Breithorn at Simplon (3437 m) is one of the several mountains above three thousand meters that can be climbed from the Simplon pass (Passo del Sempione, 2005 m) in Switzerland. The others are Hubschhorn (3192), Punta Terrarosa (Wasenhorn, 3245 m) and Monte Leone (3553). Within this page, I give some essential details which you will need to know before climbing Breithorn at Simplon.
I stress ‘at Simplon’ because there are a few mountains in the Alps with the same name Breithorn. So do not mix it with Breithorn at Zermatt described in my another page.
[Chopin: Nocturne in C-sharp Minor (No.20)]
The coordinates of Breithorn at Simplon are:
- Latitude: 46.23837
- Longitude: 8.08401
How to get there?
The Pass, together with mountains around is an area with exceptional beauty. Access roads (see the map below) from both sides (Swiss and Italian) are very good and attractive. This in particular holds for the Italian side, from the valley of Domodossola (in Italy) and village Simplon (in Switzerland) as it offers great views toward Weissmies group.
Where to stay?
Two first-choice possibilities are:
- Simplon Hospiz.
- Monte Leone hut.
The Simplon Hospice (hospiz) is a three-storey building directly on the Pass. It was raised by the order of Napoleon issued in 1801, during the building of the road over the Pass which connects Piedmont in Italy and Wallis in Switzerland. Can you imagine, Napoleon was taking care about roads through the Alps.
Though this was obviously for his own military purposes. About 1600 years before him, there was another one passing the Alps, with 38 elephants and an army of more than 40 thousand. Apparently, elephants were not good in climbing and they all died somewhere there. I am speaking about Hannibal of course. In fact, there is no a consensus about his exact passage through the Alps. But from what I know, about the Simplon pass, this would have been an ideal gate to the Italian boot.
Anyhow, back to the Hospice, from the beginning it has been run by monks, and presently it can accommodate more than hundred of people.
Monte Leone hut is at high altitude and a bit off-the-route to Breithorn, but it is in a beautiful environment and a great point directly on the route to Wasenhorn.
Regarding the accommodation in some of the surrounding valleys, I would recommend renting some apartment or house, there are many possibilities for this (see more at a separate post within this site), or you may find a camp, there are many in the valleys below.
Here below I give a few photos I made on my way to Breithorn.
About the route
The starting point is at the Simplon Hospiz. There is a lot of parking space around. From the Hospiz there are some paths over meadows in the east direction, and in general, go just below the north cliffs of Hübschhorn. You will not see any sign neither for Breithorn nor Monte Leone (this is the same route most of the time). So if you go in early hours without daylight, you’d better study the route thoroughly the day before.
When the north wall of Hübschhorn is behind you, you will continue over huge boulders where you will see some marks for the route (strangely enough, in green color like nowhere else). You will the go over Homattu pass (2867 m), and soon after that, you will be at the beginning of glacier. From this point, this is a glacier walk all the way to the summit.
On the glacier, the slope is about 40 degrees or more. When I was there, the upper part was covered by a lot of snow and I did not see crevasses. But you may be sure that there are many under your feet. It is a rather simple walk up, toward Breithorn pass (3345 m); as you realize this will be your third pass on this climb.
The summit is at a stone throw from the pass. The photos show the views and the scenery around. It is simply breathtaking.
You will need at least 5 hours for this climb. Absolutely essential are crampons, do not even think of trying this climb without them. The lower part of the glacier is like a glass, totally slippery, and without crampons, you would not make a step.
Breithorn can be climbed in combination with Monte Leone, the route from Breithorn pass to Monte Leone continues over glacier again.
About necessary equipment
Note, the type of boots depends on the type of crampons, read more in my separate text.
For me, this was again a solo trip. I climbed the mountain in 2011, and my start point was Simplon pass where I was camping. From the summit of Hubschhorn, which I climbed one year earlier, all the glacier route to Breithorn was clearly visible, see the photo below which shows how steep the route in reality is.
I set off at 3:30 am, it was totally dark and I really had a problem to find the path over meadows and through the bush after that. But when I passed Hubschhorn’s north wall, it became easier to stick to the route.
The lower part of the glacier was like a glass. This is because it melts during the day and there is a lot of water on it, which freezes overnight. Crampons did a great role and I did not have problems. Did not feel secure in the upper part because I really did not know where I was stepping. Hidden crevasses are a reality in such an environment. I was at the summit at 9:30 am.
My plan was, in fact, to continue and to climb Monte Leone as well. However, the weather conditions were such that the snow on the glacier was rather soft when I arrived at Breithorn pass. The long glacier walk which I was supposed to do in order to continue to Monte Leone from that point looked rather risky.
There was, of course, an option to follow the very sharp rocky ridge, which would eventually lead me to the summit of Monte Leone. But clouds were coming as well and the ridge route is rather tricky and it needs time; there is hundreds of meters drop-down on the north side of the ridge (you may see the picture of this north wall on my page about Wasenhorn), therefore it must be done carefully.
So with realistic prospects of rain, reluctantly, I had to accept that M. Leone would have to wait for me. It will be there next time.
Please leave your comments below, I shall be happy to answer your questions about this exceptionally attractive climb.