This is part of the promised climbing series. I will try, if possible, to always put beta links at the end.
The Spazzacalderia from the hut, Mosiaco runs straight up the trianglular face in the middle, culminating in a point
In fairness, I may have misled Peter a bit. I told him it would be no problem to get from Canazei to Bregaglia in a day. Theoretically it was not a problem, but hey, theoretically it was not a problem to get from Bolzano to Canazei in an afternoon, and theoretically one could do the Dolomites sans automobile, and no trad gear. We traveled by bus to Trento, from there via rail to Milan, and sprinted to the furthest possible platform to catch a train to Colico. We caught the last train, and pulled into sleepy Chiavenna just in time to see the last bus up Val Bregagalia to St. Moritz pull away, on time. Damn Swiss. My plan counted on Italian bus drivers. No matter, our campsite, the ‘climbers’ campsite was only 3km up the valley. Fourty-five sweaty minutes later we rolled into Camping Acquafraggia completely beat. Undeterred by the ‘full’ sign we saddled up to office to beg for a site. We explained that we didn’t need a car site, as we didn’t have a car, to which our host replied: ‘I can tell.’ The plan for the next week-ten days was simple. Go up to the more friendly crags above Lake Albigna to warm up to granite, then snatch a few rest days in valley before heading up to the Bondasca valley to attempt the big ones: the Badile, Cengalo, and others.
The sun woke me first the next morning, after a morning bread run and recon mission, I caught a weather report: two OK days followed by quite dire predictions. Rousing Peter I somehow convinced him that a) we were heading to Albigna now and b) we were staying in the hut incase the rain came early. Leaving in a huff we decided not to visit the ATM or purchase petrol for the stove before leaving Chiavenna. Bad call. We reached the Albigna cable car, our ‘approach’ to the valley, right as it closed for lunch, and realized that there was neither a cash point nor a petrol station anywhere near. Thankfully Peter’s mish mash of German, French, and Italian landed him a seat in a car pointed towards the valley. Making full use of his public school boy charm, he returned an hour later with petrol and cash. Shortly thereafter we caught the first cable car up the valley, just as the clouds began to swirl.
Conditions at the start
The large group of Italian climbers laughed as I stumbled over a large block lying in the path from the cablecar to the Spazzacadera. When we finally arrived we were anxious to get on the rock and spotting the classic of the crag, Mosiaco 6b, open we rushed over and while scoping the first pitch I failed to notice the large block in the path, much to the locals amusement. The amusement turned to surprise as we set up Via Felici, the 4 pitch first half of Mosiaco, undeterred by the fog. Despite the initially unfamiliar movement demanded by the granite slabs I quickly warmed to the impressive friction and bolted but still bold style I cut my teeth on in North Carolina. Pete made quick work of the second arrived at the belay ledge grinning and lead straight through onto the 6a crux pitch. Lost in the fog, I could tell he was making rapid progress by the speed he needed rope. At this point the bemusement of our continental counterparts had turned to surprise as it was apparent we were set to lap the first 100m of their classic in under a half hour. All those misty Lakeland and Welsh pitches paid dividends there on the Swiss border.
Following Pete through the mist was truly the treat. The angle steepened as the route transitioned from exquisitely balancy moves to delectable flakes. Each move appeared out of the swirling mist as I moved upwards forcing me to enjoy each little move for itself rather than trying to run to the belay as fast as possible. Pete wanted the next pitch as it continued the flakes he was already engaged with, and as pitch 4 was reputed to be a positively classic jamming crack I gladly obliged. Forty-five delightful meters later I joined him at the third belay and caught a glimpse of the laser cut crack I was to enjoy.
Enjoying our quick pace I dove into the crack relishing each jam and the perfect edges for the feet just when I needed a rest. Pulling a small overhang a double bolt belay surprised me 5m earlier than the large ledge I expected to belay on. But, as he insisted on Stabler tower four days earlier, we climb to the top. After bring Pete up, all smiles after 160m of near perfect climbing, we eyed up the weather and the next section of the route, 2nd Pillar 6a/b. Deciding that A) the mist was a ‘white’ mist with sun on its back rather than a rain bearing dark mist as our Welsh and Lakeland training had turned us into true mist conissours and B) the next two pitches looked as good as the last four and boyed with the confidence of walking Via Felici in 1 ¼ hours Pete lead through up a amazing diagonal crack splitting a head wall to a trick pull up through a bulge gaining a lovely slab to the belay. I finished up the route with 30m of pleasant easy angled crack climbing. One absail into a gully and a bit of scrambling down we arrived back at the base not much more than 2 ½ hours after setting out. As we pulled into the Albigna Hut that night, grinning with joy and brimming with confidence in ourselves, if not our somewhat dubious internet beta. When we told the hut gaurdian we would be cooking for ourselves, he kindly put us next to the winter room and gave us free use of it. This was perfect, we had warm beds and a private kitchen. After a nice meal, a bottle of wine, and a pint, we turned in, eager to try a long link up on Punta a’Albigna the next day.
Summitpost beta for Via Felici (first half of Mosaico)