The most easterly 4000m peak in the Alps is Piz Bernina and there is really only one way to climb it. The Biancograd is a long slender snow crest reaching up into the sky on the north ridge of Piz Bernina. It's very well known and celebrated for the amazing snow ridge but there is also a lot of rock ridge to enjoy as well. Linking it with a night at the Marco e Rosa Hut and a traverse of Piz Palu to Diavolezza makes a wonderful high level traverse.
It's a long but gentle walk in to the Tschierva Hut from Pontresina in Switzerland. It could not be much more Swiss with horse drawn carriages in the valley, alpine meadows full of flowers and glaciated peaks high above. It's a long day requiring an early start so we got to enjoy a fine sunrise at the start of the ridge.
At first the climb is on rock with great exposure down both sides. The snow crest is soon reached though which lives up to all the superlatives it is given. There are few features in the Alps that are quite so perfect in their composition. Climbing the Biancograd early in the morning as you normally do, the rising sun casts it's warm rays across the crest to exagerate the sinuous curves.
Once at the top of the snow crest you ar enot at the top of the peak though. There is still a substantial rock ridge to traverse to the main summit, all at just about 4000m. For John and I the weather was not bad but it wasn't perfect. The wind cut across the ridge blowing clouds up from Roseg, covering and revealing the way forward with dramatic effect. It's a serious place and there is a lot more to the route than the snow crest. With this peak John and I have reached the 4000m peaks at the furthest extremes of the Alps, Piz Bernina in the east and Bar des Ecrins in the south west.
The Marco e Rosa Hut is only just into Italy geographically but it is totally Italian! It could not be much more different to the Tschierva Hut. Great food and a loud and chaotic atmosphere didn't make for a very relaxing night but we were away early to traverse Piz Palu. This is the easiest way down and ends up at Diavolezza where the cable car glides gently back down the road. It is by no means a descent route though. There is a great scramble up rocks on its west ridge, a wonderful view from the top and an amazing snow crest to descend on the east side. What a wonderful way to end an eventful trip with John.
The Bernina and Bragaglia areas are full of amazing climbs of all types. There is so much more than the Cassin Route and Biancograd. John and I found huge high altitude rock climbs, perfect long mountaineering rock ridges, glaciated peaks and high level snow crests. And we only met two other Brits in the whole two weeks. Go exploring!
Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.