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Monte Rosa, Cresta Signal
sinistra sinistra
Monte Rosa - Cresta Signal

First Ascent: A. Supersaxo and H. W. Topham, 1887
Grade: D, mixed climbing at altitude up to grade IV
Height difference: 2200m + 1000m
Time required: 5 - 7 hours for the crest
Orientation: East
Gear: ice axe and crampons, rope and climbing gear


Getting there
Monte Rosa is situated within the Piemonte, a region in the extreme NW of Italy which borders with Switzerland.
Take the A26 motorway from Liguria northwards and exit at Romagnano Sesia. Continue via the 299 up the Val Sesia to Alagna.

Best time of year
Summer, in particular mid-July to September.

Bibliography
"Monte Rosa, Guida dei Monti d'Italia" by G. Buscaini , Cai-Tci 1991

(The Signal Crest seen from the Capanna Resegotti - foto F. Tremolada)

Useful telephone numbers:
Funivie Alagna 0163922932
Bollettino Meteo 016531210
Pro Loco Alagna 0163691118
Guide Alpine Alagna 0163922988
Rifugio Capanna Margherita 016391039
Rifugio Gnifetti 016378015
Rifugio Città di Mantova 016378150

Approach details
On the first day a long and tiring path leads from Alagna to the Capanna Resegotti (20 beds, gas & blankets, no guardian) at the base of the Signal Crest (3624m). From Cappella di S. Antonio (1385m) walk up to the refuge Barba Ferrero and continue north, first along the moraine, then on the glacier delle Vigne to the base of the crest. A final step, partly fixed with steel cable, leads to the Capanna. Allow 5 to 7 hours for this approach.

Ascent details
An easy initial section leads from the Capanna to the Passo Signal. From here the South Face of the crest is followed until the stone marker is reached. Pass this on the left, walk along the ledge and return to the crest via a chimney (snow conditions permitting it is also possible to pass the marker on the right).

The crest now becomes steeper and more difficult. Follow cracks to the right of the crest to a small rise at the bottom of a vertical wall, marked by a white "S". Pass this on the left by descending slightly along ledges until a snowy slope leads up to the crest again. The difficulties ease off from here onwards.

Continue to the slopes of the Colle Gnifetti and pass the "Signal Pillar" on the right to arrive at Capanna Margherita, the summit Punta Gnifetti (4556m).

Descent details
Descend along the Normal Route towards the Colle del Lys and the Gnifetti refuge. From here continue to the Punta Indrend and take the cable car down to Alagna.

Cresta Signal at dawn
Alberto Paleari Useful advice by Alberto Paleari, Mountain Guide and Monte Rosa expert.

1) The guidebook "Monte Rosa, Guida dei Monti d'Italia" by G. Buscaini is excellent. Getting lost is almost impossible if the instructions are followed carefully.

2) The Signal Crest begins at Alagna (or Macugnaga), not at the Colle Signal (3769 m). The first day to the Capanna Resegotti is by far the most tiring. Start early, walk slowly and stop often. Above all, have a good rest at the Barba Ferrero refuge if you start from Alagna (recommended) and at the Colle delle Locce if you start from Macugnaga.

3) The best time of year is the first half of July, when much of the snow is still solid. The Signal Crest is fantastic when almost all of it is done with crampons. After mid-July rocks begin to appear on the slopes and the snow on the easier angled sections becomes heavy.

4) The great Mountain Guide Emillio De Tomasi, from Alagna, recommends proceeding from the first steep rocky section by climbing single pitches. Even the easier sections shouldn't be done in alpine style. Not only is this safer but also faster, for it allows less fit climbers to recover between one pitch and the next.

5) Once you've reached the summit don't be tempted by the Signal Pillar, since the east facing door of the Capanna Margherita (for the generator) is often closed. Walk past it on the right and climb up to the Capanna from the side of the Colle Gnifetti. The final few meters up the Normal Route used to be unpleasant because they pass underneath the Refuge's toilets. Now thankfully a helicopter takes all the waste back down into the valley.
Alberto Paleari (paleari@gse.it), was born in 1949. He became a Mountain Guide in 1974, progressing to Mountain Guide Instructor in 1982.

He has two daughters, eight years old and five months old.

"I enjoy doing a bit of everything in the mountains, from single pitches and routes at altitude to ski mountaineering. I've never been to the Himalayas and I don't think I'll ever go - the Alps are enough for me."

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