(by Gery Galligan, from IMC Newsletter Spring 2012)
A week of Italian winter ice – "what the Italian Alps have to offer in winter is hard to top!".
At the end of January last I went to Cogne in Northern Italy for a week of ice climbing with John Duignan, Aileen Moloney, and Pádraic Gibbons. There was a lack of ice and too much snow in Chamonix and thereabouts so the valleys around Cogne were busy. Conditions were good with temperatures averaging -10°C on most days, stable weather, little snow and well-formed icefalls. Plenty of action was had. We caught the ever-popular Cascade de Lillaz early in the week. This route is well travelled as access is only ten minutes from Lillaz village. Other routes were not as crowded since long approaches taking up to two and a half hours can deter all but the keenest ice climber. The majority are multi-pitch climbs and most have good fixed belays. Grades vary and multiple abseils are the only way off most. There is everything here for the adventurous. The scenic approaches and big routes make superb alpine days out. We noticed that the popular climbs can be well hacked and stepped out and so of reduced difficulty but those with no traffic, such as Flash Estivo, can be harder in the grade. A couple of abalokov anchors were necessary high on two routes and setting them made for good mountain practice.
Our accommodation at La Barme Hotel (3km from Cogne) was excellent and reasonably priced. Note that a car is a necessity for getting around. Some advice for aspiring ice climbers looking towards Cogne: prepare mentally and physically for long walk-ins and long routes requiring endurance. Perhaps Rjukan with its quantity of shorter routes and easy approaches might be a better starting ground. We found that what the Italian Alps have to offer in winter is hard to top. The four of us had an excellent visit and will return.
- 30 Jan – L’Acheronte (II/3) 400m.
- 31 Jan – Cascade de Lillaz (II/3) 250m.
- 1 Feb – Flash Estivo (II/3) 120m.
- 2 Feb – Rest day in Chamonix. Cable car up to Aiguille de Midi and walk around. Visits to Whymper’s grave, Snells climbing shop and Elevation bar.
- 3 Feb – Fenilliaz (I/2) 200m.
- 4 Feb – Il Sentiero dei Troll (II/3) 350m