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Alpine adventures with my Dad

Written by George Fisher

Image for article Alpine adventures with my Dad

I've spent a lot of Summer holidays in the Alps, French, Swiss and Italian, with my family while growing up. It’s a place close to my heart and I regularly go back with my Dad, to re-do routes, find new ones and just enjoy being back there.

A couple of hours drive from Milan airport and you’re in the Alps. We had no set agenda other than the North Ridge of the Piz Badile, a route my parents had done together in 1975, before they were married and before I was even thought about.The picture to the right is of my Mum on the North Ridge of the Piz Badile in 1975 and me, same place, same route, 2017.

Dad and I headed up the Bondasca Valley to a small village called Bondo, just over the Italian Swiss border. On our way up the valley we visited Soglio, a lovely little village high on the mountainside, which gave a great view of where we planned to climb the next day.

Alpine huts can be very easily accessible from the valleys, some even have cable cars almost to their door! The rst hut we visited was the Capanna Sasc Fura, which was a two hour walk through lovely cool alpine forests. From the hut we could see the Piz Badile, which is where we planned to go climbing the next day.

Hut breakfasts are always early, ours was at 4:30am... after that, a two hour walk from the hut and we reached the start of our climb. We stashed some of our kit that we wouldn’t need on the climb under a big boulder, got our climbing kit on and off we went to tackle the Badile. It was a lovely sunny day, and the forecast was for it to stay that way.

As Ed Viesturs said,

“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.”

Dad and I had a lovely day climbing on the Piz Badile. We didn’t manage to complete the entire route, time was ticking on and we still had to consider our descent to the valley bottom in Bondo. There were a number of parties ahead of us we caught up, and with people abseiling off other routes it got a bit busy. We decided to have lunch then head down; not a bad spot for lunch, on a ridge at 2,857 meters, with fantastic views and such peace and tranquillity!

After a rest day and a visit to St Moritz, we headed for the mountains again. This time we used the cable car to gain height out of the valley to start our two hour walk to the foot of our intended climb, the Piz Balzet. This was a multi pitch climb, graded Severe/ Hard Severe on beautiful granite rock. Our first successful summit of the trip, always a great place for lunch!  

Above picture is of Dad and I on the summit of the Piz Balzet.

The next day we packed up camp and drove round the mountain, to the other side, the Masino Valley, somewhere my Dad hasn’t spent much time and I’d never been before, so we had a lot of exploring to do!

First up, we found a lovely roadside crag and spent the afternoon climbing there in the sunshine. We nished the day in the nearby village of San Martino, sitting in the sunshine, watching the world go by, enjoying a cold beer, and planning our next climb.

At the very end of the Masino Valley there was access to the Gianetti Hut, we parked the car and started our four hour walk to the hut. Another lovely approach through cool forests and open meadows, with cows and their bells clanging away. We reached a plateau with a glacial river running through it, it was an extremely hot day, so I decided to go for a dip to cool off... it was very, very cold, but welcome! Onwards to the Gianetti Hut, dinner and an early night, for our early breakfast.

An hour’s walk from the Gianetti Hut and you are at the foot of the Ordinary Route on the South side of the Piz Badile. Yes, you got it, we were planning to try for its summit again, via a slightly shorter and quieter route. The skies weren’t as clear as we would have liked, so we made sure as we ascended that we were able to retreat easily if an afternoon storm came.

Above picture is of the Gianetti Hut, with the Piz Badile Ordinary Route in full view.

We didn’t meet anyone else on our route, we only saw others climbing from afar. It was a lovely day’s climbing and YES, we made the summit!! Time for another lunch stop with an amazing view!

Written by staff member Victoria Kimber.