Sasso Moro

Published by brunoz , 13 September 2018, 09h59.

Region: World » Italy » Lombardy
Date of the hike: 9 September 2018
Hiking grading: T5 - Challenging High-level Alpine hike
Geo-Tags: I 
Height gain: 1113 m 3651 ft.
Height loss: 1113 m 3651 ft.
Route:Campo Moro - Alpe Gera dam - Bignami hut - Sasso Moro
Access to start point:From Sondrio you drive into Valmalenco. By Chiesa you turn towards Lanzada and then up to Franscia. Then further up until you reach Campo Moro. Lot of parking space available here and further ahead by the Alpe Gera dam.
Accommodation:Bignami hut, 2.385m, one hour walk from the Alpe Gera dam.

This is a mountain that stands in a privileged off-line position to offer the all-round vision of most of the Bernina group peaks, and beyond. But Sasso Moro demands for some effort if you want to summit it. As it happens, the only “normal” route departs from Forcella di Fellaria, and rides, roughly, the NW ridge. A couple of other routes are described on the Bernina guide edited by CAI, and in the net. Scarcely covered, anyway. Sasso Moro is a bit too tough for the mild hiker (as we are, substantially) and perhaps too little for the more experienced mountaineer (even though the south-east flank is pretty much a hard job).

On day (1) we took it easy and, after parking at Campo Moro, we went up comfortably to the Alpe Gera dam and to the Bignami hut on what happens to be a very popular walk. The hut stands right in front of the Fellaria-east glacier front, very impressive. We took a brief stroll around, also along the Sentiero Glaciologico Marson, which alone deserves the trip to Valmalenco.

Day (2): with ideal weather (not a cloud to be seen) we left the hut at 08:00, passed over Alpe di Fellaria and almost immediately went left, off the path leading to Forcella di Fellaria, engaging the not particularly defined North-east ridge, which culminates at a satellite peak 2.929m. The upper part of this ridge, on the Alpe Gera lake side, is at times very exposed; special care is needed on every step as terrain is most uncertain. Getting close to a.m. 2.929 elevation (which has to be contoured clockwise), some occasional cairns appear, which lead to a sort of tiny plateau right in front of Sasso Moro’s upper tower. Here we started encountering a few snow patches which, added to the smooth, almost polished rocks, made things rather complicated. Plus, clouds had started closing in. Plus, I was almost dry of energies. Anyway, we pushed on and, after having left the backpacks some 25÷30 metres elevation below the summit, we started contouring the upper tower counter-clockwise, on extremely exposed condition. However, step after step, we gained altitude and, after a short while, reached Sasso Moro’s broad summit. The view, although limited by clouds, was beyond belief. In a hurry to get down (fearing a weather worsening) we forgot looking for the summit book (would be under one of the cairns) and went back to the backpacks depot via a vertical, extremely slippery passage (we will enjoy more of this during descent). Our plans were to undertake the “normal” route down to Forcella di Fellaria. Bad enough, we could not spot any sign of this route so, after some time spent in searching for it, we chose to get on the large debris couloir and, one way or another, descend towards elevation 2.611 (and finally to Alpe di Fellaria). It is a long, very long descent, on ever precarious, slippery terrain, demanding a lot of attention. First we dealed with a short, but vertical hollow passage, providing access to the upper end of the couloir. Soon afterwards we had to do with a steep and narrow 30-metre tricky chimney, soaked and made of rotten rock, offering no guarantee. To prevent from being hit by rolling rocks (you literally go down as part of a landslide) a convenient distance between parties has to be considered, not only in this specific point. The slope degree in the upper part of the couloir is always rather steep, so there is no room for relax. Rocks, also large ones, when not wet, are often unsteady. The descent seems to be endless, but, at least, steepness in the lower part diminishes a little. Once at the bottom of the couloir we hit the yellow-triangle markings of the Alta Via della Valmalenco (Yippeeeee!) and had our sandwich-lunch (it was 5 p.m.!). After that, the Bignami hut was soon reached.

Some final notes:

To make life easier when dealing with the various vertical chimneys and when traversing the snowfields, it may be the case you have with you a rope and your crampons.

I cannot recommend engaging the large debris couloir, although the net provides ascent indications along this route. Could be that ascending is an easier exercise. Still I feel it would be awfully tyring.

I have been waiting 35 (yes thirty-five) years to summit Sasso Moro, with my two previous attempts being frustrated by bad weather. Therefore, once atop, I could not help letting go a sort of savage, primal scream, releasing tension and (hey, why not?) releasing satisfaction. I will confess that I would have never made it, today, without Mad’s support.       

Hike partners: brunoz

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