On the east side of the Bregaglia is Monte Disgrazzia, a great mountain that is very different from the granite spires of the rest of Bregaglia. It is made of serpentine which is being quarried close to the road that winds up through 26 hairpin bends to Chiaregio. The rock is a bit like slate in that it cleaves well and is very useful for building. It also can get a glassy smooth surface which is not great for climbing. Thankfully it is quite soft rock and it weathers on exposed ridges. When it does so, the quality of the rock is excellent for climbing. Rough red rocks with excellent holds make up the ridges but beware the grooves in case they are glassy smooth.
John and I went to the Oggioni Bivouac Hut and we climbed the East Ridge of Punta Kennedy to get there. Kennedy was a british guy who climbed this peak and set up the Alpine Club. The East Ridge gets a great description but when John and I started up on loose rock and super smooth grooves we were wondering why. We got to a smooth tapering slab with a steep wall at its top and we'd already decided this could not be the route when we saw some pegs and belay anchors on it. Still scratching my head I went up the slab for two short pitches to its top and the steep wall above. Starting out up this I found it was full of excellent but hidden holds. It was all very improbable looking but it worked out very well indeed.
Above this key section the angle eases back considerably as does the difficulty of the climbing. However the rock turns into weathered rough red serpentine that was a joy to climb. We got to Punta Kennedy and made the short glacier crossing to the quite and lonely Oggioni Bivouac Hut. Or so we thought. Being a Saturday ten other people had the same idea and we all squeezed into the hut that was made for nine.
So after a broken night of sleep we went off towards the Corda Molla along with a few other teams. The sunrise was spectacular, lighting the sections of snow crest on our ridge. The snow was crisp and formed into narrow ridges on the rocks and we alternated between dry rock and snow. Moving together efficiently John and I were able to overtake the other teams on the ridge and enjoy the amazing views from the summit. All the Alps were layed out from Mont Blanc in the west to Tyrol in the east.
The descent has been equiped for abseiling down the last part of the Corda Molla and then down onto the glacier. By th etime we got there the snow was soft and we had a long walk down the complex and much retreated glacier back to Ventina. Here it was a different world. Great numbers of Italian day trippers were enjoying the sunshine by swimming in the stream, sunbathing, rock climbing and sharing meals at the restaurants there. It was quite a shift from the rock, snow and relative solitude of the summit!
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.