Sugared, peppered and salted – menu à la Pizzo Cassinello.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Story, Travel

Mountaineering is like cooking – a professional menu does not create itself. To put a culinary feast on the table or a successful tour under the hat, you need broad know-how, some practice and a lot of experience. On some days it tastes good, on others not so much. It often depends on whether we combine the ingredients correctly, assess the difficulties correctly and the conditions are right. Although the ascent to the 3103 m high Pizzo Cassinello felt quite salty to me, it was then the truest pleasure in the descent and in the departure an endless Hatsch. A menu à la Cassinello.

To start our tour on the Pizzo Cassinello, we are served an 800 m long and ice-cold tunnel as a greeting from the kitchen, so to speak. After only a few minutes of morning sun, we dive into the black hole on the opposite side of the dam on Lago di Luzzone. We disappear in the darkness and our hands deep in our pockets.

Tunnel views at Lago di Luzzone

In the climb to Passo di Soreda, where we will later branch off to the summit, we come across the Alpe Scaradra di Sotto, already abandoned at this time of year. The fountain tempts me to fill up my water reserves. However, this soup is oversalted: when I check the quality of the water in my bottle, my eyes get stuck on many small black particles that certainly don’t belong there. There the cook has slipped probably the spice can and I am my water reserves for the remaining tour loose. Maybe we will find a clean spring water bar further up, where we can supply ourselves.

Peppered is then also the couloir up to the Passo di Soreda. Actually, I already know this section of the trail, because in 2014 we were already here on a two-day bivouac tour. But sometimes it just does not taste and today the high steps and the crumbly rocky steps and iron steps are a bit too sharp for me. With unsteady footing and like an awkward gingerbread man, I make only slow progress. In a proper menu, fish is usually the third course. But I definitely don’t feel like a fish in water here. Rather like one on dry land.

Ascent to the Pizzo Cassinello

At Passo di Soreda I can digest briefly before continuing with the main course. The blue-white marked path over mostly flat terrain to Pizzo Cassinello is slightly sugared by the last cold front. The snow fields make the mountain shine as if glazed with icing. The individual boulders look like sprinkles from the white mass.

Slab terrain and snow? I’m not so sure that’s to my liking. But to just turn back now without having tackled the summit? That would leave me with a hole in my stomach, I can literally smell the summit roast already. So we climb Zuckerberg and lo and behold, the snow holds on the huge granite slabs better than expected and we feel stuck in the tough sugar mass. A few larger crevasses between the boulders are quickly overcome and thanks to the tracks of other hikers who were on the road a little earlier than us, the ascent is served to us on a silver platter, so to speak.

The highest point of Pizzo Cassinello is marked with a plaque and three cairns and is therefore hard to miss. Up here, a true (palate) delight awaits us. The 360° panorama makes us melt away and we can’t get enough of the view of the surrounding mountains. From Lago di Luzzone over the Zervreilahorn to the Rheinwaldhorn we enjoy the full load of deluxe panorama. We say: Delicious!

Ready to jump: deep below lies the Lago di Luzzone

At some point, however, we get tired of it and start the way back. We quickly leave the sugar slabs, which become more slippery in the afternoon sun, behind us. But there is still the steep descent from Passo di Soreda down into Val Scaradra. The thought of it doesn’t exactly make my mouth water. A bit nervous, I poke around with my stick at the first steps, try one or two steep steps and suddenly realize: not so bad. Carefully I meander down the path and with every meter of altitude we lose, my surefootedness grows. After a few steps I can even enjoy the descent more and more. Amazed at how the same section of the path can have such a different effect on me within a few hours, we also take the remaining 1000 meters of altitude under our feet. Only a stop at the mountain water bar, a spring that springs directly from the rock, can hold us for a short while. Cheers!

In the end, only our dessert is bitter. Because instead of a varied cheese platter, we get rather flat feet on the last kilometers of forest road until we arrive back at our starting point from the morning. As tired and satisfied as after a multi-course meal. But with the difference that now our stomachs are really rumbling. Instead of a nightcap in the restaurant, it’s off home to a delicious dinner – probably with only one course 😉.

Typical Ticino high valley in the early evening sun

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