Pizzo Cassandra NE wall
Pizzo Cassandra 3226 m is a fine Threethousander located in the Lombardy region and more exactly belonging to the Western Alpi Retiche subgroup Cassandra - Cima del Duca, a coastline which forms the orographic right side of Val Ventina, just along the omonymous glacier. Towards Val Ventina (North) Pizzo Cassandra appears as a snow capped peak with a beautiful ice wall. The mountain is known for its profitable Normal route along the South-West ridge, but also in reason of its fine and profitable North-East wall, which offers an ice and mixed climb, recommended to be climbed earlier in the season.
The starting point to approach Pizzo Cassandra is the village of Chiareggio m. 1612 in Val Malenco.
From Milan follow the East Motorway to Lecco, then the road n. 36 running on the East shore of Lago di Lecco, reaching Mandello del Lario, Varenna, Dervio and Colico (90 km. from Milano). In Colico leave the road n. 36 (getting to Chiavenna and Switzerland), turn to right and take the road n. 38 (signposts Sondrio- Morbegno) entering the Valtellina, pass Morbegno and follow the road as far as Sondrio. At the roundabout take on the left the road to Valmalenco, reaching Chiesa Valmalenco m. 960, then Chiareggio m. 1612 (25 km. from Sondrio). Parking lot at the south boundary of Chiareggio.
Approach to Rifugio Gerli-Porro
Cross the river Mallero on a bridge and follow a good trail rising along a slope, then entering Val Ventina and getting to Alpe Ventina grassy terrace, at the beginning of which is located the Refuge Gerli-Porro m. 1960, situated in a beautiful position amongst the larches in front of Ghiacciaio Ventina. 1 hour from Chiareggio
Pizzo Cassandra Parete NE - route description
Summit: m. 3226 Difficulty: Alpine AD, average slope 45° (max 50°), some rocky moves UIAA III Length: 450 m. Exposure: North-East Starting point: Rifugio Gerli-Porro
Fine icy face with a regular 45° slope and some short sections of 50°, some mixed moves
Approach from Rifugio Gerli-Porro
From the shelter follow the Sentiero glaciologico "Vittorio Sella", walking towards South along Alpe Ventina grassy terrace, which quickly leads to the nearby refuge Ventina 1975 m. The path continues along the stony bed of the river Mallero, then it rises along the moraine (orographical right side). The trail initially on a slight slope becomes increasingly steeper while it is approaching the glacier, reaching the rounded rocks that form the bottom of the glacier (cairns). Continue South-West direction on the glacier usually fairly easy, heading to the obvious and well visible wall of Pizzo Cassandra. Crossing a moderately crevassed area, head to the obvious snow cone at the base of the wall where the route starts.
At the altitude of about 2700 m pass the bergschrund and attack the wall. Climb the large snowy cone until the final funnel. At this point head slightly to the right to avoid the large central rock and then without compulsive way and looking for the easiest route climb snowy slopes or ice with a maximum gradient of 50 degrees and grooves mixed (max III UIAA). The upper part of the itinerary lends itself to slight variations depending on the snow conditions of the wall, but it's fairly intuitive, keeping always nearby the middle and reaching the summit ridge slightly to the right or to the left of the top depending by the route followed. Once on the summit ridge follow it to the beautiful summit of the peak.
Descent: following the normal route. From the top follow the North West ridge (possible some mixed steps in poor snow condition), getting to Passo Cassandra m. 3097, where you follow the normal route along the Ventina glacier returning to the refuge Gerli-Porro.
Bring the conventional equipment for an ice climb: 50 m. rope, ice axe, crampons, harness, helmet, carabiners, 2 or 3 slings, ice screws
- Rifugio Gerli - Porro 1965 m.
Situation: Ventina Alp Open: 20 of June - 20 of September Size: 80 pers. Winter shelter: 8 pers. Owner: C.A.I. Milano Guardian: G.A. Floriano Lenatti Hut's phone : 0039-0342-451404 Mobile +39 329 4159404 Getting There: from Chiareggio (Val Malenco) - 1 hour
No fees or permits required.
Mountaineering: usually the best period is the late spring or early summer, when the wall is well snow-covered
Ski-Mountaineering: from March to May
"Masino-Bregaglia-Disgrazia" by A. Bonacossa - G. Rossi CAI-TCI