My first attempt climbing Pizzo Tresero several years ago was not successful due to a very bad weather and due to my own bad physical conditions. But the mountain has remained on my to-do list, so this year I was there again and climbed it from the road, more precisely from the Berni hut below the Gavia pass. Read below about this.
[Domeniconi: excerpt from Koyunbaba]
Basic information about the mountain
- Coordinates: 46.39050 °N / 10.54310 °E.
- Height: 3594 m.
- Mountaineering grading: PD or PD-, or even F, obviously varies from person to person. For me it was really hard, but hey, I am 57 now.
- Hiking grading:
– T3 (Challenging Mountain Hikes), or
– T4 (Alpine Hikes), the same explanation as above.
- Ski grading: PD or PD+.
- Time to the summit: 4 hours from the road, this is very much dependent on you. Some do it in 2 and a half hours, see the video below.
- Distance: around 6 km.
- Height difference: around 1100 meters.
- The date I climbed it: August 26, 2016.
Pizzo Tresero raises above Santa Caterina di Valfurva in the province of Sondrio, in the Italian Alps. From the village, it is on the southeast side and you will easily recognize it as the elegant sharp peak which is the first in a long series of very high peaks, all above 3500 meters.
It belongs to the famous chain of 13 peaks which you can climb going from one to another and never descending below 3000 meters. Yet another possibility is to do 7 peaks in the chain between Bivacco Seveso and Bivacco Battaglione Ortles: Pizzo Tresero (3594 m), Punta Pedranzini (3599 m), Cima Dosegu (3560), Punta San Mateo (3678), Monte Mantello (3518 m), Cima Villacorna (3447 m), and Cima Valumbrina (3220 m).
There is a very attractive north road from the Valfurva valley, which leads you to the Gavia pass, first zigzagging through a nice forest and then above the tree line through meadows and rock. Tresero will be visible on your left side most of the time. On the right, you will have Monte Sobretta massif.
The other approach is from the south where you have a more narrow road from Ponte di Legno.
In both cases, the destination is the Berni hut (2541 m), which is a couple of kilometers below the pass, on the north side. There is a lot of free parking space around.
From the hut follow the signs toward Ponte dell’Amicizia (Friendship Bridge); you will see two routes so take the left one, the number 25 if I remember correctly. This is because the other goes quite high before descending to the bridge.
So pass the bridge and immediately after that you will see that the route splits, so take the one that goes to the right, this is the route 41. After that just follow the signs and cairns, you cannot miss the route, this is the only one.
Most of the time you will be walking in the north-east direction and the summit is not visible until you get somewhere above 3000 meters. At one moment you will pass a beautiful small lake which will be on the right. So just continue up, and soon the Bivacco Seveso will be on the ridge above you on the left.
Continue towards the glacier which is higher up in front of you, go along the glacier and keep close to the rock. The route is steep all the time, and you will pass a few crevasses. You will see them both on the left and on the right, so you will be crossing them over snow bridges and I can tell you it is not a great feeling knowing they are somewhere under your feet.
At some point you will see what I call here the first set of fixed ropes on the left, leading to the ridge. When I was there, there was a short but a bit steep snow slope before reaching the ropes. I did not use crampons (although I had them in the pack, stupid I know) and being lazy to put them, I followed the trail along the glacier edge. In fact going to these ropes is a far better option, so do not miss them.
But if you continue along the glacier, as I did, below the summit you will switch to the steep rock section with the second section with fixed ropes. You will see this section in the video below (they show it in the descending part only). So this is some 50 meters section which would be hard to manage without the ropes. This is why I would give PD+ for the route.
It was funny to see that at one point the rope was “fixed” to a quite big rock which was in fact totally loose, and it was kept in the place only by the rope itself. I am not sure for how long the rope will be able to keep the hanging rock.
Anyhow, after this you will be on yet another short steep section with loose rocks, and then you will get to the ridge. After a short walk, you will be at the beautiful summit cross and you will enjoy truly breathtaking views over all mountains of the Ortler group.
Here is a video with two guys climbing the mountain from the road in 2 hours and 36 minutes, have a look. I do not think this is typical, so definitely plan more time if you go there.
