Ticino (Tessin in German) is a wonderful land of granite peaks, clear waters and old, rural architecture. Even if surrounded on three sides by higher mountain groups of the Western Alps, the highest summits in the group still offer great views around. In the mountaineering structure we are usually speaking of Lepontine Alps.
The group has the highest peaks on the north, above the well known passes of Simplon and Nufenen. But in the eastern part the three most prominent summits are: Basodino, Pizzo Campo Tencia and Cristallina. Due to its prominence and not too difficult approach, Cristallina is often ascended. Its season is long as it represents also one of the most desirable goals in times of tour skiing.
Besides the mountaineering part another attraction of Ticino are its beautiful valleys with clear waters, picturesque villages and in southern parts also big lakes. The route to Cristallina peak is not marked (marked are the routes to its very base), but you can follow stone marks and trails. The ascent is more strenuous that really dangerous. It requires some easy climbing only if you find yourself off the trail. In the upper part the mountain is very crumbly. The most recommendable tour is crossing the summit (east ascent - north-west descent or vice versa). That is one of more beautiful tours in Ticino. In addition to have Cristallina as the only goal of a tour, you can also make a few nice, long distance treks through the area, including the ascent on this summit. Treks will lead you through most remote areas, as well as through popular places which tourists wisit by a cable car.
The highest starting point for a tour is Lago del Narèt, 2310 m, which is reachable by a narrow mountain road through Val Sambuco, being itself one of the higher valleys of Valle Maggia. From Locarno you have quite some drive till there!
The second possible starting point would be Valle di Peccia, which would bring you on the southern side of the mountain, but there you would start a tour very low.
The third interesting starting point is Robiei, 1891 m, where the upper station of cable car from San Carlo stands. That one is in the first place a starting point for the Basodino tour, but also Cristallina is close enough.
And the last option is to start a tour in Val Bedretto. This is a long valley which, after the main road leaves it at Airolo towards St. Gotthard, continues towards the west (on Nufenen Pass), leading all the time around the northern side of Cristalline. The tour can best be started in Ossasco, 1313 m, from where we go southwards into Val Torta and further on Passo di Cristallina, where the mountain hut stands. See online a good map in any resolution on Swissgeo
1. Norteast ridge. This is quite a direct, pathless ascent, which however already requires some easy climbing (up to UIAA III degre). It starts on Passo del Narèt, 2438 m, which can be quickly reached from Lago del Narèt. 3 h.
2. East ridge. This is the most recommendable ascent from Lago del Narèt. Also that one is not just easy, some scrambling and easy climbing (up to degree UIAA II) is needed. Together with the route #3 it makes a wonderful round tour. From the start of the SE summit ridge the route is not marked, but we can follow ciarns. 3 h.
3. North-west approach. It starts on Passo di Cristallina, 2568 m, which can be reached by three routes:
From the saddle we go towards the south-east, more or less directly towards the top. 1 h 30 min, steep walk-up.
Cristallina is one of most panoramic mountains in Tessin/Ticino. Pictures below are just examples to prove this statement.
No permits are required.
|Cristallina can be climbed any time of the year, although it is most popular during summer and fall. In good conditions and with winter equipment also winter ascent would mean no big problem, but then, you would of course have no car on 2310m.||
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Capanna Cristallina, (2349m), open from June to October, Tel.: 0 91/8 69 23 30; This huge hut has been opened two years ago. It is one of the biggest and most luxurious huts in Switzerland. Remark: The old Capanna Cristallina was destroyed by an avalanche, so temporarily in summer another hut nearby was used as a mountain hut. Albergo Robiei (1900m), open June to October, Tel.: 0 91/7 56 50 20. Keyser Soze: When I climbed the summit in 1997, there was also a little shelter right on top (Rifugio Ossasco), probably originally constructed by the Swiss army.
Vallemaggia Turismo, CH-6673 Maggia; Tel.: 0 91/7 53 18 85. Internet: www.vallemaggia.ch .