The Sella - Glüschaint subgroup of the Bernina range, located west of the famous Piz Bernina and Piz Roseg and being about 400 to 500 m lower than those main peaks is nevertheless a very interesting range for mountaineers and bears interesting glacier, rock and mixed routes in all difficulties.
Piz Glüschaint (speak: Ljüschaint) is the highest peak of this subrange and was in former times packed with snow even in summer, thus giving him his name “the sparkling one”.
Nowadays with the retreating glaciers, Piz Glüschaint is a prominent rock peak with interesting aretes and rock faces. The here described route is the normal glacier route which is a mixed glacier - rock - route. It is the ski route in spring, too.
This normal route starts at Chamanna Coaz and uses the north slopes of the Roseg glacier (Vadret da Roseg) and the upper north arete of Piz Glüschaint. You can combine this route with the more difficult southwest arete route to a more than satisfying traverse.
Time required from Chamanna Coaz is, depending on the glacier conditions, 4 to 5 hours.
Difficulty ranges, again depending on the glacier conditions, from “PD” (peu difficile - moderately difficult) to D (difficult). For more informations, see the “Mountain Condition and Gear” - section below.
Your starting point is Chamanna Coaz, a recommended hut of the swiss alpine club with a very friendly staff and 80 beds and - as usual in the swiss mountains, with good food.
You reach Chamanna Coaz from Pontresina via Val Roseg, Hotel Roseg (there is a coach service from Pontresina train station to Hotel Roseg), Alp Ota and alternatively the panorama trail via Marguns da l´Alp Ota or via glacier lake. Both trails are beautiful and long (about 5 hours from Pontresina, 3 hours from Hotel Roseg).
Chamanna Coaz can be reached via Fuorcla Surlej, too. You can use the Corvatsch cableways to shorten the ascent and have a nice hike on the panoramic trail from Fuorcla Surlej to Chamanna Coaz.
The views to Piz Tschierva, Piz Morteratsch, Piz Prievlusa, the famous Bianco arete, Piz Bernina and the incomparable Piz Roseg are just overwhelming.
From Chamanna Coaz follow the steep zigzag - path up the moraine south of the hut. The trail soon gets level and traverses southsoutheast to the lower west end of Vadret da Roseg.
As many alpine glaciers, Vadret da Roseg has retreated a lot in the last years. Actually (july 2009) the western end of the glacier is a not very thick, steep iceshield, flanked by steep rocks in the west of it. If there is enough snow cover (spring and early summer) there are no special difficulties to overcome this first glacier slope. With the snow cover gone this first slope will mean a first interesting task in steep ice and a real obstacle for the not so experienced.
The exact ascent route on the glacier then depends on the crevasse situation. Vadret da Roseg is full of crevasses and crevasse / serac zones which make the ascent in later summer really difficult to nearly impossible.
If there is enough snow cover the ascent route is mainly southsoutheast after the first glacier slope. Traverse the first glacier basin after the first slope and climb the second steep glacier slope from right to left to avoid the crevasses on the right side.
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This second slope can be impassable late in the year. You then have to circle this part by going east (left), then up east of the slope and in a semicircle back to the top of the second slope.
Traverse a second glacier basin in southeastern direction to reach the third steep glacier slope between Piz Glüschaint in the west and La Sella in the east. In the upper third of this slope there is a huge crevasse running from Sella icewalls to Glüschaint steep rocks, thus nearly blocking the further ascent.
This is the crux of the whole ascent. In late summer this crevasse can be impossible to overcome. Even earlier in the year you normally need ice screws to secure your way up (july 2009: 2 - 3 ice screws required).
Above the demanding crevasse you reach a third, upper glacier basin, flanked in the west by the north arete of Piz Glüschaint, in the east by the ice and rock walls of La Sella west summit and in the south by the shimmering (I hope you have sunny weather !) ice and snow wall of Piz Sondrio.
Traverse this upper basin to the west (right) to reach a steep talus and scree slope which easily leads up to the north arete. From the bottom of this slope traverse first slightly up and to the right (northern direction) on a feeble footpath. Ascend then directly up to the north arete to avoid as soon as possible the loose talus.
The north arete is a mixed talus and rock arete with two rock slabs (UIAA grade II-). It is a rather exposed arete but fun to climb. Stay mainly on the crest, it is the best way to overcome the first slab, to traverse the northern subsumit, to pass the notch, to overcome the second slab (which can be bypassed on the east side) and to gain the main summit.
Great views are waiting for you.
Mountain Conditions & Essential Gear
Vadret da Roseg is a complicated glacier full of crevasse zones.
If there was enough snow in winter, this glacier route is a good one in spring for high alpine ski hikers and in june / july for mountaineers.
With bad snow conditions all the crevasse zones will be wide open and the glacier can be impassable. You will get the necessary informations from the hut keeper of Chamanna Coaz.
The crux is the huge crevasse running across the third steep glacier slope between Piz Glüschaint and La Sella west. Even with good snow conditions this crevasse often needs belaying and a good “ice work”. Thus this route never looses its special congeniality.
The arete is an enjoyable climb with difficulties of UIAA grade I with two short parts being II-.
Consequently you need full high mountain gear (in spring avalanche gear may be required), a rope, ice axe, crampons, helmet and some ice screws.
We didn´t belay at the arete. It depends on your skills if you need belaying. There are no fixed belays for rappelling.