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Piz Blanch, Piz Cam and Piz Duan

Published by Stijn , 18 August 2016, 21h19.

Region: World » Switzerland » Grisons » Bregaglia
Date of the hike:13 August 2016
Hiking grading: T5+ - Challenging High-level Alpine hike
Mountaineering grading: F
Climbing grading: I (UIAA Grading System)
Geo-Tags: CH-GR 
Time: 2 days
Height gain: 2650 m 8692 ft.
Height loss: 2650 m 8692 ft.

How to get as far away from the Street Parade as possible, both geographically and in terms of atmosphere? A two day solo hike with bivouac in the Val Bregaglia seemed about right. The main inspiration for this route came from the Rother Selection "Schweiz 3000" guidebook, as well as from marmotta's 2012 Hikr report.

Day 1
Casaccia - Piz Blanch - Piz Cam - Val da Cam
8h, 1850m ascent, 850m descent, T5 and I (or just T4- when avoiding the start of the Piz Cam north ridge)

Piz Blanch is a Hikr first ascent. On a map, the summit looks pretty insignificant. Yet surprisingly, the Piz Blanch is featured in the SAC guidebook Alpinwandern/Gipfelziele Engadin. This has caught my interest. Since I have enough time, I decide to make a detour to check it out. From Casaccia, I follow the Septimerpass hiking path until the alp of Maroz Dora is directly to the left. Here, an unmarked but obvious path makes a sharp right run and starts climbing to Alpascela. From Alpascela, the ascent continues pathless up the valley, before turning left onto the grassy Piz Blanch east ridge. The terrain is rather steep, but otherwise uncomplicated (T4-). As promised by the guidebook, the summit offers some nice views, especially towards my main goal of Piz Duan at the far end of the Val Maroz.

From Piz Blanch, I follow the short north ridge, before traversing onto the shoulder to the west of P. 2464. From here, I descend in a fairly direct line (once again T4-) to the popular and historic Septimerpass hiking path. All in all, the grassy terrain on the Piz Blanch is not particularly interesting (maybe with the exception of the short north ridge and one exposed section on the Alpascela access path), but the views make it a worthwhile destination nonetheless.

Back in the Val Maroz, I follow the hiking path to Maroz Dent and then up into the Val da Cam. From the Bocchetta da la Furcela, I aim to reach the Piz Cam directly along the north ridge. The first part onto P. 2481 is steeper than it looks and requires some careful scrambling on brittle rock just below P. 2481 (T5, I). Afterwards, the north ridge is considerably easier. Only the last couple of metres before the summit involve some easy scrambling again.

I cook my dinner on the Piz Cam summit, giving me plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular views over the Val Bregaglia. Afterwards, it's time to look for a suitable bivouac spot. There are already a few people camping around the Lägh da Cam (amongst them two Germans who are also aiming for Piz Duan tomorrow). In order to stay away from these "crowds", I walk a little higher along the stream that feeds the tarn from the north, finding a nice spot around 2490m. Besides already cutting 10 minutes from tomorrow's Piz Duan ascent, this spot also has the advantage of an earlier sunrise and much better views of sunset and sunrise on the "Bergeller granite giants". Only when there is more wind, a more protected spot at the Lägh da Cam might be preferable.

Day 2
Val da Cam - Piz Duan - Lägh da la Duana - Casaccia
7h30, 800m ascent, 1800m descent, T5+, F and I

My bivouac is already directly below the east face of the Piz Duan east summit (P. 3105). The ascent starts up this face, until around the 2800m contour, where I join the south-east ridge. Some cairns and even a lonely red-yellow marking confirm that it is feasible to follow the ridge from here to the large perched cairn at P. 2905, which is visible from far below. (According to ser59, the red-yellow mark is actually not a hiking route indication, but a demarcation of an area where hunting is prohibited.) Easy scrambling brings me to ca. 3000m, where a prominent rocks step blocks the ridge. The way around leads into the southwest face. Stay as close to the ridge as possible here, keeping an eye out for small cairns, and rejoin the ridge again as soon as possible (ca. 3050m). The final stretch to the east summit is straight-forward. The hike across form the east summit to the main Piz Duan summit is easier than it looks. T5 between 2900m and 3050m, otherwise mostly T4. The route seems to be getting more popular, because I encountered more cairns and other human traces than expected. There is a log book hidden in one of the cairns on the summit, but unfortunately it is not usable and in dire need of a new container.
For the descent, I wanted to check out the northbound route towards the Lägh da la Duana. This looks harder than expected, because the mini-glaciers here are hanging on to their existence quite well. I consider descending back the way I came, but since the two Germans (who were quicker to get out of bed and summited before me...) are already descending towards the Lägh da la Duana, I decide to follow their footsteps after all. I had taken my MicroSpikes, in anticipation of just some small, mostly harmless bits of glacier. I'm glad to have them, but full crampons and an ice axe would have been more appropriate. In the current conditions, it is certainly not possible to completely avoid the snow and ice, as other route descriptions have suggested. On top of that, at the two levels where the glacier is interrupted by rock, it's quite tricky to find a way trough. As Ivo66 has mentioned, it's hard to put a grade on this kind of terrain and the difficulty might change a lot depending on the conditions. I'd go with T5+ and I for the rocky bits, and a mountaineering grade of F (facile/leicht) for the glacier/firn parts. In any case, this descent is certainly more serious than the south-east ridge of the east summit.

From the Lägh da la Duana, it's a long hike back to Casaccia along white-red-white marked hiking paths.

Hike partners: Stijn

Click to draw, click on the last point to end drawing


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