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Piz Bernina (4049m)

Published by Coolidge , 10 November 2017, 23h36.

Region: World » Switzerland » Grisons » Berninagebiet
Date of the hike: 3 August 2013
Mountaineering grading: PD+
Climbing grading: II (UIAA Grading System)
Geo-Tags: CH-GR   Piz Bernina   Bernina-Gruppe   Palü-Gruppe   I 
Time: 2 days
Access to start point:By car over St. Moritz and Pontresina to Diavolezza station.
Accommodation:Diavolezza. Rifugio Marco e Rosa.

Magnificent tour to Piz Bernina, both the highest point of the Eastern Alps and the Kanton Graubünden.

Day 1 (2. Aug. 2013): Ascent by cable car to Bergstation Diavolezza. Great dinner and early night rest.

Day 2: Departure around 4:00 AM from Diavolezza.  Descent over moraine down to Pers Glacier. Very emotional for me, since it is here that I have had my severe accident in 2001, where a falling rock had badly hit my knee, requiring a helicopter to fly me out to St. Moritz, resulting in a long and complex surgery, and causing me to walk on crutches for over half a year. Nevertheless I am back now. We cross the Pers Glacier and walk up towards the start of Fortezza Ridge. This is a longer section of climbing, not too difficult (II+) and straight forward to find, but quite exposed. Once passed, the route continues on the upper section of the Morteratsch Glacier. Traversing underneath Bellavista and Piz Zupo we reach Fuorcla Crast' Agüzza, and from there it's not far to Rifugio Marco e Rosa.

Day 3: We start relatively late, around 6:00 or so. The first part is walking up some steep snow patches, until we reach the beginnings of the Spalla Grat. Suddenly a shout from a woman above us. Simon utters a cry of fear,  and we instinctively huddle to the ground. A rock has fallen, but fortunately missed the woman by some inches. Alarmed, we rest for a couple of minutes on the ground frozen with terror, until we slowly get up and start to walk again. Soon the climbing section begins: Not too difficult and in solid rock, but quite exposed, and congested by the many other parties. It is quite fun. Suddenly we notice a helicopter arriving and orbiting over the foot of Spallagrat. Obviously, an incident must have happened, maybe another rock fall. The rescue action takes around half an hour or so, until the helicopter finally disappears again. We move on very slowly, taking our time to enjoy the breathtaking environment, until we finally arrive at la Spalla. We have almost made it: Another 15 minutes along the ridge with a very narrow snow section, and then we have reached the summit of Piz Bernina (4049m). Very happy, we take a long rest. After an hour or so we carefully start the descent. Again we move cautiously and slowly, but feel safe all the time. We arrive at Marco e Rosa at mid afternoon, where we enjoy the rest of the wonderful day relaxing at the sun.

Day 4: We take the same route back, walking over Morteratsch Glacier, abseiling Fortezza Grat, continuing down to Pers Glacier, traversing it, and finally ascending again to Diavolezza. Tired, but extremely happy and proud, we celebrate our success with well-deserved beers at the terrace.

It was three years later when the horrible accident happened on Spalla Grat, causing the death of the great alpinist Norbert Joos while guiding two guests. I can't have enough respect of Piz Bernina - obviously it is a mountain full of dangers even on its normal route.

Hike partners: Coolidge


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