Tour of Monte Rosa day 5

06/09/2024 
This is part of a series of blog posts live from the Tour of Monte Rosa, a 100-mile backpacking route in the Alps.

The Tour of Monte Rosa trail blog series
Day 1: Zermatt to Täschalp
Day 2: Europaweg stage 1
Day 3: Europaweg stage 2 and the Grächenwald
Day 4: the Balfrin Höhenweg
Day 5: the Monte Moro pass and the Vallee Quarazza
Day 6: Colle del Turlo and Alagna Valsesia
Day 7: the Alencoll and a night above 3,000m
Day 8: the ascent of Testa Grigia
Day 9: the Theodul Glacier and return to Zermatt

Location: Lanti bivouac hut on the Quarazza side of Colle del Turlo, 2,150m. Trail mile 53. 

Mileage: 14

Glorious blue skies greeted me when I got up this morning, but it had been cold overnight – frost on my tent, even under tree cover, was evidence enough of that. As I hiked up to the Mattmark Dam I was worrying about the condition of the Monte Moro Pass. Would there be fresh snow up there? Would the cold conditions have firmed it up and make the crossing dangerous? I had no way of knowing.

The Mattmarksee is an artificial lake, part of an ambitious hydro project that spans this part of the Alps. The waters were a perfect turquoise colour in the bright morning and I joined many other people out for a walk around the shores of the lake. In fact, I was surprised how many other people were out hiking. Dozens of people left the track at the end of the lake and started up the steepening trail towards the Monte Moro Pass.

This pass climbs up through improbable rocky terrain, but is never particularly hard – good rock steps can be followed most of the way, and of course the ever-present red and white blazes of the Tour of Monte Rosa mark the rocks every ten yards or so. To the left of the pass is an enormous cirque filled with moraine. A hundred and fifty years ago there was a glacier there, but now only a few discontinuous snow patches are left.


Despite the hot sun, the temperature dropped as I neared the top of the pass. There was indeed a little fresh snow here and there but it didn’t cause any issues. I only had to cross one very easy field of old snow ice.


The view from the summit of the pass, at over 2,800m, was spectacular. For the first time, I beheld the immense east wall of Monte Rosa – a complex glaciated face, crowned by the peaks of Dufourspitze and Nordend. Curiously this was the first time I’d actually seen Monte Rosa on the TMR.


I descended through steep forests on the other side to Macugnaga, then continued into the Valle Quarazza. This valley is stunningly beautiful – like a Yosemite valley in miniature, with a cascade running through alpine meadows from the forests above; and higher still, vast slabs of rock glow in the late afternoon sun. Plenty of others were out enjoying the valley – I met literally hundreds of other walkers, so many that I wonder if there was some kind of event going on.


I’d originally planned to camp somewhere in the Quarazza, but there were plenty of signs saying camping wasn’t allowed, so I pressed on. I decided to aim for the Lanti bivouac hut at 2,150m, 600m below the Colle del Turlo, the next pass on the TMR.

Now, I’d already done a major pass that day, and didn’t relish the prospect of climbing another 600m straight up. But in fact that path wasn’t as taxing as I’d feared. Expertly constructed switchbacks resulted in a very decent angle, and I reached the Lanti hut just as it was getting dark. I’ve done over 1,700m of ascent (and 1,400m of descent) today – not bad going.

Unfortunately the Lanti hut is incredibly squalid, so I’ve pitched my tent outside. It’s a clear evening and it’ll be another very cold night. Tomorrow I climb the Colle del Turlo and drop down to the Val Sesia.

Note: for some reason, the Italian phone networks won’t let me go online, so until I cross back over to Italy I’ll only be posting blog updates if I find wifi. I’ll continue to post the updates in order, though. Thanks for reading!

The Tour of Monte Rosa trail blog series
Day 1: Zermatt to Täschalp
Day 2: Europaweg stage 1
Day 3: Europaweg stage 2 and the Grächenwald
Day 4: the Balfrin Höhenweg
Day 5: the Monte Moro pass and the Vallee Quarazza
Day 6: Colle del Turlo and Alagna Valsesia
Day 7: the Alencoll and a night above 3,000m
Day 8: the ascent of Testa Grigia
Day 9: the Theodul Glacier and return to Zermatt

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