Piz Badile & other adventures in the Bregaglia
Maria and I took Ruby the campervan over to the Alps for a couple of weeks in July, with the North Ridge of the Piz Badile being the main objective. Our preparation wasn't the best, with Maria having injured her shoulder falling off her bike in April, and not having climbed since, other than a couple of tentative trips to the Red Goat. However, a cortisone injection and lots of physio exercises got the shoulder sorted and she was able to start climbing when we got to Switzerland. The Badile lived up to our (high) expectations - an amazing line on brilliant granite, probably my new favourite route ever! We also did a few other routes in the Bregaglia area, plus a bit of mountain biking and some barbecuing and beer-drinking in the sunshine.
Cacciabella North Peak (2980m) - up NE Ridge (IV-), down S Ridge (scramble)
Our first route of the holiday involved getting the gondola up to the Albigna dam at about 2100m and walking up to the Cacciabella peaks. The guidebook suggested there would be a fun little route up the NE ridge, perfect for a bit of acclimatisation. It was a nice route, but much longer than the guidebook suggested, and not having got up very early we ended up missing the last gondola back down, leaving us having to descend all the way from the 2980m summit to the campsite at 1100m....
Piz Nair, above St Moritz
With a bit of assistance from a gondola, we made it to the summit of Piz Nair (3057m) for a bit more acclimatisation on a day of slightly patchy weather.
The weather wasn't great for a couple of days, so we had a great day mountain biking, getting the lift up Piz Nair then descending through the Pass Suvretta, doing a loop of approx 35km to get back to St Moritz.
The weather then improved, and we got back into a bit more climbing.
Wassersinfonie - 150m 5a+
Using the Albigna gondola again (but this time not missing the last one down!), we did a nice little sport route on some slabs near the Albigna hut.
Piz Badile (3308m) - up North Ridge (D) & down South Face (PD)
And so to the main event...
Having driven up the forest road into the Bondasca valley, we then had an incredibly steep walk up to the Sasc Fura hut, where we spent the night. We found a guidebook in the hut that had a more detailed topo than ours (and also was more recent, reflecting changes to the route since a major rockfall in 1996, which had made the crux a bit harder at around V or 5a+). We took pictures of this and they proved quite handy on the route.
Breakfast was at 4am, and then we set off on the approx 2 hour walk up to the foot of the ridge.
After some food, beer and a night's sleep at the Gianetti hut, we set off on a rather long and not very pleasant walk back to Switzerland, over a couple of high passes which were covered in loose rock and old unstable snow... It would have been better to walk down into the village on the Italian side and get a taxi back...
Meuli route, AD+ (Punta da l'Albigna)
We then had a well-earned rest day before getting back on a much shorter (but still 10 pitches) route on the Punta da l'Albigna. Another great line on good granite.
Biking in the Engadine
We then had a nice day biking in the Engadine valley, with some very tasty rösti & bratwurst halfway round.
Piz Balzet (2869m) - South Ridge of 1st Tower (V)
We could see Piz Balzet from our campsite, so it made sense to climb it at some point. We were a bit torn between the classic South Ridge of the main summit (IV) and the South Ridge of the 1st Tower (V). The 1st tower looked a good line, so we went for that, and after a short descent off the tower joined the normal route (II+) to the main summit. Our line was partially bolted, but strangely enough mainly on the easy bits, with the initial 15m or so of IV+ climbing completely unprotected (no bolts, and a smooth slab with no opportunity for gear placements), and then 4 bolts in the next 20m or so of much easier climbing. No bolts on the crux pitch either, but at least I could get a couple of nuts in.
Stop off in the Vosges on the way back
As the weather was deteriorating in the Alps, we then had a couple of days biking and drinking wine in the Vosges before driving home.