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Rotenboden to Monte Rosa glacier hike


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Posts: 13 
Romancho
Romancho
5 posts
new member
Jul 14, 2021 - 4:05 PM

Hi everybody,

I have a question regarding the track from Rotenboden to Monte Rosa Hütte and back. I have been in Gornergrat (train station) some 20 years ago, doing only the short track to the Stockhorn vista and back. The memory of that day remained deep in my heart, and this year we would like to maybe try and do the overnight track to Monte Rosa Hütte with my partner. We are a couple, 43 and 42, both in good physical and mental condition. I have visited the Alps during summer season multiple times, some 3 years ago I spent 6 continuous days hiking in Val Grande. Just a few weeks ago, me and and my partner have done 3 consecutive hikes in 3 days in mild mountain terrain - 1st day 13km, 2nd day 18km, 3rd day 22km, and we both were physically entirely fine with that.

Having said that, neither of us has any experience traversing a glacier. I understand that we need a certain minimum equipment (crampons, boots, rain gear), but searching the internet I can see that traversing a glacier can be quite easy, but also sometimes very difficult. We can't afford a guide for this hike, so the question is:

Is the "Rotenboden - Monte Rosa Hütte and back" track suitable for glacier first-timers like us?

The date is somewhere around 25.-26. August.

Any insights are welcome!

Ildiko
Ildiko
1215 posts
top member &
moderator
Jul 14, 2021 - 7:49 PM in reply to Romancho

Hi Romancho and welcome to MySwissAlps!

I have no personal experience on this hiking route but I've found this for you: www.zermatt.ch/en/Media/Planning-hikes-tours/Glacier-trek-to-the-Monte-Rosa-Hut-Nr.-21a It says that because of the melting glacier hikers are recommended to undertake the trek with a mountain guide.

I understand that you have good physical conditions but according to that above, I would definitely advise that for your security do not try this hike just your own, as you wrote, you've never done any glacier hike.

Here you can find some other hiking routes in the area: www.myswissalps.com/zermatt/activities (scroll down a bit to the regional hiking suggestions part).

Ildiko

More about hiking in Switzerland: www.myswissalps.com/hiking

Last modified on Jul 14, 2021 - 7:52 PM by Ildiko
Snowman
Snowman
785 posts
top member
Jul 14, 2021 - 7:53 PM in reply to Romancho

Hi Romancho,

Welcome to MySwissAlps!

I have never been to the Monte Rosa Hütte, but I have done some glacier trekking. Always with a professional guide, ore at least with someone who knew the area and what to do in case of a problem. And mostly in early spring when "snow bridges" are frozen and unlikely to collapse. Websites I have consulted (see here) describe the trail as "difficult" or "very difficult", with added difficulties due to the climate change. Three hikes in mild mountain terrain is, I regret to say, by no means a sufficient prerequisite.

For experienced mountaineers, the hike takes 4 hours, one way, that is another point to take into consideration.

On the Swiss topo map. the trail to Monte Rosa Hütte is shown in blue, meaning high mountain trail for experienced hikers.

Sorry if I sound discouraging, but we don't give risky advices on this website. The moderators will jump in if they have a different opinion. (Oh, I see that in the meantime Ildiko came to the same conclusions!)

You could have less dangerous, more accessible glacier experience on short trails at Jungfraujoch or Kleinmatterhorn. Or see the glaciers from a distance by staying on the "red" trails, these are safe (under good weather conditions) and will give you unforgettable enjoyment, and you can see the glacier from a distance. One hike I have done, and can recommend, is from Arolla to Cabane des Dix.

Enjoy the Alps!

Snowman

Last modified on Jul 14, 2021 - 7:56 PM by Snowman
Romancho
Romancho
5 posts
new member
Jul 14, 2021 - 9:04 PM

Hi Ildiko and Snowman,

thank you both for the advice! I explored the recommended websites beforehand, plus also other sources, and I can say that I came to the same conclusion as both of you did. I believe we are adequately fit and experienced for the whole trek, except the glacier part. So we are going to drop the Monte Rosa Hütte plan and substitute that for something else (btw. the plan was to stay overnight, not to do the whole thing in one day). Perhaps we'll take the train to Gornergrat and check out the Stockhorn vista once again. Then we might go back down to Zermatt, stay overnight and on the next day do a separate hike in that neighborhood.

Snowman, nothing to be sorry about! I definitely appreciate honest advice. And thanks for all the tips, I'll check them out!

Ildiko
Ildiko
1215 posts
top member &
moderator
Jul 15, 2021 - 8:26 AM in reply to Romancho

Romancho, to be honest, I am glad about your decision. Sadly because of global warming, it could be dangerous. I am not sure where else are you going in Switzerland, but if you are interested in glaciers, have a look at these (different regions, I know): www.myswissalps.com/hiking/morteratschglacier and www.myswissalps.com/hiking/bettmerhorn-marjelensee-fiescheralp and www.myswissalps.com/forum/topic/aletsch-glacier-unesco-glacier-walk.

Ildiko

hockeyfan
hockeyfan
72 posts
active member
Jul 15, 2021 - 1:59 PM in reply to Ildiko

Yes, that is a good decision. I did this hike many years ago with a group and a guide. I would never go without a guide. I also like the hike to Fluhalp Hut and spending the night there. It is amazing at night and early morning sun rise. Here are some pictures of the old Monte Rosa Hütte and the necessary out house. Have a great trip.

