Switzerland – Italy 2021

Ascents of the peaks Piz Bernina 4049m, Monte Vago 3059m and Mesolina 2642m

A road trip in Europe for climbing the peaks Piz Bernina 4049m, Monte Vago 3059m and Mesolina 2642m
19/7/2021 - 26/7/2021

Piz Bernina 4049m
Monte Vago 3059m


The diary

Our trip was by road from Elati from where we departed on Saturday 19/7/2022 with first destination the port of Igoumenitsa, where we arrived late in the afternoon. After the complicated procedures due to covid, we boarded the boat for Ancona. The ship was almost empty of passenger and vehicles, and had only camper vehicles and trucks. There were only a few people on deck, so we had quiet and pleasant sleep all night. We finally reached Ancona before noon on Sunday 20/7/2021. Without to stop in Ancona, we departed from the port of Agona with the first stop at the Imola pist (Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari), where we stopped at several points of the pist and of course at the Senna monument. From Imola we headed to Bologna where we had a pleasant meeting with our friend climber Panos. After sitting in a bar, saying our news and drinking our beers, we continued our journey to Switzerland. We passed near by Milan and headed to Lecco and then traveled north along Lake Como to the town of Chiavenna near the border with Switzerland. There we had a very beautiful view of the waterfalls next to the settlement. Without any special control we crossed the border and arrived at night at the Maloja pass at 1815m. Before the pass Maloja there is a large free parking. In the parking we camped at night. In the morning on 21/7 we started loosely towards Saint Moritz and after a short stop for shopping, we continued to the village of Morteratsch at the foot of Mount Bernina. After reaching the cable car at Diavolezza at 2000m, we were informed about the opening hours. Afterwards, we spent the afternoon eating and resting by the road, overlooking the peaks of Mount Bernina.

At 15:40 we took the cable car to Diavolezza refuge where we arrived after 15 minutes at 2973m altitude. From the refuge/restaurant we saw the large glacier that we had to cross with the aim to reach the rocky ridge. After the route crosses the upper glacier to reach refuge Marco e Rosa 3607m. At 16:30 we started the trek directly descending to the glacier. We decided to cross the glacier vertically, which in the end is not so easy since we would have trouble reaching a dead end due to crevasses. With a few detours we crossed the glacier and climbed the snowy slopes. The field had rocks where the snow sank in very deep and it was quite difficult for us to get out on the smoothest snow-covered slopes at 3000 meters. The wide slope narrowed and at the end led to the rocky edge. By the time we reached the rocky edge and prepared our climbing equipment, it was getting dark. We tried to climb fast while we were still seeing in the dim light. The ridge was very long, we were looking to find the route and the belaying points. We mainly moved in parallel but in difficult parts we relayed. Before midnight we had crossed the ridge and put on the crampons, since we had to climb the snowy slopes on the glacier. We struggled to climb the glacier, avoiding some crevasses, after we found some traces of previous climbers. While we reached 3400 meters a little lower than the refuge in altitude, the refuge Marco e Rosa was miles away. Theoretically, we would soon approach the refuge, but eventually it had about 600 meters extra altitude difference since the glacier has large crevasses and seracs. We had to go up and down many times after reaching dead ends. The only safe way was to reach lowest point of the glacier, avoiding the crevasses of the glacier. At 3:40 we finally arrived at the refuge Marco e Rosa 3607m. We enter in vestibule of the refuge where we rested for half an hour.

Before dawn, two of the three roped companies depart from the refuge to the summit. The weather did not look good. We continued following the first rope company. First we climbed the snowy slope, which at the end became quite steep and the rocky ridge started for the peak La Spedla 4020m. Climbing the rock proved to be quite difficult and it took us a long time to reach the summit of the peak. At the edge the first lightnings began to be heard and we could feel the electric field. Just before La Spedla peak, the electric field was so strong that it made a noise in our heads, the metals were rattling and the ice-axe that I had passed on the harness was pinning my foot from the electric current. Passing over the peak (La Spelda 4020m), the route was on dry rock rock. We left the ironworks and continued quickly to the summit of Piz Bernina 4049m where we arrived at 8:00. We stood at the summit for just a few photos as the weather closed in fog and became more dangerous. We quickly continue our way back and after doing 4-5 rappels in the difficult places we arrived at 9:30 at the refuge Marco e Rosa where we drank hot tea. The fatigue was great since we already had 17 hours on the mountain. We decided to return. The high altitudes and the soft snow made it very difficult for us and finally, exhausted and exhausted, we arrived just 15 minutes before the last cable car route to the Diavolezza refuge (16:30). My legs did not hold me upright from fatigue, altitude, exhaustion and hunger. Finally after returning to the car we tried to find a campsite to spend the night but it was all full. We finally found a desert near the village of Gravansch next to the airport. We rested a bit and camped. The next day 23/7 we remained in the area regaining our strength. The weather was not good at all and it rained occasionally. The forecast was the same for all the Alps for the next five days. We did not have time to wait for the weather to improve, so we decided to return back. Studying the map at the campsite I found a peak called Monte Vago 3059m on the border with Italy which was very close to our road. As the weather at noon showed better, and the rain starts at afternoon, we depart in the morning on 24/7 from the camping Gravansch and reached the Italian-Swiss border at the Passo della Forcola, tha pass at the border at 2315m. The weather was not good but we decided at 8:30 to start the climb. The trail first follows the boundary and then travers into Italy passing over Lake Vago and below the summit. The trail followed the northeastern ridge which had some easy technical passes just before the summit of Monte Vago 3059m (10:30-11:00). At the summit we met 3 elderly Italian climbers. They had climbed to many peaks around the planet and we caught the conversation. We started the quick return and finally 2 minutes before our car it rained heavily (12:00).

