Monte Viso, ‘The Stone King‘. This magnificent rocky pyramid, dwarfs it’s neighbouring peaks of the Cottian Alps high on the Italian French mountain border. It provides an inspiring & iconic mountain when seen from the Northern Alps and during our approach journey from the Mont Blanc Massif. The beautiful walk to the Rifugio Sella, in the heart of the range and a great base camp for this course, starts from Pian del Re, at 2000m this is the source of the mighty Po, Italy’s longest river…
Monte Viso provides a physically challenging summit day with a moderately technical but long and sustained scramble, making it very good training for both Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn as well as a major alpine summit climb in it’s own right…
- Spend an enjoyable 3 days in the high alpine mountains & climb Monte Viso, 3841m
- Enjoy a mixture of high mountain walking, rocky scrambling, mixed mountaineering terrain, rock climbing and develop your skills, fitness and confidence for future ascents like Mont Blanc or the Matterhorn
- Visit this superb part of the Italian Alps with a geographically interesting journey down the Val d’Aosta
- Have a fun & sociable trip with like minded people, spending a couple of nights in hospitable mountain huts, drink some good Italian café, eat some nice Italian food!
Thanks Rob, Mark and the team for a fantastic experience on Monte Viso and Gran Paradiso! I will never forget this experience, it’s been a pleasure to have it among such great people. Solid guiding, patience, good teaching effort, amazing stories and all logistics taken care of. And a great summary with amazing pictures published next day, wow! Really good guys, thanks a lot.
Climb Monte Viso – An Action Packed 3 Day Mountaineering Course…
Our 3 day Monte Viso course starts in Chamonix which is easily reached from Geneva airport via a simple one hour transfer. Day 1 begins with introductions to the Guide, other guests & the course in general as well as a weather brief and equipment check. We can also hire any alpine mountaineering equipment at this stage.
Day 1 – The Approach Drive, Hut Walk & Warm Up Scramble
After our morning meet in Chamonix a short drive is then taken through the Mont Blanc tunnel and into the upper Italian Vallée d’Aoste. Welcome to Italy where a good coffee & panini stop is never far away! The smooth motorway drive continues across the flat plains of Northern Italy with impressive views of Monte Viso and back on windy mountain roads to reach the attractive high altitude parking at Piana del Re (c. 3.5hrs drive from Chamonix).
A pleasant easy 2 hour walk on rough paths leads to the impressive base camp at Rifugio Quintino Sella, 2640m, with great views of the steep East Ridge route on Monte Viso directly above the hut. Our route via the South Face takes an elegant but more circuitous journey via the Passo di Sagnette 2991m, see photos above and below, and, after a break at the hut, we sometimes go for a walking recce and short scramble to give an idea of what’s in store for the pre-dawn start next morning…
Day 2 – Alpine Start & Tough Summit Day On Monte Viso 3841m
An alpine start, yes, but with the pleasant contrast to normal of walking downhill on an easy summer path to start the day…but not for long! After a steady hike uphill to warm up, the sustained roped scramble to the Passo di Sagnette 2991m starts with lots of chains and some enjoyable steep walls of generally solid rock.
After a short descent on the far side of the pass there is a long walk with bits of easy scrambling to approach the South Face. This is rough rocky country and we get an idea why Monte Viso is called the ‘King of Stone’, and, even though there is a marked route, it pays to move efficiently over the loose rock and boulders!
A good pit stop at the base of the main South Face is the colourful Andreotti Bivi Hut at 3270m. Time for a quick 2nd breakfast and then to rope up for the more sustained ascent and harder scrambling on the face above…
The scrambling on the South Face is sustained and there is quite a lot of it, around 500m after the initial steep slope above the hut. As height is gained there are often some snowy mixed sections so crampons are required and this combined with the altitude and frequent strong winds, gives a real sense of high alpine mountaineering where it’s necessary to be fit enough to move well, climb efficiently and to save some energy for the equally long descent. But it’s generally good terrain, fun scrambling and all good training for other big alpine peaks…
The summit has fantastic panoramic views to the Alps Maritimes to the South and main Alpine chain to the north but it’s often cold and windy and we don’t hang around too long before starting the long descent of the face, back up and over the Passo di Sagnette and down for dinner and another night at Base Camp Rifugio Sella.
The ascent of Monte Viso is a long & physical day with guide book timings around 5 hours for the ascent and, for many teams, not much less than that on the descent. It’s good to have a 2nd night at the Hut and dinner and post climb drinks…(and sleep) generally go down very well!
Day 3 – A More Relaxed Start, Sunrise Rock Climbing & Back North…
Yesterday’s summit climb breakfast is substituted for a more leisurely 0700 with a more relaxed start, better coffee and a wonderful opportunity to watch the sun rise over the Huge Po Valley.
