Piz Linard (normal route) from Lavin

Published by michalaron , 25 September 2011, 20h17.

Region: World » Switzerland » Grisons » Basse Engadine
Date of the hike:16 September 2011
Hiking grading: T5 - Challenging High-level Alpine hike
Climbing grading: I (UIAA Grading System)
Geo-Tags: Piz Linard-Gruppe   CH-GR 
Time: 10:15
Height gain: 2000 m 6560 ft.
Height loss: 1100 m 3608 ft.
Route:Lavin - Chamanna dal Linard - Piz Linard - Chamanna dal Linard
Access to start point:By car to Lavin, special parking lot for guests of Chamanna dal Linard (sings marked "P CAS") right at the hiking path (you must turn left at the central square in Lavin and then follow the signs)
Accommodation:Chamanna Linard CAS (2327 m), small sweet comfortable hut guarded every day in high season and on weekends in early summer and autumn . See http://www.alpinist.ch/Default.aspx?tabid=250 for more detail.

After an unsuccessful attempt to summit Piz Linard in July as a great finish of our 14-day trip (bad weather), we reserved a prolonged weekend 16.-18.9. to give it another try. Originally we planned to go just to Chamanna dal Linard on the first day and make the summit attempt on the second day, but the weather forecast was quite uncertain for saturday, so we decided to handle whole way from Lavin to the top in one day to be sure that we will have good conditions and good view from the top.

