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150 anni prima salita del Picco Glorioso - Monte Disgrazia 1862 - 2012 Valmalenco, Valmasino
Photo by Michele Comi
Monte Pioda in the foreground and Monte Disgrazia in the background.
Photo by Michele Comi
Climbing up the Pioda ridge
Photo by Michele Comi

150th anniversary of Picco Glorioso - Monte Disgrazia


The commemoration of the first attempt to climb to the summit of Monte Disgrazia, which started a series of events aimed at celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first ascent to the summit of this great mountain located between Valmalenco and Valmasino. Michele Comi has the story.

A century and a half has passed by.  On August 23, 1862 the British alpinists Edward Shirley Kennedy and Leslie Stephen (father of Virginia Wolf) along with Thomas Cox and the Swiss guide Melchior Anderegg were the first to reach the summit of Monte Disgrazia. A peak which, for them, became known as Picco Glorioso. This first ascent has always been an integral part of this great mountain, a secluded and imposing peak which has attracted and continues to inspire the love of those climbers who prefer this wild and lonely environment. The Valtellina valley and in particular Valmalenco has devoted various events to celebrate this 150th anniversary, organised by Giuseppe Miotti and Michele Comi. The first is their book “Monte Disgrazia Picco Glorioso, 150 anni di storia” which will be presented this evening, while another is the recent reenactment of the first attempt to reach the summit via the Picco della Speranza – the peak of hope – now known as Monte Pioda.


Commemoration of the first attempt to reach the summit of Monte Disgrazia

It 's midnight and together with Norbert Parolini and Andrea Salvetti, two promising young local climbers, we set off up the deserted cobbled street in the heart of the village Chiesa. Right past the building which in 1862 was Hotel Olivo and from where, on that August 20 night, the first English explorers set off on their climb.

The long ascent up the Mallero valley towards Chiareggio makes itself felt, especially since were no longer used to carrying such heavy loads all the way from the valley floor. The sound and refreshing breath of the stream accompanies us throughout the night. At times we walk along what remains of the Cavallera Muretto path. Chiareggio, in the silence of the night, retains its alpine village charm despite the invasion of cars parked everywhere.

Along the Sissone valley, a favourite destination for mineral seekers, we stumble up thousands of different coloured stones: serpentine, granite, marble, amphibolite. We ascend past what remains of the glacier, put to the test by this summer’s abnormal temperatures, and reach the Mello pass at eight o'clock. Here the group exploited the glacier and ascended far higher to join the ridge just below the summit of Mount Pioda at 3431m.

We continue along the rugged northern ridge with some pleasant scrambling and up to grade V climbing. Once at the top of Pioda, the highest point reached during the historic first attempt, the temptation to continue on up to the summit of Monte Disgrazia is simply too strong.

We leave our rucksacks and gear at the col, there where the granite gives way to the red serpentine rocks, and continue up, past the countless cairns scratched raw by crampons. There is no longer any sign of snow or ice, and at 12.30 we reach the top.

Technical info:
altitude gain: circa 2900m
length: 30km

Michele Comi
Valmalenco Mountain Guide





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