SensorScope is a turnkey solution for environmental monitoring systems, based on a wireless sensor network and resulting from a collaboration between environmental and network researchers. Given the interest in climate change, environmental monitoring is a domain where sensor networks will have great impact by providing high resolution spatio-temporal data for long periods of time. SensorScope is such a system, which has already been successfully deployed multiple times in various environments (e.g., mountainous, urban). Here, we describe the overall hardware and software architectures and especially focus on the sensor network itself. We also describe one of our most prominent deployments, on top of a rock glacier in Switzerland, which resulted in the description of a micro-climate phenomenon leading to cold air release from a rock-covered glacier in a region of high alpine risks. Another focus of this paper is the description of what happened behind the scenes to turn SensorScope from a laboratory experiment into successful outdoor deployments in harsh environments. Illustrated by various examples, we point out many lessons learned while working on the project. We indicate the importance of simple code, well suited to the application, as well as the value of close interaction with end-users in planning and running the network and finally exploiting the data.