Traverse between Switzerland’s two mythical passes


This tour crosses two of the most famous passes in Switzerland: In the middle of the Alpine arc the Leopontine Alps rise in the South West of the Valais region at the Simplon Pass and end not far from the Saint Gotthard Pass. These mountains grow on the Swiss side up from the high Rhone valley and on the Italian side from the valley of Ossola.

The higher reaches of the Ossola Valley are known as the ‘Val Formazza’ and this route is known in Italy as the ‘Haute Route d’Ossola’. Surprisingly little known, this is a big route linking two great alpine cols, but it is of only average difficulty. However, you will find an interesting mix of terrains, so tourers need to be experienced.


• A classic tour from Simplon Pass to St Gotthard
• Stunning glacier descents, optional summits for ‘peak baggers’, great huts
• Transfer using the Swiss rail and post bus services
• Italy’s ‘Haute Route d’Ossola’


GRADE : D2 : A2 : F2
see our grade coding here




This price includes :

• 6 days guided ski touring with a qualified UIAGM high mountain guide

• 7 nights accomodation

• All dinners, breakfasts, picnic lunches

• Transfer from/to Geneva


• Lift passes

• Hire gear

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From Geneva you take the train to Brig and transfer to the post bus service to the Hospice de Simplon (the old monastery/rest house) where we will spend the night. At this point you will meet your guide, be briefed and given time to prepare for the tour.


Today’s route takes us on a traverse west of Monte Leone on fairly steep climbing to cross Chaltwasser Pass before we ski down a superb descent underneath the Wassenhorn to the hut. The Refuge Cittadi Arona is unguarded but comfortable.


We leave the refuge early to climb first to Hameau de Balma (a small hamlet), then the Pian Sass Mor and the Passo di Valtendra before skiing down to Bondolero. We then climb the steep slopes to the south east to Scatta d’Oragna and down to Alpe Devero and the Refuge Castiglioni. On this day we climb 950 metres and ski down 1200 metres.


We pass a small hamlet and then skirt round the Devero lake (or across if it is frozen!) before climbing a small valley to get to a dam. We then turn to Scatta Minoia, briefly ski down to another lake before climbing the south facing slope to Busin, slightly exposed following the west ridge of Clogstafel on 2967m, and heading north to another lake next to the Refuge Margaroli, our stop for the night.


This is a long and challenging day because we need to climb 1955m and descend almost the same metres. There is an optional climb to Punta Arbola (3600m) at the beginning of the day – or if feeling very challenged this can be left out, making the day shorter. Our journey takes us over the Passo Nefelgiu via a steep gulley before we ski down to the hamlet of Nefelgiu and the lake Morasco and onto the Refuge Maria-Louisa.


From the refuge we climb some steep west facing slopes to access the glacier Basodino, leaving the skis at the foot of the rock for an easy climb to the summit of 3272m. Then we ski down the centre of the glacier to the Basidino Refuge.


We climb to the Cristalina pass and via the Val Bedretto down to Ossasco – a ski descent of 1200 metres. For those with energy to spare there is an optional climb to the Cristalina. From the Ossasco we take a bus or the train to St Gotthard and a night in a hotel there.


From St Gotthard we take the post bus or train back to Brig before catching the train back to Geneva.