5-day Bernina Area Climbing


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1 climber per guide

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See also:
3-day Piz Bernina &
Palu program

This 5-day program samples the best of the Bernina massif. Given good conditions, we climb 3 great summits, the Bernina via the Biancograt, Piz Morteratsch, and a traverse of the summits of Piz Palu. This is one of our favorite trips. Mark is convinced that the Biancograt on the Piz Bernina is the best AD route in the Alps (and maybe the world!) and the traverse of the summits of Piz Palu the best PD route. To combine these in a single trip is an outstanding objective.

If you have enjoyed the climbing in Chamonix, Zermatt and Grindelwald it is time to branch out and visit the Engadine. You won't be disappointed.

The logical base for these climbs is either St Moritz or the smaller town of Pontresina. These are lovely places, and there is much to do for the entire family (if you need more of an excuse to go there). The Engadine has a special light, due to the wide and very open valley, that makes it unique in Switzerland. Combined with its close proximity to the famous Lago di Como and the town of Lugano, this is a great place to visit.

The Biancograt on Piz Bernina is a challenging route, and if you think you are not up for it, consider doing the normal route, which can also be combined with a traverse of Piz Palu. Even the normal route is a great climb. But for those of you with considerable previous climbing experience, the Biancograt is one of the Alps' best.

Piz Bernina's Biancograt
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This is a challenging program for experienced climbers. The climbs of the Morteratsch and Palu are generally not difficult, but the Roseg and the Biancograt on Piz Bernina are both challenging climbs, worth of considerable respect.

The difficulties occur on both rock and ice. While never extreme, climbers must be able to handle continuously exposed, moderately technical terrain efficiently. Knowing how to crampon on steep 50 degree is is critical, as much of the Biancograt is on such terrain.


Participants for this 5-day program must have previous rock and ice climbing experience and be in very good condition. You should be able to climb 5.6 rock (French 4a) on a top rope quickly and with little difficulty. You should have extensive experience scrambling on steep rock, such as climbing in the Sierra, Cascades or Tetons. You need to be comfortable cramponing on steep 50 degree frozen snow or soft ice, both in ascent and descent.

Piz Bernina, Piz Palu, Morteratsch, and Roseg
Day 0 Evening meeting in Pontresina, to go over equipment and logistics.
Day 1

Day 1 is quite easy. Our objective is to reach the Boval hut at the foot of Piz Morteratsch. This is only about a 2 hour walk and is non-technical. The hut is located on the edge of the large Morteratsch Glacier and gives great views of the north side of Piz Palu.

Day 2

On day 2 we climb up to the Fuorcla da Boval. There is much scrambling here, and some excellent climbing as well. From the Fuorcla, we follow the glacier to the summit of Piz Morteratsch. From here we have an amazing view of the Biancograt, and our perspective makes it look even steeper than it is. We return to the Fuorcla and descend easily to the Tschierva hut.

Day 3

On day 3 we plan an ascent of Piz Roseg, via the Eiselgrat. This is a long route, but not as difficult as Piz Bernina's Biancograt. Most of the climbing is on snow and ice but there is some significant rock reaching the upper glacier. We return the same way, back to the Tschierva hut for the night.

Day 4

Our 4th day is on the Biancograt. Starting very early we climb trails, a bit of glacier and finally a mini "via ferrata" to reach the Fuorcla Prievlusa, the pass between the Bernina and Morteratsch. We continue up up the ridge on rock to finally reach the long snow/ice crest of the Biancograt. This we follow for quite some time, eventually gaining the summit of Piz Alb, a sub-peak on the north side of the Bernina. A sharp ridge crest separates the two and we cross this to Bernina's summit. Though it is not far to the Marco e Rosa hut, the terrain on the descent is still steep and we must be careful.

Day 5 From the Marco e Rosa hut, we traverse the well named Bellavista Terraces, reaching the saddle on the west end of the Piz Palu. Piz Palu is made up of 3 summits and we traverse all of them. The first is on rock, while the central and east summit are snow. A long glacier descent follows, eventually taking us down to the Diavolezza lift, which we take into the valley. A short train ride takes us back to Pontresina.

Climbing on Piz Bernina
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Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
UIAGM Internationally Licensed Mountain Guides

AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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