Nonagenarian climbs Piz Badile

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 31/07/2009
Piz Badile with North Ridge on right. Lindsay Griffin

Walter Belina was born in 1919 and this month made a remarkable ascent of the North Ridge of the 3,308m Piz Badile

The North Ridge is a popular and established classic, one of the finest climbs in the Alps at its standard. Other routes may be more interesting but the audacious position, suspended between two, huge, steep granite walls on one of the most famous mountains in Europe, is without parallel.

By today’s standards difficulties are moderate; a few sections of UIAA IV+/V- but mostly around UIAA III. However, the length of the enterprise should not be underestimated. The ridge rises 700m and gives more than 1,200m of climbing at an overall grade of D-.

There is no straightforward descent from the summit of the Badile and most parties completing the North Ridge now rappel the route.

Belina, who became a Swiss Mountain Guide in 1945 and has climbed in many countries of the World, would have been four years old when Walter Risch and his client Alfred Zurcker made the historic first ascent of the ridge in August 1923.

Belina knows the Bregaglia (Bergell in German) well and has written several books on the area, including the acclaimed and award-winning Badile, Bergell und Belina. He has climbed the Badile by various routes on approximately 35 occasions.

In July 2005, aged 86, he climbed the North Ridge, on this occasion filmed by Swiss Television [Schweizer Fernsehen is the organization in charge of distributing TV programs in German to the German-speaking Swiss. Scroll down to Greztour am Pizzo Badile].

While climbing the ridge Belina's gaze would have wandered left over the sweeping slabs of the North East Face, one of the traditional 'Six Great North Faces of the Alps'. He would have remembered the feat of the legendary Riccardo Cassin, who made its first ascent in 1937 and repeated it when he was 78. Cassin turned 100 in January this year.
 



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