Eastern Lyskamm NE Face Welzenbach Route

Page Type
Aosta/Wallis, Italy/Switzerland, Europe
Route Type:
Mountaineering, Ice Climbing, Big Wall
Time Required:
A long day
Alpine D

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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Eastern Lyskamm NE Face  Welzenbach Route
Created On: Mar 7, 2015
Last Edited On: Feb 17, 2018


Eastern Lyskamm NE Face via Welzenbach

Lyskamm is a peak belonging to Pennine Alps, located in Monte Rosa range along the Swiss-Italian border between the Wallis and the Aosta Valley. It's a great Fourthousander almost entirely ice-covered. Lyskamm are actually two distinct peaks: Eastern Lyskamm 4527 m, the highest one, and Western Lyskamm 4481 m, joined by a superb snowy ridge (Lyskamm Crossing), which is one of the most fine alpine ridge. Equally spectacular is the North face of the mountain, that rises on the Grenzgletscher for hundreds of meters. There are many routes on this stunning ice wall, also with extreme difficulty. On the North-East wall of Eastern Lyskamm runs one of the best classic ice-climbs of the Alps: the route Welzenbach, entirely on snow and ice, which is the route currently followed to climb E Lyskamm North-East face. It was first climbed by Willy Welzenbach and Rudolf Walter in 1925, who at the fourth repetition of the pre-existing route realized by Ludwig Normann-Neruda with the Swiss guide Christian Klucker and Josef Reinstadler in 1890 followed a new itinerary. Currently the historic route is no longer climbed in favour of Welzenbach.

Wallis 4000s from E Lyskamm summits

E Lyskamm summit view towards Wallis

Getting There

The route can be climbed starting both from Val Sesia (Piedmont side) and Valle di Gressoney (Aosta side).

- Access from Val Sesia (Piedmont) - From the A26 Highway exit to Romagnano Sesia and take the road SS299 to Varallo Sesia. Here continue following all the Val Sesia road to Alagna Valsesia.
From Alagna Valsesia take the Cable car to Pianalunga - Passo dei Salati – Indren

- Access from the Valle di Gressoney (Aosta Valley) - From the A5 Torino – Aosta Highway, exit to Pont St. Martin and take the Valle di Gressoney, getting to Gressoney St. Jean, Gressoney La Trinité and Staffal.
From Staffal take the Cable car to Alpe Gabiet – Passo dei Salati - Indren

A section of Punta Gnifetti normal route

The approach along Lys Glacier

E Lyskamm North Face from Punta Parrot

Eastern Lyskamm North wall seen from Punta Parrot

Eastern Lyskamm ending ridge

A party getting the summit from Lyskamm crossing

Walking approach to Rif. Mantova m. 3498 and Capanna Gnifetti m. 3657

From Punta Indren Cable-car upper station corss the Indren Glacier to reach Rifugio Mantova or Rifugio Gnifetti. From this latter shelter gain the starting point of the Lys Glacier. Enter the glacier and follow it to North East, then to North, rising along gentle angled ice-slopes. Continue along the track, usually well-marked, reaxching the Lys Col.

Route Description

Eastern Lyskamm NE Face - Welzenbach Route

Difficulty: Alpine D, 55° max
Difference in level: 750 m.
Develope: 1000 m.
Exposure: North-East
First ascent: Willy Welzenbach and Rudolf Walter 1925, August 8th

Superb 50°-55° ice climb, the most frequented on the stunning Lyskamm North wall, running between the rocky rib that comes down from the East summit and the huge seracs that chararacterize the upper part of the wall. The route requires both a good technical background and a good training. Given the length of the climb an alpine start is absolutely advisable, moreover excellent meteo conditions and visibility are needed.

