Itinerary: Stelvio Pass – 5 summits on the border going north – down to Gasthaus Alpenrose (1788 m) above Santa Maria on the road to the Umbrail Pass.
Distance: 14,2 km
Time: 10 hours 45 minutes (plus 40 minutes for the stops)
Vertical distance: 850 m uphill; 1920 m downhill.
Piz de las Trais Linguas, 2843 m
Piz Cotschen, 3026 m
Korspitz, 2933 m
Gross Tartscher Kopf, 2963 m
Piz Costainas, 3004 m
I left the Stelvio Pass at 7:40 am; it was -6°C but the day would be fine: no clouds, no wind. There were 15-20 cm of fresh snow, and less where it had blown away on the ridges, and it had even disappeared in places. So I phoned Sally to say it was OK and that I would continue. How wrong I was! As I progressed further north, the snow became deeper. For a kilometre I could follow the tracks of a group of ibex but then progress became increasingly difficult and tiring; I sank in up to my knees, sometimes up to a hip between boulders.
The ascent of the last two summits proved easier; there was less snow between the rocks and I could follow the markers visible in places. On the other hand, the technical difficulty was higher, PD or even more, and on the fairly steep descents, I often floundered up to my thighs. A little before 4 p.m. it was time to stop: I went down a not too steep slope from a col just after Piz Costainas, on the Swiss side. Once I had reached the bottom of a side valley, the snow became less deep, but it still took more than three hours to reach the road between Santa Maria and Umbrail – by then it was already dark!
Night: Chasa Chalavaina, Müstair
1. Below Piz Cotschen, still acceptable
2. The south ridge of Piz Costainas; the route goes directly to the summit from the bottom of the picture