Ralf had discovered a beautifully shaped rocky peak on one of his trips in Ticino. He invited Andrey, Ivan and me to climb it on Sunday. The weather forecast for most of Switzerland was pretty abysmal (as Ralf correctly pointed out on the highway: it was warmer last Christmas than now at the end of August). So we were hoping for a lucky break on the South side of the alps. Ticino has some very wild and pristine mountains and the Torrone di Nav, the pyramid Ralf fell in love with, is no exception. It is graded T5, a challenging alpine hike, and there are no marked trails for either the approach or the actual climb. We start from a parking lot at the base of the mountain and immediately head into some bushwhacking action through the bushes up steep meadows. Once we gain the ridge the going gets a lot easier. First glances at our chosen destination make us wonder where and how it should even be possible to get up there.
We scramble through the large scree field and don our harnesses and helmets. We won't use the rope in the end, but helmets are a good idea - with four of us climbing through loose rock some grenades are unavoidable (or so the Russians, who keep throwing rocks at me, claim). Route finding proves to be challenging. Andrey climbs up the wrong slab at one point and is stuck for a while until he figures out a safe way to traverse. Definitely not easy terrain. There are no markers except for very few cairns. The only other people we see are two hunters on the slopes below us. The summit is crowned by the cutest summit cross I have ever seen, standing only some 20 centimeters tall it seems very nimble in these rough surroundings. The summit book from the year 2000 has only a single page filled for the entire year 2014. Only a handful of people have stood here.
We don't waste much time as clouds are moving in from below and we are worried about having to climb down on wet terrain. It is very exposed and the steep slabs could easily turn into deadly water slides. We are back in the debris field at the base when the first drops of rain start falling. Retracing our steps back over the grassy ridge we came turns out to be surprisingly tricky. Dense clouds turn the world into a contourless gray mass. We have to consult the GPS a couple of times to reassure ourselves we are still on track. We have successfully exploited the only small window of good weather of the day. It is pouring for the entire three hour drive back home.
Awesome trip up a beautiful mountain. Thanks to Ralf for discovering and researching this and putting the trip together. A very strong group and a novel experience for me - for once I was the weak link in the chain and others had to wait for me.