Ascent to Corno Grande-West ridge on 2010-10-23

Climber: Rob Woodall

Date:Saturday, October 23, 2010
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Point Reached:Corno Grande - West ridge
    Elevation:8858 ft / 2699 m
    Remaining Elevation:696 ft / 213 m (26% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

I arrived at the Corno Grande trailhead soon after midday, after the short drive from Monte Camicia which I'd climbed that morning. The drive is an excellent introduction to CG, which looms impressively at the head of a long valley. 3 sports cars passed me on the way up and another 3 were at the Campo - all very Italian!

I started up at 12:30. The well defined trail initially heads straight up (N) then traverses R across a steep slope, L round a corner, then a short steep zig-zag ascent leads to a signpost (pointing L to a rifugio), then a short descent NE along a ridge leads to a saddle with a signpost, at N42 27 20.1 E13 33 34.8, 2333m (GPSr). The Via Direttissima goes straight ahead here, but with a dusting of snow in evidence and after the experience of other peaks during the last 24 hours I settled for the Ruta Normale. This forks L, descends slightly (about 30m in 1km) then makes an easy steepish ascending traverse of a scree slope, to emerge on the SW ridge of the mountain. Views are rather fine, with the shapely Corno Piccolo dominating a skyline of limestone peaks. I've met quite a few folk decsnding as I head up, and take this to mean that the summit is straightforward... A steepish ascent follows, heading N. There is a covering of snow, a little icy, and I pull on the microspikes over my trail shoes. I reach a level area, with a view across to the W face of Corno Grande. Most of the bootprints fork L here, with just a single set of bootprints forking R for the W ridge. The route is easy angled at first, then steepens and the boots I am following have now put on crampons. The route begins to steepen and what is normally easy terrain becomes a series of icy outcrops connected by little 45 degree ice slopes. This is beyond the operating zone of Kahtoola microspikes and I soon conclude the only feasible course is to retreat - very carefully - to safer ground and head back down. I notice that the crampons don't seem to have come down yet, and there is a helicopter buzzing around purposefully. Apparently the other person left fairly late and/or was having an epic. I hope he/she got down OK.

Ironically I have axe and crampons in the car but didn't bother to take them up. My plan is to return to the car, retrieve the boots, axe and crampons and head back up, but by the time I'm down, commonsense has prevailed. If all goes well, I'd be at the summit just before sunset, with an icy descent in the half light. Or I'd end up turning back a second time. I decide to leave CG for a summer ascent (up the Direttissma, down the Normale).

Arriving back at the trailhead at 15:15, I decide to try something lower and hopefully simpler - Monte Campo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2049 ft / 623 m
    Extra Gain:98 ft / 29 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2.7 mi / 4.4 km
    Route:Ruta Normale
    Trailhead:Campo Imperator  7005 ft / 2135 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 2+
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 15 Minutes

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