OverviewThis an important and historic alpine rock climbing area encompassing several sub valleys which are well served by alpine huts. The Italian side of the range is south facing and has relatively simple approaches to the climbs which are usually completely free of snow by mid summer. Most of the mountain routes are between 2000m and 3000m. Some of the best alpine granite climbing in Europe is situated in this area. The rock is superb and often weathered into fins and flutings which enable unlikely looking faces to be climbed at moderate grades. There is some fixed gear but you still need a full rack of nuts and friends. Belays and abseil points are often well equipped on the classic routes. Some of the shorter routes close to the huts are fully equipped sport climbs which are useful when the weather is uncertain.
Getting ThereUnless you are planning a trip of more than 2 weeks, flying is the best option from the UK. Several budget airlines fly to Bergamo airport near Milan. This is a convenient location for accessing many of the best Italian climbing destinations. Val Masino is around 2 to 3 hours drive from Bergamo. Jet2.com fly to Bergamo from Leeds/Bradford airport. Ryan Air fly to Bergamo from Glasgow, Liverpool, East Midlands, Luton, Stansted, Bristol Dublin and Shannon.
AccessibilityHiring a car is time efficient and will give you more options in the event of bad weather. If you have time on your hands then you can get the bus into Milan followed by a train to Morbegno and finally a bus up to San Martino. Schweiz Plaisir Sud - This guide has less routes than Solo Granito but the topos are a world apart. Recommended. Bernina and Bregalia - This is the Alpine club guide. The layout is dated but the route topos are reasonably accurate and the additional route information is very useful. Being relatively small in size it’s an easy guide to carry on routes. Right: Superb granite climbing near the top of the Dente Della Vecchia F5+ (Friend 3 useful on the last move!). Solo Granito - Has a good selection of routes including all the classics. It also includes some routes in Mello. On first inspection this guide has everything you need but in practice the topos for the longer routes are poor to the point of being utterly useless. The layout and indexing are also badly designed. Mello Boulder - Covers the wealth of bouldering in the area. There is more information on bouldering in the area here.
Grade Spread and Recommended RoutesThe area offers something for everyone from hard bouldering to long classic mountaineering routes. You will get the most out of the mountain areas if you can confidently climb HVS to E1. Mountain routes which have long descents and may be difficult to get off if the weather turns bad:
- Piz Bidile SE Face, Molteni Route D+ (Gianetti Hut) Punta Sertori - South Ridge AD+ (Gianetti Hut)
- Piz Cengalo - South Ridge, Vinci Route TD (Gianetti Hut)
- Torrione di Zocca - South Face, Parravicini Route TD- (Allievi Hut)
- Punta Allievi - South Ridge, Gervasutti Route TD- (Allievi Hut)
- Dente Della Vecchia F6a (Gianetti Hut)
- South Ridge, Punta Torrelli F5c+ (Gianetti Hut)
- Top Ten F6b (Allievi Hut)
- Lady D F6a (Allievi Hut)
- Guronsan F5c+ (Allievi Hut)