Pizzo Tambo (via north ridge)

Published by Stijn , 24 August 2017, 21h11. Text and phots by the participants

Region: World » Switzerland » Grisons » Hinterrhein
Date of the hike:17 August 2017
Hiking grading: T5 - Challenging High-level Alpine hike
Climbing grading: II (UIAA Grading System)
Geo-Tags: Gruppo Tambo-Curciusa   CH-GR   I 
Time: 8:00
Height gain: 1400 m 4592 ft.
Height loss: 1400 m 4592 ft.

Almost a whole year after meeting Chrichen at the Hikr Treff, we finally meet up for our first hike together. We drive up towards Splügenpass, an area that is new to both of us. Our goal is the Pizzo Tambo north ridge. The information on the internet about this route is very limited. On Hikr there was only *one report by Alpin_Rise and Delta covering the north ridge, grading it at T5+. To be on the safe side, we pack a rope, harnesses and some basic climbing gear. However, everything turns out to be slightly easier than expected and we end up not using the rope at all.

When looking from the summit towards the north ridge, it looks like a big, uninteresting rubble. However, this appearance deceives. Most of the ridge offers pleasant scrambling on surprisingly good granite rock. The Pizzo Tambo north ridge certainly deserves to be better known!


We park at the Zoll (customs office) on the Swiss side of the pass. A short ascent is followed by a long traverse around the Alpetlistock. Instead of descending on the normal hiking path towards the Tamboalp, we keep traversing at ca. 2140m in the direction of the Tamboseen. Finding our way between the moraines and the Gemschwang crest, we reach the foot of the Pizzo Tambo north ridge at ca. 2600m. Our route is shorter and loses less altitude than when following the hiking path via the Tamboalp to the Areuapass. However, the pathless terrain is time-consuming, so that you cannot expect to be any faster than when following the hiking path.

The Pizzo Tambo north ridge (T5) offers two hours of enjoyable ridge scrambling on decent granite rock. A couple of gendarmes must be avoided, sometimes on the east side, sometimes on the west side, but generally we follow the ridge as closely as possible. Sometimes it seems like we are scrambling into a dead end, but then a natural way out always appears. There are a few tricky scrambling moves in UIAA grade II and a few places where the terrain is quite steep, but these difficulties are never sustained. Higher up, the terrain gets somewhat less interesting, but with the summit in sight, this doesn't drag on for long. Clouds are hanging around the summit, but thankfully they still open up enough to give us some views.

The descent on the normal route towards the Splügenpass starts off quite steeply. There are different bits of trail and cairns in the scree slope, and it's not obvious what is the best choice (T4+, maybe slightly easier if you came up this way and already know the best path). Contact with ice can be avoided by following cairns on a traverse above the glacier, through the south face of P. 3096. When choosing this option, check first that there are no people down below on the glacier, because you are quite likely to kick some stones down from the traverse.

One would think that it would be easy to keep following the Pizzo Tambo east ridge, but in the fog, we end up on a different ridge that branches off towards the south. We soon realise our mistake, but the detour still adds 20 minutes and 50m of ascent (not included in the summary of this report) to a hike which is already quite long.

Back on the correct route, we follow the cairns down in the direction of the Lattenhorn. It is possible to traverse south of the Lattenhorn summit crags, but for just 50m of additional ascent, we are quite happy to bag another summit. The climb along the west ridge is maybe briefly T3+, the descent on the east side is even easier.

Just south of the Piz Tamborello ridge, there are once again many different bits of path and cairns all over the place. As the terrain finally becomes grassier again, a more obvious path can be found for the final descent towards the Splügenpass.

The final kilometer, along the road from the pass to the customs office, offers a surprising highlight: you can walk through the historical Splügengalerie, which was restored in 2011. At the northern end of the gallery, information panels give a fascinating insight into the history of the pass (also available online).

The hike is concluded with a homemade ice tea and an apricot pie on the small terrace of the rustic Berghaus Splügenpass, a nice reward for a long day on Pizzo Tambo.

Hike partners: Stijn, Chrichen

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


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Comments (2)

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Stevo47 says:
Sent 24 August 2017, 21h53
Wow, tolle Bilder aus einer nicht so oft begangenen Gegend. Gratuliere euch zu dieser Klasse Tour! TOP! Viele Grüsse, Steve

Chrichen says:
Sent 25 August 2017, 08h06
Vielen Dank für die gemeinsame Tour und den hervorragenden Bericht dazu! Gerne wieder ein nächstes Mal!
Viele Grüsse, Christian

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