Norm Numerof and Curt Green, two big climbs in the Engadine • September 5-11, 2009

Last year, Norm and his wife, Karen joined Mark for their annual Alps adventure, also traveling to the Saint Moritz area of southeast Switzerland. Unfortunately, on that occasion, the weather was anything but cooperative, and none of the big objectives were accomplished.

In contrast, this season, conditions and the weather were amazingly good, especially considering the lateness of the season. Ever the optimist, Norm talked friend Curt into joining him for 2009.

The original plan was to climb primarily ice routes in the Chamonix area, but with a very dry late summer most of the ice climbs were out of shape, shades of black and gray, with considerable stone-fall hazard. "How about the Biancograt?" Norm asked. Good idea!, and we were off.

Other Trips with Norm and Curt

Alps - July, 2008
Alps - July, 2007
Alps - July, 2006
Alps - July, 2005
Alps - July, 2003

Return to all recent trips

To start here's a photo of Norm and Curt on the summit of the Piz Bernina, after completing the Biancograt.


The Biancograt is one of the Alp's "Ultra-classics". A big-mountain route with a bit of everything. The approach from Pontresina starts with a horse-drawn carriage ride up the Val Roseg. This, followed by a 2 hour pleasant hike takes us to the Tschierva hut, the jumping-off point for the climb. Here's the view from where we start walking. We head off left in this photo, passing by these peaks, which are near the Coaz hut.


A good view of the Piz Badile with the Biancograt forming the left skyline. The Tschierva hut is in the lower left of the photo.


The climb begins in the early morning darkness. We start on a steep "trail", cross a short glacier, ascend a section of via-feratta (well verglassed, of course), then several pitches of rock, and an icy traverse to get us to the upper famous "white ridge".


Climbing on the Biancograt.


Once one reaches the top of the snowy ridge, the fun is just beginning. An intervening rock ridge must be traversed. This view shows the rock section after the snowy crest.


Climbing on snowed up rock on our way to the summit.


Finally after a long day, we arrive at the Marco e Rosa hut.


On day 3, we start off at a reasonable hour, heading for the Bella Vista Terraces and a traverse of the summits of Piz Palu, seen in the distance here.


Looking back towards the Piz Bernina from the Bella Vista Terraces. The Biancograt is the right skyline.


We have crossed the first 2 summits of Piz Palu and are heading down the last.


Back at the Diavolezza lift, Norm takes a photo of Curt, posing before the Piz Bernina.


Just catching our breath, for our second climb (third actually, if you include Piz Palu, which we really should) we chose another ultra-classic, the North Ridge of the Piz Badile. In this photo, the obvious ridge coming straight towards us.


A short and very pleasant hike, leads us to the Sasc Furä hut, also very pleasant. The Badile rises behind.


This is a wonderful hut, very comfortable, a welcoming staff, with great food and views.


Starting at 5 in the morning, we have a couple hours of "approach" before the real climbing starts. Here we are a few pitches up the route.


Higher yet, the climb goes on and on. I'm not sure how many pitches it actually is, but the general consensus is between 25 and 30.


Finally getting to near the top, where the angle begins to ease.


We crossed over the summit and are now descending to the Gianetti hut, in Italy.


Not far to go. We arrive in time for dinner.


The Gianetti hut in the early light of the next morning.


The explicative plaque. The Piz Badile is the massive peak just left of center. The Cengalo is on the right.


To return to the car we need to cross over two passes, back into Switzerland. Here's the view of the Badile as we re-enter Swiss territory. The North Ridge is the obvious left skyline.


Curt relaxes back at the Sasc Furä hut were we spent another night.


Sunset from the Sasc Furä hut.


The following day we descend to the car and start our drive back to Chamonix. But first we make a quick stop in Soglio, a quaint little village just across the valley from the Badile.


The Bergel Alps, through a wrought iron gate.


Typical Switzerland.


And stopping in Varenna, on Lago di Como, we enjoy a fine glass of wine with our lovely lunch.