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Romancho
Romancho
5 posts
new member
Jul 15, 2021 - 4:16 PM in reply to hockeyfan

Lovely pictures. :-)

Ildiko
Ildiko
1215 posts
top member &
moderator
Jul 15, 2021 - 4:21 PM in reply to hockeyfan

Hi Hockeyfan,

thank you for sharing your experiences and your photos. I am sure it was a great and exciting hike!

Take care, Ildiko

Mark
Mark
609 posts
top member
Jul 15, 2021 - 11:49 PM

Hi Romancho

If you are going to be in the Gornergrat area you may consider the hike from Riffelalp to Riffelsee. Once you arrive at Riffelsee take the trail to the right of the lake and continue another 10-15 minutes to a little used lookout with stunning views of the Mont Rosa area. From there you can continue along the backside of the Gornergrat summit with a continuous view of the area. After 45min to an hour you will come to a series of switchbacks which will take you up to the Gornergrat summit from the backside. The switchbacks are just before you reach the trail going down to Mont Rosa from the Gornergrat. Once you pass Riffelsee you will likely see nobody till you reach the Gornergrat summit. We’ve done this hike twice and seen only 2 or three people past Riffelsee. It is one of our favorite hikes and will take about 4 hrs with an overall climb of 2000 ft or so. The hardest part by far is the switchbacks section which is about 500 ft strait up to the summit.

Another very nice hike is from Riffelalp to Hidden valley. Hidden valley is not on any maps that I saw but is well known to all the locals and likely the hotel concierge can give you detailed directions. It is directly across the ravine from Fluhalp and is a lovely green meadow with a creek running down the middle and nice views of the Matterhorn in the distance.It will take 3.5-4 hrs round trip

My experience on glaciers is similar to those above. We had a guide on a glacier hike from Aguirre de Midi to the Devil’s Thumb near Mont Blanc. We were roped togather and wore crampons and passed numerous crevices which are potentially deadly. We were told more people die on the ascent to Mont Blanc than any other Alp because it is not very technical and looks relatively easy so people hike it without proper precautions.

Good hiking, Mark

Romancho
Romancho
5 posts
new member
Jul 20, 2021 - 9:27 PM in reply to Mark

Hi Mark,

thank you so much for these tips and for the insider info about the Hidden Valley! You are explaining everything so clearly I could follow all the instructions easily on the map. Super! :-)

Well, it looks like we will have 2 days to spend in the area. On the first day though, we will first have to travel from Zürich (Stäfa actually) to Zermatt. This should take around 4 hours, so if we'll set out at 6am, we could be ready to start the actual hike at around 11am in Zermatt. At that time we could have an idea about the weather for that day as well...

I really wish to get back to Stockhorn once again in my life, so given the timeframe, I thought we might best take the cog train strait to Gornergrat st. and start walking to the Stockhorn vista first. (If we had an entire day, we could get off the train at Rotenboden, take the path on the backside of the Gornergrat mountain and get to Stockhorn via the switchbacks. But that would probably mean that we would need to take the train also on our way back to Zermatt.) On the way back from there, we could turn right at "Zermatt Hohtälli" (where the path on the map turns red again) and continue to Rotenboden, passing the Gornergrat See on the way. From there, we could head to the Riffelsee area and do the Riffelalp to Riffelsee hike reversed.

So if there's only one day with nice weather, this should be the Hike for that day. On the other day, we could do the Hidden Valley, either from Riffelalp, or starting directly from Zermatt.

So that's what I'm thinking right now could be a good plan. Any comments are most welcome. :-)

Mark
Mark
609 posts
top member
Jul 20, 2021 - 10:04 PM

Hi Romancho

Your itinerary looks fine to me. Hidden valley is definitely a gem.

The section from Riffelsee to to the switchbacks (or reverse)has a continuous gorgeous view of the Gornergletscher and all the series of peaks on the backside of the Gornergrat.

The section from Riffelsee to Riffelalp has an almost continuous view of the Matterhorn and good views over Zermatt as you near Riffelalp. In my opinion the view of the Matterhorn from the front lawn of the Riffelalp Hotel (which the trail goes through on the way to the train station)is the best in the area. Much better than the Gornergrat summit as Riffelalp is much closer to the Matterhorn but still high enough to have an unobstructed view. (Note my thumbnail picture taken from my balcony at the Riffelalp hotel at sunrise).

Happy hiking, Mark

Romancho
Romancho
5 posts
new member
Jul 25, 2021 - 1:45 PM in reply to Mark

Hi Mark,

I see, so taking the switchbacks downwards on our way back from Stockhorn may be a good choice, as that way we get to enjoy the views from both Southern and Northern sides of Gornergrat mountain. Good to know. :-)

Thanks once again everybody for great tips!

Annika
Annika
6517 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 25, 2021 - 2:57 PM in reply to Romancho

Hi Romancho! Good to see that your plans are taking shape. I think you've been able to select beautiful, yet do-able hikes now. Always keep an eye on weather forecasts: www.myswissalps.com/weather, www.myswissalps.com/weather/forecast.

Will you be traveling by public transport? And if so, have you been looking into rail passes (www.myswissalps.com/train/ticketspasses/practical/chooserailpass)? Let us know if you need help with that.

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