1 - Overview
Kristallkamm - Crystal Crest - the name already indicates what this westernmost subgroup of the Ortler / Ortles Group looks like. At 3652m it is one of the highest subgroups of the range and consequently highly glaciated. Named after Monte Cristallo, its central mountain, Kristallkamm / Cresta del Cristallo consists of a moderately long ridge running from east to west, with three northern and one southern side ridges. Thanks to its easy accessibility, especially from the north, where Stilfser Joch / Passo dello Stelvio with its ski lifts, huts and bivouacs offers an abundance of accommodation opportunities the subgroup is one of the more popular mountaineering destination in the Ortler / Ortles Alps.
Geographically, Kristallkamm / Cresta del Cristallo is wedged between Valle del Braulio in the north and Valfurva in the south. Both valleys combine in the basin of Bormio, where KKristallkamm suddenly rises from the valley floor to almost 3000m. The eastern boundary of the subgroup is Ortlerpass / Passo di Ortles which separates it from Ortler / Ortles itself, and thus from Ortlerhauptkamm / Cresta Principale dell'Ortles. Geologically, Kristallkamm / Cresta del Cristallo is made up from main dolomite, thus indicating its relation to the Sesvena and Umbrail Groups to the north rather than the eastern subgroups of the Ortler / Ortles Range.
Kristallkamm / Cresta del Cristallo is home to some of the most famous mountains of the Ortler / Ortles Group. Trafoier Eiswand, Payerspitze / Punta Payer, Tuckettspitze / Cima Tuckett or Geisterspitze / Punta degli Spiriti - all mountains are popular ice climbing destinations in winter. Moreover, several ski tour routes pass beneath the north faces of these mountains heading for the passes and the easier summits like Schneeglocke / Cima Campagna. To bivouacs, Biv. Ninotta at 3200m and Biv. Pelliccioni at 3230m serve as bases for routes in this area.
The lower reaches of Kristallkamm / Cresta del Cristallo in the west and north tell a completely different story. Here mountains are made up from black schist-like rock, very brittle but still rather easy to hike. The summits in this part of the subgroup were used as lookout posiitions during WW I, when the whole area of Stilfser Joch / Passo dello Stellvio was heavily contested, due to its high strategeic importance. Today Sentiero della Pace has its start here, a trekking trail (sort of) maintained as memorial for the soldiers fallen in the war. The trail runs all the way across the former Austrian -Italian border and ends in the Dolomites near Marmolada.
2 - Kristallkamm / Cresta del Cristallo on SP
Even though several SPers have climbed mountains on Kristallkamm / Cresta del Cristallo only the relativelly unimportant Monte Scorluzzo, which overlooks Stilfser Joch / Passo dello Stelvio has been submitted. There's certainly room for improvement here.
3 - The Summits
The following listing follows the Alpenvereinsführer (German Alpine Club guidebook , see list of books below). Where possible, I listed the German and Italian names. As for the elevations, there have been at least two measurements for the whole range. Here I stick with the younger Italian ones.
3.1 - Main Ridge
3.2 - North-Western Side Ridge
3.3 - Madratschkamm / Cresta Madaccio
3.4 - Nashornkamm / Cresta del Naso
3.5 – Cresta di Campo
4 - Getting There
From South Tyrol / Alto Adige
- Take SS38 from Bozen / Bolzano through Meran / Merano and Vinschgau / Val Venosta.
- At Spondinig / Spondigna the road turns off in direction of Stilfser Joch Passo dello Stelvio.
- The pass and Valle del Braulio beyond are the best starting points for the northern part of the ridge.
- For the southern part drive on to Bormio where Valfurva and Val Zebru turn off.
- Take SS38 direction Stilfser Joch / Passo dello Stelvio.
- At Bormio you can turn onto SP300, into Valfurva for the southern parts of the group.
- For the northern parts stay on SS38 to Stilfser Joch / Passo dello Stelvio
From Graubünden (Switzerland)
- Take B28 across Ofenpass / Pass dal Fuorn until you reach Santa Maria.
- Here turn south onto the road to Umbrailpass (open 6 a.m. through 8 p.m.)where the road joins SS38 to and from Stilfser Joch / Passo dello Stelvio
5 - Accommodation
6 - Red TapeKristallkamm / Cresta del Cristallo belongs to Nationalpark Stilfser Joch / Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio. See the following link for more information:
7 - Weather Conditions
8 - Maps & Books
8.1 - Maps
- Nationalpark Stilfserjoch / Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio
Kompass Map WK072
- Vinschgau / Val Venosta
Kompass Map WK52
- ORTLES-CEVEDALE / ORTLERGEBIET
Tabacco Map 008
8.2 - Books
- Vinschgau / Ortlergruppe
Kompass Wanderbuch 950