val d'Entremont (W) and the Val de Bagnes (E)
the Fènetre Durand, on its SE ridge is the starting point of the group of Gelè
between the Fenétre Durand (W), the Val de Bagnes and the Glacièr d'Otemma (N), the Valpelline (SSE) and the Col de Créte Sèche (E)
now, on the main watershed, the group Blanchen (3680m) - Collon (3637m)
then the main ridge goes toward west with the Mont Brulè (3691m) and arrives to the Tète Blanche (3724m)
Near the Mont Brulè the Punta Marcel Kurz (3496m) wherefrom starts the important ridge of Vannetta
herefrom, toward North the very important group of Weisshorn group
starting with the
Starting from Theodul Pass the main watershed grows immediatly with the big massif of Monte Rosa
the first (secondary) summits toward East are the Klein Matterhon (3883m) and the Gobba di Rollin (3902m) then, going toward East,
Breithorn (4161m) one of the most popoular mountains of the Alps, with its 4 summits
Pollux (4092m) and Castor (4226m), the "twins"
Just East of these summits the first very important (twin) summit of the group, the
Going back to the main watershed ... after the Cima di Iazzi the ridge goes down to the "Weisstor" (a pass joining the Findelengletscher and the Scwharzenberg gletscher) and turns toward East passing some fine but not important summits :
Punta di Saas (3193m)
that are like a crown around the sadly famous Mattmark lake
toward North starts a ridge, hosting 3 very fine summits : Pizzo Bottarello (Sonnighorn) - 3487m - with its fine NE ridge (PD sup) Pizzo di Loranco (Mittelruck) - 3363m - with its very fine (and famous) E ridge (Cresta del Lago Maggiore - D) Pizzo di Andolla (Portjengrat) (3653m)
From this important hub the main ridge grows up again (toward N) over the 4000m with the Weissmies group
now the ridge, with the "minor" but interesting summits of Sengchuppa (3665m) and Boshorn (3267m) ends near the Simplon Pass where the Alpi Pennine end
while, toward NE a secondary ridge, made of minor (but fine for hiking) summits, is the western border of two fine subvalleys of Ossola : the Valle Antrona and the Val Bognanco and ends down to the Val Divedro crossed by the road of the Simplon Pass.
When To Climb
depending on summits and ranges
many good areas for ski-mountaneering