About necessary equipment
This is a climb with snow and glacier, so here is the list of some items you will need:
Regarding the boots for crampons, please read more in my separate text.
The huts around
- There is the Berni hut below the Gavia pass. It is on the road, so you have a direct car access there, a bit unusual for a hut indeed. You will be surprised to realize that they have showers with hot water. You pay 3 Euro for this luxury (in 2016), and it seems this is not limited to the hut visitors only. I was sleeping in the car and asked for the shower, there was no problem at all. Trust me, it is worth it.
- Higher up, directly at the pass there is yet another hut, Rifugio Bonetta, which looks more like a restaurant. Did not check about the rooms so cannot say more, please follow the link. Good thing is, there is free running water outside, to refill your bottles if you are sleeping in the car or in the motor-home. There is a big parking there, free of charge, and I have seen quite a number of people spending nights on the parking. I myself spent 3 nights there.
- Bivacco Seveso is yet another option, it is just a few hundred meters below the summit of Tresero. It is on the ridge high above when you are on the glacier route. Did not see any obvious direction to climb to the refuge and it must be tough, bad rock, and have not noticed any fixed ropes or cables.
- Bivacco Battaglione Ortless is yet another off-the-route option, a great place to visit in any case. I warmly recommend to visit it.
My climb to Pizzo Tresero
As I mentioned above, this was my second attempt, successful this time. I did it in 4 hours from the Berni hut. It was late in the season so I had far less snow than what you can see in the video above. My route is roughly shown below:
After sleeping in the car on the pass, I drove back to the Berni hut and started my tour at 6 am. There were no other people around, the weather was absolutely beautiful, completely clear sky all the time.
It was a pleasant walk in silence, already enough light, no need for the torch. About 1 hour later I noticed one person coming from the same direction. He was going faster than me (yeah, this is a very frequent situation), and soon he joined me. So, a big hello to my new friend Roberto, that was his name, from Brescia originally but presently living rather close in the Alps.
So we walked together for some time, but later he continued faster and I stayed behind. Much later, very close to the summit we met again, he started descending the mountain. But then he returned to the summit with me and we made a few photos.
One more person also appeared coming from Punta Pedranzini; we learned that this guy spent the night alone in the Bivacco Seveso. We asked him to make a photo of the two of us, and you can see it here on the right.
Then they both descended separately. I stayed on the summit alone for just a few minutes. Thinking about those crevasses which I had to pass again on the way back made me very nervous. The Sun was high and those snow bridges on crevasses were surely becoming very soft.
So I started descending and decided to continue along the ridge towards that first, lower set of fixed ropes, which I mentioned previously. Soon I realized that Roberto was doing the same, so I joined him below the ropes. Yeah, my speed was not bad going down the mountain.
We continued together for a while until we passed the glacier. Yes, we managed through crevasses successfully. Somewhere in that section, we met a group of 3 people going up, without a rope and without crampons.
Soon after that, I decided to take a rest and have some breakfast, and we said goodbye to each other, so Roberto continued. I still had the most of the day in front of me, there was no need to rush…
Later I met yet another person, an elderly gentleman Franko. He was on the tour to the glacier only, and he told me he simply forgot to take water bottles with him, left them in the car. I happened to have one half-liter extra and gave him, he was speechless and really thankful. We were both very emotional in that moment, as I am again now while I am writing and thinking about those moments. God bless you Franko, I am hopeful all is fine with you wherever you are.
Here are some of my photos from the tour, click to enlarge:
Pizzo Tresero is a beautiful peak, most of the normal route is a simple walk up. But it is high and you will feel the altitude in every step. You also have to pass the glacier and have to go over several visible crevasses. Those 70 – 100 meters at the section with fixed ropes may be a bit difficult for some. Without the ropes, it would be far more tricky to get to the summit.
So as you realize, I did it solo, and I have seen several other people climbing it the same way, but bear in mind crevasses and try to pass the glacier as early as possible, in both directions. Next day I was on the route to Monte Sobretta, so have a look, this is a quite different mountain.
Hopefully, the text has been useful to you. If you have been there let me know how it was, share it with us. There is a comment box below. Thank you and have a nice day.