Piz Palü

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Piz Palü
Piz Palü, seen from the Diavolezza

Piz Palü, seen from the Diavolezza

height 3900  m above sea level M.
location Graubünden , Switzerland
Mountains Alps , Bernina group
Dominance 2 km →  Bellavista
Notch height 212 m ↓  Fuorcla Bellavista
Coordinates 793 998  /  139 447 coordinates: 46 ° 22 '42 "  N , 9 ° 57' 38"  O ; CH1903:  793 998  /  one hundred thirty-nine thousand four hundred and forty-seven
Piz Palü (Canton of Graubünden)
Piz Palü
First ascent 1866 by KE Digby with guide Peter Jenny and a porter
Normal way High tour from Diavolezza over Pers glacier

The Piz Palü ( [ˌpitspɐˈly] ? / I ) is a 3900  m high mountain in the Bernina group in the border area between the Swiss canton of Graubünden and the Italian province of Sondrio ( Lombardy ). Audio file / audio sample


To the west, it is called by the Fuorcla Bellavista notch from the Bella Vista discontinued. To the east and south it drops about 30 ° to the Vadret da Palü (Palü Glacier ) and to the glacier plateau of the Altipiano di Fellaria. To the north, the Piz Palü flows into the Pers glacier , which joins the Morteratsch glacier below . To the northeast it is separated from the Piz Cambrena by the Fuorcla Pers-Palü . Like the whole Bernina group, the Palü is assigned to the Eastern Alps .

With its three peaks and four hanging glaciers on the north side, which are separated by three pillars rising evenly from the Pers glacier, the Palü is one of the most beautiful glacier mountains of all. The fact that it faces the Diavolezza , whose mountain station is easily reached by thousands of tourists every year by cable car, contributes to its fame .

The height of the main or middle summit ( Muot dal Palü , [ˌmuə̯tdɐlpɐˈly] ? / I ) is currently given by the Swiss Federal Office of Topography as 3900  m . The east summit ( Piz Palü Orientale ) is only slightly lower at 3882  m . The rocky west summit ( Piz Spinas ) is listed at 3823  m . Audio file / audio sample

The Palü massif is located about 13 km south-southeast of Pontresina . The state border between Switzerland and Italy runs from the Bellavista in the west over the Piz Spinas in the direction of the central summit to point 3'898 on the map and then, initially following a short rocky ridge, turns south onto the Altipiano di Fellaria glacier plateau . The main summit is therefore entirely on Swiss territory.


The name Palü is derived from the Latin palus 'swamp' . From the Alpe Palü , 4 km to the east , which lay on marshy ground, the name was also transferred to the mountain. The opinion that can sometimes be found that Piz Palü means “pale mountain” is considered by the majority to be incorrect.


Hans and Christian Grass from Pontresina

The first secured ascent of the main Palü summit was achieved in 1866 by the Englishman Kenelm Edward Digby with his guide Peter Jenny and a porter. Before that, Oswald Heer , Peter Flury and Meuli with their guides Johann Madutz and the "King of Bernina" Gian Marchet Colani probably only reached the eastern summit of the mountain on August 12, 1835. The first crossing of the summit ridge was achieved by guides Hans and Christian Grass with Messrs. Albert Wachtler, Wallner and Georg on July 22nd, 1868, coming from the Bellavista side.

Today's normal ascent to Piz Palü leads from Diavolezza in the north over the rugged Pers glacier to the shoulder of the east ridge and from there over the partly exposed and steep edge to the east and main summit. The route is technically not very demanding in good conditions, but quite tricky in places with bare ice. The ice breaks at the foot of the Piz Cambrena and the numerous, often treacherous crevasses require careful path selection, alpine experience and a complete set of mountaineering equipment, but leave strong impressions. You should estimate at least four to five hours from the Diavolezza to the central summit. During winter ski tours on the Piz Palü, the skis are usually put down on the east ridge and the climbers overcome the last ascent of the ridge with crampons .

