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Zamboni Zappa refuge at the Belvedere Glacier

At the foot of the 4000 meters of Monte Rosa, the excursion to the Rifugio Zamboni Zappa is a glaciological tour.
5.30 h


One of the most beautiful glaciers in Italy hangs on the eastern face of Monte Rosa, along the length of the glacial tongue which extends almost flatly up to the Belvedere Refuge. This natural beauty is easily accessible through Belvedere (which can also be reached with the chairlift from Macugnaga).

From Pecetto di Macugnaga to the Zamboni Zappa refuge

We travel by car throughout the Anzasca Valley, we pass through Macugnaga, and stop in Pecetto (1389 m). On foot we cross the village and, having reached the valley station of the chairlift, we begin to go up the wide ski slopes. The route, monotonous and exposed to the hot summer sun, is made pleasant by the view of Monte Rosa, already imposing in front of us. In about 40 minutes from Pecetto we are at the first section of the chairlift, near the Paradiso restaurant (m1613, 40 minutes).

From here the dirt road becomes a little steeper and describes two hairpin bends. At this point we either continue on the dirt road that goes up the new track on the right or we take the (much nicer) path that goes uphill into the woods. The two routes reconnect near the CAI Saronno refuge (1822 m, 45 minutes) from which, still on a path or track, you quickly arrive at the Belvedere (1932 m, 15 minutes).

We can already see, on our left, brown "waves": the last offshoots of the glacier. We continue on flat ground until we reach the glacier; the crossing does not create any problems because the ice is completely covered with debris.

Crossing of the Belvedere Glacier
There's ice underneath.

In short we are on the opposite moraine, spectacularly narrow between the glacier and the side valley. Soon, however, the show ends: the path cuts diagonally through the moraine and heads straight towards the plain that hosts the Zamboni-Zappa refuge (2070 m, 45 minutes), already visible for some time among the enormous boulders that surround it.

Arrival at the Zamboni Zappa refuge
Arriving at the Zamboni Zappa Refuge, visible between two gigantic boulders.

The Ephemeral Lake of the Belvedere Glacier

It is worth a short walk of another 30 minutes which takes us to see the Effimero Lake, a glacial phenomenon that has caused a lot of talk in recent years, and the Locce Lake (2271m, 30 minutes). We cross the little bridge over the stream and take an immediate left; traces of the path lead us to the end of the plain, where we climb up to a panoramic hill.

From here what remains of the Ephemeral Lake is clearly visible: born in 2001 in a basin created by a glacial collapse of the Belvedere, in 2002 the epiglacial lake had assumed considerable dimensions so much so as to seriously worry the community of the Anzasca Valley: if its 3,000,000 cubic meters of water had broken the ice banks, it would have leveled half the valley.

The Ephemeral Lake in 2008, on the Belvedere Glacier
What remains of the Ephemeral Lake on the Belvedere Glacier

The lake was so large and "heavy" (3 million tons!) that even the movement of the glacier downstream had accelerated. This is why in those years, between 2001 and 2015, the glacier downstream of the lake was particularly voluminous, pressed by the weight of the lake. You can still notice it a little in the photos below - the glacier had come to "fill" the moraines until it reached or even exceeded the height of the moraine, giving some Little Ice Age vibes.

Moraine of the Belvedere Glacier in the direction of the Zamboni Zappa Refuge
You can see how the glacier reached the level of the moraine - photo from 2008. Today the glacier has lowered again

Fortunately, just when they began to artificially pump water from the reservoir (a procedure already put into practice in a similar occasion on the Rocciamelone), the basin started emptying gradually by itself, without disastrous consequences. Today, only a puddle of water on the surface of the Belvedere remains as evidence of this phenomenon.

Locce Lake

Lake Locce, on the other hand, is closed in a basin which can be accessed from the "canyon" behind us. The eastern face of Monte Rosa, with Punta Gnifetti and Punta Dufour, shows itself here in all its beauty.

The descent route to Pecetto is the same as the ascent route (2:15 hours).






The mountains are a dangerous environment: make sure you always have the right equipment — hiking or trail shoes, warm clothes and waterproofs in case of unexpected changes in weather conditions, a small emergency kit.


I've made an Amazon "shopping note" to make sure you have everything — ps if you buy from these links, 3% goes to support the development and maintenance of Hikes of the World 🙏.


  • Breathable t-shirt ( example )

  • Sweatshirt, fleece, or light jacket

  • Waterproof windbreaker (for example: men / women )

  • Gloves and hat (you never know)

  • Backpack with rain cover

  • Trekking poles (not essential, but they help to unload the weight of the backpack and ease the impact on the joints)

  • Trekking or trail running shoes (in great vogue lately because they are lightweight. These Salomon ones - for men and women - are an excellent entry-level, preferably Gore-Tex)

  • For via ferratas: complete via ferrata kit (I have this one , very light and compact, with this harness and helmet — or you can buy complete kits ). Buy in store to receive ad hoc support

  • To sleep a night in a refuge: sheet or light sleeping bag

  • Water bottle or thermos

  • Light crampons if you think you will find ice or snow on the route

  • Power bank or cell phone charger

  • Camera

  • Drone, for those who love to "fly" (used in moderation and at a distance from other people. I have had the DJI Mini 2 for over 2 years and have found myself very happy with it. The DJI Mini 3 also allows you to take vertical photographs)

  • Small emergency kit ( example )

  • Sun cream (essential)

  • Sunglasses


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