On the Traverse
Arguably the traverse from Piz Umbrail to Punta di Rims along the long west ridge of the former mountain is one of the most panoramic routes in the north of the Ortler / Cevedale Group. It jogs along the brittle drop-off uone in the south of the mountain awarding deep glimpses into the central Ortler Group as well as the Sesvenna Group up north.
But don't make mistakes - while not being outright difficult the traverse can become dangerous in wet and stormy conditions. Much of the underground is far from solid - it rather resembles limestone rocks strewn around among sand dunes. There is little to protect you in case of an accident and some of the steeper passages in the west of the traverse are outright scary.
In general I would recommend to climb this route west to east, that is starting at Punta di Rims. That way you climb the scary bits ascending rather than slithering down. However, quite obviously, route finding in that direction is not easy. We met a couple who got scared, then lost, finally divided during the traverse. The wife caught up with us during the end of our day, hoping her husband had made it across the Umbrail north-face. Granted - these guys didn't even have a map with them so I can't be sure about their qualifications. Nevertheless they induce me to describe the route from east to west, which coincidentally is the way we climbed it ourselves.
The Piz Umbrail Summit
See the main page for the information how to get to the trailhead at Umbrailpass / Giogo di Santa Maria / Wormser Joch. It is located right next to Europe's highest road pass, Stilfser Joch / Passo del Stelvio. To get to the traverse you need to climb Piz Umbrail first. Mountain and route will come up in a few days so for the moment let me briefly describe its character: like much of the traverse the normal route to Piz Umbrail is rather brittle. The mountain is climbed often so that route-finding is not a problem.
The Piz Umbrail South Face
- Start altitude: 3031m
- Summit altitude: 2948m
- Prevailing exposure: S
- Type: Scramble
- Protection: None
Effort: Elevation gain negligible
Power: 1 - Easy
Psyche: 3 - Some downward passages are real scary
Orientation: 2 - Old marks, sometimes not obvious
Right before you enter the summit plateau of Piz Umbrail there is a sign leading to Lai da Rims and Santa Maria. Go a few steps on the trail, then turn onto a path which turns back to the ridge and follows it directly. It more or less stays on the ridge but often passes an obstacle on the outward (northern) side.
The first destination is the Piz Umbrail main summit, which is only a little higher than the plateau summit with the explanations to WW I. From here you have good views into the jumbled south face of the mountain, an indication of the brittleness of the whole piece of rock. The path then descends into a small col, only to regain most of the elevation by ascending a rocky bastion via its north side.
Lai da Rims Piz Umbrail Ortler View
Th path snakes its way through a number of rock towers, only to descend into a second col. This descent is rather steep and thanks to the lack of proper footing can become rather scary. Out you climb onto the next rocky section, where the only chain of the traverse needlessly protects a broad sloped slab. From this rampart you step out into the south face, where an old WW I trail turns off, leading to the foremost Italian artillery positions of the war, which where hidden behind one of the many towers in the Umbrail face.
Back on the ridge, the path quickly drops down into the saddle between Piz Umbrail and Punta di Rims, clossing a steep scree slope in the upper part, then winding its way among the towers on the ridge. Once in the saddle, the remainder of the climb to Punta di Rims is a mere stroll.
Essential GearHiking gear is sufficient.