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'98 - '00
Ice climbing in the Valle delle Meraviglie Getting there: Take the Swiss motorways to Bellinzona and St. Bernard. At St. Bernard drive through the tunnel towards Hinterrhein and Coira. The Valle delle Meraviglie, the valley of wonders, as I have called it leads off to the left immediately after the tunnel.

Park near the restaurant/bar a few 100m further on by exiting for Hinterrhein. A road leads into the valley but it is open for military vehicles only. Continue on skies therefore SW along the flat valley to the sectors (1-3 hours depending on which you choose). The only icefalls visible from the start of the valley are those in the Fuego Lento sector.

Maps and books: The Swiss Map No. 1254 Hinterrhein 1:25.000 is indispensable. At the Toscano refuge (Capanna Genziana) there is a new routes book with descriptions and photos of all the icefalls climbed in the valley. The refuge is an excellent place to stay and is reached by following the road for a further kilometer from the St. Bernard pass
(tel. 0041/918321204).

A new guidebook of the Central Alps by Biagini, V. Casellato G. Maspes and G. Miotti, is out soon and includes this area but is in Italian only. It is important to know that the valley is used as a military range and therefore sometimes closed to the public on weekdays. Phone the local police at St. Bernard for precise information
(tel. 0041/918228100).

Food and accommodation
: Capanna Genziana is highly recommended, with its good and large evening meals. Note that the Capanna is highly popular with ski mountaineerers and schools that come here for their skiing holidays. Even if it sleeps 104, book in advance if possible.

Best time of year: From December to march, but as mentioned above, find out when the area is closed to the public for military manoeuvres by telephoning the local police. South facing icefalls form in December and remain until the end of January, while those facing north (sector Isteria) remain in condition until the end of the season.

Beware of avalanches because the entire valley is a great risk of large avalanches from the steep summit slopes. Some steep gullies used to reach the icefalls in sector Isteria are particularly prone to avalnches. A rescue beacon is therefore indispensable, as is a shovel and probe. Listen to the Swiss snow forecast on 0041/91187.

by Nicolo' Berzi - Guide Alpine Milano
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To improve your ice climbing techniques contact the Mountain Guide Nicolò Berzi, Guide Alpine Milano, c/o Golden Gym, tel. +39 02/8394233 or +39 0335/6535349

map of icefalls
Click to enlarge

ski mountaineering to the icefalls
At the base of the right-hand part of sector Iniziazione
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