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a system of mountain ranges in the Western Alps of Italy and Switzerland, east of Mont Blanc, between the Great St. Bernard and the Simplon passes. The Pennine Alps extend approximately 100 km and have elevations to 4,634 m (Dufourspitze in the Monte Rosa massif). The mountains are composed primarily of gneisses and schists. They are among the highest and most difficult to reach regions of the Alps. The Pennine Alps have large glaciers (total area of glaciation, 621 sq km) and classical horn terrain. Below 2,800 to 3,000 m there are alpine and subalpine meadows; at elevations of about 2,300 to 2,200 m there are forests. The region is a well-known center for tourism, mountain climbing, and alpine skiing.