Denti della Vecchia

Denti della Vecchia

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 46.05281°N / 9.02307°E
Activities Activities: Hiking, Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Elevation: 4892 ft / 1491 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Denti della VecchiaAmong the Denti della Vecchia

In the south of Tessin / Ticino to the east of Lugano you can find a ridge of dolomite rocks called Denti della Vecchia, translated Hag's Teeth, sometimes also known as Canne d'Organo / Organ Pipes. The towers are located on the border between Switzerland and Italy, the ridgeline between Monte Bre in the west and Cima di Fojorina in the west. They dominate Val Sonvico in the south and attract attention thanks to their vertical rock faces which tower high above the valley.

Their appearance of rotten teeth is misleading. The dolomite rock is rock solid with lots of good holds so that early on the Denti della Vecchia have been established as the first climbing area of Switzerland's southernmost canton Tessin / Ticino. Today they constitute Switzerland's southernmost climbing area with a multitude of routes in 31 different sectors.
Denti della Vecchia - Sasso Grande
Denti della Vecchia
Denti della Vecchia

The highest of the towers is Sasso Grande, which reaches 1492m. Unlike the other towers it can be reached by a moderate but exposed UIAA II+ scramble through the east face, often making use of dwarf pines for protection. A hiking trail winds between the towers, often making use of ledges around them. It is very popular among hikers and there is no Tessin / Ticino Guidebook which leaves out this hike.
Denti della Vecchia
Denti della Vecchia
Denti della Vecchia
Sasso Grande

The Denti della Vecchia are formed by an old geological coat: that of the triassic period which is composed of dolomite. Between the Denti and the Pairolo Hut you find conglomerates Verrucani dating back to a time even more remote. In the bottom of the valley line of Val Colla, there are rocks covered by gravel, sand and clay that were originally ancient moraines of the ice age.

Getting There

Denti della VecchiaDenti della Vecchia from the east

From Lugano (Ti - CH) follow the cantonal road into Val Colla.
Trailheads are at Sonvico, Cadro, Rosone and Villa Luganese. The hiking path leads south-east across Baita del Luca) and Capanna Pairlo, from where it turns west to the ridgeline.

Climbing Routes

Denti della VecchiaDenti della Vecchia

The Denti della Vecchia Climbing Area was the first climbing area fo Tessin / Ticino. Established in the 1930s it was used as training ground by well known alpinists like Emilio Comici and Ricardo Cassin. The local Gruppo degli Scoiattoli has established and documented most of the routes on the Denti. Today the area is divided into 31 sports climbing sectors with almost 300 different routes.The longest routes have up to five pitches. Difficulties range between 3a and 8a (French rating). gives a good overview of the area (German). And of course Gruppo Scoiattoli is the homepage of the Denti.

Red Tape

The mountain is located on the international border between Italy and Switzerland. Though there are no customs controls anymore, carrying an ID is mandatory.
Dactylorhiza maculata
Phyteuma orbiculare
Gymnadenia conopsea

Also, the ridge between the Denti della Vecchia is famous for its rare flowers. Take care where you step.


[img:568122:aligncenter:medium:Capanna Pairolo
There is plenty of accommodation to be found on the web, mainly apartments or holiday homes. However, Tessin / Ticino has become very expensive so you will have to carefully plan your vacation. Most expensive are the cities (Lugano, Locarno, Ascona) but also the villages on the shores of the lakes can burn deep holes in your pockets. In general the higher up and the better the view the more expensive.

A good alternative is agritourismo - farm holidays, either in the valleys or in one of the spring / autumn settlements at an elevation of around 1000m.

You can find accomodation of any type using the following url:

Alpe di Castello
Capanna Pairolo SAT
Alpe Bolla

Weather Conditions

Maps & Books


  • Digital Maps
  • Regular Maps
    • Malcantone
      Carta Escursionistica 286 T
      Ufficio Federale di Topografia Swizzeria
      ISBN: 9783302302867



  • Tessin
    M. Hempel
    Kompass Guidebook WF997
    Kompass Verlag
    ISBN: 3-85491-771-6
  • Tessin
    H. Bauregger
    Rother Verlag
    ISBN: 978-3-7633-4078-1
  • Tessin
    E.E. Hülsler
    Bruckmann Verlag
    ISBN: 978-3-7654-3653-6


  • Denti della Vecchia - Guida alle arrampicate
    Gruppo Scoiattoli Denti della Vecchia
    Language: Italian, German, English
  • VARESE E CANTON TICINO - Falesie e vie moderne
    Davide Mazzucchelli
    Editioni Versante Sud
    Language: Italian, German
    ISBN 978-88-96634-14-1
  • Arrampicate Sportive e Moderne fra Varese e canton Ticino
    Capucciati, Corti, Fiorucci, Pina
    Editioni Versante Sud
  • Guida d'arrampicata - Topo d'escalade - Kletterführer: Ticino e Moesano
    Glauco Cugini
    Edizioni Club Alpino Svizzero CAS
    ISBN 3-85902-253-9

External Links

In Memory of Massimo Comotti

A note from the SP staff

Member Profile Photo
Massimo Comotti, known to the SP community by his username mamo, died on New Years Eve 2009 in an avalanche during a ski tour to Rothorn / Corno Rosso di Trinitè. The avalannche, about 100m wide swept him onto the surface of a frozen lake at about 2700m of altitude. The iced surface broke and Massimo drowned in the lake. Any help came too late. His two ski touring partners survived the accident as if by miracle, one of them seriously hurt. Weather conditions were very serious with high winds and huge amounts of snow.

Massimo grew up in Gressoney in Aosta Valley, the site of his untimely death. In recent years he had moved to Porlezza, near Lake Como, where he made his living as an architect. Aged 44, he leaves behind his wive and a young daughter.

Mamo joined SP in April 2004 and took part in the community until ten days before his death. He contributed several mountains and routes, among them Rothorn / Corno Rosso di Trinitè, the mountain which was to be his last.

This page will be kept in honour of mamo, an excellent ski alpinist.

Rest in peace, Massimo!