View of Piz Palü from Boval

The often chosen descent via Piz Spinas, Fuorcla Bellavista and Fortezzagrat results in a beautiful crossing of the mountain. If the conditions are good, the technical difficulties in climbing the rock of the Spinas and Fortezzagrates do not exceed grade II of the UIAA scale , but when there is fresh snow or icing, the demands on the climbers increase by leaps and bounds. On the descent, you can choose whether to return to Diavolezza or to descend to the Bovalhütte on the other side of the Morteratsch glacier. From Fuorcla Bellavista you can also continue over the Bellavista terraces to the Marco-e-Rosa hut (located on Italian territory), which serves as a high base for climbing Piz Bernina . The southern climbs to Piz Palü are easier and shorter than the northern routes over the Pers glacier or the Fortezzagrat, but not nearly as popular.

Piz Palü and Piz Cambrena (left), in front of the Pers glacier , seen from the Diavolezza

The north face pillars are also frequently and happily used by alpinists in a more acute direction. This is especially true for the central pillar and the north pillar of the east summit:

  • The route over the north pillar of the central summit, which is cordoned off at the top by the "ice nose" (75 °), comes up with rock technical difficulties in grade V + of the UIAA scale. It was first climbed on September 1, 1887 by Theodor Bumiller , Martin Schocher, Johann Gross and Christian Schnitzler. The spur is often referred to as the Bumiller pillar after the first person to climb it .
  • The north pillar of the east summit, also a route with climbing points up to IV +. Grad, Moriz von Kuffner , Martin Schocher and Alexander Burgener climbed for the first time on August 22, 1899. It is therefore also known as the Kuffner pillar .
  • The third north wall pillar, the Cresta Spinas on the west summit, was first climbed on July 31, 1899 by the British J. T. Burton-Alexander, accompanied by the local guides Christian Zippert and Florian Grass (difficulties in the rock up to V-).

In 2002 Toni Steurer and Walter Hölzler climbed the three north face pillars of Piz Palü in a hat trick within 24 hours . They started their company by bike in St. Moritz at the train station and ended the trilogy after 23 hours and 40 minutes at their starting point in St. Moritz “by fair means”.

The hanging glaciers embedded between the pillars in the north wall have also all been climbed. However, because of the constant risk of ice falling, these routes are objectively very dangerous.

In art

Known today is the silent film The White Hell of Pitz Palu of mountain film pioniers Arnold Franck with Leni Riefenstahl in 1929, which was also published in an abridged version talkie 1935th


Labeled 360 ° panorama from the main summit of Piz Palü
360 ° panorama from the east summit of Piz Palü
High resolution (26k * 9k) panorama from the Diavolezza


  • Daniel Anker, Hans Philipp (Ed.): Piz Palü. Triad in rock and ice. AS Verlag, Zurich 2003, ISBN 3-905111-96-9 ( Mountain Monographs Volume 11).
  • Charles Golay: Piz Palü: March 3, 1939 . Pontresina 1977
  • Georg Calonder: The company on Piz Palü . Bern 1939

Web links

Commons : Piz Palü  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Swisstopo geodata viewer, as of April 2008
  2. Andrea Schorta: How the mountain got its name . Small Rhaetian name book with two and a half thousand geographical names of Graubünden. Terra Grischuna Verlag, Chur and Bottmingen / Basel 1988, ISBN 3-7298-1047-2 , p. 111 .
  3. Piz Palü Bumillerpfeiler  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed April 22, 2012@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.bergstieg.com  
  4. In alpine literature, Theodor Bumiller is almost always given the incorrect first name Hans , cf. Marion Jourdan, Ralf Rehberger: Theodor Bumiller - Mannheim's first to climb the Piz Palü north face. (PDF) In: 1888 - 2013 Festschrift for the 125th anniversary. German Alpine Club Section Mannheim e. V., May 2013, p. 15 , accessed on August 27, 2015 .
  5. Bernina Express - all 3 pillar routes in 24 hours . bergstieg.com, March 19, 2002.