Monte Rosa Massif

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For other uses, see Monte Rosa (disambiguation).
Monte Rosa
Mountains of Zermatt.jpg
Monte Rosa (left) and Lyskamm (centre)
Highest point
Peak Monte Rosa (Dufourspitze)
Elevation 4,634 m (15,203 ft)
Coordinates 45°56′12.6″N 07°52′01.4″E / 45.936833°N 7.867056°E / 45.936833; 7.867056Coordinates: 45°56′12.6″N 07°52′01.4″E / 45.936833°N 7.867056°E / 45.936833; 7.867056
Countries Switzerland and Italy
States/Provinces Valais, Piedmont and Aosta Valley
Parent range Pennine Alps, Alps

The Monte Rosa Massif (Italian: Massiccio del Monte Rosa; German: Monte Rosa Gruppe; French: Massif du Mont Rose) is a mountain massif located in the eastern part of the Pennine Alps. It is located between Switzerland (Valais) and Italy (Piedmont and Aosta Valley). Monte Rosa is the second highest mountain in the Alps and western Europe.[1]

Though Rosa as well as Rose mean "pink" in Italian and French respectively, the name is a false friend derived from the Franco-Provençal Aostan patois word rouése (also spelled rouja or roisa) meaning "glacier".[2]


The central range of Monte Rosa, which appears to originate in the intersection of two axes of great elevation, throws out a number of ridges that radiate afar and gradually subside into the plain of northern Italy, covering a relatively large area. There are no convenient mode of subdividing the range. However the natural limits of the district can be defined on the north side by the two branches of the Visp torrent. Following the west branch through the Mattertal, crossing the Theodul Pass, descending by the Valtournanche to Châtillon and to Ivrea, and passing round the base of the mountains by Arona, along Lake Maggiore, and up the valley of the Toce, to Vogogna, then ascending by the Val Anzasca to the Monte Moro Pass, the circuit is completed by the descent through the Saastal to Stalden. Within the line so traced, exceeding 450 km in length, all the ranges properly belonging to this group are included.[1]

View from the valley of Gressoney

The direction of the ranges and the depressions offers a marked contrast to that prevailing throughout the adjoining regions of the Alps. Unless in a small part of the Italian valleys, the direction here is either parallel or perpendicular to the meridian. Monte Rosa itself lies near the intersection of a great north and south ridge, extending from the Balfrin through the Mischabelhörner, and the highest peaks of the mountain itself, to the Vincent Pyramide, and thence through the range that bounds the Val de Lys, nearly to Ivrea, with the transverse range lying between the Dent d'Herens and the Pizzo Bianco near Macugnaga. The minor ridges on the north side of the border are parallel to this latter range, with their corresponding depressions occupied by the glaciers of Gorner and Findelen.[1]

On clear days the mountainous massif of Monte Rosa provides a striking view from the Po plain, particularly its upper reaches in western Lombardy and eastern Piedmont. It dominates the horizon, towering between other lesser Alpine peaks as a prominent, multi-pointed, razor-sharp bulge, its permanent glaciers shining under the sun.

"It is the opinion of many of the most competent judges, that for grandeur, beauty, and variety, the valleys descending from Monte Rosa are entitled to preeminence over every other portion of the Alps, and perhaps, if we regard the union of those three elements, over every other mountain region in the world." - John Ball (first president of the Alpine Club)[1]

The Massif is the border between Switzerland and Italy, though glacial melt has caused some alterations to the border. These changes were ratified by the two countries in 2009 and will continue to be subject to change as melting continues.


Regina Margherita Hut on Signalkuppe

The Monte Rosa Massif is popular for mountaineering, hiking, skiing and snowboarding. It hosts several appreciated ski resorts with long pistes. Plateau Rosa, about 3,500 metres high above sea level, is a renowned summer ski resort, with permanent snow all year round due to the altitude. The Plateau Rosa is connected via aerial tramway to Cervinia and to Zermatt via the Klein Matterhorn. The western fringes of the massif reach the Zermatt ski domain. Gressoney, Champoluc, Alagna Valsesia and Macugnaga (under the impressive east face, intensely glaciated and some 2,500 metres high) are the main mountain and ski resorts that surround Monte Rosa along its southern side. Hence most mountaineering fans can try their luck with the mountain. Monte Rosa is not very difficult to climb in itself, despite hosting some quite impressive ridges, but can be quite dangerous for rookies and veterans alike, due to sudden weather changes and crevasses in its extensive glaciers, one of the major glaciated areas in the Alps.


Peak Elevation (m/ft)
Dufourspitze 4,634 metres (15,203 ft)
Ostspitze 4,632 metres (15,197 ft)
Grenzgipfel 4,618 metres (15,151 ft)
Nordend 4,618 metres (15,151 ft)
Zumsteinspitze 4,563 metres (14,970 ft)
Signalkuppe 4,554 metres (14,941 ft)
Lyskamm 4,527 metres (14,852 ft)
Silbersattel 4,515 metres (14,813 ft)
Grenzsattel 4,453 metres (14,610 ft)
Parrotspitze 4,432 metres (14,541 ft)
Ludwigshöhe 4,341 metres (14,242 ft)
Corno Nero 4,322 metres (14,180 ft)
Vincent-Pyramide 4,215 metres (13,829 ft)
Balmenhorn 4,167 metres (13,671 ft)
Punta Giordani 4,046 metres (13,274 ft)
Jägerhorn 3,970 metres (13,025 ft)
Cima di Jazzi 3,803 metres (12,477 ft)



  1. ^ a b c d John Ball, A Guide to the Western Alps, pp. 308-314
  2. ^ Monte Rosa on the official website of the Aosta Valley. Retrieved on 11.09.2009

External links[edit]