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Signalkuppe: Popular 38 Four Thousand Meter Peaks

The Signalkuppe at the height of 4554 meters, is the mountain in the Monte Rosa massif that is home to most famous and highest mountain refuge in Europe, the Capanna Regina Margherita. Mountaineers tackling the Monte Rosa massif today do so primarily on a high altitude tour taking in the Signalkuppe and the Capanna Regina Margherita, the highest altitude building in Europe. The Signalkuppe is Switzerland’s fourth highest peak and forms a prominent topographical corner as the long chain of 4000 meter peaks branches north here to the Nordend, Strahlhorn and the Mischabel group. Seen from the south and south-east, the Signalkuppe is the most prominent summit with its cliffs and steep glaciers. The mountain stands on the Italian-Swiss border, which was relocated in 1941 in favor of Italy.

The name Signalkuppe or sign summit was named by Ludwig Freiherr von Welden in 1825 after a prominent pinnacle on the peak. The spike was removed during the building of the Margherita refuge. The Italian name of Punta Gnifetti derives from the first person to climb the peak, Don Giovanni Gnifetti, parish priest of Alagna. His eight-man rope team made the first ascent on August 9th 1842. Gnifetti had already made unsuccessful attempts to conquer the mountain in 1834, 1836, and 1839. Gnifetti’s mortal remains were buried on the Signalkuppe in 1867.
Alpinism history in Monte Rosa group begun in 1778, when seven Italian people from “Gressoney” went up from the south side to discover the mythical lost valley. They believed that over the mountains and the ridges a paradise existed with animals and fruit-trees, and ancient home of their ancestors. The higher point to be reached by the seven people were called “stone of the discover”.

The Capanna Regina Margherita stands at 4554 meters and is Europe’s highest altitude building. It was inaugurated in 1893, and named after the extremely popular Margherita of Savoy. The Italian queen had a passion for the mountains and did not miss the opportunity to visit the building in the year it was built. The refuge is owned by the Varallo section of the Club Alpino Italian, has a warden service from mid-June to mid-September and during this period can sleep up to 70 mountaineers. The winter room with 12 beds is open during the rest of the year. The hut also houses an international center for high altitude physiological research and has the highest altitude telephone connection in Europe.

The best period to climb this Signalkuppe is July with a small presence of crevasses, but generally from June to the beginning of September. Looking for reaching the peak in other seasons is quite dangerous and possible only by skies. It is absolutely necessary to use the crampons and the ice axe during summer. It is also recommended to climb on the rope around presence of crevasses on the path.