We started driving through Italy, and crossed the border without any control. The road descended and we reached the mountain resort Livigno. A beautiful place with many skiing and mountain activities. As we went to refuel we saw that the prices are very low. Then we realized that this is an isolated area where everything is tax free. We took the road to the Dolomites but after Livigno we had to pay tolls to leave. The tolls were on the big artificial dam. To leave the valley we had to go through the narrow and long tunnel of one direction which we finally found and again found in Switzerland, where the police checked. We thought we were wrong but the police informed us that we would be back in Italy after 20 km. We headed to Mustar and crossed the border and re-entered to Italy. In the afternoon we arrived in the Dolomites area and we reach the village of Canazei. Petros wanted to climb to the summit of Marmolada and so we decided to stay somewhere near Canazei. Finally, near by the village there is a park with parking and possibility for free camping where we found several who camped there. We spent the night on our tent and the next day (Sunday 25/7) we set off for Lake Fedaia. We went to get the cable car to Marmolada, but it was out of order for a long time. It was impossible to get to the summit starting from the lake. So we decided to climb to a lower peak opposite Marmolada starting from the passage Passo Fedaia - Marmolada 2057m. We located a peak called Mesolina 2642m (8:30). We first followed a steep uphill dirt road that led to ski slopes and ended up at the top of the ski resort at refuge Padon 2407m. From there, following the path that first traverses to the west, we ended up at the Bivacco Bontadini emergency shelter. After resting we saw that just behind the bivi hut there was a carved cave / tunnel. We went in with the phone’s tourched and came out into some dead end narrow openings that were loopholes. All these impressive works were done during the First World War to be able to control the valley. Eventually the tunnel after 400 meters came out on the other side of the peak. We were afraid of getting lost since we did not have normal headlamps so we decided to go back to the refuge because the tunnel had many branches and was like a maze. From the shelter we followed a short via ferrata that led to the grassy peak Mesoline 2642m (10:30). A few meters before the summit there is a dangerous opening very deep and needs attention in case of snow or fog. The top was generally steep on all other sides. When the weather cleared we took a few photos of Lake Fedaia and headed back. After an hour we reached the starting point shourtcutting the road using some small paths.

We continued our road trip to Greece and after passing Belluno and outside Trieste we entered to Slovenia. We drove non-stop and finally after midnight we passed outside of Belgrade. Shortly afterwards, there was a traffic accident and the traffic was stopped. I decided to go out of the highway on the first exit in order to sleep for a while. A few kilometers from the highway, outside of a large restaurant/cafe, I slept with a sleeping bag in the parking, while Petros was sleep in the car. In the morning we continued driving and arriving in Northern Macedonia we stopped in a parking because Petros need to do a covid rapid test. Unfortunately in Greece the official document of the negative result was not enough but he also wanted the fill PLF form. While we crossed all the borders without any delay, in Greek borders there was a queue of kilometers. Going on foot to the customs bag I asked them how to get the PLF since we did not have internet and they told us to go to the Greek cafe in Greece and connect to wifi in order to get it. However it became impossible for me to connect and to be able to make Peter's PLF. I went back to the car where we wanted several hours to get to the checkpoint. Since the pedestrians could pass without control in the doom that was happening, I sent Petros to go and wait for me from the Greek side. Petros walked earlier and I drove across the border. After the basic check in the luggage and a few meters inside Greece, Petros was waiting for me, who had passed on foot without PLF. Finally late in the afternoon on 26/7/21 we arrived back to our homes. Our trip lasted only 8 days, but it was full of action and experiences.

Dr. Nikolas Kroupis
Electrical & Computer Eng.
Elati, Trikala, Greece
Petros Tolias
Oxia, Karditsa, Greece


Trip Cost
Cost of the trip
Food from Super Market in Greece
Ferry Boat
Teleferik Diavoleza / person
Camping Gravansch / day
Total trip cost per person

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