The North East ridge is the classic route to the summit of the Spazzacaldeira. It joins the rather longer North - ridge of this mountain about halfway where it changes orientation to become the NE ridge. Leaving the scramble on the mountains southern side out of the picture, this is the easiest route to the top and therefore very popular. On a good day this route will attract many parties who are lured by its extreme closeness to the cable car station, its low difficulty and the access it provides to the spectacular summit spire, the Fiamma.
There are some bolts in the route, particulary in the first pitch which follows a little buttress of sorts. It is not a sportclimb though, so be sure to take a small rack of nuts/friends and some slings along with you.
All in all, the NE - ridge makes for an enjoyable daytrip. While the climbing is nowhere very spectacular, the exposed ridge is fun to traverse and climbing the Fiamma to round things off really makes the whole outing more rewarding.
From the Albigna cablecar station follow the path which leads towards the top of the dam and the foot of the Spazzacaldeira which is clearly visible the whole time. Look for a conspicous triangularly shaped grassy slope. Scramble up to its apex to be confronted with the first difficulty; getting yourself on top of the small rockband situated above the grass. Once you have lugged yourself up this, carefully continue upwards along a short section with a fixed rope.
The path becomes less exposed from here onwards, roping up is generally not required. Carefully make your way along the twisting path with the occasional scramble. You will notice that the path leads up into a rocky alcove of sorts, this is where the proper climbing starts. Rope up and start the first pitch on the small buttress, easily located by the belay bolt.
First pitch and the grassy approach below.
From the grassy start make your way to the 'real' route which follows the crest of the buttress/ridge and leads to a plateau . The following section can be a little tricky route-finding wise so pay close attention to the guidebook. Once on the plateau, climb up the cracked wall (plenty of places for gear!) towards the actual North - East ridge. This length is the crux of the route. Once you've made your way through this length follow the route upwards toward and along the ridge and make sure you enjoy the view and the nice climbing. At the end of the ridge there is a short abseil section followed by a walk towards either the Fiamma or to the exit from the Spazzacaldeira. This can be reached by following the obvious path which traverses underneath the Dente and the Fiamma.
Getting down from the Spazzacaldeira involves some downclimbing but is generally easy and not very exposed. The only tricky section is a small vertical wall that can be downclimbed or abseiled, look for the solid bolt set into the wall above the tricky section.
Once you've made your way down the Spazzacaldeira's southern side, follow the easy path through a field of boulders back towards the dam.
Path underneath the Dente and Fiamma.
Although most belays have bolts and the route sports bolts in key places it is still important to bring along some slings, nuts and camming devices in the smaller size range. Also don't forget your helmet, especially as the route can get very crowded.
Maps and guidebooks
Map: Swiss 1:25000 #1276 'Val Bregaglia'
Guidebook: Schweiz Plaisir Sud