Ascent to Piz Bernina

It is Sunday lunch time and we are leaving Slovakia and heading to Italy, climb Piz Bernina. Me, my brother Martin and friend Juro. Earlier today I have come back from Czech republic from extreme metal festival, therefore I do not remember a lot from travel. During the night we are sleeping somewhere in Italy. I have no clue where. Guys just woke me up and ask if this is good place to spend a night. I do not remember it, but I have agreed and keep sleeping in a car. Saturday morning we drive few kilometers to Lanzada city and start climbing up to dam Bacino di Campo Moro (almost 2 000 m / 6 562 ft). Car will spend couple of nights here and we are packing our backpacks for comming extreme days and nights in mountains. In front of us is 4 kilometers valley mainly covered by forest, end is pure rocks. At the end of the valley it is totally different world. Glaciers and huge disappearing rock walls in clouds. We are going almost horizontally to saddle Passo Marinelli occidentale ( 3 014 m / 9 888 ft). Till the hut under the saddle we met a lot of people. After saddle there is wide glacier Vedretta di Scerscen Superiore. We need to walk another 4 kilometers to reach 300 m / 984 ft wall at the end. From the begining we have a good speed. Later we have to slow down because of glacier crevasse.

It is time to put on crampons and jump over of creavasses, some of them with running jump. For others we have to find way arround. During each jump we are fascinated by deepness, darkness and sound of the water below us. We spend lot of time on glacier and it is already a sunset. Croatian climbers are descending from the wall. They did not want to climb the wall, because it is wet. We are not going to give up. Maybe we could spend night on glacier. However from lots of rocks are falling from walls. Some of them in size of a big house. If some of them will hit our tent, we will not gona make it till morning. We have to keep going. Suddenly glacier is steep and creavasses are covered by snow. It is getting dark. Ice axe is my best friend now. Once in a while some rock is falling close to us. Juro even once “lost” his leg in one of the creavasses. In hole we could only see deep dark. It was a tough walk, but finaly we are at the end of glacier. To reach a rocks we need to do a big jump. I have no clue what is down there and I dont want to find out. We can see the dark and hear watter. One by one we jump to rock. All of us are squeezed in small piece of rock. We are hardly able to stay there. It is so tiny place. The wall is vertical, water is going down on thru wall there are some iron cramps and rope slings. They are far from each other, but we start to climb without securing us. I am the last one. I am hanging with heavy back pack on my hands, holding one of the rope slings. I have a bad feeling. All my power is gone. Maybe it related to superelevation we have done today. Almost 3 000 m / 9 843 ft since morning. I am not able to pull my self up and will probably puke. Water is falling down thru my hands and I just realized it is totally dark. I am hanging over a big dar hole and I feel totally powerless. Shouting on my friends is useless, they can not help me anyway. Somewhere in me, somewhere deep, I was able to find energy to pull my self up. Few minutes later we are on the ledge and having a break. We need to eat something. From this point it is just really steep secured wall by chains. Around midnight we see light, our today destination. We are very wellcome at hut, guest are shaking our hands. Our plan was sleep in a tent. However we are offered to spend night in some shed next to hut. We are happy to take, anyway we have no energy to put up a tent.


In the mornig I have a headache. Hopefully tee will help. After we open the doors from the shed, we are blinded by the sun and by Pizzo Zupo. Headache is almost over and great feelings are comming. Crises hit Juro instead of me. He is decided not to go to Piz Bernina summit. At least we convince him to give it a try. We are ascending thru almost horizontal glacier without any creavasses. In a short while we are under Piz Bernina summit walls. They seems to be ok. Juro is OK by now, but my brother Martin will puke probably. Short break fix that. We climb few short, mostly steep walls, up to 30 meters / 100 ft. We have reached firn crest and going to rock crest. Actually we are waiting at the beginning of it.

In the middle is stuck lady, who is screaming like the hell. Between the scremas she appologize for slowing us down. We are trying to calm her down and waiting until her friends will get her to the other side. In a little while we are Piz Bernina summit and enjoying the view to other summits and glacier valleys.

We have made it. Juro shares with us positive information. Mainly descents end up tragically. So it is time to descent. Firn crest brings us to summit walls. Safest way is to abseil. Later we are at steep top glacier covered by snow. We get bit lower, where we find nice place for camping. We have used our experience from Slovak mountains and going there on our buts…

It is sun set and our camp is close to high walls in altitude about 3 700 m / 12 000 ft. We have best view during the dinner you can imagine. Red clouds getting the color from late evening sun. Guys are sleeping outside of the tent. My sleeping bag is not the best one, so I will need to put up a tent. I have no idea it tent was helpful or not, but in the morning I was totally frozen. We are woken up by animal, which looks like a wolf. It is coming to us carefully, smelling dinner leftovers. It is dog from hut, which is about 200 m / 660 ft below us.

It is time to quickly put shoes on and find the good place to watch sun rise. Already climbers are walking on the glacier to Piz Bernina summit. It is not necessary hear, but all of them are fully equipped and follow all the best practise. They are surprised that they see us here. Especially Juro, who is still half in sleep, and trying to find us. At the end we have enjoyed sun rise a lot. I had a feeling I can see whole Europe.

Later we are close to our famous wall. All of us are bit scared of this, because in the night it was not fun at all. During the day it looks much better. More difficult part we abseil.

We are on one of the ledges when we hear someone screaming at us. They accidently let stone to fall. It didnt hit us. We made it also thru last part and we are on the glacier where it meets with wall. We are close to the huge hole, with dramatical sound of water. It is the same hole I was hanging over the other night. Next challenge is to descent thru steep glacier with lots of crevasses. We are very careful during the descent. Finally we are almost down. We have few small scratches on fingers but overall we are fine.
When I see first flowers I have a feeling we are coming back from totally different world. From world full of rocks and ice, where dead is waiting on every corner. This kind of adventure gives you different view on life. How many people ask themselves: “Am I happy to live?”????

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