By Andy Hyslop
Looking for easily accessible, multi pitch alpine rock routes? It doesn't get much more conveininet and enjoyable than the fantastic Spazzacaldeira in the Northern Bregalia. Located close to the famous peaks of Piz Badile, Spazza is also a great warm up crag if you have lofter ambitions.
ApproachTake the Albigna cable car to the dam and follow the arduous concrete road for a few hundred metres to the base of the crag.
DescentsAll routes have bolted belays so you can escape from almost anywhere. There are some more established abseil lines which are better equipped with rings and chains and are less likely to have problems with rope snagging. If you are continuing up the NE Ridge to the Fiamma you will need shoes to descend off the back.
Climbing styleRoutes range from 4 to 9 pitches with pitch lengths generally from 20m to 25m. Good face climbers will be at home here while those more used to steep positive climbing may take a couple of days to acclimatise to the climbing style. Some routes require good crack technique. Belays were bolted on all the routes we did and its relatively easy to descend if you get caught in an afternoon stor. Almost every pitch has some bolts but they are well spaced and a small supplementary rack is advisable unless you are feeling super confident.
GearFor most routes a set of Rocks 1-10 and one of each cam 0.25 to 3 is sufficient. Bigger cams are useful on the obvious wide crack routes such as Nuova via per Claudia and Nasi Goreng. Two 30m ropes make for rapid descents. We used a 9.8mm lightweight single rope, with an 8.5mm double rope. This combination means that you can happily clip most of the bolts on the 9.8mm while keeping the thinner rope free for the odd directional placement. Depending on the route length and ease of descent you can climbwith very little extra clothing. A lightweight waterproof should suffice and you can leave your shoes at the base of the route. It can get very hot on the face so water is a consideration especially if you get a late start or plan to spend all day on a route. Helmets are obligatory.
Where to stayThere was a really good campsite just down the valley at Bondo with excellent facilities. Unfortunately the perfect, flat camping areas in the trees have been reallocated for day use and campers are now relegated to a sloping field . Another site exists at Vicosoprano which has good facilities but its not cheap! Alternatively (as we did), you could use Chiavenna as a base. The town is just 30mins for the Albigna Cable Car, it's in Italy so everything is much cheaper including food and drink. There are some good crags on the outskirts of Chiavenna which are useful if the weather isn't so good in the mountains. The down side is that it can be quite hot in the afternoon but if you get up early and bag a great route you can justify a long siesta.
Recommend RoutesVia Leni 5c+. 5 pitches. This is a good first route, not too long and reasonably well equipped. Be careful not wander onto the harder direct version to the left. (Leni Links) Lasciami-li 6b. 6 pitches. A fantastic route taking an excellent line up steep flakes. Take some extra medium cams for the flake pitches.
The long 4th pitch on Lasciami-Li 6bDente per Dente 6a. 8 pitches. A wandering line with lots of great climbing. Make sure your face climbing skills are up to scratch for the pitches 1 and 3. The crux 6a+ pitch is well protected on positive holds. Via Felici 6a. 7 pitches. A popular classic which is often used with the NE Ridge to access the Fiamma. The first pitch is easy but run out and can be a bit of a shock to the system first thing in the morning. The layback flake on the 3rd pitch is the best pitch on the route. Steinfresser 6a+. 5 pitches. Excellent climbing. The highlight is the long fourth pitch which has a technical face section just before the belay. Nuova via per Claudia 6b. 4/5 pitches. The first pitch will test your wide crack skills while the upper pitches require a positive approach to face climbing in an impressive position. Some of the best granite climbing anywhere.