»Located: Wallis/Valais, Switzerland
»Height: 4634 meters
»First climbed by: J. Birkbeck, C. Hudson, Ulrich Lauener, J.G. and C. Smyth, E.J. Stevenson, M. and J. zum Taugwald,
»Year: August 1, 1855
The Dufourspitze is the highest mountain in Switzerland and is located in the Monte Rosa massif on the border with Italy. The Dufourspitze is often incorrectly referred to as the Monte Rosa. However, Monte Rosa is the name of the massif. In this massif there are still four mountains above 4500 meters, namely the Lyskamm, Signalkuppe, Nordend and Zumsteinspitze. There are also about 20 mountains of more than 4000 meters in this area.
This area is therefore known as the climbing mecca of Europe.
The south face of the Dufourspitze is a perpendicular wall and plunges into an Italian valley towards the village of Macugnaga. This wall is a good 2000 meters high, something that would not be out of place in the Himalayas!
Normal route for ascent of Dufourspitze
The normal route to the top of the Dufourspitze starts from the Monte Rosa hut at 2795 meters altitude. From this hut you follow a zigzag route to the moraine of the Grenz Glacier. You can follow the Silbersattel route up to about 4000 meters altitude, after which the paths split (one side to Nordend, the other side to Dufourspitze). From 4500 meters it is proper climbing, 3rd degree rock climbing.
From Marinelli bivouac (3036m)
This is a very dangerous route, as you have to pass (or through) the Marinelli Couloir, where both the Dufourspitze and Nordend send their avalanches down. You should therefore only take this route if it is very cold and you can leave around midnight. Then you get there before the avalanches start to fall due to the heat along the couloir. This route is only for experienced climbers with sufficient preparation. The tour takes about 12 hours, so being in exceptionally good shape is even more important here than on other mountains.
All in all, the Dufourspitze is a vicious mountain. Less than 200 meters lower than the Mont Blanc, but more difficult to climb and reach. The ascent of the Dufourspitze should always be taken seriously.
This of course means that you have to climb with local guides and keep a close eye on the weather forecast. Large parts of the route are glaciated and therefore require this specific experience with, for example, crampons and pickles.