Eastern Lyskamm, Welzenbach topo route


Approach - From the Rifugio Gnifetti reach the Lys Glacier (almost flat, but with several crevasses, even hidden, requiring the due care); head to the NE towards the Pyramid Vincent, then go up (some crevasses) to the North following the trail, usually present, which rises to Punta Gnifetti and Capanna Margherita. After the rocky islet of Balmenhorn, where are situated the Bivacco Giordan and the statue of Cristo delle Vette, head slightly to the right, getting to Colle del Lys m 4248. 2.30 hours from Rifugio Gnifetti.
From Colle del Lys descend in the glacial basin to the north, then turn to left and go down along the Grenzgletscher at a certain distance (possible ice falls) from Eastern Lyskamm North Face reaching the altitude of about 3800 m, below the rocky rib coming down from the top. 0.30 from Colle del Lys, 3 hours from the Gnifetti shelter. If you are coming from Rifugio Mantova it's not necessary to pass from Rifugio Gnifetti: climb along the glacier Garstelet in the NE direction, passing to the right of the rocky islet of Rifugio Gnifetti, then join the previous route coming from Gnifetti where it turns to North (starting from Rifugio Mantova count 30 minutes longer).

E Lyskamm North face, Welzenbach

Climbing moments on Welzenbach route

E Lyskamm, route Welzenbach

Climbing moments on Welzenbach route

Eastern Lyskamm summit East Ridge

The return along the East Ridge

Route report - Pass the bergschrund and climb directly the wide ice-slope as far as the starting point of the first rocks of the obvious rocky rib where runs the original Normann-Neruda route at the height of 4086 m. From here climb straightly with several pitches the ice-slopes to the left of the rocky rib, turning slightly to the left in the last 200 meters, getting the summit ridge a few tens of meters below the East summit. Get to the summit following the exposed ridge to the right.

Descent - The descent follows Eastern Lyskamm Normal route, running on the spectacular and airy East Ridge, ending on the wide saddle named Colle del Lys m. 4248, between Eastern Lyskamm (on the right) and Ludwigshohe (on the left). From this col the tracks joins Punta Gnifetti Normal route, along Lys Glacier, skirting Corno Nero and Piramide Vincent and getting at first to Rif. Gnifetti m. 3611, then to Rif. Mantova m. 3470. From Rif. Mantova the route crosses the Indren Glacier and leads to the upper station of Alagna - Punta Indren Cable car m. 3260.
More information: Funivie Alagna Valsesia

A little iron cross on Eastern Lyskamm

A little iron cross on Eastern Lyskamm

Along Lyskamm East ridge

Descent ridge

E Lyskamm and Cervino-Matterhorn seen from Lys Col

E Lyskamm and Cervino from Colle del Lys

Essential Gear

Take the conventional equipment for a climb of this kind (listed Alpine D): 50 m. rope, 2 ice axes, crampons, harness, helmet, carabiners, 2 or 3 slings, ice screws

Red Tape

There are no fees or permits needed to climb

Huts and Bivouacs

- Rifugio Città di Mantova m. 3470

- Capanna Gnifetti m. 3611

- Bivacco Giordano on Balmenhorn

A section of Punta Gnifetti normal route

Rifugio Mantova 3470 m

Piramide Vincent

Rifugio Giovanni Gnifetti 3611 m Ph. Antonio Giani

The rocky islet of Balmenhorn in the middle of Lys Glacier

The rocky islet of Balmenhorn

When to climb

From June to July. The climb is to be performed early in the season.


Meteo Valle d'Aosta

Meteo Piemonte

Guidebooks and maps


Lyskamm map


“Monte Rosa” by Gino Buscaini – Collana Guide dei Monti d'Italia C.A.I.-T.C.I.

“Tutti i 4000 – L’aria sottile dell’alta quota” – Club 4000, CAI Torino – Vivalda Editori

“4000 delle Alpi” by Richard Goedeke - Ed. Libris

IGC sheet 108 - Cervino Matterhorn, Breuil Cervinia, Champoluc 1:25.000
IGC sheet 109 - Monte Rosa, Alagna Valsesia, Macugnaga, Gressoney 1:25.000
KOMPASS sheet 88 - Monterosa