Ago di Sciora: east flank and south face

Ago di Sciora: east flank and south face

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 46.29975°N / 9.62540°E
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering, Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: AD IV-
Sign the Climber's Log


The normalroute to the summit of the Ago di Sciora is reached from the Albigna side of the mountain and traverses the east flank until the notch is reached located before the actual summit pinnacle. This notch is called the 'Bochetta dell Ago' and from here the route follows the south face of the Ago di Sciora to it's very exposed summit in roughly 3 pitches.
Reaching the first pitch of the route, that is the first pitch of the east flank, is not difficult technically but requires stamina as the glacier has receded and the snowfields mentioned in the guidebooks have practically dissapeared! Prepare yourself for lots and lots of loose rubble!

Once the actual climbing starts the route becomes much more enjoyable. The rock quality of the east flank is quite poor in places, especially when compared to some of the outstanding granite found on other mountains in the area. Luckily this improves for the final pitches. Except for a few abseil anchors there are no bolts to be found in the entire route and only a few rusty pegs at the belays which need backing up. This makes the Ago di Sciora a serious mountain route that requires alpine rock climbing experience.

Ago di ScioraTraversing the East flank.

Getting There

From the Albigna hut take the path that leads down from the hut on it's southern side, towards the Punta d'al Albigna. Descending a few meters from the hut you reach an old waterpipe with a white and blue arrow painted on it. Follow this arrow and the other blue-white markings further down until you cross a stream from where the path climbs slightly upwards and passes the Punta d'al Albigna on it's western side.
At this point you will be following a well defined path along the eastern side of the 'Vadrec d'al Albigna' glacier which has been carved into the rock and protected with cables and ladders where necessary.
After a while this path becomes less well defined and heads upwards towards a pass. Before this happens head across to the glacier over a extensive field of boulders and scree. There are some scattered 'stonemen' to mark the way but these are few and far between and there is really no trace of a path. Instead, choose your own way diagonally across the glacier towards it's western, Ago di Sciora, side. Keep walking south-westwards along the glacier until you pass a large ridge coming down from the Punta Pioda. Having passed this point the Ago di Sciora should come into view for the first time. Head towards it as best as conditions allow.
As of the summer of 2007 the snowfields mentioned in the guidebooks as giving easy access to the start of the first rock pitch had all but dissapeared. Instead scramble across even more loose rocks and the occassional patch of snow until you reach the first pitch.

Ago di Sciora - chimneyClimbing the chimney towards the Bochetta.

Route Description

Locating the start of the route can be somewhat tricky. Both the English and the Swiss guidebooks have a good topographical diagram, refer to one of them when you are still some distance from the first pitch to get your bearings!
Basically you follow a more less straight diagonal line towards the Bochetta (the notch just before the Ago itself). Make sure you locate this line from a distance before making your way to the highest point of the snowfield and the first pitch. Work your way along a gully towards a slab which you traverse across to the right after which you follow a series of easy chimneys and ledges to the bochetta. Be careful because the rock is loose in many places! Some pitons are in place to show the way to the belays but these should not be blindly trusted and backed up whereever possible!
From the Bochetta climb a steep slab and follow a crackline to the first belay (solid abseil anchor, III+). From here easily climb over some large blocks into a deep chimney until you reach a good stance where you can build a solid belay (exposed III). The final pitch is a very exposed, slabby IV- (which felt rather more difficult!) to the top of the summit pinnacle. Enjoy!
Getting back down to the Bochetta is made easy by solid abseil anchors. From the Bochetta retrace your steps and downclimb/abseil back to the remnants of the snowfield under the first pitch. The abseil anchors in the east flank can be dodgy and coupled with the less than perfect rock, experience in downclimbing and abseiling in alpine terrain is a must!

Once safely back on the snow it's just a very long trudge back across the remnants of the glacier...

Ago di Sciora, south face.The south face of the Ago di Sciora seen from the Bochetta.

Essential Gear

Take about 6 quickdraws and a small - medium sized assortment of friends + a couple of nuts. Friend sizes 0.5 - 2 are useful (Cam #0.4 - 1)
55m double ropes are necessary for the abseils from the Ago!
Take some slings and prusiks which can double as abseil anchors.

Guidebooks and maps

SAC Fuhrer 'Sudliches Bergell'
Alpine Club guidebook 'Bergell and Bernina'
Map: Swiss 1:25000 #1296 'Sciora'



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