Wasenhorn (3246 m) is also known by its Italian name Punta Terrarossa. The two names come from the fact that it is on the border between Switzerland and Italy. In this site, I have placed it in the group of Swiss mountains only because of the route I used from the Swiss side.
Within this page, you will find information about the route to Wasenhorn from Simplon pass. So the starting point is the same as for the nearby Breithorn which you may find within this site.
[Bach: BWV903 Chromatic Fantasy]
When you look at Wasenhorn from Simplon pass, it appears as an enormously sharp peak. You cannot miss to see it if you just look from the road in the north-east direction. You will start the route at the Simplon Hospiz and follow the signs toward Monte Leone hut. The name of this hut looks inappropriate as it is directly on the route to Wasenhorn, and quite off the route to Monte Leone.
The mountain rock is reddish and thus full of iron oxide, and this is probably the reason for its Italian name Terrarossa.
The hut is at 2848 meters above the sea level, and you will reach it from the pass in about 2-3 hours. This part of the route is a simple walk up, with great views of the Brig valley on your left side and many mountains on the other side of the Rhone valley, most notably Bietschhorn (3934 m).
Below the hut, at 2756 m you will suddenly have an incredibly beautiful lake in front of you. It collects the water from Chaltwasser glacier which is on the right side, covering the northern slope of Monte Leone mountain. From the hut, you should plan another 1.5 hours to the summit of Wasenhorn.
When you pass the hut, just continue toward the Italian-Swiss border in the north-east direction. This will lead you to a ridge which represents the border. You follow it to the summit. This part is very steep, probably up to 50 degrees, with unstable rock, and with snow at some places. See the first photo above to get an impression about the inclination. There are no signs but they are not necessary; some cairns are there though, a few of my own.
The summit is like a roof of a house, elongated and steep on the south and north sides. The cross is in fact on the lower end of the summit ridge, overlooking Simplon pass.
You will have great views to Monte Leone which is very close in the south direction. The Weismiess group is in the distance in the southwest direction; Bishorn and Weisshorn are in the west, and the great peaks Bietschhorn, Aletschhorn and Finsteraarhorn are in the north direction.
If you are sure that there are no snow on the route, for example in late summer, you will need no particular equipment whatsoever, in spite of the peak being so sharp. However, in the presence of snow, I would strongly suggest having at least an ice axe and crampons. The final 200 meters are very steep, and with snow, it would be difficult without such an equipment. So in the case without snow, my summary is as follows:
An obvious choice is the Simplon Hospice, or the Monte Leone hut which is directly below the summit. Note that there is an alpinist refuge Bivacco Farello above the Monte Leone hut, so this is the closest place to the summit to spend a night. It is below a rock at Aurona pass (2770 m).
I saw it from a close distance, and I missed to descend to check conditions inside. But I have seen some photos on the Internet which suggest that it is equipped with some gas burner. The link given above suggests it has 9 places to sleep, but on the other link you will see the number of beds 12.
Difficulty of the route in general
I believe Wasenhorn (Punta Terrarossa) can be climbed by anybody with normal physical conditions, regardless of the age. In the case of snow on the route you will need equipment, and in this case, you would better have some experience and know how to use it, otherwise do not go.
When I climbed Hubschhorn one day before, there was an Italian man from the nearby town of Domodossola in Italy. We were on the top, and he was showing me Punta Terrarosa and telling that a few years before he climbed it and broke his leg. So he was transported by helicopter. It is good to keep such examples in mind and be careful and prepared, and if possible going with somebody.
So if you are at Simplon pass and undecided which of the mountains to climb, I would say that Hubschhorn is the easiest one, but I am not saying it is easy. Wasenhorn is a bit more of a challenge, while Breithorn and Monte Leone are for more experienced mountaineers, and you definitely need glacier stuff.
My climb to Wasenhorn
I climbed Wasenhorn one day after climbing its neighbor Hubschhorn, and this was an opportunity to overview the route to Wasenhorn, which was completely visible from the summit. These were my solo climbs in both cases.
For Wasenhorn, I started from the road at Simplon Hospiz at 5:45 and continued toward Monte Leone hut. I was at the hut at 8:15 am, and I met the guardian who was standing in front of the hut. We could not communicate much, he was not speaking English and the same was with my German (or was it perhaps Rhaeto-Roman, not sure at all), but he was very friendly and I understood he wished me good luck.
The upper part of the route below the summit was under snow and it was a bit slippery, did not have crampons with me. There were no people around. It was 9:45 when I reached the summit, so it took me 4 hours from the Simplon pass.
I was around 40 minutes alone on the summit, had a nap before a couple arrived and this woke me up. I stayed quite some time, the weather was perfect. Later I descended the same way toward the Simplon pass.
Please leave your comments below, I shall be glad to read them and to answer any question you might have.