6 September 2021, Margherita Hut, Monte Rosa, Mont Blanc, Matterhorn

Who could resist the offer of a night in the winter room of the highest mountain hut in Europe?

The beautiful high altitude glacier approach to the Margherita Hut from Gressoney. Lyskamm Ridge and north face beyond.

Well, probably most people actually who either have a better offer or insufficient acclimatisation.  We had neither excuse, and although our acclimatisation was not excessive, we hoped it would be enough!

The last few steps to the Rifugio Margherita, high on the Italian Swiss alpine border, between Gressoney & Zermatt.

Whilst the journey to the hut from Gressoney is significantly ski lift assisted, it remains a substantial, and magnificent voyage in to the heart of the Monte Rosa glacier sanctuary.  Gravity felt a little enhanced by both the high altitude and heavy packs containing the winter room ingredients of sleeping bags, boil in the bags & mountain clothing ready to deal with the early autumn conditions.

The ‘before’ / evening shot of Rob and Richard in the Margherita hut winter room. The ‘after’ / next morning shot would have been somewhat less cheerful!

The winter room at Margherita currently has beds and blankets, stove and plenty of gas, but not much else, so it’s worth taking your own pot / mug / spoon etc.  It’s also worth noting that there are no toilets at the winter room, so some form of strategy for dealing with this is required, with avoidance being high on the list in order to avoid sketching about in crampons at 4554m!

Beautiful late summer / early autumn morning dawn on the Dufourspitze from Margherita Hut.

We had a surprisingly reasonable nights sleep at the ‘Headache Hotel’ although it was followed by an unsurprisingly sluggish start this morning and we were beaten to the dawn ascent of the very nearby Zumsteinspitze by teams starting early from Rifugio Gnifetti!

Dawn start, to the descent, from Rifugio Margherita
Sunrise simultaneously clips the summits of Lyskam and Mont Blanc (behind) and the Matterhorn, centre right.

The descent via the Lisjoch and down to the top of the Gressoney ski lifts was a lot more rapid than the ascent and snow conditions were excellent on the glacier with a big track on the main trail as well as to all the main Monte Rosa summits and also up the striking East ridge of Lyskamm which several teams were climbing this morning.

The Lisjoch and Lyskamm East Ridge and North Face (in the shade on the right)

Whilst Margherita is now shut, Rifugio Mantova and Gniffeti remain open and the Gressoney lifts remain open untill the 19th Sept for Passo Sallito and until the 12th for Punta Indren.

Monte Rosa summit climb from Rifugio Gnifetti.  Mont Blanc on the western skyline, centre right.

It was great to see, on the Western Skyline, the only peak higher than in the Monte Rosa Massif…Mont Blanc, and well done to Mark, Alan and Kev for climbing it in good style this morning as a great team on our Mont Blanc course.  Our Guide Kev reporting ‘perfect conditions’.

Kev, Mark & Alan on the summit of Mont Blanc 6/9/21. Very good conditions. Photo Kev Avery

Good luck to Kenny & Robin poised to Hornli Hut this evening ready to attempt the Matterhorn tomorrow.  Conditions and weather both looking good.

We still have a few spaces left on late summer alpine mountaineering courses plus an early autumn opportunity to climb Gran Paradiso and Mont Blanc in early October…

For group courses – there is a regularly evolving situation with both regular bookings and cancellations – please check the details on our main mountaineering courses page and get in touch if you would like to join one of teams training and climbing in the Alps.

The descent from Monte Rosa to the lifts of Gressoney