Im looking at doing the Spaghetti tour this summer in the Italian Alps.
Five 4000s in five days, sleeps in huts.
I've been looking at prices though and I dont think I can afford doing it with a guide so I wonder what's the exposure, is the route marked, and see if I can consider doing it without.
Im looking at :
- Western Breithorn / Val d'Ayas refuge
- Castor / Quintino Sella hut
- Liskam Nose / Margherita hut
- Zumstein / Città di Mantova hut
- Punta Giordani
I have a little bit of experience : Gran Paradiso (4100m italy 2019), Gumbezkul (5100m tajikistan 2019), Rysy (2500m poland winter 2016), Mera Peak (6500m nepal 2012), plus countless lower/easier treks (Seilven winter, Snowdonia etc...)
Anybody done that tour before ?
Let me know your thoughts
I've done those routes. They certainly aren't marked but in good weather they will be very well tracked. It is practically all on big crevassed glaciers so you will want a partner even if not a guide. Also the whole area becomes very confusing in mist so only go alone if you are confident navigating in whiteness. You will be very lucky to follow that schedule precisely due to conditions, so have multiple options and back up plans. Also check hut prices before committing...
Answering your specific question, the routes are not particularly exposed, with the posisble exception of Castor's ridge.
Thanks a lot for your reply.
I have a climbing partner with similar climbing experience that I do. However I dont think we have ever found ourselves crossing a glacier without the assistance of a more experienced guide or sherpa.
What's the best way to learn safety / security technics prior to the trip ? How about doing the first day with a guide and spending a few hours practicing ?
Good call to spend a day on crevasse rescue drill with a guide. In good weather you’ll mostly be following a trench so it’s all fairly low risk (but high consequence!). I’d agree that most of it is straightforward but you wouldn’t want to fall off the Castor ridge, and the SE ridge of Dufourspitze is graded AD and looks fairly serious when seen en face. Bad weather at the Margarita stopped us from going for it. The Liskamm ridge might be harder/more serious again, it’s actually the one with the reputation.
I'm not commenting from any great level of experience in the type of stuff you are doing, but in general terms, I wouldn't choose to embark on a 5-day tour like that after a single day spent training with a guide. I'd probably train with the guide for a day, then go find a tame glacier with less crackyfally bits and practice the techniques I'd learned for a few days till I got proficient with them. Then climb a lesser mountain with an unthreatening glacier crossing. Then one 4000er with loads of glaciers. THEN a multi-day committing trip....
If I were a safe and cautious (wo)man as your post makes you sound like you are.
But being me, I've done a lot of somewhat foolhardy things, some of them involving glaciers.... So I guess it boils down to you making a judgement based on your own personal experience and how you feel about the situation when the time comes. Sounds like you must have spent enough time in the mountains to have developed an epic sense, so you should be ok.
And as others have said, have plenty of other plans in case of weather or a sense of your own limitations being unreasonably stretched.
I've climbed all except Castor on your list though not in one tour. Its a slightly curious list to choose (to me at least). Why Punta Giordani? It's an insignificant bump on a ridge descending from the much more worthwhile summit of Pyramide Vincent, it only has about 5m prominence so how on earth it makes it into some lists of 4000ers is very odd.
By Liskamm Nose do you mean Il Naso? Lyskamm itself is approached from that side by a superb exposed ridge though not difficult. It would be a shame to miss it out when so close.
There are several other more worthwhile mountians you will pass which would make more sense to include, Pyramide Vincent of course, but also The Schwarzhorn, Ludwigshohe and Parrotspitze.
At a glance your route appears to involve a lot of up and down, I'd be tempted to avoid losing too much height between mountains and use the Rossi e Volante and Balmenhorn bivi huts (which are free!). Both huts have blankets but only the Balmenhorn has a stove, gas and pans etc. Neither have running water so you'll have to melt snow.
Whatever you do bear in mind you'll be spending a lot of time above 4000m so make sure you're well acclimatised, especially if sleeping in the Balmenhorn Bivi or Margherita hut.
Hope you get a clear spell of weather and enjoy whatever you do.
> Good call to spend a day on crevasse rescue drill with a guide.
Just make sure it's not one of local guides. Once while descending from the Balmenhorn bivi I passed multiple guided parties climbing up from the Gniffeti and Mantova huts where the clients were walking no more than 3 or 4 paces apart with the guide a similar distance behing carrying loops of spare rope in his hand.
One down, all down. You sometimes wonder how some of the guides ever got qualified.
Thanks everyone for sharing your point of view and experience ! Very valuable.
And yes it definitely all needs more preps
I did the Italian Haute Route a few years ago. Although we were independent at F and PD to PD+ in the time we used for acclimatisation before this (we did some routes around Arolla) we used a UK Guide Company (Martin Moran) and had a great time. There were savage winds on the ridge over to Liskamm which was quite 'exciting' and the Paso del Naso was navigated in cloud with no piste for much of the way and had that really lonely mountain feel which is pretty rare in the Alps. Pollux was more fun than the end of the Breithorn which was VERY crowded at the end of the cable car. The walk down the Grenz glacier should not be underestimated.
Try to avoid spending too much time in Zermat - complete tourist trap!
Have a look at https://www.frostguiding.co.uk/course/13/Italian_Haute_Route.html for some information/example about guided ways of doing this.
I would add that using a Guide can be a great learning experience to allow you to move onto independence, and courses we had done before this meant we were safe on the glacier, understood how to get each other out of a crevasse and pack sensibly and light - which was good as we didn't have friends with that experience.
Thanks Steve ! Would you be able to recommend other guides / companies so I can inquire and see if I can find more budget friendly ?
Definitely staying on the Italian side btw, not going to Zermatt.
I am way out of date on the Guides side. Other forum members may be able to help.
A slight modification to your programme that you might consider:
1. Breithorn W > Cabane d'Ayas.
2. Pollux > Castor > QS. Pollux could equally be tagged on to day 1 but it makes more sense to do it on day 2 when you've got loads of time. It would be a shame to miss it out.
3. Naso del Liskamm > Mantova/Gnifetti.
4. Signalkuppe/Margherita via as many of the little Monte Rosa tops as you feel you can do.
5. Zumstein > descent to Gressonney doing the other tops you didn't do yesterday.
The advantages of planning to go to Mantova or Gnifetti before Margherita are:
a. They're lower and give you another day of acclimatisation. I've stayed at Margherita a number of times - and only slept once!
b. The long rising traverse of the Naso is reasonably exposed. When it's dry (ice rather than snow) it can be quite a formidable section. That whole section can be avoided if necessary in these conditions by descending to Stafal then walking up to Mantova/Gnifetti using uplift as you need/want. Obviously you can do this if you get bad weather for that day, too.
It's a fabulous trip and justifiably popular. Booking huts therefore is essential.
Awesome. Thanks a lot for the tips. Looks like we are gonna go with a guide in the end.
Would anyone be able to recommend some guides !? Or places where I could find good reliable professional english speaking and fairly prices guides ?
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