The mountain lake just below the hut has a crag and both catch the full easterly morning sun and are often well sheltered from the wind. So it’s a nice warm and scenic place to do a little rock climbing before returning to the hut for a cappuccino and final packing before the walk back down to Piana del Re.
If it’s cool or wet, or the team prefer not to take rock climbing kit to the hut we can also walk out back to the parking straight away, and visit some other good spots for rock climbing close to the road on the journey back north to Chamonix.
This is an action packed 3 days in the Italian Alps, with the opportunity to explore this wonderful area and climb it’s tough, and not to be underestimated, principal summit.
Suggested Course Progression
Whilst this would indeed provided good training for the ascent of Mont Blanc, some would argue the other way around is a more logical progression! Certainly it’s a much harder ascent, physically and technically than Gran Paradiso. The sustained scrambling on the South Face is indeed good Matterhorn training whilst the East Ridge is a logical alternative to the Matterhorn ascent itself if a quieter route is preferred or better weather is to be found in the Southern Alps.
An ideal progression would be to start with our UK Mont Blanc training weekends before doing a Chamonix Intro Alpine as a fine introduction to alpine mountaineering. A good alpine progression would then be to Climb, Gran Paradiso & the Weissmies. These enjoyable and contrasting Italian & Swiss 4000m peaks would set you up well for Climbing Mont Blanc and Monte Viso. After that and some Chamonix private guiding our Climb the Eiger & Matterhorn courses would be a great progression.
Course Fitness and Experience Required
- Some previous experience mountain walking, scrambling and using crampons is required for this mountaineering course.
- A very good level of fitness & mountain endurance is required for the long summit day with 7-11 hours of sustained climbing and descending so legs and mind should be ‘mountain ready’.
- The easiest route on the mountain has sustained scrambling so you should be happy dealing with some constant exposure and thus have a reasonable ‘head for heights’ as well as the ability to maintain accurate foot placements over a long and tiring day.
2021 Course Dates & Prices
Our standard course involves three guided days and 2 nights in an Italian Alpine Hut. Most of our Climb Monte Viso courses can be combined with an ascent of Gran Paradiso, Mont Blanc or other peaks, either before or after, to provide a superb action packed week of high alpine mountaineering.
2021 Price £975.00
Maximum Ratio of 1 Guide to 2 clients
What’s Included in the Price?
Our courses are priced on a ‘guiding only’ basis which means you pay the exact cost price for all other expenses like hotels, mountain huts and lift passes.
- 3 days full days mountain guiding with an IFMGA Mountain Guide (2 days on the short weekend)
- Transport during the course including travel across to the Italian Alps from Chamonix
- Management of the trip / itinerary and booking of all mountain huts
- Discounted equipment hire prices
What’s Not Included & Other Additional Expenses?
- Valley accommodation. Please see our Chamonix Accommodation notes. Prices start from camping at C.10 euros per night, Bunkhouse for C.20 euros per night and hotel accommodation from around 40-50 euros upwards.
- Mountain Hut & lift expenses for you and the Guide. Allow about 65 euros per night for dinner, bed & breakfast and your part share in the same for the Guide (at a heavily reduced rate).
- Additional snacks, drinks, lunch etc
- Transfers to Chamonix (C. 35 euros for single journey from Geneva Airport)
- Mountaineering equipment. Check the kit list above
- Insurance suitable for alpine mountaineering in Europe
- The approximate total cost of minimum additional in course expenses, based on 2 hut nights and your share of the guides hut expenses, which can vary depending on the number of participants, is around €175.
Monte Viso East Ridge & Private Guiding
In addition to the classic South Face route, the East Ridge of Monte Viso is a brilliant big alpine journey often compared to the Hornli Ridge on the Matterhorn, with the advantage that a traverse can be made via a descent of the easier South side normal route. We can arrange private guiding for individuals and teams who want to climb either the East Ridge or the South Face route on dates to suit their convenience as opposed to the fixed dates of our group courses. A great addition to our Monte Viso programme is also to visit the nearby Rifugio Giocoletti for a night or two and sample the celebrated mountain rock climbing & scrambling on Punta Udine and Venezia.
If you have a really excellent level of fitness and some mountain / trail running experience, you could also consider a 1 day ascent of Monte Viso from the valley parking. This would make a fine addition to the Gran Paradiso 1 day ascent and, or, Mont Blanc in a single day.
30 September 2020, Tough Cold Snowy Conditions On The South Face
Superbly scenic but very cold, windy and snowy and after a wild night at the hut (not in the party sense but in the wind sense) we had a good go at the summit but it proved a bridge too far on this occassion:
5 October 2019, Great Autumn Trip & Full Team To The Summit Via South Face Route
A very enjoyable 3 day trip, done on this last weekend of the hut being open at the end of the summer season. Full details on this news post here: