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  • Writer's pictureMarion Marquardt

High alpine training with Cinghio

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

We have already done a lot, and we have a lot more on our bucket list :-) Among other things, we want to climb Piz Bernina, from the Italian side. But one by one.

We have known the mountain guide Cristian Candiotto, alias Cinghio (in English: wild boar), for some time from several days of avalanche training. The trust to him is there and we want to go to Piz Bernina with him. But first we have to familiarize ourselves with high alpine terrain and glaciers. So we do a three-day training session with Cristian at the end of August. What place would be more suitable than Valmalenco with its diverse landscape and the many 3,000-meter peaks around. We are four of us in total; Marco and Luigi, two Italians from the Milan region, are also with us. They already have a little more experience and work as an autonomous team.

We meet in Chiareggio and then walk up to the Rifugio Gerli-Porro, our base camp. After a little refreshment, we start with safety techniques on stony terrain. To do this, we learn knots, knots and then knots again - until we almost have a knot in our head :-) But the correct knot is crucial. And so we train different constellations on the rope. Finally, we dare to climb the via ferrata with Torrione Porro its 823 meters of altitude. However, not with the classic via ferrata set and securing on the steel cable, but in a rope team with Cristian - a great experience.

The next day we do training on glacier terrain. The Ventina Glacier is only about an hour away from our rifugio. And so we meet at 6 a.m. for breakfast and off we go. Once there, we will familiarize ourselves with ice ax and crampons. This also includes the so-called duck walk. Spread your legs, otherwise you will fall over your own feet! And that can be very dangerous with crampons on your feet and an ice ax in your hand.

glacier duck grivel petzl ventina valmalenco cinghio
Duck Walk - synchronous und in perfection

Originally, Cristian wanted to climb Pizzo Cassandra with us, but the conditions are not ideal and Micha and I are still too unsafe. And so we practice safety techniques on the glacier all day. A very important lesson is: "Rope strong." The rope must always be tight, otherwise the partner is in danger, especially if the belayer is not concentrating and/ or weighs significantly less than the one. Micha and I have tried this in all constellations. It is really amazing what kind of forces are at work. But if we do everything right, we can easily secure each other. Here are a few impressions from day 2.

On the last day we go to the rock again and practice rescue techniques. We simulate a rescue from a crevasse. And we quickly know that this must not happen under no circumstances! Securing and knotting is extremely complicated. And of course the stressful situation, the challenging terrain and the cold make it harder. Cristian really challenges us until we have practiced everything well.

training alpin valmalenco cinghio
Cristian is rescued from the imaginary crevasse - it can only be a matter of hours :-)

Of course, there is also plenty of fun with our group. And the evenings are very sociable, with good food and wine in the Rifugio Gerli-Porro.

rifugio gerli-porro cinghio training valmalenco
Salute !!!

All in all, the training was supppppper, as Cristian would say. We learned a lot. Now it's time to practice. This is the only way we can gain security in high alpine terrain. And then we can make it to the top of Piz Bernina.

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