|Piz Badile, North Ridge|
In our work as guides, we often come across special places that wish we could better bring to our clients' attention. These are usually locations that are well known to only a few climbers. Because they lack the altitude of higher peaks they also lack their fame. The entire region of the Engadine in southeast Switzerland is one of these areas. For big mountain routes, the Piz Bernina, Piz Palu and Piz Roseg all offer fantastic climbing, arguably better than many more well-known peaks to the north and west. And for alpine rock routes, there is no equal to superb granite peaks of Bregaglia, a cluster of fantastic spires just west of St Moritz and the Engadine.
This page, and the Piz Badile NE Cassin Route page are for all you alpine rock climbers. The Bregaglia is a dream come true.
Piz Badile lies in a unique area of granite horns and spires reminiscent of the Cirque of the Towers in Wyoming (with glaciers!) or the Bugaboos of British Columbia. Sheer, smooth faces and soaring ridge lines and buttresses are typical features. These peaks lie in a quite part of Switzerland, just northeast of Lago di Como. The rugged topography has served to isolate the people of this region, so much so that the most commonly spoken language, Ladino, is not found in any other part of Europe.
The North Ridge of the Piz Badile has been called the finest rock route of its grade (about 5.6) in the Alps. This very long climb follows a pure, clean line 3000 feet to the summit, on beautiful rock the whole way, an amazing climb.
The departure point for this climb is the Sasc Furä hut, a 3 or 4 hour walk up from the little town of Bondo. The hut is situated on a large prow of rock, which, as it rises forms the amazing North Ridge of the Piz Badile. The route is fairly obvious, simply walk and scramble up to the base of the clean ridge and start climbing. The descent can either be back down the ridge in a rather large number of rappels, or down the south side of the peak, into Italy.
|Not far from the Sasc Furä hut, in the same
major drainage, is the Sciora hut. Here are many other very, very fine climbs
that can be done from this hut. Piz Cengalo is a famous and difficult north
buttress, similar to the Cassin route on the Badile. More reasonable in
difficulty is the Gemelli Flatiron, or the very good WNW ridge of the Punta
Pioda. If you are planning a visit to this remarkable area, try to stay
for a few days, and do a number of climbs.
Last, while you are in the general area, take a bit of time to visit the Lakes District of Switzerland. Lago di Como is very close, as is Lugano, Lago Maggiore and the beautiful Lago di Orta. Everybody should visit these areas at least once in their life.
|Approaching the North Ridge|
The North Ridge of the Piz Badile is a long route, though, in rock shoes the climbing is never severe. The challenge comes in moving over low to mid-5th class terrain quickly, being efficient at belays, and enjoying the feeling of covering lots of ground. If there is a possibility of afternoon cloud buildup, we'll need to move right along.
This is a good route for skilled rock climbers who are comfortable on 5.7 to 5.9 rock, but want to do a long, long route, in an inspiring alpine setting.
Most of the other routes in the area are better accessed from the nearby Sciora hut. But moving from one hut to the other is a matter of a couple hours walk.
|On the North Ridge of the Badile|
Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
AMGA Certified • SNGM members
All images, layout and text ©2004 Cosley & Houston Alpine Guides, All Rights Reserved