Tuna and Crackers

Tired, waaah © Guy Van Greuning

Tired, waaah © Guy Van Greuning

Running along the Swiss and Italian border we have the Bregaglia Mountain Range of the Eastern Alps. THE mountain of this range, the one everyone recognises, the one that takes the eye of the passing tourist, and the one on the front of all the postcards is the Piz Badile, standing at 3308m. From the Bregaglia Hotel in Bondo, where myself and Guy sat and ate pasta in a restaurant plagued with ants, your eye is led up the valley, to the mass of perfect granite. Bon.

There are perhaps three stand out routes on here, the obvious North Ridge- easily recognised from the Valley, the Cassin Route- the line of weakness up the North Face, and Another Day in Paradise- with no line of weakness, just amazing climbing.

Like the UK, the rest of Europe also had a long drawn out winter, and unlike the UK this doesn’t mean a few extra E points above the soft snow. Instead it just makes everything harder when summer does finally arrive. Guarding the starts of ADIP and The Cassin we have 2 (this year 3) sections of snow/ ceracs to pass. With the prolonged winter we were sure that these obstacles were not passable, and decided we would first bag the North Ridge in need of the summit safety tick, which essentially turned out to be an exciting walk. Although with a ‘crux’ of 4a I’m not sure what we were expecting!

A day previous we had bumped into a strong (real strong, not one arm pull up kinda strong) Spanish team who had been reccying these winter bred obstacles.They thought it was on and that the snow was passable, there optimism was encouraging. As we climbed the ridge we kept a close eye on them, and sure to their word they passed the snow, and got stuck in. Tired after a 10 hour day on the ridge we came down and took a closer look at the snow ourselves, and two hours after that we eventually returned to our bivi.

We had been in the area 2 weeks, and had climbed a number of fantastic routes on other mountains, such as the Kaspar Pillar and The Flat Iron. But the whole point of the trip was to climb either The Cassin, or, Another Day in Paradise. Whilst we were content with our time here, we new that at the end of the day we would be disappointed if we failed to climb either of the aforementioned two. With this is mind we settled down ready for another Alpine start. The route would be Another Day in Paradise.

When we woke up we had a surprising amount of energy considering we had not eaten the night previous- we couldn’t stomach any more tuna, so went without food. For the 12 hour day too come I had a stick of sausage, Guy had 2 energy gels. Lightweight yes, sufficient? No.

Negotiating the ceracs and snow was pretty tricky to stay the least. Will the gaps between the ceracs close up? For me that was the crux. Racking up I new the route was in the bag. What followed was perfect pitch after perfect pitch of perfect slab climbing in a perfect setting. It has to be the best route, as a whole, that I’ve ever climbed. The big stuff is where’s it’s at, and I definitely want more in the future. The exposure, the positions, the height all just adds up to create amazing routes. Which are all so much more memorable than your average climb.

As I write I’m currently in Portugal. Enjoying some DWS and eating food. A stark contrast. Even I lost weight during our two week trip, and I’m now putting that ‘fat’ back on. The lack of gas, car and cheap prices really did make eating hard. I missed food and began to look like a prisoner of war. Chocolate was like a hard drug. It was great, but there is a lot to learn.

5 responses to “Tuna and Crackers

    • Funny how opinions vary! I found the ‘Day in Paradise’ to be the most boring route I have ever climbed, just fish scales the whole way. I would unbolt it! And this within spitting distance of 2 of the worlds best climbs, the North ridge and the Cassin!

      • Each to their own. Like I said we wanted to do The Cassin too, and we did the ridge and found boring! I guess the world would be boring if we all liked the same thing!

      • Oli,
        I could see how the ridge could be a little simple for extremely good climbers – but I think it is really a ‘mountain trip’ – but only if you go down the south side and back over the 2 passes on the following day. Abbing the ridge seems to destroy the effect. Coming down the 2nd pass on the way back and seeing the ridge in Profile, and having seen 2 days worth of REAL nature cannot be beaten anywhere! – (perhaps in Alaska?!)

      • Yeah we would have definitely gone down into Italy if we’d have had 2 cars (or even 1!) as like you say abbing the ridge did seem to have a negative effect on the experience, but we also saw our fair share of nature as we up there 4 days. Cheers.


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