Monte Leone is:
- the most important mountain in the Simplonpass area, between Switzerland and Italy.
- the first mountain of the Lepontine Alps.
- the highest summit of the Lepontine Alps.
Its name is not related to the king of animals, simply is the evolution of Munt d'l'Aiun, i.e. summit above the pastures of Aione, a small hamlet of Alpe Veglia...but we can go on thinking that the name comes out giving a look to its mightiness.
||Though being a very important mountain it almost can't be seen from the surrounding valleys : its whole splendour appears only from the East side (Alpe Veglia - Italy) with its 1300m high wall and from the West (from the ridge on the W side of Simplon pass)
The whole S side can be seen only from far away, some summits (Hubshhorn and Breithorn) hide it and the road of Sempione, in the S part, runs along a very deep and narrow valley (Gole di Gondo)
The N side can be seen from the summits N of the Bocchetta d'Aurona
But when you get the summital ridge, or, better, the summit, you can see the whole Western Alps chain.
Monte Leone is not an important alpinistic summit, no classic famous rock or ice routes, is just one of the best Easy mountaneering and ski-mountaneering summit of the Alps : the downhill from Breithorn pass to Simplon pass is very similar to the Gran Paradiso's one.
The access to the mountains start, of course, from the two opposite sides of the high ridge:
- From Italy - Best choice for mountaneering routes
Along the Simplon highway in Val Divedro - exit for San Domenico - car parking, with a not tiring walk you can arrive to the Alpe Veglia (Small Hotels and Refuges)
If you want to climb the summit from this side you have to climb for 1850m of difference in elevation!!!
The Bivacco Farello bivouac (near the Bocchetta d'Aurona - 2770m) was recently decommissioned in July 2018.
- From Switzerland - Best choice for ski-mountaneering
Along the Simplon road up to the Simplon pass (2005m) where some (NOT cheap) Hotels and the famous and cheap Hospice can host you
From this side the difference in elevation is ~ 1500m but you can also use the Monte Leone hutte (2848m)
Public services both from Domodossola (Italy) and Brig (Switzerland) allow the access to Simplon pass from the Simplon railway stations
The quality of rocks on the Monte Leone walls is (looks) not so fine to entice alpinists or rock climbers so we can consider only the 2 normal accesses from Alpe Veglia and from Simplon Pass and the short N wall (fine when in good snow)
- the routes from Simplon pass share the higher part from Breithorn Pass (3360m) to the summit crossing the Alpjegletscher to get the south ridge at the notch 3320m and following it up to the summit - easy rock climbing in summer, easier snow ridge in spring.
To arrive to the Breithorn Pass are normally used two ways:
- from Simplon Pass along the big wide channel just N of the Hubschorn NE ridge (1 dangerous stretch in the beginning of the channel requires absolutely safe snow) the last part runs along the Homattugletscher. This is the ski-mountaneering route, without snow it becomes a heap of stones not so fine to be walked in.
- from Monte Leone Hutte (and, of course from Bivacco Farello, passing through the Bocchetta di Aurona) the route starts descending toward the Simplon pass to get a track that, crossing just under the Chaltwassergletscher, leads to the Homattupass and to the Breithorn Pass.
- N wall - short (250m of difference in elevation) and not too steep wall (good also for good skiers) rising from the Chaltwassergletscher.
Can be climbed almost in any point giving access to the W ridge.
A little experience is required.
- from Alpe Veglia there are two used routes:
- to the Bocchetta di Aurona (Bivacco Farello) and on along the previous one
- from Lago d'Avino (S of Alpe Veglia) to the Fnè Pass (2803m) wherefrom, with a long walk without tracks (toward W - pass between the two lakes) you can get the lower part of Alpjegletscher that must be remounted to get the south ridge at the notch 3320m.
When To Climb
Best condition to climb Monte Leone are:
- Hiking: Summer season is from July to October
- Skiing: Spring season is from March to June
If you climb Monte Leone in winter you need to take much care about avalanches, and also to weather condition; this area stands in a crucial position and bad weather can arrive both from NW (Atlantic perturbation) and S (Mediterranean perturbation).
During the winter 2003/04, from November to May, the monks of Ospizio have registered 11,70m. of snow accumulation!
Camping and accomodation
Free camping is permitted in hight altitude.
On the swiss side you can find some equipped camping in Brig; comfortable accomodation in some Hotels or at Simplonpass in Hospice du Simplon (not from october to december).
From the Italian side: some accomodation and good meals in Iselle di Trasquera (Vb)
LINK TO SKIRANDO
Mamo ... RIP
Massimo Comotti, known to the SP community by his username mamo, died on New Years Eve 2009 in an avalanche during a ski tour to Rothorn / Corno Rosso di Trinitè. The avalannche, about 100m wide swept him onto the surface of a frozen lake at about 2700m of altitude. The iced surface broke and Massimo drowned in the lake. Any help came too late. His two ski touring partners survived the accident as if by miracle, one of them seriously hurt. Weather conditions were very serious with high winds and huge amounts of snow.
Massimo grew up in Gressoney in Aosta Valley, the site of his untimely death. In recent years he had moved to Porlezza, near Lake Como, where he made his living as an architect. Aged 44, he leaves behind his wive and a young daughter.
Mamo joined SP in April 2004 and took part in the community until ten days before his death. He contributed several mountains and routes, among them Rothorn / Corno Rosso di Trinitè, the mountain which was to be his last.
This page will be kept in honour of mamo, an excellent ski alpinist.