One of the 6 classic North Faces of the Alps, and probably the easiest, this 22 pitch TD climbs up the NE face of the Piz Badile up some wonderful slabs and cracks.
Guidebook time is 6-10 hours for the ascent. However, the approach from the hut is 1.5-2h, and the descent down the Nordkante is around 4.5-6 hours.
Start from the Sasc Fura Hut (see main page for description). Take the path behind the hut up towards the Nordkante to the notch in the ridge before the start of the main difficulties. It is possible to bivi on the approach or at the notch
Leaving sacks at the notch (assuming you intend to descend the Nordkante), descend ledges to the North face the traverse around (possible across a snowfield, though it wasn't present in summer 2003) then up some III to to top of a rognon.
The route takes a slightly meandering line up slabs and flakes. The route has a fair number of pegs in it, and a number of bolted belays, which are a good indication of the route!
The description below is not a pitch by pitch description. We climbed on two 60m ropes and so ran quite a few pitches together.
From the top of the rognon, climb a pegged crack (F5c+, delicate)to the left of three large corners to a peg belay. The route now goes left along obvious crack lines (all fairly easy) for a couple of pitches until behind a big block (rubbish, toilet paper). This is the second crux pitch (F5c+ 5.9?) which goes up a pegged corner.
Now continue the line leftwards (double bolt belay), then head up and left up a layback to easier ground (III). This is the location of the second snowfield (again missing in summer 2003). Towards the left of this choss is a large corner/chimney (double bolt belay in a niche at the bottom). Climb this (F5c+) before exiting on the right. You can either belay on the lip, or go further right to double bolts. Another pitch of F5c+ goes up before turning a small roof on the left.
Two or three easy pitches head up into the obvious chimney above (double bolt belay). The rest of the route follows the chimney line to the top. A fun pitch squeezing up the chinmey leads to the last hard pitch (F5c), then about 3 more pitches leads to the Nordkante which can be followed to the summit.
When descending from this route there are three options:
1) Rappel the Nordkante back to the Sasc Fura Hut. This takes between 4.5 and 6 hours and can be very busy.
2) Rappel Another Day In Paradise. This is a bolted route to the right of the Cassin Route. I haven't done this, but I believe that familiarity with the route would be required to find the start
3) Descend to Italy and go to the Gianetti Hut. This takes around 3 hours, but it is a full days walk from the Gianette hut back to the Sasc Fura. Additionally, you would have to carry approach shors or walking boots.
On the approach we just used approach shoes. My partner carried them on the route, I left them at the bottom, as we were rappelling the Nordkante.
Crampons and ice axes may be required to get to the bottom of the route, though in 2003 this was not required. Ask at the hut.
Double 60m ropes allow some of the pitches to be run together.
As a rack, we carried:
10 quickdraws/extenders, some of them long.
Size 1-7 nuts
Size 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5 friends
2 long slings
4 screwgates for the belays
However, we were climbing well, and rarely did more than clip pegs. Other parties may want to carry more gear (hexcentrics, possibly a size 3 friend, another long sling).
We wore long sleeved tops and trousers, and carried a rucksack between us with 2L of water, food, and thermal tops, waterproofs and over-trousers. If I was to do it again, I would have each person carry a rucksack.
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