From the expedition squad to the wintry Badile northwest face

The 21-year-old alpinist Filippo Sala, one of five members of the current SAC expedition team, ended the year with an impressive winter ascent. Together with Giacomo Mauri and Federico Martinelli he climbed the Gran Diedro on the northwest face of Pizzo Badile.

The Gran Diedro was first conquered in winter in 1992 by Stefano Pizzagalli and Domenico Gaggini. Since then, the line has received few visitors during the cold season - only three repetitions in the past 30 years. The last successful winter ascent was carried out by Filippo Sala, Giacomo Mauri and Federico Martinelli. The trio climbed the gigantic dihedral in the Badile northwest face at the end of December.

Gran Diedro
Filippo Sala and Giacomo Mauri in the Gran Diedro at Pizzo Badile.

Gran Diedro: Fascination at first sight

Inspiration for the tour came from a picture of the route that expedition team mountain guide Peter von Känel took during an attempted ascent with Silvan Schüpbach.

Rectangle_Knatsch in Magic Wood

When Peter and Silvan showed me the picture of this monster intersection, I thought the line was perfect. A huge dome that rises up the entire face and ends a few hundred meters below the summit. A dream of a route.

Filippo Sala

When he received the news of success from Peter von Känel, Silvan Schüpbach and Hugo Beguin a few weeks later, he was more than motivated to pay a visit to the Gran Diedro as soon as possible, says Filippo Sala.

In 15 hours to the summit of Badile

A week later the time had come. Together with Giacomo Mauri and Federico Martinelli, he climbed to the Sasc Furä winter hut on December 26th and continued towards the base of the wall to deposit material.

When I first saw the line in real life, it was even more beautiful than in the photos. At the same time, I was overcome by doubts and helplessness when I saw this.

Filippo Sala
Pizzo Badile
The peak of desire: The 3308 meter high Pizzo Badile.

On December 27th, after a cold and short night, the three alpinists made their way to the start. Filippo Sala led the first six pitches, four of them in the dark. At the sixth position, Federico Martinelli took the lead, with what was supposed to be the key length of the tour in front of him.

Apparently because the last pitch turned out to be the most difficult, says Filippo Sala. “To our surprise, we found almost no ice.” Nevertheless, Federico mastered the length confidently and reached the ridge after around 30 minutes.

For the final section of the route, Giacomo Mauri tied himself into the rope at the sharp end. At this point the trio had already been traveling for eleven hours. Another four hours later they reached the summit in the last light of day.

We cheered and hugged each other. What a moment! What a joy!

Filippo Sala

After an uncomfortable night in the Radelli bivouac, Filippo Sala, Giacomo Mauri and Federico Martinelli descended via the normal route and reached the bottom of the valley three and a half hours later, where a friend picked them up and took them to Bar Monica for a coffee.

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Credits: Cover photo and article images Filippo Sala, Federico Martinelli and Giacomo Mauri

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