Started at 6:45 AM from Lavin (great parking lot just for guests of Chamanna dal Linard!), right at the daybreak. When gaining height, we saw the sun started to shine first on the top of surrounding mountains and later also to our way. The way up was fast and without any problems (I would say maximum T3-), short before the hut, the path is secured with a few security cables (but from my point of view, there are not really necessary, the path is not that difficult or exposed on this place). We reached Chamanna dal Linard exactly at 9:00.
We checked the photo of the route up to Piz Linard, which is placed on a wall inside the hut (the hut was opened, although the guardian was not yet there) – see my gallery to view details. It is quite useful to check it, and you can immediately compare it with reality when you make just one step from the hut, where you can see the whole route in nice detail (and the guardian also often observes people going to the top using binoculars).
One other interesting experience – as we were approaching the Chamanna dal Linard, we saw a helicopter flying constantly around the Piz Linard’s north flank for quite a long time – by the time we reached the hut, it finally flew away. While we had our break at the hut, a man arrived from above. We had a little speech with him and found out that this helicopter actually came to help his friend, who was injured by a falling stone (probably nothing too serious, since he was at least able to descent to the point where the helicopter was able to pick him up, but still probably nothing much pleasant, as the man said he was hurt to his helmet and arm and was then not able to handle the whole way down). He said they went trough some harder route than the normal one, where the rockfall is maybe even worse, but the conclusion is, that the danger of rockfall on Piz Linard really should not be underestimated.
 After a very long break (almost an hour – we wanted to save our energy so we purposely took longer break than we actually felt to be necessary at the moment) we started shortly before 10 our way further up in direction straight to Piz Linard.
You first follow a well-marked unproblematic path up to Lac da Glims (2563m) and shortly above that (small lake at p. 2596m) you have to leave the marked path, which changes to the left, while you have to continue straight ahead up in the direction of small rocks. But the unmarked path to Piz Linard (it is marked only with stone men from that point) at this point is even more noticeable than the “official” one leading to the left, so you don’t need to worry much that you miss it.  You follow this stone-man-marked path first around the little rocks with some grass and later traversing a little to the left trough a big field of rubble bellow Piz Linard’s south flank, until you reach the p. 2860m right at the entry to the first (lower) couloir ( “POINT 1” - see gallery). If you looked at the photo in the hut you will hardly miss this point, even if you do not find the stone man marked path all the time.
If you have your helmets in your backpack up to here (which you should have), now it is time to put them on! We reached this point at 11:15. Up to this point from the hut, the difficulty is I would say something like T3+. But then the fun begins :-) The couloir quickly becomes kind of really steep and you have to choose the best way by yourselves (there are no stone men for some time and it would be probably a waste of time trying to build some – the frequent rock fall will just destroy them shortly…), only sometimes you can see human tracks as we saw. One can choose whether use more the rocks and do more climbing or use more the rubble, which is closer to normal “walk” (but one have to be careful, since the rubble is highly unstable, although you usually won’t slide on it too far away :-) ). Also one thing, which you have to be very careful about, is the frequent rock fall caused by other climbers or even climbers of your own group (it is therefore good idea to stay as close to each other as possible) – this warning is valid also for the upper couloir. We were lucky that we have not met anyone above us (or bellow us) which would cause danger of injury from falling stones, but as someone already said, I would really not want to climb this colouir with a 10 or so people above us. We ourselves were also sometimes not able to avoid causing the rockfall by our feet, but there was fortunately no one bellow us, so we did not have to be worried about endangering someone.
After some time (around 30 minutes) we reached the place, where you see big stone man (“POINT 2”) on the right saying clearly you must leave the colouir at this place and traverse to the right. After this only few meter traverse to the right, there is quite visible way up trough the rocks (easy climbing – I). After this short climb, you shortly enter the upper field of rubble (“POINT 3”). There we had a short break and then continued up across the rubble. This part is easy and there is even quite noticeable path with stone men (you have to stay at the left part of the rubble field).
After short time, you reach entry to the upper couloir (or more exactly kind of system of couloirs, here at the top it is sometimes not that clear as at the lower couloir, you have to more precisely think about the right path) – “POINT 4” at elevation approx. 3150m. Again, there are more “correct” choices for continuing up and you can choose which one you like more. Some of the parts here are both more steep and difficult than the lower part (and also narrower and therefore even more endangered by the rockfall), but still nothing too hard, you have to take a deep breath and stay calm :-). We met the only human there, one man on a descent, we talked a few words with him and then we watched him (being quite scared about that) how he descents using a method “surfing on stones” – virtually sliding on the unstable rubble. But later on descent we found out that this method is not that bad or dangerous, if you do it wisely.
After a few difficult places we finally reached the entry to the final ridge (“POINT 5” – elevation approx. 3300m). From there, it was surprisingly easy (I thought it would be easier than the rest, but it was even easier than I thought :-) ) up to the top – it is not real climbing on a sharp ridge, as one may expect when looking to Linard from below, but rather easy scramble near the ridge on a big stable stones, sometimes marked with stone man and with visible path / human traces.
We reached the summit at 1:15 PM and really enjoyed it – the summit is really spacious, views were unforgettable (Oetztal Alps, Ortler, Bernina, Tödi, Churfisten, Säntis, Rätikon, Silvretta…) and also the temperature was surprisingly mild – there was almost no wind and I stayed in my shorts without getting much cold for about 40 minutes…
We start our descent shortly before 2 PM and whole descent was much easier than we thought. We found out, that method “surfing on the stones” can be really often used and were able to proceed through places, which scared us on the ascent, relatively easily. We reached the hut shortly before 5 PM, waited before helicopter brought our dinner, enjoyed a great menu (including the “exploding” sausages ;-)) and went to sleep at around 20PM already (with our body really feeling this long and demanding tour :-) ).

SUMMARY: total time 10:15 (including one almost hour rest at the hut and a few small ones), difficulty I would say T5 / I at the worst places (see gallery for details), the climbing can be probably even II on some places, but it is possible to avoid them. I must point out, that the difficulty really strongly depends on conditions on Piz Linard (which we had absolutely ideal), with a wet rocks, or with snow / ice, I guess it can be MUCH harder.
EQUIPMENT: helmet (I would say it is a must), hiking poles (not a must, but really helpful).

Hike partners: michalaron

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